Wheeler, B.L. and Murphy, K. (2016). An introduction to music therapy research: Third edition. Dallas, TX: Barcelona Publishers. AUS $56, 253 pages (hard copy), ISBN: 9781845411120 (e-book)
In this most recent edition, An Introduction to Music Therapy Research presents a comprehensive overview of the world of music therapy research. Designed to be used by novice researchers, this book is an abridged version of the recently published Music Therapy Research, Third Edition (Wheeler & Murphy, 2016). Seventeen of the original 68 chapters feature in this edition, while an additional three chapters have been created to condense the remainder into more manageable content for beginning student researchers.
The book begins with two preliminary chapters that introduce important concepts in music therapy research, and explore research trends, both modern and in an historical context. The basics of beginning a research project arethen explored through chapters 3-9, from practical advice on how to develop a topic and review extant literature (chapters 3 and 4 respectively), to deeper philosophical issues such as ethics, cultural considerations and epistemological principles in research. Each chapter provides a detailed overview of concepts and frameworks related to each topic, many of which are supplemented by relevant examples from existing literature.
Chapters 10-13 deliver summaries of various methodologies specific to objectivist and interpretivist research, and provide a comprehensive list of related terminology and potential problems that might be encountered in research design and implementation. The three newly created chapters (14-16) attempt to synthesise several chapters from the parent edition by providing brief descriptions of several different types of research design for each epistemological approach. Although these descriptions lack the detail to adequately capture the complexities of research design, the concise summaries do allow for the key features of each topic to be easily identified and compared to others. Thefinal four chapters are again excerpts from the parent edition, and feature practical advice on how to prepare, execute and evaluate research projects.
The selection of chapters, original and new, successfully delivers the most salient information from the original text. The diverse range of authors bring experienced voices to many different perspectives of research, while the inclusion of examples from the extant literature help to contextualise many of the theoretical concepts that are introduced. There are minor editing inconsistencies, such as the occasional reference to chapters not present in thisabridged version, however the inclusion of chapter titles in the text ensure that the vigilant reader will still be able to locate the correct information within this edition.
A particular highlight of this book is the way in which authors frequently prompt the reader to reflect on their own beliefs about knowledge. This is particularly evident in chapters 8 and 9, which introduce the principles of objectivist and interpretivist research respectively. Educators will find this a helpful inclusion to initiate discussions on personal values and biases in research. As only brief overviews of research designs are included in this edition, it is perhaps not ideal for those who wish to pursue research at a higher level; in this instance, the parent edition may be better suited. However, as a recent graduate of the Master of Music Therapy course, I feel that the information presented in this edition is more than sufficient to assist students in deciding on and developing their first research project.