Sociological Research Methods LAB Adapted From Stainback 2001 Relationship to Course Lab grade is 25% of course grade Lab assignments graded by me Problems with lab address to me Relationship to Course (Continued) Clarify concepts that you learn in class Introduce new concepts Apply concepts that you learn in class to concepts that you learn in lab Familiarize you with useful tools for working on your research proposal Unable to re-teach lab to absent students Variables Variable A property of people or objects that takes on two or more values A characteristic or property that can vary (i.e., take on different values or attributes) Variables Social science involves the study of variables and the attributes that compose them Social scientific theories are written in a language of variables The relationship between attributes and variables lies at the heart of description and explanation in science Variables Variables are logical groupings of attributes Examples: Variable: sex Attributes: male, female Variable: race Attributes: White, Black or African American, Asian or Pacific Islander, Native American or Alaska Native Variable: occupation Attributes: teacher, nurse, mail carrier, farmer Variables Typically, we examine the effect of one or more variables on other variable(s) Education Income Independent and Dependent Variables Independent Variable (IV) The variable that is hypothesized to cause or lead to variation in another variable Dependent Variable (DV) The hypothesized effect, or consequence, of variation in another variable Capital Punishment Gender Independent and Dependent Variables Think about the Independent Variable as the cause and the Dependent Variable as the effect CAUSE EFFECT Independent and Dependent Variables INCOME RACE GRADE IN SOC 300L AMOUNT OF WORK GEOGRAPHIC REGION ACCENT Independent Variables Some variables will always be the independent variable Example: race, sex, and age Why are these variables always independent variables? These variables are pre-determined and do not depend on anything Operationalization of Variables To test any hypothesis, social scientists must specify the meanings of all the variables that are involved in the research Operationalization The operations involved in measuring a variable Operational definition Specific definition of a variable in terms of the operations by which observations are to be categorized Operationalization of Variables Example of how variables are operationalized Variable: sex Operationalization of sex: Are you male or female? Variable: abortion attitudes Operationalization of abortion attitudes: Tell me whether or not you think it should be possible for a pregnant woman to obtain a legal abortion if the woman wants it for any reason. Surveys A survey is a systematic collection of facts about some defined population Most sociological surveys are based on written questionnaires Questionnaires are typically a combination of interviewing and sampling The social survey has become the most widely employed method of data collection Why do social scientists use surveys? To establish the existence of relationships among variables SEX/GENDER ABORTION RELIGIOSITY POLITICAL IDEOLOGY GEOGRAPHIC REGION GUN CONTROL What is the GSS? General Social Surveys First dataset designed to be used by ?users? The mission of the GSS is to make timely, high-quality, scientifically relevant data available to the social science research community Features of the GSS Has broad coverage Topics range from abortion to zodiac Uses replication Over 1,000 questions have been replicated Has a cross-national perspective In 1985, the International Social Survey Program (ISSP) was developed As of 1999, the ISSP had 34 members Steps to Developing a Researchable Question 1. Start with a topic of interest I?m interested in binge drinking behavior. 2. Focus your interest on specific groups, populations, & conceptualizations I?m interested in the excess consumption of alcohol among college students. 3. Attempt to identify an association or difference Is there a difference between male and female college students in terms of the amount of alcohol they consume? 4. Consider what explains that association I want to know why male & female college students differ in terms of the amount of alcohol they consume. Finding research articles and using research databases How to find articles How to use databases Sociological abstracts Race OR ethnicity AND inequality AND stratification
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