SOCIOLOGICAL RESEARCH METHODS How do we know what we know? Ways of knowing By Authority: As stated by someone with some power or regarded as knowledgeable. By Tradition: As passed down by ancestors. By Personal Experience: By Science: Acquired by a systematic and rigorous method of inquiry. TYPES OF RESEARCH Description Exploratory Explanation Evaluation The Scientific Method THEORY OBSERVATION HYPOTHESIS EMPIRICAL GENERALIZATION Deduction Induction THE RESEARCH PROCESS 1. What are the various stages involved? 2. What ethical issues face researchers? Selecting a topic Personal experience: e.g., poverty, addiction Mass media: e.g., news item, comment by a panelist. Frontiers of knowledge: Extending a research finding or clarifying someone?s result. Selecting a topic?contd. Solving a problem: applied research Social premiums: current projects being funded Personal values: e.g., strong commitment to social justice Everyday life Review of the literature What do we already know about this topic? What previous research has been done? What is missing in our knowledge? Review of the literature Any problems with past methodologies, interpretations, or conclusions? Do conclusions leave you with more questions? Data collection Data = information Quantitative data? numeric information; e.g., age in years. Qualitative data? non-numeric information; e.g., gender is male or female Methods of data collection Experiments: (i) Laboratory; e.g., Darley & Latané (1968) ?Bystander intervention in Emergencies: Diffusion of responsibility? (ii) Field; e.g., Isen & Levin (1972) ?Effect of feeling good on helping: Cookies and kindness? Experiments?contd. Used to demonstrate cause and effect. Researcher controls the environment in which phenomenon occurs. Subjects are randomly assigned to treatment (i.e., experimental) group and control group. (Randomization) Experiments?contd. Measurement of dependent variable is done for both groups. Independent variable is manipulated for the treatment group. Measurement of dependent variable is done again for both groups. Experiments?contd. Levels of the dependent variable are then compared to see if the experiment made a difference. Is the manipulation responsible for change? (internal validity) Can we generalize the results outside the experiment? (external validity) OTHER METHODS The Survey: May take different forms, e.g., Self-administered (Mail-in) questionnaire. Major problem is return rate. Telephone interview Face-to-face interview Survey relies on scientific sampling. Sample is a part of the population of interest. Sample must be representative of the population. Structured Questionnaire: It is closed ended. Respondents (interviewees) select responses from those listed on the questions. Unstructured questionnaire. Responses are open-ended. Enables respondents to elaborate answers. Content Analysis: Analysis of cultural artifacts Examples include letters, newspaper stories and articles, music, TV programs. Such research is unobtrusive?i.e., social actors are not aware of being studied. Participant observation: A form of field research. Researcher is both a subjective participant and an objective observer. Historical research Evaluation research OTHER RESEARCH ACTIVITIES DATA ANALYSIS: Data=information (datum?singular) Quantitative data: Data are numeric. Statistical procedures can be easily applied in order to summarize and show relationships Qualitative data: Non numeric. Useful for description and statistical summaries. Drawing conclusions and report writing. Main issue is how far results can be generalized. Some studies must be peer-reviewed. ETHICS IN RESEARCH Voluntary participation No harm to research participants Anonymity & Confidentiality Deception Reporting Voluntary Participation 1. Because research often requires participants to reveal personal information, some of which they have not shared with even friends and relatives. Voluntary Participation 2. However, it may jeopardize scientific nature of the investigation?especially generalization of results. No Harm to participants Physical injury Emotional harm Informed Consent: Participants must base their voluntary participation on a clear understanding of any risks involved to them. Usually, participants are required to sign a statement acknowledging their awareness of the risks involved. Anonymity & Confidentiality Anonymity: Refers to researcher as well as readers not being able to associate a particular respondent with a given statement or response in the research. Confidentiality: Assuring respondents that anything learned about them will not be disclosed to another party. DECEPTION Deception itself is unethical. Hiding one?s identity as a researcher or the purpose of the research or the sponsors (if any) of the research may sometimes be necessary. Debriefing participants after data collection is a way to reveal the truth to them and put them at ease. ANALYSIS & REPORTING Researchers? obligation to research community. Report findings that do not support hypotheses. Report limitations of the research.
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