Klein, Hugh. Sociology, Barron's EZ 101 study keys, 1992, USA, sf. 48-78
SOCIAL RESEARCH METHODS
The keys in this theme are designed to explain how sociologists do research. Several of the major social
research-related concepts (including random sampling, convenience sampling, bias, validity, reliability,
generalizability, operationalization) are explained, as is their relevance to the performance of sociological
investigations. In addition, several of the keys in this theme explain various social research methodologies
and the advantages and disadvantages of employing each. The goal here is not only to help the readers
understand how sociologists do their research, but also to explain to readers the kinds of research-related
issues that are faced by people who wish to study human groups.
INDIVIDUAL KEYS IN THIS THEME
Quantitative vs. qualitative research designs
Using qualitative and quantitative research designs
Social research method 1: Survey research
Social research method 2: Experimental research designs
Social research method 3: Ethnographic research
Social research method 4: Content research
Single-methodology vs. multiple-methodology studies
Cross-sectional vs. longitudinal research designs
Validity, reliability, and generalizability
Hypothesis testing and statistical significance
Type I and type II errors
Quantitative vs. qualitative research
Research designs in sociology can be divided into two types: quantitative and qualitative
research designs are numbers oriented, usually involving the collection of large
amounts of numerical data that will be interpreted via statistical analysis.
are more gestalt-oriented, that is, they are designed to help the researcher develop an overall feeling and
a totalistic understanding of the phenomena at hand.
Quantitative vs. qualitative research:
Quantitative research involves providing assessments of likelihood or probability and/or the comparisons of various groups
along certain dimensions.
When making a decision to utilize a quantitative research design, the sociologist is trying to understand the phenomena at
hand by numericizing or quantifying them.
Qualitative research rarely involves the recording and statistical analysis of
In qualitative research, the phenomena to be understood are examined directly, usually over an extended period of time, and
notes are taken throughout the observation process.
Suppose that a sociologist wants to study college-student drinking patterns.