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Unformatted text preview: Sociological Research
Overview The Scientific Method Major Research Designs The Scientific Method
1. Define the Problem Clearly state what you intend to investigate Operational Definition: Must take a conceptual issue and define in a way that can be measured The Scientific Method
2. Review the Literature Literature: The existing body of Literature: research and information on a subject Helps to... Refine the problem under study Clarify possible data collection techniques Eliminate or reduce avoidable mistakes 3. Formulate Hypotheses and/or Research Questions The Scientific Method Identify important variables Variable: A measurable trait or characteristic Dependent variables Independent variables 3. Formulate Hypotheses and/or Research Questions The Scientific Method Hypothesis: A speculative statement about the expected relationship between two or more variables What relationships do you intend to test? Some examples The Scientific Method
4. Decide on a Research Design Research Design: A detailed plan or method for obtaining data Major research designs used in sociology... Surveys, ethnography, experiments, and use of existing data sources The Scientific Method
5. Collect and Analyze Data Collect data and test for hypothesized relationships Are the independent variables related to the dependent variables in the way speculated? The Scientific Method
6. Drawing Conclusions Do your results support your hypotheses? What (scientific) story can you tell? Limitations/directions for future research The Scientific Method Major Research Designs
Surveys Typically takes the form of a standardized interview or questionnaire Strength: Possible to collect data from large numbers of people Limitation: Questions must be standardized, and therefore may miss important information Major Research Designs
Surveys Some surveys include the entire population of interest (i.e., U.S. Census) But most draw a samplea smaller groupfrom the overall population Random sampling (equal probability of selection) ensures a sample is representative Beware! Nonrepresentative survey data is Major Research Designs
Ethnography Firsthand studies through participation and/or observation, or interviewing Strength: Possible to collect more indepth information Limitation: Can only study a small group; can't generalize to larger populations Major Research Designs
Experiments Divide subjects into an experimental group (exposed to I.V.) and a control group (not exposed to I.V.)
Strength: Lots of control; easier to replicate Limitation: Many aspects of social life can't be brought into a lab; ethical considerations Sociologists often study natural experiments Use of Existing Data Sources Major Research Designs Many sociologists use secondary data Examples include census data, crime statistics, marriage and divorce statistics Strength: Don't have to spend as much time and money collecting data Limitation: Restricted to what has already been collected The Need for a Critical Eye Was the scientific method used? Who conducted the research? Is the research design appropriate? How about variable measurement? Are reasonable conclusions being drawn? ...
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- Spring '07