Unformatted text preview: Introduction: What is Research?
CJ 300 Dr. Kierkus January 2011 What is Social Research?
"Social research is a collection of methods people use to systematically produce knowledge?" (Neuman, 2003: 2) Method. Knowledge. It's not the only method. People have traditionally relied on others: Alternatives
Authority: Expert opinion. Experts can be wrong! H. Pylori infection causing ulcers. Be careful that you don't sail off the edge of the earth ... Tradition: people have known this to be true since the beginning of time. Common sense: Duh! It's just obvious. A gun buy back will get guns off the streets, so it has to prevent violence, right? Most crime is violent, after all, that's what I see on the news! Media myths: Conclusions based on how the media portrays an issue. Personal experience: I know, because it's happened to me! Leads to stereotypes. CJ practitioners need to be especially careful: The police officer who believes that everyone is "bad" because she works with criminals all day long. A juvenile program counselor who is convinced his program is successful because many of his kids desist from crime. The Role of Research
The goal of research is to generate "better" knowledge than what is available from alternative methods. Get us "closer to the truth". Dispel myths and stereotypes. Quantitative research depends on the scientific method. Scientific method: empirical testing of theories. Science is both a philosophy and a procedure. Theory: a set of ideas about how the social or physical world works. Often tries to explain something. Empirical: gathering data about a phenomenon. Not restricted to quantitative data. The Scientific Community
Any scientific discipline (from criminology to chemistry) will have a scientific community with the following characteristics: Universalism: Doesn't matter who you are.
Senior professor or undergrad student. Organized skepticism: Question research, not people.
Always question, never take on faith. Disinterestedness: Objectivity.
Is this practical? Communalism: Journals and conferences.
Share the knowledge! Honesty: Replication helps assure this.
If we don't have this, we're wasting our time! Research Process
Science is a process: All scientists follow it. Chose a topic: What interests you? Focus the project: Research question.
Literature review can help. "Devil is in the details". You can't do a scientific study of "policing". Example: Do guns make robbery more dangerous? Design the study: Most appropriate to the research question.
Secondary vs. primary data analysis. Longitudinal vs. cross-sectional. Experimental vs. correlational. There are always trade offs. Research Process
Gather the data. The ideal is a large, representative sample.
We want to know if after school programs work in general, not just in SE Grand Rapids. Analyze the data. Different methods for different types of data.
Usually a precise set of rules (if/then). Qualitative data analysis has its own techniques (CJ 400).
Require more subjective judgment. Interpret findings. Be mindful of limitations. Don't over generalize. Numbers can be used to deceive! (see graphing example) Would you believe, more Research Process?
Inform others: review and critique work. Science is cumulative. Conferences and journal articles.
This is crucial since research can be biased (see question wording example). Popular sources. Policy conferences. Talk shows / news? The research process is an ideal type. Often you move back and forth between stages. Summary
We do research to generate knowledge. Scientists believe that science generates better knowledge than alternative methods. We have an obligation to apply that knowledge. The more we know about something the better our policies.
Only a finite amount of $$$. For example, gun control: Gun buy backs aren't only problematic because they "don't work" they waste resources that could be devoted to something else. Pouring resources into ineffective programs may also create a false sense of security. ...
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- Fall '10
- scientific community