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Research Ethics and Structuring Inquiry . Ethics and Politics of Research. Ethics deals with methods used in research. Politics deals with representation of research. James Colemen and School Desegregation

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Research ethics and structuring inquiry

Research Ethics and Structuring Inquiry

Ethics and politics of research
Ethics and Politics of Research

  • Ethics deals with methods used in research.

  • Politics deals with representation of research.

    • James Colemen and School Desegregation

    • Eminent sociologist who found little difference in the academic performance of African-Americans in integrated vs. segregated schools

    • Instead family and neighborhood mattered most

    • Controversy and misrepresentation

Ethics in social research
Ethics in Social Research

  • Voluntary participation.

  • No harm to participants.

    • Voluntary participation is based on a full understanding of possible risks.

  • Anonymity and confidentiality.

Ethics in social research1
Ethics in Social Research

  • Deception

    • Needs to be justified by compelling scientific or administrative concerns.

    • Debriefing session or procedure

  • Analysis and Reporting

    • Researchers must be honest about their findings and research.

Ethics in social research2
Ethics in Social Research

  • Institutional Review Boards

    • Review research proposals involving humans so they can guarantee the rights and interests are protected.

  • Professional Codes of Ethics

    • Most professional associations have formal codes of conduct that describe acceptable and unacceptable professional behavior.

Ethical controversy tearooms
Ethical Controversy: Tearooms

  • Study of homosexual behavior in public restrooms

  • Lied to participants by telling them he was a “watchqueen”

  • Traced participants to their home and interviewed them under false pretenses

    • Invasion of privacy?

    • Deception of respondents?

Ethical controversy milgram
Ethical Controversy: Milgram

  • Study of human obedience.

  • Subjects had role of "teacher" and administered a shock to "pupils".

  • Pupils were actually part of the experiment.

    • Act out the effects of progressively higher “shocks”

    • Two-third continue to the highest level

    • “teachers” express great discomfort

Group exercise
Group Exercise

  • Would you use research insights gained from research conducted in violation of ethical guidelines?

    • Ex., Tuskegee Airman Studies

    • Ex., Nazi War Experiments

  • Would you conduct a study that did not get IRB approval if you thought the topic was important?

    • Ex. Public responses to major news event

    • Ex. Studying the health effects of an oil spill

Nature of inquiry
Nature of Inquiry

  • What question are you trying to answer?

    • Pick the appropriate approach

  • Do you want to explain one case fully or understand a class of cases?

    • Different approaches with different goals

Idiographic vs nomothetic
Idiographic vs. Nomothetic

  • Two ends of a continuum of inquiry

  • The Idiographic Orientation

    • Unique characteristics of phenomena:

      • Rich description of “idiosyncratic” features

      • Intention is to explain one case fully

  • The Nomothetic Orientation

    • Generating generalizable principles

      • Establishing “trans-situational” laws

      • Intention is to explain a class

Inductive reasoning
Inductive Reasoning

  • Moves from the particular to the general

  • Observations lead to generalizations

  • Exploratory investigation

  • E.g., Identifying news frames through ethnographic study of newsroom culture and news production practices

    • Identifying frames as you encounter them

Deductive reasoning
Deductive Reasoning

  • Moves from the general to the particular

  • General principles lead to expectations for empirical testing

  • Theory testing investigation

  • E.g., Using theories of news production to:

    • Predict certain frames will occur more frequently

    • Episodic over thematic framing (Iyengar’s research)

Wallace s wheel of science
Wallace’s Wheel of Science










Creating explanations
Creating Explanations

  • Research often seeks explanations by:

    • examining relationships between variables

    • E.g. Is gender related to party preference?

    • E.g. Is education related to prejudice?

    • E.g. Is political discussion related to civic participation?

Conditions of causality
Conditions of Causality:

  • Covariation

    • Correspondence between cause and effect

    • Positive or negative covariation

  • Time-order

    • Cause must precede effect

  • Absence of third variables

    • Spurious relationships

Spurious relationships
Spurious Relationships

  • Situations where X and Y appear to be related:

    • But are really the function of third variable Z

  • 1. Antecedent variable

    • Z causes both X and Y

  • 2. Intervening variable

    • X causes Z, Z causes X

  • Causation is rarely as simple as X causing Y

    • Multitude of factors cause Y

      • Contribute in varying amounts

Necessary sufficient causes
Necessary & Sufficient Causes

  • Necessary Cause:

    • For Y to occur, X must occur first

    • Just because X occurs, doesn’t mean Y will occur

    • Other factors may have to occur too

    • To pass the test, you must take the test

  • Sufficient Cause:

    • If X occurs, Y will occur

    • X determines Y, no contingencies

    • Other factors may also have the effect

    • If you skip an exam, you fail the exam