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Dimensions of Research. Four dimensions: Use Purpose Time Data Collection Decisions points when moving through the beginning of a research project. Use of Research. Social research is often considered to have 2 orientations: applied and basic (or pure)

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dimensions of research
Dimensions of Research
  • Four dimensions:
    • Use
    • Purpose
    • Time
    • Data Collection
  • Decisions points when moving through the beginning of a research project
use of research
Use of Research
  • Social research is often considered to have 2 orientations: applied and basic (or pure)
  • In reality, these orientations intertwine
  • Most applied research contributes to our understanding of the social world
  • Most basic research is applicable to policy situations
basic research
Basic Research
  • Focuses on refuting or supporting theories about social life
  • Source of most new ideas and theories
  • Theory construction, in particular, can take years of work
  • Builds these ideas through cycles of research, replication, and revision
basic research1
Basic Research
  • Also produces most of the new methods in the discipline
  • Usually the testing ground for new methods and instruments
  • Typically complies strongly with the scientific norms of organized skepticism and disinterestedness
basic research2
Basic Research
  • Mostly performed by academics
  • Some basic research crosses disciplines
  • Mostly consumed by academics
  • A small percentage of this research reaches the mass media and public
applied research
Applied Research
  • Conducted to address a specific concern or develop and solution
  • Usually sponsored by some agency or organization
  • Often specific to only one situation or population
applied research1
Applied Research
  • Because applied research is usually specific to one situation, its use by others often leads to misinterpretation
  • It may also be heavily influenced by its sponsors
  • It may be controversial in its findings
applied research2
Applied Research
  • Mostly performed by govt. officials, think tanks, educational institutions, private agencies, etc.
  • Mostly consumed by practitioners like lawyers, social workers, teachers, etc.
  • Results may be used by several people outside of the researcher
types of applied research
Types of Applied Research
  • Evaluation
    • Evaluates a program—does it work?
    • May be conducted internally or externally
    • Can be hampered by ethical and political concerns
    • Much evaluation research is funded by the government to evaluate its policy outcomes
types of applied research1
Types of Applied Research
  • Action Research
    • Research tied to social action and change
    • Advance causes through public awareness
  • Social Impact Assessment Research
    • Estimates the consequences of a planned program
    • Usually commissioned by government agencies
purposes of research
Purposes of Research
  • Exploratory, Descriptive and Explanatory
  • Typically only one dominant research purpose
  • Generally, the progress of a research areas flows from exploratory to descriptive to explanatory
exploratory research
Exploratory Research
  • For new or undiscovered topics
  • Uncovers basic facts about the topic
  • Formulates and focuses questions for later studies
  • Suggests directions and feasibility of future research
  • Usually focused on the “what,” not the “why”
exploratory research1
Exploratory Research
  • May not have a specific research question
  • Can be challenging because there are few guidelines to follow and the goals may change
  • Frequently uses qualitative techniques to develop initial data and ideas
  • Makes use of creativity and serendipity
descriptive research
Descriptive Research
  • Presents a picture with specific details of the situation or behavior
  • Requires a focused research question/topic
  • Often blurs with/follows exploratory research
  • Focuses on “how” and “who” questions
  • Is necessary for good explanatory research
explanatory research
Explanatory Research
  • Focuses on “why”, or the reason a situation or behavior occurs
  • Builds on exploratory and descriptive research, and other explanatory research
  • Uses theory
  • Much of the research published in journals is explanatory
time dimensions
Time Dimensions
  • Some research neglects the element of time, other research focuses heavily on time
  • Cross-Sectional
    • Observations at a limited point in time
    • Frequently used by social scientists
    • Although it does not capture time, change, or process, it is often used in explanatory research
longitudinal research
Longitudinal Research
  • Much more expensive and time-consuming than cross-sectional
  • Time-series: multiple observations over time of the several units
  • Panel Study: multiple observations over time of the same units
  • Cohort Study: multiple observations over time of similar units
case studies
Case Studies
  • Investigates only a few cases but in depth
  • Data is more varied, detailed and extensive
  • Two common approaches:
    • 2 cases with similar outcomes but different paths
    • 2 cases with different outcomes but similar paths
  • May be cross-sectional or longitudinal, exploratory, descriptive or explanatory
quantitative vs qualitative
Quantitative vs. Qualitative
  • Quantitative: data that can be expressed numerically
  • Qualitative: data typically in the form of words or pictures
  • Most research topics can be studied both quantitatively or qualitatively
  • However, most research questions are best suited to one or the other
quantitative vs qualitative1
Quantitative vs. Qualitative
  • Qualitative Research Questions:
    • What motivates people to participate in STIC?
    • Why are some people and countries more ignorant of STIC?
  • Quantitative Research Questions:
    • Does marital status affect STIC participation?
    • Is STIC knowledge greater in highly educated persons/countries?
quantitative vs qualitative2
Quantitative vs. Qualitative
  • Quantitative is somewhat more common in sociology overall
  • Qualitative is more common is some fields, such as the sociology of gender or emotions
  • Most research projects could benefit from both approaches
which type do you do
Which Type Do You Do?
  • The process of focusing your research question often helps you determine the use, purpose and structure of your study
  • Other elements like time availability, resources and skills must also be considered
  • There is usually not one right way to study anything
chapter summary
Chapter Summary
  • Use:
    • Basic: produces new knowledge
    • Applied: produces answers and solutions
  • Purpose:
    • Exploratory: uncover new elements\relationships
    • Descriptive: detailed picture
    • Explanatory: examines causal relationships
chapter summary1
Chapter Summary
  • Time
    • Cross-Sectional: observations at one time point
    • Longitudinal: observations across time points
  • Design
    • Qualitative: open questions and verbal data
    • Quantitative: specific questions and numeric data
  • Choices are guided by your question and resources
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