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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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