Research design
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Research Design. Purposes for Research Criteria for Causation Units of Analysis The Time Component. Three Purposes of Research. Exploration Description Explanation. Criteria for Causation . Two Things Must be Related (Correlation) The Cause Must Precede the Effect (Time ordering)

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Research Design

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Research Design

Purposes for Research

Criteria for Causation

Units of Analysis

The Time Component


Three Purposes of Research

  • Exploration

  • Description

  • Explanation


Criteria for Causation

  • Two Things Must be Related (Correlation)

  • The Cause Must Precede the Effect (Time ordering)

  • The Relationship Must be “Non-Spurious”


Common Mistakes

  • “Complete” causation

  • Exceptional cases

  • Majority of cases


Necessary / Sufficient

  • A Necessary Cause

    • X must be present for Y to occur

  • A Sufficient Cause

    • If X is present, Y must occur


Units of Analysis

  • This is the “what” that is being studied

    • Social scientists can have almost anything as the unit of analysis

    • It is even possible to have a study with multiple units of analysis

  • Be CAREFUL

    • Knowing that a person studied “people” does not necessarily tell you the unit of analysis


Some of my tricks…

  • Look at what a researcher is predicting or counting—if something is expressed in “rates,” it is a group level unit of analysis

  • Rephrase a persons research hypothesis or statement in way that makes the unit of analysis more explicit

  • If “groups” are a part of the study, figure out whether the researcher is comparing groups, or simply using group status as an “attribute” in order to compare individuals


The Individual Level

  • Typically, individual people

    • Don’t confuse “generalizing” with units of analysis

    • You can study “groups” or “classes” of people, but still have individuals as unit of analysis

  • Non-people examples

    • Social artifacts and Social interactions

      • Typically individual, but could be aggregates


Group (Aggregate) Level

  • KEY = the group is the entity we study—looking at attributes of the group

    • May sometimes studies individuals to construct such attributes (e.g., construct rate)

  • Organizations

    • Corporations, churches,


TIME

  • Why is “time” important?

    • Causal ordering

    • Generalization

  • Cross-Sectional Research

  • Longitudinal

    • Trend

    • Cohort

    • Panel


Ways to Get Around Longitudinal Research (e.g., Cheating)

  • Logic can sometimes dictate cause and effect

  • Sometimes the data can help draw conclusions about cause and effect

  • Retrospective studies

  • Use age differences within sample to reach conclusions

  • Repeat a prior cross-sectional study


Designing a Research Project

  • Research is MESSY!!!

  • Theories and Ideas

  • Starting Point

    • Read, read, read

    • Purpose of research

  • Conceptualization

  • Choice of Research Method


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