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Sociological Research. How does social research add to our knowledge of human societies? What is the relationship between theory & research? What are the main steps in the sociological research process? Why is it important to have different research methods?. Sociologists try to understand

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sociological research

Sociological Research

How does social research add to our knowledge of human societies?

What is the relationship between theory & research?

What are the main steps in the sociological research process?

Why is it important to have different research methods?

why is soc research n ecessary
Sociologists try to understand

social behaviour

  • Sociologists obtain their knowledge of human behaviour through research
Why is Soc Research necessary?
slide3
The sociological perspective

incorporates theory and research

to arrive at

a more informed understanding

of the “hows” and “whys”

of human social interaction.

5 ways of knowing the world
There are several ways of knowing the world:
    • Personal Experience
    • Tradition
    • Authority
    • Religion
    • Science
  • All are valid sources of understanding.
5 Ways of Knowing the World
personal experience
We have discovered for ourselves many of the things we know
    • If we put our tongue on a frozen doorknob, we learn that removing it can be very painful
Personal Experience
tradition
People hold firmly to a belief because “everyone knows” it to be true
    • Tradition tells us that something is correct because it has always been done that way
    • We accept what has always

been believed rather than

finding out the answers

by ourselves

Tradition
authority
Experts tell us that something is true
    • We do not need to go to the moon to discover its mineral composition, but instead accept the judgment of space scientists.
    • In practice, much of what we know about medicine, crime, and many other phenomena is based on what authorities have told us
Authority
religion
A specific type of authority is

religious authority

    • We accept the truths that our particular scriptures and religious officials advocate
    • Factors as diverse as morality, diet,
    • dress, and hair styles are based on
    • religious authority
Religion
scientific knowledge
The scientific way of knowing involves controlled, systematic observation
    • Scientists insist that all statements be tested and that testing procedures be open to public inspection
Scientific Knowledge
approaches to research
Empirical Approach
    • Its findings are based on the assumption that knowledge is best gained by direct, systematic observation
  • Normative Approach
    • Uses religion, tradition, or authority to answer important questions
    • Based on beliefs about what is right & wrong, and what is desirable in a society
Approaches to Research
scientific research
Empirical approach
  • Systematic & public
  • Self-correction, re-evaluation
  • Objectivity is valued
    • Methods, processes are transparent
Scientific Research
how to recognize an empirical article
Article abstract includes details of a study, observation, or analysis of a # of subjects
  • Article is fairly lengthy (5-30+ pages)
  • Article contains subsections marked:
    • Methodology, Research Methods, or Methods
    • Results, or Findings
How to recognize an Empirical Article?
sociological research1
Sociologists tend to use 2 types of empirical studies:
    • Descriptive
        • Attempt to describe social reality or provide facts about some group, practice, or event
            • i.e. The Canadian Census
    • Explanatory
        • Attempt to explain relationships and to provide information on why certain events do or do not occur
Sociological Research
theory research cycle
Theory
      • a set of logically interrelated statements that attempts to describe, explain, and (occasionally) predict social events
      • Attempts to explain why something is the way it is
Theory & Research Cycle
theory research cycle1
T&R Cycle consists of 2 approaches:
    • The deductive approach
        • Begin with a theory & use research to test the theory
    • The inductive approach
        • Collect information or data & then generate theories from the analysis of that data
Theory & Research Cycle
battling bad science
Ben Goldacre
  • http://www.ted.com/talks/ben_goldacre_battling_bad_science.html
Battling Bad Science
slide20
PankajGhemawat: Actually, the world isn't flat
    • http://www.ted.com/talks/pankaj_ghemawat_actually_the_world_isn_t_flat.html
  • TaliSharot: The optimism bias
    • http://www.ted.com/talks/tali_sharot_the_optimism_bias.html
the sociological research process1
Quantitative Research
    • The goal is scientific objectivity
    • Focuses on data that can be measured numerically
  • Qualitative Research
    • Interpretive description (words) are used rather than statistics (numbers) to analyze meanings and patterns of social relationships
The Sociological Research Process
quantitative
Uses numerical data to measure the results of the study.
  • Select and define the research problem.
  • Review previous research.
  • Formulate the hypothesis.
  • Develop the research design.
  • Collect & Analyze the data.
  • Draw Conclusions & Report the Findings.
Quantitative
qualitative
Uses observation, interviews, reflections, field notes, etc.
  • Problem formation: general approach.
  • Collect and analyze data to assess the Validity OF the starting position: refining concepts.
  • Detailed view of the topic: smaller number of cases and many variables.
Qualitative
research terminology
Hypothesis
  • Concept
  • Variable
    • Dependent vs Independent variable
  • Operational definition
  • Reliability
  • Validity
  • Analysis
  • Replication
Research Terminology
how theory research work together
Theory Helps Interpretation of Data
  • Theory Generates Questions for Research
  • Research Helps Generate Theory
How Theory & Research Work Together
q v q
Quantitative Research Methods
    • Emphasis on Precise Measurement
    • Uses Statistics and Numbers
  • Qualitative Research Methods
    • Emphasis on Observing, Describing, and Interpreting Behavior
Q V. Q
research methods
Experiments
  • Surveys
  • Secondary Analysis of Existing Data
  • Field Research

Review the chart of page 60 of the text.

Research Methods
experiments
A carefully designed situation in which the researcher studies the impact of certain variables on subjects’ attitudes or behaviourExperiments
experiments1
Designed to create real-life situations
  • ideally under controlled circumstances
  • the influence of different variables can be modified & measured
Experiments
key terms
Experimental Group
      • Subjects are exposed to an independent variable
  • Control Group
      • Subjects are not exposed to the independent V.
  • Conventional Experiments require that subjects be divided into these 2 group
Key Terms
key terms1
Independent Variables
      • Presumed to cause or determine a dependent V.
        • Age, sex, race, ethnicity
  • Dependent Variables
      • Assumed to depend on or be caused by the indp V.
        • The outcome/effect
Key Terms
example
Hypothesis: women are more likely to be altruistic than men
    • Independent variable:
        • gender
    • Dependent variable:
        • Degree of altruism
Example:
example1
The context of the study determines whether a variable is Dep. Or Indp.
    • Investigate the relationship between a family’s income & the likelihood of their child graduating from university
        • University education = dependent V
    • Study the relationship between university education & voting behaviour
        • University education = independent variable
Example:
experiments2
Subjects are divided into Control & Experimental groups
  • The Indp V is manipulated by researchers
  • The DepV is measured by researchers
Experiments
experiments3
Subjects may be matched for similar characteristics or be randomly assigned so comparisons can be made
  • This ensures the groups are equivalent at the beginning of the study
Experiments
simple experiment design
1 - Subjects are pre- tested
    • Measured in terms of the Dep V in the Hypothesis
  • 2 - Exposed to a stimulus representing an Indp V
  • 3 - Post-tested
    • Re-measured in terms of the Dep V
  • 4 – Experimental & Control groups are compared to see if they differ in relation to the Dep V & Hyp. is confirmed/rejected
Simple Experiment Design
types of experiments
Laboratory Experiment
    • Subjects are studied in a closed setting so researchers can maintain control over research
  • Natural Experiment
    • Real-life occurences (floods) that provide researchers with “living laboratories”
  • Field Experiment
    • Researchers stage events in a natural setting
Types of Experiments
terms you should know
Experiment
    • Laboratory
    • Natural
    • Field
  • Experimental Group
  • Control Group
Terms you should know:
terms you should know1
Hypothesis
  • Dependent Variable
  • Independent Variable
  • Quantitative
  • Qualitative
Terms you should know:
terms you should know2
Experimental Group
      • Subjects are exposed to an independent variable
  • Control Group
      • Subjects are not exposed to the independent V.
Terms you should know:
terms you should know3
Laboratory Experiment
    • Subjects are studied in a closed setting so researchers can maintain control over research
  • Natural Experiment
    • Real-life occurences (floods) that provide researchers with “living laboratories”
  • Field Experiment
    • Researchers stage events in a natural setting
Terms you should know:
terms you should know4
Independent Variables
      • Presumed to cause or determine a dependent V.
        • Age, sex, race, ethnicity
  • Dependent Variables
      • Assumed to depend on or be caused by the indp V.
        • The outcome/effect
Terms you should know:
terms you should know6
Quantitative Research Methods
    • Emphasis on Precise Measurement
    • Uses Statistics and Numbers
  • Qualitative Research Methods
    • Emphasis on Observing, Describing, and Interpreting Behavior
Terms you should know:
surveys
A number of respondents are asked identical questions through a systematic questionnaire or interview
  • Answer questions about their attitudes, opinions or behaviour
Surveys
surveys1
Most common in Sociology
  • Very important research method…
    • Can study things that are not directly observable (attitudes & beliefs)
    • Can describe a population too large to observe directly
Surveys
survey terminology
Respondents:
    • Persons who provide data for analysis through interviews or questionnaires
  • Population
    • The total group of people about whom we want to know
Survey Terminology
survey terminology1
Sample
    • The small group chosen from the population to be studied
  • Representative Sample
    • A selection from a larger population that has the essential characteristics of the total population
  • Random Sample
    • Every member of the population has an equal chance of being selected
Survey Terminology
survey terminology2
Questionnaire:
    • A research instrument containing a series of items to which subjects respond
      • face-to-face, telephone, internet or self-administered
  • Interview:
      • A data collection encounter in which an interviewer asks the respondent questions and records the answers
Survey Terminology
research ethics
Weighing the social benefits of research against the potential physical and emotional costs to participants
  • Check out some of the ethical issues in these articles:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/ethics

Research Ethics
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