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WHY DO SOCIAL RESEARCH ?. Answer Questions about society Enhance our knowledge Benefit society. DYNAMIC Cycle of Research Social behaviors, attitudes and theories Change!. Research Subjects. Individuals Groups of People Societies Cultures Social processes

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why do social research
  • Answer Questions about society
  • Enhance our knowledge
  • Benefit society

Cycle of Research

Social behaviors, attitudes and theories Change!

research subjects
Research Subjects
  • Individuals
  • Groups of People
  • Societies
  • Cultures
  • Social processes
  • Social and Psychological abnormalities

These are your units of analysis

empirical research
  • Don’t rely on what others say
  • Test it yourself
  • Touch that stove to see if it’s hot
  • Ouch –
  • Yup – It’s hot!
how is a researcher like a detective
How is a researcher like a detective?
  • Looks for facts and truths
  • Accumulates facts to solve mysteries
  • Results benefit society
like detectives researchers are human
Like Detectives, Researchers are HUMAN

Humans are subjective

Don’t always observe or listen accurately

Opinions may bias research

Often generalize

Often resist change

Often put our own interests first

how to do scientific research
How to do Scientific Research
  • Define all terms
  • Suspect all previous knowledge
  • Replicate research to test social theory and build on it
  • Look for regularities and patterns
  • Look for normalities and conformities, abnormalities and deviance from patterns
methods used for data collection
Methods used for Data collection
  • Information is data

What are the most popular Methods used for gathering Data

  • Survey – Interview and Questionnaire
  • Experiment – Laboratory setting – Testing
  • Qualitative – Participant Observation, Intensive Interview, Focus Groups, Case Studies, Comparative, Content Analysis,Grounded Theory
types of social research
Types of Social Research
  • Descriptive Research – social phenomena are defined and described. i.e. What are the characteristics of people who use the Internet? i.e. age, gender, education, income, religion. Best method to assess is survey
  • Exploratory Research – Determine how people behave in a particular setting – i.e. What are the various ways people use the internet? – What are the meanings they attach to their actions? What issues concern them? Best methods to assess – survey and observation
  • Explanatory Research – Identify causes and effects of social phenomena with the objective of predicting outcome – If a person uses the internet they feel happier. Best method to assess is Experiment – sometimes survey. Usually is Quantitative.
  • Evaluation Research – Incorporates a variety of methods to learn the effects of a social program or intervention or to assess need for a social program or intervention – i.e. Did giving employees use of internet improve morale? Best to use multi-method approach.
the time dimension
The Time Dimension
  • The event, phenomena, behavior etc. may be studied as:
  • Cross-Sectional Study – One point in time
  • Longitudinal Study – multiple points in time
attributes of data
  • May be Primary Data – collected by the researcher
  • May be Secondary Data – researcher uses other researchers’ data

Businesses, government, organizations, universities compile data and statistics that others can use such as: General Social Survey, Census, National Crime Study, Election Studies

  • Is the available Secondary Data useful?
  • Is it accurate?
  • Are the measures used close to the measures needed to answer your research questions?
more attributes of data
More Attributes of Data
  • Quantitative – The data is numeric – It can be ordered in terms of magnitude
  • Qualitative – The data is mostly written or spoken words that do not have a direct numerical interpetation
what is a research question
What is a Research Question?
  • Example – Will arresting spousal abusers deter repeat incidents (recidivism)?
  • We seek to answer questions about people, people in groups, general social issues and processes by collecting verifiable empirical data
  • In the form of a hypothesis – If more spousal abusers are arrested then recidivism will be reduced
where do the questions come from
Where do the questions come from?
  • Own experience or personal interests
  • Reading literature about a particular topic

What is the process we follow:

  • Identify a question
  • Refine the question
  • Evaluate the question
  • Reformulate the question
how do we develop theories
How Do We Develop Theories?
  • Deductive reasoning – General to Specific

Our research starts from a theory, moves to data collection then back to a better theory

  • Inductive reasoning – Specific data leads to a general theory

Instead of the research cycle starting with theory, the question emerges from the situation. We observe behaviors or attitudes and then ask questions about it.

Qualitative research is often exploratory and hence inductive.

ethical issues
Ethical Issues

Scientists should not impose their own values on their research!

Research on people requires that researchers:

  • Cause no harm to subjects
  • Participation should be voluntary
  • Subjects must give informed consent
  • Researchers should fully disclose identity
  • Anonymity and confidentiality must be maintained
  • For funding and approval for research a researcher may have to submit a research proposal.
  • The bare bones of a research proposal are: Research problem statement, literature review, methodological plan, budget, ethics statement, statement of limitations
  • It may also include – proposal summary, statement of objectives, evaluation plan, implications for future research and other materials as relevant to the sponsoring agency