Chapter 2, Sociological Research

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Last updated: April 25, 2019
Q: What are research methods?
Scientific procedures that sociologists use to conduct research and develop knowledge about a particular topic.

Q: How do sociologists use research methods?
Analysis of quantitative data using cross-sectional studies, comparative studies, longitudinal studies, surveys, and experiments; through analysis of qualitative data using participant observation, case studies, and ethnographies.

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Q: How is research involved in social policy & community learning?
Analysis of statistics and by conducting needs assessments.

Q: What are the 6 steps of social research?
1. Decide topic2.

Review literature3. Develop hypothesis4.Collect data5. Analyze results6. Share & Publish results

Q: What are the research methods?
-objectivity-variables-cause & correlation-scientific method * (6 steps)-quantitative methods-triangulation-research methods & the 3 paradigms-community learning needs assessment

objectivity
ability to conduct research without allowing personal biases or prejudices to influence you (note: teacher says transparency is needed because sociology is close to you so you do have biases)

versehenmax weber (one of the big 3 to know, teacher)
understanding the meaning of the action from the actor’s point of view

variables
factors being studied

independent variable
variables that are deliberately manipulated in an experiment

dependent variable
are the response to the manipulated variable

control variables
variables that are kept constant to accurately test the impact of an independent variable

causes
something that brings about a change in something else

correlation
measure of how two or more factors vary under certain conditions (note: “connection”, be careful correlation is not causation and you need to ask the question “what else could be causing this?”, teacher)

Q: What’s the difference between causes and correlation?
Causes always create the same effects; correlations don’t.

causual relationship
condition or variable that leads to a certain consequence

causation
relationship between cause and effect

correlation
indication that one factor might be a cause for another factor (note: but be wary)

positive correlation
includes two variables moving in a positive direction example: as icecream sales go up the temperature goes up

negative correlation
variables moving in opposite directionsex: as gas prices go up automobile sales go down

spurious correlation
occurs when two variable appear to be related but actually have a different cause

social research
investigation conducted by social scientists

literature review
study of relevant academic articles and information

theory
comprehensive and systematic explanation of events that lead to testable predictions

hypothesis
involves a suggestion about how variables relate

concepts
abstract ideas that are impossible to measure

operationalizing
turning abstract ideas into something measurable

research design
refers to the process used to find information

reliable
able to be trusted

validity
assures that you’re actually measuring the thing you set out to measure in the first place

comparative studies
uses data from different sources in ordre to evaluate them against each other. Example: international comparisons, although they can have methodological problems

cross-sectional studies
look at one event at a single point in time. Example: using multiple cross sectional studies to track trends in society.

longitudinal studies
include data from observations over time using a specific group of people called a cohort

cohort
specific group of people used in a study

survey
an investigation of the opinions or experience of a group of people by asking them questions

populations
target groups from which researchers want to get information

parsimony
extreme willingness to use resources (to get most for effort)

sample
subset of population selected for research

generalization
the extent that what is learned from a sample can be applied to the popuation from which the sample is taken

random sample
group of subjects arbitrarily chosen from a defined population

oversampling
process of taking a biger sample if the group yo wish to study makes up a small percentage

sample of convenience
nonrandom sample available to researcher

selection effects
(usually sample of convenience) likelihood that a non representative sample may leads to inaccurate results

hawthorne effect
occurs when people behave differently because they know they are part of an experiment

field research
research conducted in a natural setting. example: jane goodall apes

participant observation
is a type of field research in which the researcher poses as a person who is normally in the environment. example: me at the round up

case studies
are investigations of one person or event in detail

ethnography
is a research method that aims to understand the social perspective and cultural values of a particular group by participating with or getting to know their activities in detail

secondary data
are data that others have already collected and published

secondary data analysis
process of using & analyzing data that others have collected

central tendency
is the numbers in the middle of an array of numbers. 3 types: mean, median & mode

mean
average

median
midpoint in a distribution of numbers

mode
most common value in a distribution of numbers

ethics
system of values of principles that guide one’s behavior

Q: What are the 5 principles of ethics?
1.

professional competence (know limits of research, consult people who know more than you)2. integrity ( no falsehoods)3. professional and scientific responsibility (review others work and by honest and not hostile)4. respect for peoples rights, dignity and diversity ( don’t discriminate on differences)5. social responsibility (take what we know and use it for the good of the community

quantitative
data based on numbers

qualitative
information that comes in non-numverical forms. example: words, pictures, photos

content analysis
type of research in which sociologists look for common words or themes in newspapers, books or structured interviews

triangulation
process of using multiple approaches to study a phenomenon

needs assessment
is an analysis that studies the needs of a specific group and presents the result in a written statement

Q: How do you asses search engines in sociological research?
1. check headlines (do they check up w/story?)2.

check term definitions. Does the author define his value laden terms? 3. who funded the study?4. could something else be causing the result? did the researcher look at every possible angle? (spuriousness & selection effects)5.

look for agendas

Q: What do I need to ask myself when doing a needs assessment?
1. What information is needed?2. What is the background of this situation?3. How will we collect this information?

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