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2. Research Methods and Limitations, Ethics.doc
2. Research Methods and Limitations, Ethics.doc

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McMaster University

September 19, 2012 Research Methods and Limitations, Ethics - our values and experiences filter reality - observer bias – making unconscious mistakes in classifying or selecting observations problem of induction – (David Hume) argued that no matter how many observations you make, you cannot infer your next observation - eg. Cannot logically infer that all swans are white despite how many white swans you see; one black swan is enough to refute the claim that all swans are white) falsification – (Sir Karl Popper) observations refuting a well-conceived idea are more important than evidence supporting or proving a theory Meaningful action – activities that are meaningful to the people involved Correlation does not prove causation - spurious – not what it purports to be, apparently but not actually valid - external validity – extent to which the experimental findings remain valid in a non-laboratory setting - ethnography – researchers immerse themselves into a group or sub-culture Research Methods - Experiments - Surveys (self-administered questionnaires, interviews) - Observatory studies (participant observation, ethnography (studying a social group, also collects other types of data such as online websites that they manage) - Secondary data analysis – analyzing of existing data o Documentary analysis o Historical sociology (archives) o Use of official statistics - use of open-ended, closed questions How would you study: Biker gangs – How couples manage Impact of TV violence on observational studies their family finances – children aggression – surveys experiment, observatory studies - sub-culture - confidentiality Experiment - cooperation difficulty - anonymity - have an IV (level of - not much existing - more likely to TV violence) and DV documentation answer on paper (level of aggression) than in person Limitation: validity, only placed in lab setting Observatory studies - Can observe children’s behaviour September 19, 2012 in peer groups Sexual history of an Household structure in individual – surveys Canada through the 20 th Century – secondary data analysis - anonymity - access to - confidentiality information over a long period of time Quantitative vs. Qualitative research Quantitative – availability of numerical data - social phenomenon captured nicely by stats - ie. Academic outcome of children of divorced parents Qualitative – focus on process (how, why) - giving voice to “participants” (no longer referred to as “subjects” by researchers - ie. Experience of children of divorced parents Cross-sectional vs. Longitudinal Cross-sectional – data taken at one point in time - eg. Interviewed only once (today) Longitudinal – study done at more than one point in time - eg. In
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