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Lecture 3

Social Research Design (week 3).docx

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SOCY 210
Vincent F Sacco

You need a plan before you observe or analyze  Why and how 2 Major tasks in research design  specify clearly what you want to find out  determine the best way to do it o issues of ethics also determines the best way to do it as well 3 Purposes of Research  Exploration o Research to explore a topic o Become familiar with that topic  Appropriate for persistant phenomenon  Through the use of focus groups or guided small group discussion o Exploratory studies are done for 3 reasons  Satisfy the researchers curiosity or desire for better understanding  To study  To develop methods to do further studies if needed o Rarely provide answers to research questions  Can give insight into which methods can provide the best answers o People used in exploratory research do not always represent the larger population  Description o Describe situations and events o Observe and then describe what is observed  Eg. Canadian Census  Goal is to describe accurately the variety of characteristics of the Canadian population o Qualitative studies aim at description o Answer questions of what, where, when, and how  Explanation o Answers the question “why”  Eg. Identifying variables that explain why some cities have higher crime Logic of Causation  Social research operates on a causal model o Probabilistic  Nonmothetic model of explanation o Providing the greatest amount of explanation with fewest number of variables  Uncover general patterns of cause and effect  Probabilistic o Causal explanations  Leads to  Arise from  Predictor of  Prejudice o Ideographical explanation  Why a given person is prejudiced  Certain experiences cause them to be that way  Criteria for nonmothetic causal relationships o Variables must be correlated o Cause has to come before the effect o A third variable cannot be the cause  Correlation o Observed relationship between two variables  Changes in one are associated with changes in the other o Pearson Correlation Coefficiant  How strong 2 variables vary together with numbers  -1 to +1  Age and crime  Age goes up +1  Crime goes down -1  Time Order o A causal relationship does not exist unless the cause occurs before the effect  Nonspurious o Observed correlation between 2 variables cannot be explained by a third variable  Eg. There is a positive relationship between ice scream sales and drowning  The third variable that describes the cause is the season, summer, when most ice cream is purchased and when most people drown  Spurious relationship  Coincidental correlation between two variables but is caused by a third variable  Testing for Spuriousness  Control for 3rdvariable  The variable between x and y will be insignifcant, no difference  Intervening Relationship rd o Relation between 2 variables is explained by a 3 variable that acts between the 2 o X affects Y, because Z affects X, and X affects Y  Eg. College drinking and Pregnancy  Those who drink are more likely to have sex and poor decisions  Sex leads to pregnancy o Relationship would be 0 without intervening relationship o Intervening is not prior, it is part of the explanation  Spurious is prior, it happens before X and Y o Interaction Effect  Relationship between X and Y depends on Z False Criteria for Nonmothetic Causality  Complete Causation o Nonmothetic explanations are usually incomplete  Exceptional Cases o Exceptions do not disconfirm a causal relationship  Majority Cases o Causal relationships can still be true even if they do not apply in a majority of cases  As long as they are more likely  Necessary Causes o A condition that must be present for the effect to follow  Eg you have to take university courses to get a degree o Does not guarantee the effect will occur  You need to pass all the courses to get the degree  Sufficient Cause o Condition that when present, guarantees an effect Units of Analysis  The what or whom being studied  Often study large collections of people or things o Aggregates  Generalized  Exploring, describing, and explaining different groups behave as individuals o Unit of analysis is the individual  Attitudes are individual o There is no group mind  Some groups have their own identities  Eg street gangs  Social scientists typically choose individual people as units of analysis o Easy to note characteristics of individual people  Units of analysis can also be units of observation o Eg. Unit of observation are individual wives and huspands o Unit of analysis (what you want to study) are the couples  Must determine unit of analysis in order to determine unit of observation Units of Analysis in Social Research  Individuals o Can be characterized by their membership to a group  Groups o Considered a single entity  Organizations o Corporations o Universities  Social Artifacts o Any product of social beings or their behaviour  Books  Student excuses  Graffiti  Scientific discoveries  During a research project you must decide whether you are studying marriages or the partners o Crimes or criminals  One unit of analysis causes an examination of another Faulty Reasoning about Units of Analysis  Ecological Fallacy
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