SOC 2280 Lecture Notes - Operational Definition, Falsifiability

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28 Jan 2013
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Sociological Research
- Science refers to the application of systematic methods of observation to obtain knowledge and
the knowledge obtained by those methods.
- Science possesses the following four elements:
1) Objective procedures
2) Precise measurement
3) Full disclosure and replication
4) Empirically falsifiable propositions
Non-scientific Ways of Knowing
• Authority
• Media Myths
• Tradition
• Common Sense
• Personal Experience
• Faith
The Research Process
• Selecting a Topic
• Defining the Problem
• Reviewing the Literature
• Formulating a Hypothesis
• Choosing a Research Method
• Collecting the Data
• Analyzing the Data
• Reporting the Results
Components of Scientific Theory
- Research questions (or propositions): statements that inter-relate two or more variables.
- Hypothesis: a testable formulation of a research question.
- Theory: a set of logically inter-related propositions that explain some process or set of
phenomenon in a testable fashion.
- Validity: the extent to which an operational definition measures what it was intended to
measure
- Reliability: the extent to which research produces consistent results
• It is possible to have reliability without validity, but not validity without reliability
- Correlation: a consistent association between two or more variables. (e.g., income and health)
a) Positive correlation: when an increase in one variable is associated with an increase in another
variable. (e.g., income and health)
b) Negative correlation: when an increase in one variable is associated with a decrease in another
variable (e.g., income and number of cigarettes smoked per month)
Minimal requirements for establishing a causal relationship:
1) Correlation or association between variables
2) Temporal priority of causal variable
3) Relationship between variables is not spurious
- Quantitative research methods research in which the emphasis is placed on precise
measurement and the use of statistics and numbers to describe results
- Qualitative research methods research in which the emphasis is placed on observing,
describing, and interpreting people’s behavior
Sociological Research Methods
• Experiments
• Survey Research
• Field Research
• Content Analysis
• Secondary Analysis
• Unobtrusive Measures