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Soc 232 Feb 15.doc

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University of Saskatchewan
SOC 232
Stuart Leard

Soc 232 1 February 15 2013 Government Documents • Values  tensionself interest • Scientist hired by companies who develop meds • Eco on objectivity can be compromised • Test not consistent • Includes census information, voting records, official reports, Hansard, etc. • Question whether and to what extent a record is a depiction of reality or rather, a source by means of which the researcher can recognize systematic bias. • Official Documents from Private Sources • Includes documents produced by companies and other private organizations. • Credibility – Biases based on organizational structure (hierarchy) may lead to a distortion of data. • Representativeness – Access to information requires permission. – To what information is the researcher granted access? Mass Media Outputs • Newspapers, magazines, TV, films, etc. • Authenticity – Authorship may be hard to ascertain. – Credibility – Often the actual focus of the media research – Representativeness – Publications often represent particular interest groups. Virtual Outputs Soc 232 2 February 15 2013 • You might be outside the audience • Includes websites, email, listservs, discussion groups, chat rooms, etc. • Authenticity – Anyone can setup a website so their knowledge claim may not be valid. – Credibility – The posted information may not be correct. • Representativeness – Posted information is constantly changing. – Often a ‘webspeak’ or ‘language’ barrier. – Search Engines • Search engines vary one to the other. • Search engines only access a portion of the available sites on a specific topic. • What bias exists in the selection of those sites? • Meanings – What is the context of the website? Secondary Analysis • Analyzing previously gathered data • Advantages – Low cost – Less time-consuming – Can provide high-quality data • representative samples, high response rates, national or large- scale samples, highly experienced researchers with strong control processes Soc 232 3 February 15 2013 – Opportunity for longitudinal analysis • Same survey questions used for several years – Subgroup analysis often possible • Large sample sizes • e.g. comparison of different ethnic or religious groups in the population – Opportunity for cross-cultural (international) analysis – More time for data analysis, since no time is spent gathering data. – The data can be reanalyzed. • Using new quantitative analysis tools • Applying new relationship connections to variables within the data – Fulfills the wider obligations of the social researcher, making full use of data for which the research participants had to make significant sacrifices. • Limitations – Lack of familiarity with the data • It takes time to learn the features of a data set. – Complexity of the data: • Data set may contain over one thousand variables and tens of thousands of cases. • Data set may be hierarchical. – e.g., contain data at both the household and individual level – The “ecological fallacy” may become part of the analysis. • This occurs if the unit of analysis for a state
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