SOC 101 Lecture Notes - Spurious Relationship, Inductive Reasoning, Deductive Reasoning

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16 Oct 2011

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Research Methods and Ethics
8:34 PM
Kinds of research questions being asked depends on the kind of theoretical perspective from
which you're working
o Ex. A functionalist is interested in the smooth functioning of society, and may be concerned
with how families socialize children into their appropriate social roles; may pose the
research question: What are the consequences of changing family forms for the smooth
running of society?
o Conflict theorists might be concerned with how families cope with current economic strains
o Symbolic interactionists may be interested in how immigrant families negotiate a sense of
identity in their new surroundings (microsociological approach)
Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches to Knowledge and Reasoning
Quantitative: numerical data. Statistical programs.
Qualitative: non numerical data
Quantitative Approaches:
o Involves converting aspects of social life into numbers and determining if relationships exist
between sets of numbers
o Data can be obtained using surveys
o If the relationship co relates we need to reduce the probability that chance is describing
what we're seeing. Real explanations can be generalised to the population
o Results are comparative to other studies
Qualitative Approaches
o Focus is on detail, tend to have smaller samples and are generally more expensive
o Uses interviewing and observation to obtain data. Non numerical data
o How things work, why things work
o Smaller sample sizes
o All kinds of research instruments - techniques and tools
Systems of Reasoning
Researchers use inductive logic and deductive logic
Inductive Logic: moves from data to theory
o Gathers information about a topic before developing theories about how to explain it.
o Often used by those with a qualitative approach
Deductive logic: moves from theory to hypotheses for testing
o Researchers develop a theory to explain or predict a pattern, then they test the theory to
see if their prediction was correct
o Often used by those with a quantitative approach
Essential Research Concepts
o Hypothesis: tentative statement about a particular relationship that can be tested
empirically. Based on theory
o Ex. Students who go to class get better grades.
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Independent and Dependent Variables
o Variables: used to measure relationships between objects, people or groups of people.
o Variables are measurable
o Independent variables: can be manipulated by researchers to determine effect
o Dependent variable: the reaction of the participants to the manipulation
o Operational definition: description of how the variable is measured.
Validity and Reliability
o Validity: accuracy of a given measurement. If a measurement is valid, it is accurately
measuring the concept
o Reliability: consistency of a given result.
o It is possible for a measurement to be reliable (consistently yielding the same results) but
not valid (not accurately measuring the concept).
Correlation and Causality
o Correlation: relationship between two variables ranging from weak to strong. Measure of
how strongly two variable are related to each other.
o Causality: one variable causes a change in the other variable.
o Spurious correlation: occurs when one variable seems to produce a change in the other
variable, but in reality the correlation is false.
o Correlation does not imply causality!
Research Population
o Which participants are needed to answer the research question
o Research population: group of people that a researchers wishes to learn something about
o A sample is drawn from the research population
o Random sample often used in quantitative studies; means every person has an equal
chance of being selected for participation
o If the sample is representative of the larger population being studied, the results from the
sample can be applied to the larger population
o Smaller, non random samples associated with qualitative research yield in depth, detailed
data not typically seen in larger quantitative studies.
Research Methods
Surveys: research method in which respondents answer pre-set questions
o Often used in large scale research projects
o Well suited to ask about what people think, not about why people think
o Should be valid: measuring what we think it's measuring
o Should be reliable: get a consistent response.
o Pre set questions
o Before you can generalise the results you must make sure the survey is using a large
enough representative random sample
o Self Administered Questionnaires:
Can be mailed to prospective participants
Tend to be used in quantitative research
Lists possible answers to close ended questions
Well known: Census of Population (Canada).
o Telephone Surveys
Works the same way as a questionnaire
Hard time getting lists of people in communities, phonebooks aren't reliable because
many people rely on cell phones. Cuts out certain people.
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