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Research Methods and Ethics Lecture and textbook notes (chapter 4) detailing research methods such as quantitative and qualitative approaches, systems of reasoning, research methods etc.

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SOC 101
Barry Mc Clinchey

Research Methods and Ethics January-12-11 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  Hypotheses 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.  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.  Advantage: respondents can speak directly with a researcher if they have questions o In Person Survey  Allows researcher to provide clarification or answer questions  Very expensive, rarely done  Interviews: involves researcher asking participants a series of questions, may be structured, semi structured or unstruct
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