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Lecture 5: Quantitative Research Methods

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Katie Stuart- Lahman

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SOCB05 – Lecture 5 – June 6 2013 Quantitative Research Methods Quantitative vs Qualitative  One isn’t really better than the other. Sometimes they actually compliment each other in studies to get a fuller picture.  Characteristics o Quantitative  Emphasis on measurement and analysis of causal relationships between variables (not processes)  Claim that their work is “value-free”. Relying on statistics, so their opinions aren’t biasing their research. o Qualitative  Emphasis on qualities of entities and on the processes and meanings that are not experimentally examined or measured in terms of quantity, amount, intensity, or frequency.  Socially constructed nature of reality, intimate relationship between the researcher and what is studied/participants.  Seen in a lot of feminist studies, researchers will spend time explaining how they are connected to their topic.  Uses o Quantitative  Tests or verifies theories or explanations  Identifies variables to study  Relates to RQ  Uses standards of validity and reliability  Observes and measures information numerically  Employs statistccal procedures  More borad and generalizable o Qualitative  Collects participant “meaning”  Focuses on a single concept or process  Often brings in personal information from researcher  Has extremely high accuracy of information.  Studies context or setting of participants  In-depth, contextual picture. The Quantitative Approach  Assumptions o Appropriate when measurement can offer a useful description. That will be handy for your study. o The type of measurement depends on what you want to do with the information. o Purposes  To use very precise metrics  To make comparisons  To provide a subjective impression of an object of study in reference to ourselves  Are there generalizations to be made or hypotheses to be tested? o If yes, then quantitative is the best option. o Appropraite when there are statistical generalizations to be made/hypotheses to be tested. o One of the reasons for using statistics is that we……..  Are there observable differences? o “Is the tendency I observed in this group something distinctive, different from what one would expect just by chance? Or are these two, or three, or some larger of groups different in ways that exceed chance expectations?”  Problems o Validity: we may not be measuring what we think we are measuring. Subjects don’t see it as we do. o Reliability: We may not have confidence that our “yardstick” is measuring in a consistent way. o Convenience samples.  Quantitative Methods o Survey Research  Very important in applied social research  Includes any measurement procedures that involves asking questions to respondents.  2 Types:  Interviews: Tools for qualitative research  Completed by the interviewer based on what the participant says.  Questionnaires: Tools for quantitative research.  Usually paper-and-pencil instruments that the respondents complete. Could be over the phone though.  Why use this method? o Uniqueness of topic. Not available from another source. o Probability Sampling. Need an unbiased representation of the population of interest. o Standardization of measurement. Want to be able to compare participants, so you need the questions to be asked the exact same each time to each person. o Analysis Needs.  Example: Have a secondary source, and want your own data to compliment it.  What are my options? o Self-Administered Questionnaire  Example: Census  Handed out, and people fill it out on their own.  Higher response turnout than phone surveys.  More likely to answer truthfully.  Can get clarification if you don’t understand.  Often anonymous o Phone Survey  Cheap.  Efficient.  Can access people far away from where you are. No need for travelling.  Can avoid biases: Can’t see who you are interviewing, and they can’t see who’s interviewing them.  People aren’t always truthful.  Often scripted so there’s no room for clarification.  People hang up and don’t answer the survey. o Web Survey  Not accessible to everyone. So you might not actually get the population you wanted.  Can be easy to ignore.  Won’t be reflective of the entire population.  Either get people who hate it or love it.  Might not limit how many times you can answer the survey, so one person could answer 5 times. o Face-to-Face Interview  Constructing a Questionnaire o Decisions need to be made about:  Content  Wording  Format  Don’t cram questions onto a paper, space them out to make it not overwhelming for the participant.  Placement  Don’t put extremely personal questions first. o Things to consider:  Determining the question content/scope/purpose  Choosing the format that you want to se to collect the information  Developing the best wording for the question. o Open-ended: Respondent is asked to provide her own answer to question.  Example: Fill-in-the-blank  6 Types: Completely unstructured, word association, sentence completion, story completion, picture completion, etc.  o Closed-Ended: Respondent is asked to choose the best answer from the provided selection.  Example: Multiple choice.  4 Types:  Nominal: Use a categorical question when the possible answers are categories, and the
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