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Sociology 2206A/B Lecture Notes - Scientific Method, General Social Survey, Empiricism

Course Code
SOC 2206A/B
Nicholas Spence

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Chapter 1- Doing Social Research
What is Research?
- A method we utilize to find answers to questions we have about the world
Knowledge Attainment
Something is true
Someone in a position of
authority says so!
-Overestimate scope of
-Disagreement among
-Overstepping realm of
-Misuse of authority!
-Blind acceptance
undermine democracy
It has always been that way!
-Distortion through time
-Things change
Common Sense
Of your everyday reasoning
-Logical fallacies
-Same problems as tradition
Media Myths
Of the media (TV, movies,
newspaper, magazines)
-Inaccurate reflection of
-Journalists constraints
-Perpetuations of myths
-Competing Interests
Personal Experience
You’ve seen it or
experienced it
-Selective Observation
-Premature Closure
-Halo Effect
- Science: a social institution and a way to produce knowledge
- Data: Empirical evidence a scientist gathers in accordance with rules and
- Empirical Evidence: observations scientists experience through the senses

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- Scientific Community: collection of people who practice science and a set of norms,
behaviors, and attitudes that bind them together. It is a professional community
who share ethical principles, beliefs, and values, techniques and training and career
Aspects of the Scientific Method
- What is it? Ideas, rules, techniques and approaches that the scientific community
1. Empiricism or a reliance on the senses
2. The a priori statement of methodological principles
3. The replicability principle
4. The communicability of results
5. An institutionalized skepticism
6. The potential to falsify any hypothesis
Discover & Justification
- Context of Discovery: we may think of discoveries and insights in science as
coming from a variety of sources that may or may not be rational or methodical
- Context of Justification: this relates to the idea of how we assess the truth of
statements. In science, we follow the scientific method
Research Process
- Step 1: Select a Topic
- Step 2: Research Question
- Step 3: Research Design
- Step 4: Gather Data
- Step 5: Data Analysis
- Step 6: Interpret Results
- Step 7: Disseminate the Results
Publishing Scholarly Work
- Choose the appropriate journal given the content of your research
- Choose the most prestigious journal in which your work is likely to be accepted
- Peer review process (blind): experts critique research based on its merits
- Rejection, resubmit with changes, accept work for publication
- Finally publication, if you are lucky!

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Dimensions of Research
- Use of Research
- Purpose of Research
- Time Dimension of Research
- Data Collection Techniques of Research
Use of Research
- Basic Research
1. Advancing fundamental knowledge
2. Practical applications not obvious, at least initially
3. Scientific rigor is key
- Applied Research
1. Focusing on a specific issue or problem
2. Tends to be more controversial given its specificity
3. Methodological soundness is less important; getting an answer given the
restraints is key
Purpose of the Study
- Exploratory: seek out new territory
- Descriptive: detailing a specific context or situation
- Explanatory: identifying the causes of outcomes of interest
Time in the Research Process
- Cross Sectional Research: observations are made at a single point in time
- Longitudinal Research: observations are made at more than one point in time
1. Time Series: gathering the same type of information across two or more
time periods
2. Panel Study: observe the same units over multiple time points
3. Cohort Study: observe the same category of units that share a similar
experience in a specific time period
4. Case Studies: observe a few cases over time in great detail
Data Collection Techniques
- Quantitative
1. Experiments: manipulate conditions and assess the effects on subjects
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