SOAN 2120 Final: Introductory Methods - Final Exam Notes - All Lecture Noets, Textbook Notes and Review Notes

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Introductory Methods Notes
September 8, 2016:
Introduction to class, most information can be found on course outline and courselink.
Basics of Social Research: Chapter 1:
Ideology, faith and politics shape many government programs rather than solid research
Good social research can help people make informed decisions.
Research is a way of going about finding answers to questions.
People conduct social research to learn something new about the social world; or to
carefully documents guesses, hunches, or beliefs about it; or to refine their understanding
of how the social world works.
A researcher combines theories or ideas with fact in a careful, systematic way and uses
Social research is a process that combines a set of principles, outlooks, and ideas
(methodology) with a collection of specific practices, techniques, and strategies (a
method of inquiry) to produce knowledge.
Alternatives to Social Research:
Social research is a process of producing knowledge.
Knowledge from the alternatives is often correct, but knowledge based on research is
more likely to be true and with few errors.
When you acquire knowledge from parents, teachers, experts as well as from
books, television and other media.
Essentially, when you accept that something is true on the basis that someone in
a position of authority says it is true.
Relying on authority is quick and simple.
Issues with relying on authority:
Easy to overestimate the expertise, by assuming they are right even when
they might be wrong.
Authorities may not agree with each other.
Authorities may speak on fields they know little about.
There may also be misuse of authorities to incite decisions and
We must understand how authorities arrived at their knowledge in order to
control our own knowledge.
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Tradition is the authority of the past.
You accept something as being true because “that is the way it has always been.”
Some traditional knowledge is based on prejudice or unsound knowledge.
Common Sense:
Knowing what you know about the social world from your everyday reasoning.
Common sense can assist you in daily living, but allows logical misconceptions
to slip into your thinking.
Common sense is sometimes based on tradition.
Contains; errors, misinformation, contradiction, and prejudice.
Media Myths:
Many television portrayals of real life events, such as crime, do not accurately
depict social reality.
Primary goal of media is to entertain.
Mass media can create a feeling that false major problems exist.
Media usually relies on myths instead of facts.
Media creates the idea that global warming is unproven, even though it has
scientific back up for existing and being man caused.
Personal Experience:
If you see or experience something, most of the time you accept it as true.
However there are some errors with personal experience:
Overgeneralization: Occurs when some evidence supports your belief, but
you falsely believe it applies to many other situations; such as all women
are bad drivers.
Select Observation: Occurs when you take special notice of some people
or events and tend to seek out evidence that confirms your belief, while
ignoring contradictory information; such as all British people are smart.
Premature Closure: Occurs when you feel you have the answer and do not
need to listen, seek information, or raise questions any longer; such as
believing that Hyundai is the best car brand after asking only two people.
Halo Effect: Occurs when we overgeneralize from what we accept as
being highly positive or prestigious and let its strong reputation rub off
onto other areas; such as forming prejudice by only considering the
prestige of the publisher, such as Harvard University.
How Science Works:
Science is what separates social research.
Social research involves thinking scientifically about questions about the social world
and following scientific processes.
Natural Sciences: Deal with the physical and material world; astronomy, biology,
chemistry, geology, and physics.
Social Science: Involve the study of people; their beliefs, behavior, interaction,
institutions, etc. Anthropology, psychology, sociology, and political science.
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Some people fail to associate the social sciences with science at all.
Science is a social institution and a way to produce knowledge.
Scientists gather data using specialized techniques and use the data to support or
reject a theory.
Data is empirical evidence and can be either; quantitative expressed in numbers
or qualitative expressed as words, visual images, sounds or objects.
Empirical evidence are the observations that people experience through the
Many researchers have indirect measures of analyzing aspects that may appear
difficult to observe with the basic senses.
The Scientific Community:
The scientific community sustains the assumptions, attitudes, and techniques of
The scientific community is a collection of people who practice science and a set
of norms, behaviours, and attitudes that bind them together.
Those who understand the principles of the scientific community can better use
research techniques and results.
Ph.D. allows those to conduct independent research.
The scientific community includes about 15 percent of the labor force in advanced
industrialized countries.
Only a small number of people are actually producing most new scientific
The Scientific Method and Attitude:
The scientific method refers to the ideas, rules, techniques, and approaches that
the scientific community uses.
Journal Articles in Science:
Following a study, a researcher writes a detailed description of the study and the
results as a research report.
Said researcher often conducts an oral presentation and sends a copy of the paper
to the journal editor.
The editor anonymously sends the paper to experts in the field who evaluate the
research and give their notes.
The editor then chooses to reject, revise or accept the paper.
Steps in the Research Process:
The Seven Step Research Process:
Select a topic: a general area of study, usually too broad to study.
Focus question: focus the topic into a specific research question.
Design study: a highly developed plan on how you will carry out the study.
Collect data: through asking questions, observations, etc.
Analyze data: this will help to find any patterns and help interpret the data.
Interpret data: use patterns and responses to find the answer to the question.
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