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SOAN 2120 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Descriptive Statistics, Scientific Method, General Idea


Department
Sociology and Anthropology
Course Code
SOAN 2120
Professor
David Walters
Study Guide
Midterm

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Chapter 1
- people conduct social research to learn something new about the social
world; or to carefully document guesses or beliefs about it; or to refine their
understanding of how the social world works
- social research is a process in which people combine a set of principles,
outlooks, and ideas with a collection of specific practices, techniques, and
strategies to produce knowledge
Alternative to Social Research
Authority
- “when you accept something as true because someone in a position of
authority says it is true… you are relying on authority as a basis for
knowledge”
- Pros?
o Quick, simple and cheap way of learning something
- Cons?
o Easy to overestimate the expertise of other people
o Authorities may not agree, and all authorities may not be equally
dependable
o Authorities may speak on fields they know little about or to be wrong
o Misuse of authority
Tradition
- special case of authority authority of the past
- accept it as true “it’s the way things have always been”
Common Sense
- allows logical fallacies to slip into thinking
- common sense can originate in tradition
Media Myths
- primary goal of TV show writers is to entertain, not present reality
- media “hype” can create a feeling a major problem exists when it doesn’t
- visual images have a powerful effect on people
Personal Experience
- if you see something or experience it, you accept it as true “seeing is
believing”
- propaganda, cons or fraud, magic, stereotyping and some advertising
- problems:
o overgeneralization
it occurs when some evidence supports your belief, but you
falsely assume that it applies to many other situations
o selective observation
occurs when you take special notice of some people on events
and tend to seek out evidence that confirms what you already
believe and ignore contradictory evidence
o premature closure
occurs when you feel you have the answer and do not need to
listen, seek information or raise questions any longer we
jump to conclusions because we are lazy

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o halo effect when we overgeneralize from what we accept being
highly positive and let it’s reputation “rub off” onto other areas
How Science works
- science: social institution and a way to produce knowledge
- data: empirical evidence or information that one gathers
o data can be quantitative (expressed in numbers) or qualitative
(expressed in any other form)
- empirical evidence: observations that people experience through the
senses
- scientific community: collection of people who practice science and a set of
norms, behaviours, and attitudes that bind them together
- scientific method: refers to ideas, rules, techniques and approaches that the
scientific community uses
- studies are reviewed on clarity, originality, standards of good research
methods and advancing knowledge
- steps in the research process:
o Theory:
Select topic
Focus question
Design study
Collect data
Analyze data
Interpret data
Inform others
Dimensions of Research
- 1) a distinction of how research is used, or between applied and basic
research
- 2) next is purpose of doing research or its goal
- 3) how time is incorporated into the study design, and the specific data
technique used
Basic and Applied Social Research Compared
Basic
Applied
Research is intrinsically satisfying and
judgments are by other sociologists
Research is part of a job and is judged by
sponsors who are outside the disciple of
sociology
Research problems and subjects are
selected with a great deal of freedom
Research problems are narrowly
constrained to the demands of
employers or sponsors
Research is judged by absolute norms of
scientific rigor, and the highest
standards of scholarship are sought
The rigor and standards of scholarship
depend on the uses of results. Research
can be ‘quick and dirty’ or may match
high scientific standards.
The primary concern is with the internal
logic and rigor of research design.
The primary concern is with the ability
to generalize findings to areas of interest
to sponsors

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The driving goal is to contribute to basic,
theoretical knowledge.
The driving goal is to have practical
payoffs or uses for results.
Success comes when results appear in a
scholarly journal and have an impact on
others in the scientific community.
Success comes when results are used by
sponsors in decision making.
Basic Research
- advances fundamental knowledge about the social world
- these researchers focus on refuting or supporting theories that explain how
the social world operates
- the source of most new ideas (scientific ideas) and ways of thinking about the
world
- provides a foundation for knowledge that advocates understanding in many
problems, policy areas or areas of study
Applied Research
- designed to address a specific concern or to offer solutions to a problem
identified by an employer, club, agency, social movement or organization
- researchers conduct a quick, small-scale study that provides practical results
for use in the short term
- consumers of applied researcher include teachers, counselors and social
workers
Type of Applied Research:
Evaluation Research Study
- applied research designed to find out whether a program, new way of doing
something, a marketing campaign, a policy, and so forth is effective
- most widely used applied search
- measure the effectiveness
- limitations?
o Reports of research rarely go through a peer review process
o Raw data rarely publicly available
Action research study
- applied research that treats knowledge as a form of power and abolishes the
division between creating knowledge and using knowledge to engage in
political action
- most types of action research share these characteristics
o 1) people being studied actively participate in the research process
o 2) the research incorporates ordinary or popular knowledge
o 3) research focuses on issues of power
o 4) research seeks to raise awareness of issues
o 5) research directly tried to a program of political action
Social Impact Assessment Research Study
- where a researcher would estimate the likely consequences of a planned
intervention or international change to occur in the future
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