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SOAN 2120 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Content Analysis, Scientific Misconduct, Syphilis

Sociology and Anthropology
Course Code
SOAN 2120
David Walters
Study Guide

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SOAN 2120 Textbook Review
Chapter 1
Pages 2, 3-11, 13-15, 16, 17
Key Concepts:
Why do social research
- People conduct social research to learn something new about the social world
- Social research a process in which people combine a set of principles, outlooks, and ideas
(i.e. methodology) with a collection of specific practices, techniques, and strategies to
produce knowledge
Five alternatives to social research
- Authority:
o Accepting things as true from authority figures (i.e. parents, teachers, professors,
experts, etc.)
o There are limitations to relying on authority
o It is easy to overestimate the expertise of other people
o Authorities may not always agree, and all authorities may not be equally
o Authorities may speak on fields they know little about, or they may just be wrong
o Think Tanks organizations composed of a body of experts in a field that are often
motivated by particular advocacy goals
- Tradition:
o Tradition is the authority of the past
o Tradition means you accept something as being true because it is the way things
have always been
- Common Sense
o Relying on what everyone knows and what just makes sense
o Example: poor youth are more likely to engage in deviant behaviour
- Media myths
o Media portrayals of things do not accurately portray the social reality of things
o Many bloggers post things relating to current events, and because of this people
take thei od as fat he it is’t
o People are misled by visual images more easil tha othe fos of lig
o Public relations campaigns try to alter public opinion about scientific findings,
making it difficult for the public to judge research outcomes
o Example: there is a great amount of evidence that shows humans are contributing
to the temperature of the earth rising, yet the media portrays the small number of
people ho disagee ith liate hage hih akes it appea as if people do’t
really know the answer
- Personal Experience
o You accept something as true if it happens to you, if you personally see/ experience
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o Personal experience can lead you astray because sometimes what appears to be
true may actually not be because of poor judgement or some kind of error
o 4 errors of personal experience:
i) Overgeneralization an error that occurs when using personal experience
as an alternative to science for acquiring knowledge. It occurs when some
evidence supports a belief, but a person falsely assumes that it applies to
many other situations, too
ii) Selective observation the tendency to take notice of certain people or
events based on past experience or attitudes
iii) Premature closure an error that is often made when using personal
experience as an alternative to science for acquiring knowledge. Occur
when a person feels they have the answers and do not need to listen, seek
information, or raise questions any longer
iv) The halo effect occurs when a person overgeneralizes from what they
accept as being highly positive or prestigious and lets its favourable
ipessio o pestige u off oto othe aeas
Differences between science and non-scientific approaches to knowledge
- Data the empirical evidence or information that a person gathers carefully according to
established rules or procedures; it can be qualitative or quantitative
- Quantitative data information in the form of numbers
- Qualitative data information in the form of words, pictures, sounds, visual images or
- Empirical evidence the observations that people experience through their senses touch,
sight, hearing, smell, and taste; these can be direct or indirect
- Scientific community a collection of people who share a system of rules and attitudes
that sustain the process of producing scientific knowledge
- At the core of the scientific community are researchers who conduct studies on a full-time
or part-time basis, usually with the help of assistants
o Many research assistants are graduate students, some undergraduate
o Uiesities eplo ost ee of the sietifi ouit’s oe
o Some scientists work for the government or for private industry
o Most scientists work at the approximately 200 universities and institutes located
mostly in the advanced industrialized countries
- Scientific method the process of creating new knowledge using the ideas, techniques,
and rules of the scientific community
Steps in research process
- There is some variation of steps to take in research but most follow the following basic
guide in conducting research
1. select a topic a general area of study/issue
2. focus question narrow down the topic to a specific, known as focusing the topic into
a specific research question
3. design a detailed plan on how to carry out the study
4. collect data/evidence
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5. analyze the data this helps you see any patterns and give meaning to or interpret the
6. interpret the data
7. inform others of your findings
Academic and applied research
- Academic social research research designed to advance fundamental knowledge about
the social world
o Academic researchers focus on testing theories that explain how the social world
operates, what makes things happen, why social relations are a certain way, and
way society changes
o This is the source of most new scientific ideas and ways of thinking about the world
o Not short term, results typically have an impact 50-100 years later
- Applied Research research that attempts to solve a concrete problem or address a
specific policy question and that has a direct, practical application
o Researchers typically conduct quick, small-scale studies that provide practical results
for use in the short-term
o The consumers of applied research findings are practitioners (e.g. school trustees,
soial okes, teahes o deisio akes e.g. go’t iisties, oads of
o Often somebody other than the researchers uses the information gathered
- Public Sociology a type of sociological inquiry that is concerned with connecting the
results of research with the general public, often through activism
o Concerns itself with connecting the results of their research to the general public,
often through social activism
1. Research is undertaken to further
knowledge within the professional
1. research is part of a mission to address a social
2. Research topics are selected upon
intellectual interests
2. topics for research are selected based upon
problems identified by social agencies who
provide the funding
3. The primary concern is with the
methodological rigour and the
connectedness of the research to social
3. the main concern is with the ability to
generalize findings to areas of interest to
sponsors of research who want to enact social
4. Research is considered successful when it
appears in a peer-reviewed academic
4. research is considered successful when results
are clearly communicated to a wider audience
and when findings are used to inform policy or
Purpose of research
1. Exploration
- Exploratory research research into an area that has not been studied and in which a
researcher wants to develop initial ideas and a more focused research question
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