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University of Toronto Mississauga
Mary Jo Nadeau

Chapter 3 - Ethics • PsychologicalAbuse, Stress, or Loss of Self-Esteem o Some say that the precautions taken and the knowledge gained outweighed the stress and potential psychological harm that subjects experienced in the Milgram experiments  Others believe the extreme stress & the risk of perm harm were too great o Research that induces great stress & anxiety in participants also carries the danger that experimenters will develop a callous or manipulative attitude toward others  Or may experience guilt or regret after • Legal Harm o Researcher is resp for protecting participants from increased risk of arrest o Arelated ethical issue arises when a researcher learns of illegal activity when collecting data. Aresearcher must weigh the value of protecting the researcher– subject relationship and the benefits to future researchers against potential serious harm to innocent people. o In some studies, observing illegal behaviour may be central to the research project. If a researcher covertly observes and records illegal behaviour, then supplies the information to law- enforcement authorities, he or she is violating ethical standards regarding research participants and is undermining future social research.At the same time, a researcher who fails to report illegal behaviour is indirectly permitting criminal behaviour. He or she could be charged as an accessory to a crime • Other Harm to Participant o Ex. Survey interview may cause anxiety or discomfort if it asks people to recall unpleasant or traumatic events o Negative impact on the careers, reps, or incomes of research participants • Maximizing Benefit • Deception o Principle of Voluntary Consent: people should never participate in research unless they first explicitly agree to do so o Deception and covert research may increase mistrust and cynicism and may diminish public respect for social research • Informed Consent o An agreement by participants stating they are willing to be in a study and they know something about what the research procedure will involve o Never coerce anyone into participating; participation must be voluntary at all times • Special Populations and New Inequalities o Special Populations: people who lack the necessary cognitive competency to give valid informed consent or people in a weak position who might cast aside their freedom to refuse in order to participate in a study o Avoiding Creating New Inequalities  When one group of people is denied a service or benefit as a result of participating in a research project.  Three ways to reduce the chances of creating a new inequality: • Subjects who don’t receive the ‘new, improved’treatment continue to receive the best previously acceptable treatment • Use a crossover design (when a study group that gets no treatment in the first phase of the experiment becomes the group with the treatment in the second phase, vice versa) • Continuously monitor results • Privacy, Anonymity, and Confidentiality o Privacy  Researcher violates privacy only to the minimal degree and only for legit research purposes o Anonymity  Don’t disclose participant’s identity after info is gathered o Confidentiality  Info has participant names attached, but the researcher holds it in confidence or keeps it secret from the public • Respect for Human Dignity o Main principle • Mandated Protections for Research Participants o Diff panels in diff countries that enforce ethical behaviour • Ethics and the Scientific Community o Voluntary consent o Avoidance of unnecessary physical and mental suffering o Avoidance of any experiment where death or disabling injury is likely o Termination of research if its continuation is likely to cause injury, disability, or death o Conduct of experiments by highly qualified people using the highest levels of skill and care o Results that are aimed for the good of society and that are unattainable by any other method • Ethics and the Sponsors of Research o Whistle Blowing  Person who sees ethical wrongdoing, tries unsuccessfully to correct it internally, and then informs an external audience, agency or the media o Arriving at Particular Findings  Limits on How to Conduct Studies • The answer is that some sponsors are not interested in the truth and have no respect for the scientific process. They see social research only as a “cover” to legitimate a decision or practice that they plan to carry out and use research only to justify their action or deflect criticism. They abuse the researcher’s professional status and undermine the integrity of science to advance their own narrow goals. They are being deceitful by trying to “cash in” on social research’s reputation for honesty. When such a situation occurs, an ethical researcher has a moral responsibility to expose and stop the abuse. o Suppressed Findings  In sponsored research, a researcher can negotiate conditions for releasing findings prior to beginning the study and sign a contract to that effect. It may be unwise to conduct the study without such a guarantee, although competing researchers who have fewer ethical scruples may do so. Alternatively, a researcher can accept the sponsor’s criticism and hostility and release the findings over the sponsor’s objections. Most researchers prefer the first choice, since the second one may scare away future sponsors. o Concealing the True Sponsor  Aresearcher must always reveal the sponsor who provides funds for a study. • Politics of Research o Most users of political or financial influence to control social research share a desire to limit knowledge creation or restrict the autonomous scientific investigation of controversial topics o Three main causes for attempts to block & to street social research  Some people defend or advance positions & knowledge that originate in deeply held ideological, political, or religious beliefs and fear social researchers might produce knowledge that contradicts them  Powerful interest want to protect or advance their political-financial positions & fear social researchers might yield findings showing that their actions are harmful to the public or some sectors of society.  Some people in society do not respect the ideal of science to pursue truth and knowledge and instead view scientific research only as a means for advancing private interests • Value Free and Objective Research o Value free:  For research that is free from any prior assumptions, theoretical stand, or value position  For research that`s conducted free of influence from an ind researcher`s personal prejudices or beliefs o Objective  Focusing only on what is external or visible  Following clear and publicly accepted research procedures and not haphazard personal ones o Chapter 7 – Qualitative and Quantitative Sampling Introduction • Sample: a smaller set of cases a researcher selects from a larger pool and generalizes to the population o Primary goal of quantitative research • Researchers have two motivations for using probability or random sampling: o Saving time and cost o Accuracy • Census: an attempt to count everyone in a target population • Qual researchers focus less on sample’s representativeness or on techniques for drawing a prob sample o Focus on how the sample illustrates key features of social life  Tend toward nonprobability sampling Nonprobability Sampling • Aka Nonrandom sample: a type of sample in which the sampling elements are selected using something other than a mathematically random process o This means that they rarely determine the sample size in advance and have limited knowledge about the larger group or pop from which the sample’s taken • • Haphazard,Accidental, or Convenience Sampling o The researcher selects anyone he or she happens to come across  Get any cases in any manner that’s convenient o Can easily get a misrepresentative sample o Too many systematic errors o Ex. Television interviewers on the street • Quota Sampling o Researcher first identifies general categories into which cases or people will be selected, then he or she selects a predetermined number of cases in each category o Difficult to rep all pop characteristics accurately o Better than haphazard b/c you can ensure variability in sample o Once categories are fixed, researcher uses haphazard sampling to choose people • Purposive Sampling o Researcher uses a wide range of methods to locate all possible cases of a highly specific and difficult-to-reach population o Used when an expert uses judgement in selecting cases with a specific purpose in mind o Often used in exploratory research or in field research o Appropriate in three situations:  To select unique cases that are especially informative  To select members of a difficult-to-reach, specialized population • Ex. Prostitutes  To identify particular types of cases for in-depth investigation o Deviant Case Sampling: researcher selects unusual or nonconforming cases purposely as a way to provide greater insight into social processes or a setting  Goal is to seek cases that are diff from dom patterns or diff from predom characteristics of other cases • Snowball Sampling o Researcher begins with one case, then, based on info from interrelationships from that case, identifies other cases, and then repeats the process again and again o Used to research networks of people (families, boards of directors, etc) o Sociogram: a diagram or `map` that shows the network of social relationships, influence patterns, or communication paths among a group of people or units • Sequential Sampling o Researcher tries to find as many relevant cases as possible, until time, financial resources, or his or her energy are exhausted, and there`s no new info or diversity from the cases  Goal is to get every possible case o Theoretical Sampling: the sample size is determined when the data reach theoretical saturation o Theoretical Saturation: the point at which no new themes emerge from the data and sampling is considered complete Probability Sampling • Populations, Elements, and Sampling Frames o Sampling Element: the unit of analysis or case in a pop  Can be a person, group, org, written doc or symbolic message, social action o The large pool is the population: large general group of many cases from which a researcher draws a sample and which is usually stated in theoretical terms o Target Population: the specific pool of cases that he or she wants to study o Sampling Ratio: ratio of the size of the sample to the size of the target pop o Sampling Frame: list of cases in a population, or the best approximation of it  Crucial to good sampling  Mismatch b/w sampling frame and conceptually defined pop can be major source of error o Parameter: characteristic of the entire pop that’s estimated from a sample o Statistic: numerical estimate of a pop parameter computed from a sample • Why Random? o Random refers to a process that generates a mathematically random result  Each element has an equal prof of being selected o Sampling Error: how much a sample deviates from being representative of a pop o Margin of Error: an estimate about the amount of sampling error that exists in a survey’s results o Random Sample: a type of sample in which the researcher uses a random number table or similar mathematical random process so that each sampling element in the pop will have an equal prob or being selected • Types of Probability Samples o Simple Random  Simple Random Sampling: Researcher creates a sampling frame and uses a pure random process to select cases. Each sampling element in the pop will have an equal prob of being selected  Random-Number Table: list of numbers that has no pattern in it and is used to create a random process for selecting cases and other randomization purposes  Sampling Distribution: created by drawing many random samples from the same pop  Central Limit Theorem: law-like mathematical relationship stating that whenever many random samples are drawn from a pop and plotted, a normal distribution is formed, and the centre of such a distribution for a variable is equal to its pop parameter  Confidence Interval: range of values, usually a little higher and lower than a specific value found in a sample, within which a researcher has a specified and high degree that the pop parameter lies • Let researcher say with a high level of confidence (eg. 95%) that the true pop parameter lies w/I a certain range o Systematic Sampling  Simple random sampling with a shortcut for random selection • Researcher selects every kth case in the sampling frame using a sampling interval  Sampling Interval: tells the researcher how to select elements from a sampling frame by skipping elements in the frame before selecting one for th the sample (eg. Every 15 element is selected) o Stratified Sampling  Researcher first divides the pop into subpops (strata) on the basis of supplementary info  After dividing, the researcher draws a random sample from each subpop  Produces samples that are more representative of pop o Cluster Sampling  Uses multiple stages and is often used to cover wide geographic areas in which aggregated units are randomly selected; samples are then drawn from the sampled aggregated units, or clusters  Researcher randomly samples clusters, then randomly samples elements from w/I the selected clusters • Proportionate and unweighted method  For when there isn’t an accurate list of all the elements in a pop  Probability Proportionate to Size (PPS) • An adjustment made in cluster sampling when each cluster doesn`t have the same number of sampling elements • Second method of cluster sampling o Random-Digit Dialing  Method of randomly selecting cases for phone interviews that uses all possible telephone numbers as a sampling frame  Apossible Canadian telephone number consists of an active area code, an active exchange number, and a four- digit number in an exchange  Researcher identifies active area codes and exchanges, then randomly selects four-digit numbers • Hidden Populations o People who engage in clandestine, deviant, or concealed activities and who are difficult to locate and study • How Large Should a Sample Be? o Depends on the kind of data analysis the researcher plans, on how accurate the sample has to be for the researcher’s purposes, and on pop characteristics o Two ways to address question:  Make assumptions about the op and use statistical equations about random sampling processes  Aconventional or commonly accepted amount (rule of thumb) • Drawing Inferences o Inferential Statistics: based on a random sample. It lets a researcher make precise statements about the level of confidence he or she has in the results of a sample being equal to the pop parameter. o The calculation of the sampling error is based on two factors:  the sample size  the amount of diversity in the sample Survey Research - Chapter 8 • Research QuestionsAppropriate for a Survey o Strongest when the answers given measure variables o Appropriate categories  Behaviour  Attitudes/belief/opinions  Characteristic  Expectations  Self-classification  Knowledge o Don’t use ‘why?’questions o Disadv: sometimes what people say differs from what people actually do • The Logic of Survey Research o What is a Survey?  Often called correlational o Steps in Conducting a Survey  Interview Schedule: the name of a survey research questionnaire when a phone or face-to-face interview is used  Uses deductive approach o Begins w/ a theoretical or applied research prob and ends w/ empirical measurement and data analysis  • Constructing the Questionnaire o Principles of Good Question Writing  Keep it clear  Keep it simple  Keep the respondent`s perceptive in mind  Good questions give the researcher valid and reliable measures  Avoid jargon, slang, and abbreviations  Avoid ambiguity, confusion, and vagueness   Avoid emotional language  Avoid Prestige Bias: when a highly respected group or individual is linked to one of the answers o Ex. Do you support the PM`s policy regarding Darfur?  Avoid double-barrelled questions o When two ideas are combined into one questions and it’s unclear whether the answer is for the combination of both or one or the other question o Ex. Does this company have pension & health insurance benefits?  Do not confuse beliefs with reality  Avoid leading questions o Leads the respondent to choose one response over another by its wording o Ex. Should the mayor fix the pot-holed and dangerous streets in our city?  Avoid asking questions that are beyond respondent’s capabilities  Avoid false premises o Ex. The post office is open too many hours. Do you want it to open four hours later or close four hours earlier each day?  Avoid asking about intentions in the distant future  Avoid double negatives  Avoid overlapping or unbalanced response categories o Aiding Respondent Recall  Need to customize questions and interpret results cautiously o Types of Questions and Response Categories  Threatening Questions o Questions in which respondents are likely to cover up or lie about their true behaviour or beliefs b/c they fear a loss of self-image or that they may appear to be undesirable or deviant  Socially Desirable Questions o Social Desirability Bias: respondents give a ‘normative’response or a socially acceptable answer rather than the truth o Mode of Delivery: the means by which a survey is conducted  Knowledge Questions o Many people have inaccurate factual knowledge  Skip or Contingency Questions o Atwo- (or more) part question. The answer to the first part of the question determines which of two diff questions a respondent next receives o Open Versus Closed Questions  Open-Ended: respondents are free to offer any answer they wish  Closed-Ended Question: respondents much choose from a fixed set of answers  Partially Open Question: respondents are given a fixed set of answers to choose from, but in addition, an ‘other’category is offered so they can specify a diff answer  Nonattitudes and the Middle Positions o Standard- format question: answer categories fail to include “no opinion” or “don’t know.” o Quasi- filter question: includes the answer choice “no opinion” or “don’t know.” o Full- filter question: Respondents are first asked whether they have an opinion or know about a topic, then only the respondents with an opinion or knowledge are asked a specific question on the topic. o Floaters: respondents who lack a belief or opinion, but who give an answer anyway if asked in a survey.Answers are often inconsistent  Agree/Disagree, Rankings or Ratings? o Response set: Respondents tend to agree with every question in a series rather than thinking through their answer to each question. o Wording Issues  Wording effect: An effect that occurs when a specific term or word used in a survey research question affects how respondents answer the question.  Order effects: An effect in survey research in which respondents hear some specific questions before others, and the earlier questions affect their answers to later questions.  Funnel sequence: Away to order survey research questions in a questionnaire from general to specific.  Context effect: When an overall tone or set topics heard by a respondent affects how he or she interprets the meaning of subsequent questions.  Cover sheet: One or more pages at the beginning of a questionnaire with information about an interview or respondent. • Types of Surveys:Advs and Disadvs o Mail and Self-Administered Questionnaires  Cheapest  People tend not to mail them back o Web Surveys  Very fast and inexpensive  Allow flexible design and can use visual images or even audio/video  Concerns: coverage, privacy and verification, and design issues o Telephone Interviews  95% of pop can be reached by phone  Higher cost and limited interview length o Face-to-Face Interviews  Highest response rate and permit longest questionnaires  High cost & interviewer bias • Interviewing o The Role of the Interviewer o Stages of an Interview  Begins w/ an intro and entry  Main part consists of asking questions and recordings answers  Probe: a follow-up question or action used by an interviewer to have a respondent clarify or elaborate on an incomplete or inappropriate ans  Last state is the exist • The Ethical Survey o Issues:  Invasion of privacy  Voluntary participation
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