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Study Guide for Midterm: Textbook Notes

Course Code
Malcolm Mac Kinnon
Study Guide

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SOCA02 Textbook Notes
Chapter 2: How Sociologists Do Research
Values -> Theories -> Previous Research -> Methods -!³5HDOLW\´
Conducting Research
The Research Cycle:
1) Formulate Question
2) Review existing Literature
3) Select Method
4) Collect Data
5) Analyze Data
6) Report Results
Ethical Consideration ± ³GRQRKDUPUHVSHFWVXEMHFWV¶ULJKWV´
- Right to safety
- Right to privacy
- Right to confidentiality
- Right to informed consent
The Main Methods of Sociology: participant observation, experiments, survey, past documents
Field research ± research based on the observation of people in their natural settings
- Detached observation ± classifying and counting the behaviour of interest according to a
predetermined scheme
o Hawthorne effect ± presence of researcher changes results
o Meaning ± may be vague to the researcher
- Ethonographic research ± learning the entire way of life of a people (opposite of detach)
o Going Native ± giving up their research role and becoming members of the group
they are studying
Participant Observation ± attempt to observe a social milieu objectively and take part in the
activities of the people they are studying
- Professional Fence ± person who buys and sells stolen goods
Lesson in Method
- Exploratory research ± researchers first have only a vague sense of what they are looking
for and perhaps no sense at all of what they will discover in the course of their study
- Hypothesis ± unverified but testable statements about the phenomena
- Grounded theory ± an explanation of a phenomenon based not on mere speculation but on
controlled scrutiny of subjects
Methodological Problems
- Variables ± concepts that have more than one value
- Operationalization ± deciding which observations to link to which variables
Reliability ± would another researcher interpret or measure things in the same way
Validity ± is it measuring what it is suppose to measure
Generalizability ± can it be applied to general population

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Experiments ± a carefully controlled artificial situation that allows researchers to isolate
hypothesized causes and measure their effects precisely
- Randomization
- Experimental group
- Control group
- Independent variable ± WKHSUHVXPHG³FDXVLQDQ\FDXVH-effect relationship
Surveys ± people are asked questions about knowledge, attitudes, behaviour etc.
- Voluntary
- Representative
- Convenience
- Probability sample ± UHVSRQGHQWVFKRVHQDWUDQGRPS
- Sampling frame ± list of all the people in the population of interest
- Margin of error - Tolerate 5% chance
Survey Questions and Validity
- Undercounting ± due to imperfect sampling frame
- Non-response bias ± need response to be around 70%
- Response bias ± do not answer accurately
- Wording effect ± the way it is phrased or ordered
1) Time order criterion ± A before B
2) Association criterion ± correlation of A to B
3) Spuriousness criterion ± not from another factor or third variable
4) Rationale criterion ± the existHQFHRID³OLQN´
Reading Tables
- Contingency table ± (Matrix) a cross-classification of cases by at least two variables that
allows you to see how variables are associated
Analysis of Existing Documents and Official Statistics
- Diaries, newspapers, and published historical works
Advantages: low cost, high quality data, historical analysis, reactivity is not a problem
Disadvantage: may not be entirely relevant
The Importance of Being Subjective
- discover their worldview
- good for exploratory research & grounded
- high internal validity
- low reliability
- low external validity/generalize
- not very good C-E relationships
- high reliability
- good for C-E relationships
- low validity for many
sociological problems
- good reliability
- good for C-E relationships
- good generalizability
- some problems with validity but
some are fixable
Analysis of Existing
documents and
official statistics
- inexpensive, easy to obtain, good coverage
- useful for historical analysis
- contains biases reflecting
interests of their creators and not
the interest of researcher
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