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Sociological Research Methods in Context

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by

Cara Thompson

on 7 February 2012

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Transcript of Sociological Research Methods in Context

An overview of research methods:
Types of Data
Primary
Data
Secondary
Data
OR
Q
uantitative data
Q
ualitative data
Practical Issues
Time and Money
Requirements of funding
bodies
Personal Skills and
Characteristics
Subject Matter
Research opportunity
Ethical Issues
Informed Consent
Confidentiality and
privacy
Effects on research
participants
Vulnerable groups
Covert research
Theoretcial issues
Validity
Reliablility
Representativeness
Methodological
Perspective
Theoretical
Perspective
Reliability, representativeness
and validity

Triangulation
OR
collected by sociologists themselves

collected for their own research purposes

METHODS used to gather primary data include:

questionnaires,
interviews,
observation
experiments
Collected or created by someone else

Collected or created for their own purposes but which sociologists can use

SOURCES include:
official statistics produced by the government
Personal and public documents
Expressed in numerical form -
numbers and %

EXAMPLES include:
official statistics
most data from questionnaires, structured
interviews and experiments
Expressed in the form of thoughts
and feelings - to give a 'feel' for what
something is like.

EXAMPLES include:
data from participant observation and
unstructured interviews
Written or captured as personal/
expressive documents
Unfortunately, no single method is likely to do all 3
There will always have
to be some comprimise
Quantitative Methods
Qualitative Methods
The general rule......
More
RELIABLE
(repeatable)
They are more structured and standardised giving us more
RELIABLE
results
Allow us to study large numbers, giving us results that are more
REPRESENTATIVE
of the population
Favoured by
POSITIVISTS
Favaoured by
INTERPRETIVISTS
More
VALID
(honest/accuarte)
The researcher has to become closely involved with the group. This brings a deeper understanding (
VERSTEHEN
) and a more
VALID
picture of their lives
Can only study a small number of people, so are
LESS REPRESENTATIVE
of the population (typical cross section)
Only produce a superficial 'snap-shot' of the respondent so are likely to have
LESS VALIDITY
They are also
LESS RELIABLE
because they
are hard to replicate (repeat)
combining different methods together to obatin a more
rounded pciture
Triangulation
means:
we might combine participant observation with questionnaires
For example.....
This would allow us to see whether the
VALID
insights we gained from observing a small group were
REPRESENTATIVE.
Also more
RELIABLE
TEST YOURSELF
1. Complete the following table:
Primary
sources
Secondary
sources
Quantitative
data
Qualitative
data
2. Now highlight on the table which methods are more:

VALID
RELIABLE
REPRESENTATIVE
4. Answer the following questions:

i) Explain the difference between validity and reliability

ii) Examine some of the practical, ethical
and theoretical issues affecting sociologists choice of method
3. Answer the following questions:

i) why might questionnaires be expected to produce reliable and representative data?

ii) why might obseration be expected to produce valid data?

iii) why might covert participant
observation be more valid that overt
participant observation?
SUMMARY
Sociologists use
PRIMARY
and
SECONDARY
sources of
QUANTITATIVE
and
QUALITATIVE
data. In selecting a research method, sociologists take account of
PRACTICAL
,
ETHICAL
and
THEORETICAL
factors.

Methodological and theoretical perspectives are important influences on choice of method, as are the quest for
RELIABILITY, REPRESENTATIVENESS
and
VALIDITY
Full transcript