Research Methods Pols 201 Adam Eckerd Week One
Research Methods Pols 201 Adam Eckerd Week One Pols 201
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Date Created: 01/18/16
Chapter One: Approaches to Research, a summary Intro o Data and research can come in forms of words or numbers, and can be used in all different fields o Pragmatism places emphasis on what is useful in achieving certain objectives o Defining terms proves an important and difficult task in research o Some Key Terms Research Methodology Principles of research that is underscored by a certain philosophy Research Methods The essential elements of the design of the research Research Techniques How data is collected and analyzed Research tools The materials and resources used to conduct research The PAPA model of research (Refer to the figure 1.1 in the text) o An acronym meaning pure, applied, policy, and action. Each term has its own meanings Pure research Concerned specifically with scientific outcomes Curiosity driven Applied research Something beginning with curiosity, but the person performing the research isn’t necessarily intended to become involved in the implementing whatever results are found o A researcher of this nature could sell their results to someone who needs to use the results for further implementation Policy research Connected to a policy o For example, if a government enacts a policy to reduce crime, they may run some research to see if the policy in fact works Action research Focused on bettering particular activities o For example, a teacher can compare test results between classes who are using newer textbooks vs. older textbooks o Research done to help achieve efficiency o All four of these methods use a scientific theory to improve themselves Stages of Research o Problem Where you decide what you’re going to do. Five steps to decide on a problem Topic selection o Finding a general area of studying Problem definition o Narrowing down the topic o See Figure 1.2 Literature review o See if your problem has already been done o Possibly make revisions to help make the approach more personal and applicable Hypothesis formation o Make an informed guess as an answer to your problem Methodology o Consider some probable issues that can occur from how you intend to collect data and approach the problem o Data Collection Apply research methods to gather information. There are three steps to do so. Definition of the Universe o In this situation, the universe is the number of things that is to be studied Sampling o Since you can’t study everything of your particular universe, a smaller sampling is necessary Data collection o This is where you would go forth and collect necessary findings on your data o Data Analysis See if your data actually answers the problem you intended to address Organization of information o Organize information in a way that can be analyzed efficiently Analysis of results o Check for validity of information Begin to classify, describe, interpret o Action Do something with your findings Report writing o Make publications for interested parties Distributing information o Making sure said interested parties are actually receiving the information Putting results into action o This usually does not involve the researcher, but this is where you use the research to make changes in order to make whatever was researched have more desirable outcomes the next go around o Research reports are written linearly But, during research, you may move back and forth between these various stages Through revisions and modifications Sometimes you can omit steps, but make sure that omission is justified 1.3 Some actual research projects o See page 8 and 9 as the author analyzes four research projects that he has been involved in, and how he outlines each project through the steps previously presented ( Problem, Data Collection, Data Analysis, Action) For Example The third research project he discusses is o Policy Research into Crime Victimization Problem What were the levels of crime in two main towns following a civil war Data Collection Survey people of this time in a certain sample cluster Data Analysis Looks for trends in victimization Action Evidence was provided to the proper groups o Each study involved different subjects Each drew upon different theories Important to note that the research done is to provide data for those who are making decisions, instead of trying to specifically develop something for academic theory 1.4 Research Accuracy o Disciplined vs Disciplinary Be systematic and accurate, but not defined by academic boundaries Validity o Correctness of the data present Why do we do research? Lecture one This class will tend to lean towards policy, instead towards political science o Course will tend to be applicable to the real world The basic process we will encounter is a distinction from the scientific method Class project! In small groups, that we will pick over the weekend o Located on the blackboard site Participation is key! o Does not take attendance, but just being here is not enough There is class on the 26 , incorrectly marked on the syllabus Memos are due on Tuesdays of that week Open to approaches, not exactly the same things o He will purposefully be unclear Research and data o Data allow a researcher to: Describe data through the use of: Frequency, distributions Graphs Statistics Anecdotes Narratives Interprestations o Come in a variety of forms Data can be Statistics Interpretations Narratives Contextual o Information, anything that is useful in decision making Ideally data is high quality, but there is a probability of low quality of data o There are some preferences of some data or others Would you rather have a narrative or a statistics? Broader base, more people to pull from Narrative o Knowing A lot about few Statistic o Knowing a few about a lot o Numbers are important to inform the stories Interpreations o Understanding issues deeply instead of broadly Why? o To help us make better decisions Research should inform our ability to make decisions Or, there is probability to make ideologically biased choices Evidence goes over ideologically What does the evidence suggest we should do? o If there is no evidence, not achieving o Information should make decisions Describing the world Use information to understand the context we make decisions Explaining How and why something has or will occur Predicting Past is prelude, information is the ability to explain Ability to predict the likeliness of something happ Description Using data in which we make decisions o Be able to take some variable in a context and describe it Data allows us to understand the situation better than we did before we did By breaking something down, you can understand certain degrees of information better o Schooling, smoking are examples Comparisons are possible o For example, the more education = the healthier people are o People who are educated can afford to pay for their own healthcare Things can also be occurring overtime o Research is to figure out why something occurs o Limitations of description Be able to explain we should be able to predict We very often can’t observe things actually happening o We can gather data, but we can’t have any data on something very specific For example, there is not really an observation on jack daniels workers going to congress and why But, we can collect data and try to determine how x causes y What we care about here is the cause and effect o Education and earnings and unemployment have a strong relationship Higher education, more money you make Theory: more education? You should be able to access a higher paying job We can test this! o And evidence supports this hypothesis o We’ve explained income variation with this Be careful! o Correlation is not causation In social science work, we cannot completely isolate variables For example Most bank crises start in September o Might look like something is significant, but is actually just is a coincidence o In research, ascertain which is meaningful and something meaningless For example, there is a correlation between global temperatures and Us postal changes o But of course, this is meaningless o Still meaningful because you can draw other issues But still possible to muddy correlations that can be drawn Inference and Explanation o We want to infer things about population We want to know the characteristics of things Inference o We want to know something of a population, but we can’t do information about everybody So we have a sample, create a statistic, and the estimate Polls are more often right then wrong Steps in research process o Identifying problem What is the underlying problem What are some theories? There are a multitude of right answers but find the best one o Make a hypothesis from it Statement of relationships between to variables You can come up for hypothesis in multiple ways especially in social sciences o How to analyze Unit of analysis The what or who that will be studied Measure how x causes y o Collect data o Specify model o Estimate model o Test model o Use model o Share results Variables Independent and dependent variable o Independent The cause o Dependent is the effect We don’t prove things in social sciences o We can only find strong correlations Data o Can be quantitative or qualitative o Be careful about how you measure something Test relationships Everything presented is a broad overview of this semester
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