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Midterm and Final Study Guides

by: James Frank Hopkins

Midterm and Final Study Guides SMPA

Marketplace > George Washington University > 2151 > SMPA > Midterm and Final Study Guides
James Frank Hopkins

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Study Guides I made for both exams that worked really well for me
Research Methods
Study Guide
research, Media
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This 6 page Study Guide was uploaded by James Frank Hopkins on Tuesday October 11, 2016. The Study Guide belongs to SMPA at George Washington University taught by in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 2 views. For similar materials see Research Methods in 2151 at George Washington University.


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Date Created: 10/11/16
1) Data mining vs. theory testing. Distinguish the two. a. Data Mining: obtaining a massive amount of data (typically complicated) that is meant to either provide a semi-accurate prediction of what may occur in the future or highlight a trend that may explain past data/action. b. Theory Testing: As opposed to data mining- which is arguably a more reactionary method of study- theory testing seeks to generate and test hypotheses before certain events occur. Also, theory testing is used to reach an ultimate goal, whereas data mining is typically just a collection of vast amounts of data. 2) Logical fallacies. Describe and name 4 of them. a. Circular Reasoning: when the reasoner begins with what he or she is trying to end up with; sometimes called assuming the conclusion. b. Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc: a faulty assumption that correlation between two variables implies that one causes the other. Because 1 comes before 2, therefore 1 causes 2. c. Gambler’s Fallacy: the incorrect belief that separate, independent events can affect the likelihood of another random event. d. Red Herring: a speaker attempts to distract an audience by deviating from the topic at hand by introducing a separate argument the speaker believes is easier to speak to. 3) What is the ‘backfire effect’? a. The backfire effect occurs when, in the face of contradictory evidence, established beliefs do not change but actually get stronger. 4) Edward Tufte- information graphs/charts. Integrity, honesty when presenting graphics. 2 examples of what he calls “lying graphics” be specific about them: techniques etc. 5) Thick description – Clifford Gearts (?) what is thick description, why is it valuable, and when would you use it as opposed to thin description? a. A thick description of a human behavior is one that explains not just the behavior, but its context as well, such that the behavior becomes meaningful to an outsider. b. This is valuable in social science research especially because it is useful to know what conditions would influence or result in certain actions by people. For example, in advertising this would be incredibly useful. c. Thick descriptions are almost always beneficial- though not always necessary. For example, thin descriptions can be used in a majority of poling/survey scenarios whereas thick descriptions would almost always be preferable in situations involving consumers/public opinion, etc. 6) Predictive models, the Numerati (Big Data): what statistic techniques are they using and why? 7) Focus group research vs survey group research. In focus group you can ask a lot of different questions but in surveys there are fewer. There’s a sequence. Focus groups -> quantitative testing or survey research. Why? 8) What are non-attitudes? And why can they be a problem in social research? a. Non-attitudes are defined as a lack of a stable affective disposition in answering survey questions. b. They can be a problem because, by virtue of the question being included in the survey, it is of some importance. Therefore, when “no opinion” answers are received, it can be assumed that the respondent either did not care or did not know enough about the topic. Regardless, this respondent is no longer representative of the population. 9) 2 ethical considerations in conducting social/medical research 3 ethical considerations in presenting the research. Research involving human subjects. 10) Literary Digest (1936) fiasco. They conducted polls but are now out of business. Why? a. In 1936, Literary Digest predicted that Alfred Landon would win the presidential election- a prediction the magazine had never gotten wrong before. However, in this case, Literary Digest was polling only those with telephones and automobiles which results in a serious socio-economic bias. The only people that they polled were wealthy Americans who would obviously have voted for Landon at the time. 11) Why would researchers select non-random samples? What are some reasons or necessities that would cause us to select non-random samples? What is a benefit/drawback? a. While perfectly random samples are obviously preferable, many researchers select non-random samples for many reasons. Namely: convenience. Collecting a perfectly random sample of a population is no easy task so many researchers simply select whoever is willing. b. It may be necessary to select a non-random sample if the research in question is not applicable to certain members of a population. For example, if a study is attempting to determine the effectiveness of a certain advertisement on a group- researchers may only select those who are favorable for their product/conditions as opposed to anyone who would be watching television. c. One benefit of this method of sampling is that researchers have far more control over the potential results of the study and can focus the study in certain ways. d. One drawback is, of course, by virtue of the sample not being perfectly random, there is a possibility that (to continue with the ad example) the actual population of viewers is nothing like the researchers selected, thereby nulling their work. 12) Publication bias. Describe what it is. How might it distort scientific knowledge? a. Publication bias is the term for what occurs whenever the research that appears in the published literature is systematically unrepresentative of the population of completed studies. Simply put, when the research that is readily available differs in its results from the results of all the research that has been done in an area. b. It distorts scientific knowledge because the results may not always be true. The focus shifts from science to business and award-seeking. 13) Define and provide an example of a null hypothesis. a. A proposition that undergoes verification to determine if it should be accepted or rejected in favor of an alternative proposition. b. Example: Equal test scores 14) Define and provide an example of a P value. a. P value= probability that null hypothesis is correct b. < .0001 15) John Stuart Mill’s method of difference: what is it? Provide an example as well. a. If an instance in which the phenomenon under investigation occurs, and an instance in which it does not occur, have every circumstance save one in common, that one occurring only in the former; the circumstance in which alone the two instances differ, is the effect, or cause, or a necessary part of the cause, of the phenomenon. b. Example: As an example of the method of difference, consider two similar countries. Country A has a centre-right government, a unitary system and was a former colony. Country B has a centre-right government, a unitary system but was never a colony. The difference between the countries is that Country A readily supports anti-colonial initiatives, whereas Country B does not. The method of difference would identify the independent variable to be the status of each country as a former colony or not, with the dependant variable being support for anti-colonial initiatives. This is because, out of the two similar countries compared, the difference between the two is whether or not they were formerly a colony. This then explains the difference on the values of the dependent variable, with the former colony being more likely to support decolonization than the country with no history of being a colony. 16) “A research article says that a regression model that was used in a study controls for variables X2, X3, and X4.” What do they mean by controls for? Explain the technical logic. 1) Statement that we need to quickly evaluate: inference based on data. Is this a valid inference we’ve made from this statement about the quantitative information (how many bachelor’s degrees people are getting)? 2) Probability. Playing the lotto, rolling a dice. Chances of winning. 3) Reasons for conducting a literature review. Why do we do them as a part of the process of conducting research? Why include one in a report? a. Literature reviews are useful in research for two primary reasons. Foremost, it allows the researcher to compile all existing information on the subject at hand. Secondly, this ensures that the researcher does not merely reproduce the same experiment and results as someone else. This should be included in a report to show readers/scholars that your study is important and original. 4) Different kinds of variables: independent, dependent, confounding, control (NOT LEVELS OF DATA) a. Independent variable: a variable whose variation does not depend on that of another b. Dependent variable: a variable whose value depends on that of another c. Confounding variable: an extraneous variable whose presence affects the variables being studied so that the results you get do not reflect the actual relationship between the variables under investigation d. Control variable: that is used as a constant and unchanging standard of comparison in scientific experimentation 5) Describe 3 types of study designs and provide a brief description of each. (GWU Med School website) a. Case Study Design: an in-depth study of a particular research problem. It is often used to narrow down a very broad field of research into one or a few easily researchable examples. The case study research design is also useful for testing whether a specific theory and model actually applies to phenomena in the real world. It is a useful design when not much is known about an issue or phenomenon. b. Observational Design: draws a conclusion by comparing subjects against a control group, in cases where the researcher has no control over the experiment. An observational study allows a useful insight into a phenomenon and avoids the ethical and practical difficulties of setting up a large and cumbersome research project. c. Longitudinal Design: follows the same sample over time and makes repeated observations. Longitudinal research designs describe patterns of change and help establish the direction and magnitude of causal relationships. Measurements are taken on each variable over two or more distinct time periods. This allows the researcher to measure change in variables over time. It is a type of observational study sometimes referred to as a panel study. 6) Describe 5 types of bias in survey research: 7) Define inference. What is it? a. Inference: the theory, methods, and practice of forming judgments about the parameters of a population, usually on the basis of random sampling. 8) List and briefly describe 5 steps in a research project (BOOTH READING). 9) The purpose and benefit of qualitative research. How do they differ from quantitative research? a. Qualitative research: is a categorical measurement expressed not in terms of numbers, but rather by means of a natural language description. Identify variables, causes, and effects, understand processes and causal sequences (decision making, information processing, etc.) and generate hypotheses. Whereas quantitative research is meant to test hypotheses. 10) Describe 2 types of survey questions and potential pitfalls in how the questions are employed. a. Close-Ended: limit the answers of the respondents to response options provided on the questionnaire. However, respondents are required to choose a response that does not exactly reflect their answer; the researcher cannot further explore the meaning of the responses. b. Open-Ended: there are no predefined options or categories included. The participants should supply their own answers. However, time- consuming; responses are difficult to code and interpret. 11) Recruitment of people to participate in a survey. What kind of biases can exist in how you recruit people to be in a study? a. Socio-economic bias: selecting individuals to participate (knowingly or unknowingly) that are members of a certain economic/social class as opposed to being completely random. b. Self-selection bias: individuals select themselves into a group, causing a biased sample with nonprobability sampling. c. Migration bias: excluding subjects who have recently moved into or out of the study area. d. Non-response bias: if the answers of respondents differ from the potential answers of those who did not answer. 12) Explain the concept of validity in scientific research. Why is it important? Terse. a. Validity: your findings truly represent the phenomenon you are claiming to measure. This is important because social science depends on validity to be useful. If studies are not valid then the data cannot be trusted and the results are meaningless. 13) List and briefly explain 6 elements of a research report in sequence. 14) Define operationalization. What is it? Why is it important? a. Operationalization: the process of strictly defining variables into measurable factors, this is important to properly measure abstract concepts in experiments. Without operationalizing variables, concrete data and results cannot be found. 15) Define and distinguish random error from non-random error. Include examples and nice descriptions of each. a. Random error: caused by unknown and unpredictable changes in the experiment b. Non-Random error: reproducible inaccuracies that are consistently in the same direction- usually caused by the experimenter and/or measurement tools 16) Distinguish univariate, bivariate, and multivariate data. a. Univariate: analysis based on one variable b. Bivariate: analysis based on two variables c. Multivariate: analysis based on more than two variables 17) *Power point slide about non-linear relationships* Describe the 3 types of non-linear relationship. Say what happens in each.


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