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Research Methods week of 9-20

by: Smjonesy11 Notetaker

Research Methods week of 9-20 Soci 101

Smjonesy11 Notetaker
GPA 3.3

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About this Document

As promised, I will be updating these notes as class goes on since we will be covering this material for about 2 weeks. I hope it all helps!
Intro to Sociology 101
Dr. Gibbs
Class Notes
sociology, 101
25 ?




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This 10 page Class Notes was uploaded by Smjonesy11 Notetaker on Saturday September 24, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Soci 101 at University of Nebraska Lincoln taught by Dr. Gibbs in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 24 views. For similar materials see Intro to Sociology 101 in Liberal Arts and Sciences at University of Nebraska Lincoln.


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Date Created: 09/24/16
What is a Valid Sociological Topic?  ● Any human behavior is a valid sociological topic  ○ Even disreputable behavior  ■ Rape, spouse abuse, etc  Whys isn’t common sense adequate?  ● Common sense does not provide reliable information  ○ In research, common sense is limited or false  ○ Do women talk more than men?  ■ Common sense ​says yes,​ ​research proves​ that men talk just as much  Research Model  ● 8 Steps  ○ Select a topic  ○ Define the problem  ○ Review the literature  ○ Formulate a hypothesis  ○ Choose a research method  ■ Surveys, case studies, experiments, etc  ○ Collect data  ○ Analyze results  ○ Share results  ● 1. Selecting a topic  ○ What do you want to know more about?  ■ Broad area of interest  ○ Ex: Academic performance of college students in the US  ■ Broad? → A lot of colleges and a lot of college students with many forms  of academic success  ● 2. Defining a problem  ○ Specify what you want to learn about the topic  ○ What area of the broader topic will you examine?   ■ Large topic to a smaller, specific topic  ■ What is the purpose of the study?  ○ Ex: To determine the effect sleep has on academic performance among college  students in the US  ● 3. Reviewing the Literature  ○ Comprehensive overview of what is and is not known  ○ Read what has been published on the topic  ○ Why is this research important???  ■ Narrow the problem, identify areas that are already known, learn what  areas need to be researched  ● 4. Formulating a Hypothesis  ○ Testable explanations/statements of a problem, phenomenon, or observation  (NOT FACTS)  ○ A statement of what you expect to find​ according to predictions from a theory  ○ Predicts a relationship between/among variables  ■ Variable: ​Factors thought to be significant to human behavior that ​change  from one person or situation to another  ■ Dependent Variable (Y)  ● The ​outcome​ that the researcher is trying to explain  ● Something influences it → independent variable influences the  dependent variable    ○ Does not occur on its own  ■ Independent Variable (X)  ● A ​measured factor​ that the researcher believes has a causal  impact on the dependent variable  ● The cause of the dependent variable  ● X causes Y  ○ Needs ​operational definitions:  ■ An accurate method of measuring the factors (variables) that changes a  hypothesis  ■ Ex: Students who get 8 hours of sleep are more likely to get higher grades  ● Dependent variable → higher grades  ● Independent variable → amount of sleep (8 hours)  ■ Ex: Students who do not party are more likely to graduate on­time  ● Dependent variable → graduating on­time  ● Independent variable → partying  ○ Operationalization  ■ Process of ​transforming a concept into something that can be measured  ■ Ex: Students who get 8 hours of sleep are more likely to get higher ​grades  ● Grades ​→ many ways to measure grades  ○ Must specify ​HOW you will measure the grades initially​ in  order for​ thers to be able to replicate your study →  REPLICATION  ■ Ex: Students who get higher grades are more likely to be ​religious   ● Religion​ → how often they worship, how excited they are about  religion, how collected one is, if they participate in service, how  often they read scriptures, etc  ● 5. Choosing a Research Method  ○ How will you collect data?  ○ 7 basic research methods  ■ Surveys, participant observation, case studies, secondary analysis,  documents, experiments, unobtrusive measures  ● 6. Collecting the Data  ○ Validity­​ ​the extent to which an operational definition measures what it is  intended to measure  ■ Truthfulness/accuracy  ○ Reliability­​ likelihood of obtaining consistent results using the same measure  ■ Consistency   ■ If other researchers use your same operational definitions, their findings  will be consistent with yours  ○ Ex: Scales start at 0 → valid scale  ■ A scale should start at 0  ■ If it starts at 5, the scale is no longer valid.  ○ Ex: Although a scale starts at 5 (​invalid​) but a person weighing 110 weighs  his/herself and the scale says 115 every time that person steps on it, the scale is  still ​reliable​ because it’s ​consistent  ● 7. Analyze the Results  ○ Testing the hypothesis  ● 8. Sharing the Results  ○ Writing a report to share findings with the scientific community.  ○ Review how you did your research and specify your operational definitions  ○ Compare findings with published reports on the topic and examine how they  support/disagree with theories that others have applied  ○ Your findings will be available for replication  ■ Allows others to repeat your study to see if they come up with similar  results  Research Methods (7)  ● 1. ​Surveys  ○ Collection of data by having people answer a series of questions → ​questionnaires   ■ Examples: ​ ​ Nationally representative surveys…  ● General Social Survey (GSS)  ● American Community Survey (ACS)  ● The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health  (Add Health)  ● The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS)  ● The National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG)  ■ Not all surveys are nationally representatives  ● BUT localized surveys do not have as much impact as national  surveys  ○ Selecting a sample  ■ Narrow the population down to the target group you want to study  ■ Population­ ​target group being studied  ■ Sample­​ individuals from the target group that represent the population  being studied  ● **​When everyone in the target group is studied ​→ ​CENSUS​**  ● Not all samples are equal  ○ Surveying only either one or the other can skew results  ■ Random sample­ ​everyone in the target population has an equal chance of  being selected  ● Get a list of all married women in target population  ● Assign a number to each name  ● Use a table of random numbers  ● SHOULD represent the target population fairly  ○ Not always fair  ■ In a random sample, can accidently randomly select  only males, blacks, two parent families, high  income, etc  ■ Needs a representation to avoid bias  ■ Stratified Random Sample  ● A sample from selected subgroups of the target population where  everyone in those subgroups has an equal chance of being selected  ○ Asking Neutral Questions  ■ Respondents­ ​ the people who answer your questions  ■ Make sure the questions are neutral  ● Biased answers are worthless  ○ Questionnaires and Interviews  ■ Questionnaires­​ the list of questions being asked  ■ Self Administered Questionnaires​ allow a larger number of people to be  sampled  ● Lower cost  ● Easily lose control of the data collection  ○ Researchers don’t know the conditions under which the  questions were answered  ○ Others could have influenced answers  ■ Interview­​ direct questioning to the respondent  ● Face­to­face, email, phone  ● Advantage  ○ Can ask questions the same way  ● Disadvantage  ○ Time consuming  ○ Leads to fewer respondents  ○ Can create ​interviewer bias  ■ The interviewer’s presence can affect what people  say  ● Structured Interviews​­ use closed­ended questions  ○ Questions are followed by a list of possible answers to be  selected by the respondent  ● Unstructured Interviews­ u ​ se open­ended questions  ○ Respondents answer in their own words  ○ Establishing Rapport  ■ Rapport​­ a feeling of trust with respondents with sensitive topics    ● 2. Participant Observation (fieldwork)  ■ Researcher participates in a research setting while observing what is  happening in that setting   ■ Generalizability​­ the extent to which findings from one group/sample can  be generalized or applied to other groups/samples    ● 3. Case Studies  ■ The researcher focuses on a ​single event, situation, or individual  ■ The purpose is to understand the dynamics of relationships and power and  what motivates people    ● 4. Secondary Analysis  ■ The analysis of data that have been collected by other researchers  ● 5. Analysis of Documents  ○ The analysis of recorded sources  ■ Books, newspapers, diaries, bak records, police reports, etc  ● 6. Experiments   ○ The use of control and experimental groups and dependent and independent  variables to test causation  ■ Tests cause and effect  ○ Experimental group​­ group who are exposed to the independent variable  ○ Control group​­ group who is not exposed to the independent variable  ○ Independent variable​­ something that causes a change in another variable  ○ Dependent variable​­ factor in an experiment that is changed by the independent  variable   ● 7. Unobtrusive Measures  ○ Observing people who are unaware that they are being studied  ● Deciding which method to use  ○ 4 primary factors in deciding  ■ 1. Access to Resources  ■ 2. Access to Subjects  ■ 3. Purpose of the Research (questions needing answered)  ■ 4. Researcher’s Background/Training  ● Controversy in Sociological Research  ○ Poke into private areas of life  ○ Makes people uncomfortable  ○ Sometimes the government won’t fund hot topics  ■ How risky sexual behavior is related to HIV  ■ Counting the number of homeless people  5.5 Gender in Sociological Research  ● Gender can bring bias  ○ Some participants may alter their results depending on the gender of the  interviewer­ ​interviewer bias  ○ Can’t only study one gender unless the study is explicitly gender specific  ○ Women’s experiences were neglected in the past because the majority of  sociologists were men  5.6 Ethics in Sociological Research  ● Ethics  ○ Require honesty, truth, openness, protecting the subjects from harm  ○ Forbids the falsification of results, plagiarism  ○ People should be informed that they are being studied and should never be  harmed by the research  ○ Unethical for researchers to misrepresent themselves  ● Protecting the Subjects: the Brajuha Research  ○ Mario Brajuha  ■ His notes became famous after his strict refusal for 2 years  ■ Protected his respondents and the professional manner that he handled  himself  ● Misleading the Subjects: Humphreys Research­ Participant Observation  ○ Misrepresentation is unethical  ○ Humphreys case  ■ Studied “tea rooms”  ● Rooms for quick oral sex  ■ Two men had sex while a third (“watch queen”) was a lookout for police  and unwelcome strangers  ■ Humphreys was a “watch queen”  ● Watched what the men did  ■ Wanted to look at the lives of the men  ● Why did they wear wedding rings?  ● Recorded license numbers  ■ Found men’s homes and included them in a medical survey  ■ The men lived regular lives  ● Voted, married, had children  ■ Heterosexual men use tea rooms for quick sex  ● Wives were not very sexual because of religion and birth control  ■ Almost lost his PhD  ● Gave his list to a friend  ● Friend burned the files for confidentiality  ■ Was it ethical?  ● Most sided with humphreys, criticisms continued  ● Later stated that he should have introduced himself as a researcher  5.7 How Research and Theory Work Together  ● Mills claims research without a theory is simply a collection of unrelated facts  ○ Theory without research is abstract and empty  ■ It can’t represent the way life really is  ○ Research and Theory are both essential for sociology  ○ Every theory must be tested  ■ Requires research  ● The Real World: When Ideal Meets the Real  ○ Are Rapists Sick?  ■ Scully and Marolla rapist study  ● Hypothesis: Rape is like most human behavior­ learned through  interactions with others  ○ Hints that some men might see rape as acceptable behavior  ● To test the hypothesis­ need to interview a random sample  ● Sent letters to 3,500 men in 7 prisons  ○ 25% agreed to be interviewed  ○ Sample was 98  ○ The control group was 75 men convicted of other crimes  ● Researcher gender bias  ○ Both interviewed half of the participants  ● The psychological histories of both groups were similar  ○ Rapists were not sick or had been overwhelmed by  uncontrollable urges  ○ They would rape to “blow off steam”, to get sex, feel  powerful, and to hurt women  ● Rape comes from the criminal pursuit of pleasure  ○ Not mental illness   


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