Methods of Research Why Research Methods? • Purpose: – Establishing causation through evidence – Different methods of research provide different types of evidence – Who cares? • In any form of argumentation, you are inevitably using research methods. – 2 main types: • Qualitative Methods • Quantitative Methods Causation & Correlation • What is the difference between the two? • Why does it matter? – E.g.s? Quantitative Methods • What are quantitative methods? – Methods of research that try to establish causation through the use of quantifiable data, and mathematical tools – In the end, all quantitative methods aspire to follow the scientific method. – The modern understanding of scientific method: Experiments Experiments • Experiments: The dominant method to causation in modern scholarship • Causation as “effects of causes”, ceteris paribus • Types of Experiments: – Laboratory Experiments – Natural Experiments – “Quasi”- Experiments “Quasi” Experiments • Sometimes, experiments are unfeasible for a variety of reasons, ethical & logistical. – Can you think of examples? • Alternative solutions: – Statistical approaches: Instead of running experiments, we try to approximate experiments using statistical tools • The simplest way is correlational analysis. • From there, approaches get increasingly complex Qualitative Methods • But quantitative approaches aren’t the only way to “prove” arguments. • What are qualitative methods? – Methods of research that use non-mathematical tools to gather evidence and establish causation – Causes of effects approach [as opposed to Experiments] – Much more conducive to inductive reasoning Qualitative Methods • There are different types of qualitative research methods: – Ethnographic Approaches – Historiographical Approaches – Archival Research • There is often overlap amongst the various approaches • Often, there are ways to quantify qualitative evidence – E.g.s? Pros & Cons • There are advantages & disadvantages of both approaches. – Neither is superior to the other, despite what many may say. • Pros & Cons of Quant: – Rigor; When done well, it is often persuasive. – Comes with severe risks – easily misapplied; correlation & causation. Quant is often incomplete • Pros & Cons of Qual: – Qual methods get directly at the ‘why’. – Also easily misapplied – lack of rigor. Parting Thoughts • Social science as hard science? – How do you “prove” arguments? – Can a theory ever be disproven completely? – What does disconfirming evidence look like? – How much disconfirming evidence should you look at? – At what point do you know that your argument is wrong?
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