Research Methods by pptfiles

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									Research Methods
• Research Methods are techniques used for collecting data • Primary data • Secondary data • Difference between Research design and Research Methods

Methods link with the problem and the theoretical views
• Sociologists decisions are not only influenced by practical or technical concerns, but are also influenced by theory. • Sociologists have to look out for the apt method for research problem and their theoretical views.

Primary Research Methods
• Interviews Structured (questionnaires) and Unstructured • Observation Structured Unstructured (Participant observation) Semi-Structured

Structured interviews or Questionnaire
• Structured question format, used mostly in surveys • Respondents/interviewees are asked a set of identical questions in exactly the same way. • Closed ended Questions: selection of answers from a limited range of options.

• Information from a large group can be obtained • Quick and low cost • Quantifiable data • Value free (researcher detached from the process of data collection)

• Same word in a questionnaire or structured interview can mean different things to different people. (lack
construct validity…)

Eg: ‘Excellent’ interpreted differently • Lacks depth – difficult to explore what their subjects actually mean • Lacks ecological validity- impossible to know how they actually behave in real situations.

Unstructured interviews
• Unstructured interviews are like ordinary conversations • Widely used in ethnography • Aim: to allow respondents to reconstruct their experiences in as much detail as possible, giving the researcher, and ultimately the reader, an insight into how they experienced particular events

Advantages and limitations
• • • • • • • More valid More depth and flexible Interview effect ecological validity is not met Data collection is not standardised Generalisation is difficult Less reliable: results cannot be quantified and retested • Problems in recalling information accurately

Semi- structured interviews
• The questions are closed, but interviewees or respondents are given space in questionnaires) or time (in face-to-face interviews) to elaborate on the answer. (Horses for courses principle) • Using structured questions to obtain factual information and unstructured questions to probe deeper into people’s experiences.

• Observation can structured, unstructured and semi- structured. • Structured observation are most commonly associated with experimental and evaluative research designs. • Observational research studies are unstructured. • Use of participant observation.

Participant Observation
• The researcher directly participates in the life of the people being studied • Sociologists have to find ways of getting into the groups they wish to study. • Research involves detailing observations, listening to what is said and asking questions. • Participant observation is commonly used in ethnographic research designs.

• Richness of detail (participant observation ‘tells it like it is’) • Researcher is able to see for themselves how to behave in their natural contexts (authenticity). • Fulfills the criterion of validity • Offers flexibility • Provide basis for inductively generating new theoretical explanations.

Limitations of participant observation
• Participant observation methods tend to be unreliable • Data collection is not standardised • Subjectivity involved in selection of data • Difficult to generalise from the results

Overt and covert
• Overt observational method brings about the observer effect. • The problem of observer effect is solved by using covert observational methods. • This undercover research raises ethical issues

Secondary sources
• Secondary data include data from previous research and not generated by the researcher. • Two of the most important sources of secondary data are official statistics and documents.
• Official statistics refers to the mass of data collected by the state and its various agencies. • Documents means anything that contains a text.

Official Statistics
• Official statistics are the major source of information for sociologists. • Widely used in large scale comparative research designs.
• They are not self-evident facts simply waiting for the researchers to use. They are social constructions that reflect conceptual categories and bureaucratic procedures through which they are collected. • ,

Advantages of official statistics
• They plentiful, cheap and available • They provide a picture of society at a given time • Enable comparisons to be made • Help document important changes in societies and social groups over time.

• Classification and collection procedures may vary both between different societies and within the same society over time. • Not standardized • Under- reporting • May lack validity

• Mainly used in comparative, historical research designs and ethnographic research • Classification: official documents, cultural documents, personal documents • Documents can be assessed in terms of meaning, authenticity, representativeness credibility,

• A sociological research can involve the use of more than one methods. • Methods are combined so that the strengths of one can compensate for the weakness of another. • Method1
Topic of interest Method 2

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