Choosing a research method: a summary

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  • Choosing a research method
    • Factors influencing choice of methods
      • Practical issues
        • Personal skills and characteristics
        • Research opportuity
        • Subject matter
        • Requirements of funding bodies
        • Time and money
      • Ethical issues
        • Vulnerable groups
        • Covert research
        • Harm to research participants
        • Confidentiality and privacy
        • Informed consent
      • Theoretical issues
        • Representativeness
        • Reliability
        • Validity
        • Methodological perspective
      • Factors influencing choice of topic
        • Funding bodies
        • The sociologist's perspective
        • Society's values
        • Practical factors
    • The process of research
      • Formulating an aim or hypothesis
        • Interpretivists often prefer a broad aim
        • Positivists favour a hypothesis as the starting point for research
      • Operationalising concepts
        • Positivists are concerned to do this because of the importance they place on creating and testing hypotheses
        • Interpretivists put less emphasis on this because they are more interested in actors' own definitions and understandings of ideas than imposing their own definitions
      • Samples and sampling
        • The sampling frame
        • Non-representative sampling
          • Theoretical reasons
            • Interpretivists believe that it is more important to collect valid data and an authentic understanding of social actors' meanings
          • Practical reasons
            • Potential respondents may refuse to paricipate
            • It may be impossible to find or create a sampling frame for that particular research population
              • Snowball sampling or opportunity sampling is then used
                • Potential respondents may refuse to paricipate
                • The social characteristics of the research population may not be known
            • The social characteristics of the research population may not be known
        • Sampling techniques
          • Random sampling
          • Stratified random sampling
          • Quasi-random or systematic sampling
          • Quota sampling
      • The pilot study
        • Young and Wilmott (1962) carried out just over 100 of these to help them decide on the design of their study, the questions to ask and how to word them

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