Factors Influencing choice of methods

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  • Factors Influencing choice of methods
    • Practical issues
      • Time and money
        • Subject matter: it may be harder to study a particular group or subject by one method or another.
        • Person skills and characteristics: Each sociologist possesses different personal skills, and this may affect their ability to use different methods.
        • Research opportunity: Sometimes the opportunity to carry out research occurs unexpectedly adn this means that it may not be possible to use structured methods such as questions, which take longer to prepare.
      • Requirements of funding bodies: Research institutes, businesses and other organisations that provide the funding for research may require the results to be in a particular form.
    • Ethical issues
      • informed consent: Research participants should be offered the right to refuse. The researcher should also tell them about all relevant aspects of the research so that they can make a fully informed decision.
      • Confidentiality and privacy: Researchers should
      • Effects on research participants: Researchers need to be aware fo the possible affects of their work on those they study.
        • This could include police intervention, harm to employment prospects, police intervention, social exclusion and psychological damage.
      • Vulnerable groups: Special care should be taken where research participants are particularly vulnerable because of their age, disability or physical or mental health.
    • Theoretical issues
      • This refers to questions about what we think society is like and whether we can obtain an accurate, truthful picture of it.
        • Our views on these issues will affect the kinds of methods that we favour using.
          • Many sociologists argue that qualitative methods such as participant observation give us a more valid or truthful account of what it is like to be a member of a group such as questionnaires can.
            • This is because participant observation can give us a deeper insight through first hand experiences.
      • validity
        • A valid method is one that produces a true or genuine picture of what something is genuinely like.
          • It allows the researcher to get closer to the truth.
      • Reliability:
        • Another word for reliability is replicability.
          • A replica is an exact copy of something, so a reliable method is one which, when repeated by another researcher, gives the same results.
            • For example, in physics or Chemistry, different researchers can repeat the same experiment and obtain the same result every time.


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