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  • Key issues in research and methods
    • Practical issues also have an impact on choosing your research method
      • Time
        • Covert participation observation is very time consuming
        • A social survey isn't time consuming because the researcher doesn't need to participate, and the workload can be shared
      • Money
        • Finance is needed to pay for the researcher's wage, transportation costs and the equipment they need
        • A large-scale social survey is often very expensive
          • The 2011 consensus cost £480 million
        • A small focus group doesn't cost too much
      • Characteristics and skills of the researcher
        • Some research can put the researcher into a dangerous situation
          • Some researcher's may be uncomfortable with that
      • Access and opportunity
        • To observe covertly, the researcher often has to match the group that is being researched. For example, same ethnicity or social group
        • If you cannot gain access or don't have an opportunity to access the group the researcher wishes to study, they have to use secondary sources
    • Ethical issues can affect choice of research method
      • Ethical issues can be grouped into four main areas
        • Consent
        • Avoidance of deception
          • Milgram (1974) was criticised for deceiving his participants
            • Milgram told the volunteers that they had to administer electric shocks to another person on the other side of the glass (who was actually an actor), if they got a question wrong in the memory test. The volunteers kept going until the actor pretended to pass out
              • The electric shocks weren't real, the actor pretended to have been affected by the electric shocks
              • His study showed how people are ready to obey authority without question
                • Results were used to explain ordinary people taking part in war crimes and genocide
        • Confidentiality
          • Respondents have a right to confidentiality
          • Important for the researcher to feel like they can trust their researcher
        • Avoidance of harm
          • Sensitive topics can cause psychological harm to the respondent
          • Researchers who research mental health can come into contact with vulnerable people. They may witness incidences that harm an individual such as abuse from carers, should they stop the research and remove the individual from danger?
    • Some sociologists justify bending or breaking ethical rules
      • Data obtained unethically can make a beneficial contribution to society
      • James Patrick (1973) was a false name given to a researcher conducting a study on violent gangs in Glasgow, for his own safety and protection


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