Research and Methods

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  • Research and methods
    • Sociologists have three aims when collecting and using data
      • Try to make their research reliable and valid
      • Sociologists try to make their samples representative
      • Sociologists aim to be objective, and avoid bias
    • Primary data is collected first hand
      • Interviews, questionnaireobservations, experiments
      • Doesn't rely on another sociologists research
      • Brand new and up to date
      • Expensive and time consuming
      • Research can be put in a dangerous situation
      • Some research methods may be unethical
      • Researcher can be bias
      • Hard to gain access to certain groups
    • Secondary data is existing information
      • Official statistics, diaries, letters, memoirs, emails, TV documentary, newspapers
      • Quick and easy to collect secondary data
      • Easily use secondary data to compare different societies
      • You can compare past and present
      • Don't have to worry about informed consent
      • You don't know the skills and abilities of the researcher, existing data may not be reliable or valid
      • Official statistics may be biased
      • The original researcher may have had different aims and objectives, so you might not find the specific information that you're after
      • Researcher's values might have ruined the validity of the original research
      • Your personal values can effect the way you analyse the data
    • Quantitative data can be reliable but not very valid
      • Number and statistics
        • Easy to put into a graph or chart
      • Test your hypothesis and look for cause and effect relationships
      • Can compare your statistics and look for trends over time and between societies
      • Easy to analyse tables, charts and graphs
      • Repeat questionnaire and structured interviews to test reliability
      • Quantitative methods allow large samples, so findings can represent the general population
      • Statistics can hide reality. Categories in interviews and questionnaire can distort the truth
      • Statistics don't offer any information about feelings and reasons for why things occur
        • No insight into social interaction
      • Statistics can be politically biased, the method may have been chosen in order to get the "right data"
    • Qualitative data can be valid but not very reliable
      • Gives a detailed picture of what people do, think and feel
      • It's subjective - involves meanings, opinions and interpretations
      • Difficult to convert data into numbers or graphs
      • Gives insight into social interaction
      • Detailed description of social behaviour
      • Find meanings and motives behind behaviour
      • Don't have to force people into artificial categories like questionnaire
      • Let's you build up trust and research sensitive topics
      • Difficult to repeat, not very reliable
      • Research is often small-scale, can't  be representative
      • Positvits say qualitive results lack credibility, because they're subjective and open to interpretation
      • Researcher ca get the "wrong end of the stick" and misinterpret the group or individual and what they're saying


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