Practical, Ethical and Theoretical Issues In Research Methods :D

P.E.T. issues encountered when researching in sociology.


  • Experiments
  • Surveys; Questionnaires
  • Interviews
  • Observation
  • Case studies
  • Official Statistics

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  • Created by: Fyzah :p
  • Created on: 29-02-12 10:23
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Research methods
Lab/ Field Experiments:-
This is when a hypothesis is empirically tested (through direct observation). In an experiment, an
independent variable (the cause) is manipulated and the dependent variable (the effect) is
observed/ measured; any extraneous variables are also controlled in order to test the
o Practical issues:
Could be time consuming due to the amount of time needed to manipulate and observe
the variables.
May also be very costly as resources needed to conduct the experiment may be
o Ethical issues:
The researcher must ensure that the experiment being conducted does not harm the
participants in any way, i.e. physically or psychologically ­ protection from harm ­ the
researcher must also ensure that if vulnerable groups are to be used (elderly, disabled,
mentally ill, etc.), they must receive special care.
Also, the participants must give full informed consent and understand the purpose of the
research and its use.
o Theoretical issues:
As the research may be conducted in a lab (laboratory experiments), the research
findings may lack validity, this is due to the fact that the participants may act in a way
which is socially desirable (social desirability bias) which would result in the findings
lacking a true reflection of what is being studied.
The researcher must ensure that the findings gained from the experiment are reliable -
meaning that they have the ability to be replicated.
Experiments will produce qualitative data, so the research method of experiments
would be preferred by interpretivist sociologists.
As experiments are often conducted on a micro (small) scale, they may lack a
representative sample, resulting in the findings lacking the ability to be generalised to
wider society.
Social surveys/ Questionnaires:-
This is when data is gathered from a large section of the population in a short a relatively short
amount of time; many social surveys are in the form of questionnaires, i.e. the Census.
There are two types of questionnaires; open questionnaires (where the respondent is provided
with space to give their own opinion) and closed questionnaires (often consists of `multiple
choice' questions; the respondent can give their own opinion, but not to the same extent as
open questions)
o Practical issues:
Could be time consuming as the social surveys/ questionnaires are often widely
distributed, it may take some time for all of them to be returned.
Also, printing and posting the questionnaires may be very expensive. However, certain
social surveys/ questionnaires, such as the Census, are funded by the government who
may ask for the data in return.
o Ethical issues:

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The researcher must ensure that the information provided by the respondent is kept
Participants must provide informed consent prior to completing the questionnaire, and
must be aware that they have the right to withdraw their information at any time during
the survey/ study.
The researcher must ensure that sensitive topics are handled in a sensitive in order to
prevent any possible harmful effects on the respondents, i.e. psychological damage.…read more

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Structured interviews may provide high reliability as a fixed set of closed questions are
used, which are easy to quantify ­ positivists would prefer structured interviews.
Structured interviews are fairly quick to conduct which means that many interviews can
take place within a short amount of time, so a large sample can be interviewed resulting
in the findings being representative and having the ability to be generalised to a large
populations.…read more

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As case studies are often carried out over a long period of time (longitudinal study) they
are seen as very time consuming.
o Ethical issues:
The researcher must ensure that they keep private details about the individual or group
being studied confidential.
The participant must be fully aware that the research is being conducted and the purpose
of the research.
o Theoretical issues:
Case studies provide the researcher with rich, in-depth data which is valid.…read more


Isabella Swan .. Edward Cullen ***

well done! good notes :D


thank you very much


thank you very much

Aiste - Team GR

very useful ! thank you :)


thank you soooooo much after 1 week of looking for something useful which i could not find i found this thank you ever soooooo much

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