Research Methods Comprehensive Revision Guide

This is a revision guide one of my sociology teachers compiled, which I have completed. As with all sociology books etc. and revision materials on this website, you may have studied on the whole a completely different set of studies and key names, so it might be worth doing something similar but replacing any studies you haven't done with some that you have. These notes cover all sociological research methods included in the AQA SCLY2 syllabus.

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  • Created by: Jackarias
  • Created on: 02-05-10 15:07
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Jack Bennett (12F) · Page 1 of 16

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Questionnaires
Strengths: Limitations:
Definition:
Quick and cheap. Respondents may not
Tool used in data tell the truth ­ validity.
collection which Can reach lots of
consists of a list of respondents. Questions may be
questions. misleading.
Reliable because
questions are No interviewer to
standardised. explain questions if not
understood.
Easy to analyse
with computer Postal questionnaires
programs. have a low response
Key names:
rate ­ not a
No Hawthorne representative sample.
Callendar and
effect.…read more

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Interviews
Strengths: Limitations:
1. Structured Same questions asked More expensive than
Interview each time ­ can be other methods such as
repeated. questionnaires ­ have to
Definition: pay the interviewers.
Where respondents are Quantitative data ­
asked a set list of questions. very reliable ­ Interview schedule means
positivism. no deviation from preset
Key names: list ­ cannot find out any
Goldthorpe (1968): study on Interviewer can extra information other
employment. explain and clarify. than originally intended
to discover.…read more

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Technique that uses a Can be quantitative ­ Hawthorne and social
combination of both open results can be desirability effects.
and closed questions.
standardised.
Key names:
Myhill and Jones (2006):
students' perspectives on
treatment of boys / girls.
4. Group Interview They are very practical Certain people within the
­ "kill two birds with group can be dominant ­
Definition: one stone". some views may not be
Discussion based interview heard.
with usually 8 to 10 people Open-ended
taking turns to talk.…read more

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Observations
Strengths: Limitations:
Non-Participant Structural observation Behaviour may change ­
schedule = Hawthorne effect.
Definition: quantitative: reliable:
Observations involving no generalisations ­ Qualitative data possible,
social interaction between positivism. but cannot achieve
researcher and participants. Verstehen ­
Observing in the interpretivism.
Key names: `natural environment'
Flanders (1970): used a improves validity. Practically impossible to
structural observation be representative.
schedule to study interaction
in classrooms.
Ethical (although
potentially deceptive).
Covert Participant Observing in the Risk of researcher going
Observation `natural environment' native (causes
improves validity. subjectivity).…read more

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Overt nature means Heavy focus on one group
Key names: people will open up. or issue ­
Eileen Barker (1984): unrepresentative ­
Moonies; 6 years to build positivists want to
rapport, looking at one generalise: `laws' for
religious group.
whole society.…read more

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Experiments
Strengths: Limitations:
1. LAB Researcher has They are artificial ­ not
EXPERIMENTS control over the reflective of `real' social
experiment. situations.
Definition:
Classic method of research done Quantitative data ­ Difficult to isolate
in a controlled environment positivism ­ trends single variables.
involving use of variables ­ rarely and patterns ­
used in sociology. apply findings to Often moral and ethical
whole of society. issues in lab
Key names: experiments.
Milgram (1961): obedience test Replicate the
involving `teacher' and `learner'.
research ­ reliable.…read more

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Analyses two or more different society ­ positivism. conclusions: makes
groups / institutions in terms method highly invalid.
similarities and differences, using
statistics ­ often in large groups.
Natural (avoids
artificiality).
Key names:
Durkheim (1897): looked at rates Can be used to
of suicide in different European study past events.
societies over a period of time.
No ethical problems
­ not deceptive or
harmful.…read more

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SAMPLING
KEY TERMS:
1. Sampling Unit: level at which sampling takes place, e.g. if a sociologist studies
people in hospitals, sampling unit would be hospital not individuals.
2. Sampling Frame: list of people from which a sample will be taken, e.g. the electoral
register.
3. Survey Population: all members of a group in whom a researcher is interested when
conducting a social survey.
4. Representativeness: the degree to which a research study is reflective of other
similar kinds of groups.…read more

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Snowball Involves sampling by contacting Although not representative,
key individuals who then useful to contact people who
suggest others to be might otherwise be difficult to
interviewed. find or persuade.
(f) Volunteer Researcher advertises the study, Generally seen as ethical as
looking for volunteers to be participants have given their
their sample. consent to being studied. But
aren't representative as
volunteers are like-minded.…read more

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