Research methods revision

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  • Created on: 24-05-13 16:10
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Research methods
Quantitative data: is data in the form of numbers and statistics. It gives reliable data
which can easily be repeated. Good for comparisons of different groups. However it does
not give meanings as to why, there is no depth and insight into social interaction. Easily
put in to graphs or charts.
Ex; questionnaires, surveys, structured interviews
Used by positivists
Qualitative data: is data which gives detailed picture of what people do, think and feel.
It gives valid data. However this data is not reliable cannot easily be repeated. Its also
subjective data, it involves opinions, meanings and interpretation.
Ex; unstructured interviews, observations
Used by Interactionists
Primary data is first hand research
Secondary data: is data from others, such as official statics.
Official statics: are sources of secondary data. They're produced by local government, central
government and government agencies.
Hard statistics: are objective. Politicians can't fiddle with them. Ex; birth, marriage
Soft statistics: are subjective. Politicians can fiddle with them. Ex; crime poverty
They can be used to study trends and often based on high quality or large probability samples. They
are often easy to get hold of and cheap. However they may not provide insight into participants'
personal thoughts and feelings and could contain lies. Also bias to how the government what them to
Document and mass media: are sources of secondary data. They are things such as written text.
They could be letters, diaries, and school records and so on. This can provide insight into what people
think and what they do. Can be collected for time periods occurring in the past they could be
historical data meaning can be useful to study trends. However may be representative only of one
perspective and may not apply to general populations.
Questionnaires/ Surveys: is a method of collecting quantitative information. Questionnaires
are a way of collecting data for a survey. Questionnaires use closed or open questions
Closed questions: are when the questions are standardised multiple choice questions. Such as
do you like maths? Tick yes or no. This gives quantitative data which positivists like. Standardised
questions make them reliable and easy to replicate. However when using closed question the
responder can't elaborate on their answer.
Open questions: are questions like explain your view on sociology, these are question were
the answers can vary. They give insight into meanings and motives. They give qualitative data which
interpretivists like. The reliability and validity depend on how the questionnaire is designed.
Questionnaires should/ shouldn't
Use clear, simple questions which are easy to understand
Clear instructions

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Clear layout
Measure what you want to measure
Must not ask embarrassing, threatening or complex questions
Not ask two question instead of one
Be too long
Use sociological terms that no one understands
Leading questions
Questionnaires are quick and cheap, and can reach a lot of respondents. They are easy to analyse and
can spot patterns in the answers and make comparisons. However there are limitations such as the
respondents may not tell the truth.…read more

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Overt observations: is where the group know they are being watched and know who the
researcher is. The researcher has permission and full co-operation from the group meaning the
problem of getting in and out is overcome. Also it's less likely the researcher would go native.
However the researcher may influence the behaviour of the group meaning it could be less valid
because the participants are not showing the truth. Also this type of researcher is time consuming
and costly.…read more


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