Unit 2, AQA, AS, Research Methods

Achieved a B grade ... all written by myself ... Research Methods (Education on the same paper, but I have done separate Education revision notes!)

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Ellie Simpson, 12PCD ­ SOCIOLOGY AS
Sociology Revision ­ UNIT 2
RESEARCH METHODS:
KEY TERMS:
TERM DEFINITION NOTES
Primary Data You collect the data First hand data.
yourself using methods,
such as interviews and
questionnaires. The data
you collect is unique to
you and your research.
Until you publish it, no one
has access to it.
Secondary Data Data that has been Pre-existing data.
previously gathered and ADVANTAGES:
published. Quick to access
Easy to access
Cheaper
Comparisons
Sometimes is the
only data available,
e.g. historical
DISADVANTAGES:
Not collected for
sociological
research purposes,
e.g. diaries are
often biased and
personal
Collected/created
for different
purposes, e.g.
diaries
Quantitative Data Data that is used to Statistical
describe a type of
information that can be
counted or expressed
numerically. This type of
data is often collected in
experiments, can be
represented visually in
graphs, histograms and
tables and charts.
Qualitative Data It includes virtually any Non statistical, expressed
information that can be in words
captured that is not

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Ellie Simpson, 12PCD ­ SOCIOLOGY AS
numerical in nature, e.g.
in-depth interviews.
Validity When data presents a true Reflects a true picture,
and accurate description qualitative data.
or measurement. How far
the findings of research
actually provide a true
picture, genuine or
authentic picture of what
is being studied.
Reliability When different Reliability Repeat and
researchers, if repeating Replicate. Associate with
the research, using the quantitative data; closed
same methods would questions, pre-coded
gather the same research, questions.…read more

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Ellie Simpson, 12PCD ­ SOCIOLOGY AS
the view that sociology is
science.
Positivism:
A positivist sociologist wants to identify the underlying causes of people's behaviour.
The data that is collected is quantitative ­ facts and numbers that are precise.
Study society, human behaviour, using the scientific methods, or the
methods of the natural sciences, chemistry, biology and physics.
A procedure ­ a way of collecting data aim/hypothesis, collect data, identify
variables, correlations/links/causes.…read more

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Ellie Simpson, 12PCD ­ SOCIOLOGY AS
This gives a different meaning and undermines validity.
2. The evidence is seen as highly reliable as them researcher has followed a
systematic procedure in order to collect the data.
Asked the same questions in the same order can use this data to replicate,
repeat (reliability) and compare.
3. Factual data allows the sociologist to identify social trends and establish
cause and affect relationships between key variables.
A strength to positivists ­ scientific.…read more

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Ellie Simpson, 12PCD ­ SOCIOLOGY AS
7. By `stepping into someone else's shoes', sociologists are not imposing their
view on the world.
Strength. Increases validity.
8. Unreliable as the research process is often a unique situation that cannot be
repeated.
Limitation. Positivists would say it is unreliable as it cannot be repeated.
9. Highly valid as in-depth feelings and meanings can be captured.
Strength. Interpretivist.
10. The researcher can become too involved, `going native', in the research
process and so can become biased.
Limitation.…read more

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Ellie Simpson, 12PCD ­ SOCIOLOGY AS
SOCIAL CHARACTERISTICS ­ for example, age, gender, ethnicity ­ applies to
covert participation observation.
SKILLS ­ personal skills
SUBJECT MATTER ­ for example, closed groups, cults. Masons, scientologists.
Ethical:
MORAL CONSIDERATIONS
CODES OF ETHICS TO FOLLOW ­ British Sociological Association 1.
Informed consent, 2. Should not deceive the subject (covert participation
observation goes against both of these), 3. Right to withdraw, 4. Right to
read research before publication, 5. Maintain anonymity, 6. Maintain
confidentiality, 7.…read more

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Ellie Simpson, 12PCD ­ SOCIOLOGY AS
SAMPLING TECHNIQUES:
Sampling Description Strengths Weaknesses Representative?
Method
Opportunistic The sample is the Yes
situation use
the sample as it
is there.
Random Names drawn out Not biased. By doing it Generally not.
Sampling (names at random. randomly, it may The larger the
drawn at random Everyone has an not be sample, the
nowadays) equal chance. representative of greater the
Every name has a the sample. chance of it being
number and a representative.
computer
generates these.…read more

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Ellie Simpson, 12PCD ­ SOCIOLOGY AS
them to
someone else.
The sample picks
up over time.
Volunteer The researcher Might be the only Only get a No
Sampling asks for way in which to systematic bias ­
volunteers. get a sample. not a full range of
opinions.…read more

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Ellie Simpson, 12PCD ­ SOCIOLOGY AS
*** Predominantly closed/pre-coded questions, quantitative data
For example, Census, British Crime Survey (victimisation survey) and General
Household Survey.
QUESTIONNAIRES:
Questionnaires are...
The most common form of survey
Done by self-completion ­ there is no interviewer
An example of a questionnaire is the Census
They can be done by...
Postal
Internet
Face-to-face (but no interview)
They are...…read more

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Ellie Simpson, 12PCD ­ SOCIOLOGY AS
Ethical Advantages Ethical Disadvantages
Anonymity, e.g. no name Possibility of psychological harm,
insensitive questions.…read more

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