Research Methods

Quantatitive, qualitative, sampling, interviews, 

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  • Created by: Lucinda
  • Created on: 21-03-12 18:41

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Interviews: Willis

Observations - overt = know that one's being watched

                      - covert = don't know one's being watched

                      - participent = the observer joins in

                      - non-participent = the observer does not join in


Statistics: from the Web (League Tables)

Past Resources: historical data.

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Quantitative: POSITIVISTS - society can be measured and observed scientifically. It is data produced from numbers. (graphs, tables and favour questionnaires, statistics and body counts) It explains behaviour in terms of cause and effect relationships = casuation. Official statistics are ones such as League Tables, Divorce Rate, Birth Rate, Death Rate, Crime Statistics.

Qualitative: ANTI-POSITIVISTS - data is not scientific. It is produced from the spoken word. (interviews, observations and favour interviews, observations, historical data) They look at meanings and motives to try and explain behaviour. This is where they are trying to understand behaviour ~ gain verstehen. 

They study life through Ethnography = to study way of life of a group or an individual. 

Objective data: WITHOUT bias (ofiicial statistics / exam rates)

Subjective data: WITH bias (interviews)

Validity: It is accurate / true

Reliability: It is repeatable (in the same way)

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Primary Data = data that you collect Secondary Data = data that already exists

Questionnaires are a list of pre-set questions which are the same and in the same order every-time they are asked = reliable.


  • quick, easy &cheap=practical
  • closed q's give quantitative data which is easy to analyse
  • open q's help gain verstehen and give quantative data
  • very reliable as they can be repeated
  • you can tailor the questions to suit the hypothesis


  • closed q's give no help of understanding and have limited options
  • with open q's, the answer can be misinterpreted
  • the question may be misunderstood
  • it may have invalid data due to people lying
  • impositional &interviewer bias
  • may contain leading questions
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This is necessary because researchers don't have time to study everyone in the population.

Sample = selection of the research population                                        Sampling frame = a list of members of the research population                    Sampling unit = a member of the research population

~~ specific

  • Random: Everyone has an equal chance of selection and no-one is excluded
  • Systematic: Every (3rd) name is selected from the list
  • Stratified: The population is divided by factors such as age, sex, class or race. It is representative
  • Cluster: Geographical areas split into zones and a sample is randomly taken from each cluster
  • Quota: Interviews must interview a set number of people who must fulfill several categories
  • Snowballing: A sample gets bigger by meeting new people and making new contacts
  • Volunteer: members of sample are self-selected (magazine)
  • Opportunity: Anyone who is available and willing to take part
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Positivists favour STRUCTURED interviews                                                    Anti-Positivists favour UNSTRUCTURED interviews

Used if subject of enquiry is complex and researcher needs indepth info/when researchers want to compare observations with replies given to check validity.

  • Structured
  • Semi-structured
  • Un-structured
  • Group Interviews


  • can help explain questions
  • ensure you are getting the information from the right person
  • less preparation needed
  • a higher response rate is given
  • it is very practical-access to many varieties of people
  • allows the subject to explain their answers in their own words
  • lots of information is given and you gain verstehen 


  • Interviewer bias where the interviewer influences the answers
  • Lying
  • Interview reliability where each interview is different as a result of interaction and it's not easily repeatable 
  • Transcribing the interview is time-consuming and disruptive
  • Impositionanl bias
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