Research methods

Questionaires

Wrtitten/self-completed questionaries are the most widely used form

Practical issues

  1. Quick, cheap way to agther large amounts of quantitative data from large numbers of people, spread geographically
  2. no need to recuit interviewers
  3. data is easily quantified
  4. can be computer processd to reveal relationships between vairables
  5. Data is limited and superfical- questionaires fairly breif
  6. Incentives
  7. Postal questionarire- who completed it? was it recieved?
  8. low response rates due to complex language- high resonse can be obtained by follow up questionaries
  9. infleixable and cannot not explore any new areas of interest- only snapshots

Therotical issues- positivism

Postitivists favour questionaries- see them as representative, reliable, objective and detatached method for producing quantitative data. testing hypotheses and developing causal laws

Hypothesis testing- positivists follow natural science odel to discover casual laws. questionaires are attractive as they yield quantitative data about vairables. This enables researchers to test hypotheses and to identifiy correlations and cause-and-effect relationships between variables

Reliability- other resrearchers can easily conduct the research again

Representativenss

postivists favour becasue large-scale, distributed quickly and cheaply by post or e-mail over wide geographical areas and usually see sampling techiniques that give a representaivtive sample.

can be underminded by low response reate

Sampling

Postivists aim to produce generalisations that apply to all cases- must choose sample

  • Sample is frawn from smapling frame- list of members of the research population
  • Different techniques- random smapling, quasi-random sampling ( selecting every 10th name in list) straified random sampling subdivides population into relevant caterogories and randmly selects a sample of each, Qu
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Observation

Participant Observation

Primary research method in which the sociologists studies a group by taking a role within it and participating in it's activities

  • Some groups are easier to get into than others
  • Observer may have to overocme suspicions and win the groups trust by commiting an act
  • Once accepted must be involved, yet detatch themselves to remain objective
  • The longer the researcher spends in the group, may notice things that are odd

Advantages

  • Validity- by actually observing them we can obtain a rich source of qualititve data that provides a picture of how they really live
  • Insight- allows researcher to gain personal experience by actually living as a member of the group, we gain insight into their ways of life, meanings, viewpoints,values and problems. This closeness to lived reality means P.O gives uniquely valid authentic data
  • Flexibility- doesn't start with a fixed hypothesis, allows the sociologist to enter the situation with a relatively open mind about what they will find. As new situations are encountered new explanations are formulated. Open mindness allows researcher to discover things other methods may miss
  • Practical- enables the sociologist to build uo a rapport with the group and gain trust

Disadvantages

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Questionaires Advantages

Questionaires

Wrtitten/self-completed questionaries are the most widely used form

Practical issues

  1. Quick, cheap way to agther large amounts of quantitative data from large numbers of people, spread geographically
  2. no need to recuit interviewers
  3. data is easily quantified
  4. can be computer processd to reveal relationships between vairables
  5. Data is limited and superfical- questionaires fairly breif
  6. Incentives
  7. Postal questionarire- who completed it? was it recieved?
  8. low response rates due to complex language- high resonse can be obtained by follow up questionaries
  9. infleixable and cannot not explore any new areas of interest- only snapshots
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