Reliability, Representativeness, and Validity
- The quality of measurement - "consistency" or "repeatability".
- How well a sample accurately represents the entire population.
- The degree to which a study accurately reflects or assesses the specific concept that the researcher is attempting to measure.
Time and Money
- Certain studies may require postage costs, researching costs, etc.
- Certain studies may take a long time due to limited researches, response times, etc.
Requirements of Funding Bodies
- Research institutions, businesses, and other organisations may require certain methods to be used, or a certain format to be used.
Personal Skills and Characteristics
- Some researchers can build a rapport with the individual, etc.
- Some groups are easier to study than others, written questionnaires are useless studying people who cannot read, etc.
- Opportunities can be so spontaneous and so structured methods, which take longer to prepare like questionnaires, are not a possible choice to use.
- Time and money play a signifcant role in the length and depth of the study.
- Funding bodies impose their own expectations on the sociologist.
- Not all sociologists are equipped with the same social skills.
- There are various limitations on subject matter and how it can be studied.
- Research opportunities are often spontaneous and thus the sociologist is not able to adequately prepare.
- British Sociological Association (BSA) has outlined five guidelines of which sociologists should aim for when performing a sociological study.
- People being studied should have the right to refuse.
- Participants should be fully informed about the study.
- Consent must be obtained before research begins.
Confidentiality and Privacy
- Identities of participants should remain private.
- Researchers need to respect the privacy of the participants - guarding their private details and their contribution to the study should remain confidential at all times.
Effects on Research Participant
- Researchers must be aware that research conducted may affect participants in a negative way and they must try to anticipate and prevent such occurences.
- Police intervention, harm to employment prospects, social exclusion, and psychological damage.
- Example: children in schools.
- Researchers must be mindful of child protection acts.
- Obtain consent from both parent and child.
- Seen as deceiving or lying in order to win/gain their trust or get information.
- Obviously cannot gain informed consent.
- Refers to what we think society is like and if we can obtain an accurate and truthful picture of it.
- There are four different concerns regarding theoretical issues.
- Validity, reliability, representativeness, and methodological perspective.
- Positivist Perspective
- Prefer quantitative data.
- Seek to discover patterns of behaviour.
- See sociology as a science.
- Interpretivist Perspective
- Prefer qualititative data.
- Seek to understand social actors' (those who exercise free will) meanings.
- Reject the view that sociology is a science.