Quantitative methods are those that produce statistical information that counts or measures something. They can be presented in graphs or tables of statistics.
These are sent to respondants via post or email for them to fill out and return it to the researcher.
Pretty self explanatory, these are questionnaires dropped off to the respondant by the researcher, who will then come back and collect it once it is completed.
This is where a trained interviewer asks the set questions (set by the researcher) and the respondants answers are recorded and sent to the researcher for analysis. They are conducted either face-to-face or over the telephone.
- They are one of the cheapest ways of getting information from lots of people
- As the researcher is not present, the respondant may be more willing to answer personal questions
- With standardised questions, respondants answers can be compared. When they give different answers, this shows a real difference in their attitudes and/or opinions
- Standardised questionnaires can be repeated to check the reliability of results. If answers are the same the second time round, this is seen to be reliable
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- The questions are not explained face to face, so some of them may be misunderstood or skipped
- The questionnaire may not be completed by the person it was sent to
- They are not appropriate for some populations (e.g. homeless people)
- The response rate is usually quite low. Those who respond may not be representative or typical of the population being studied. If so, the researcher can not generalise from the sample to the population.
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Structured Interview Advantages:
- The interview can explain what questions mean
- With standardised questions, all respondants answer the same questions, so they can be compared. Any differences in answers reflect differences in opinions and/or attitudes
- Sociologists can identify connections between different factors (e.g. attitudes to marriage and gender)
- These interviews can be replicated to check reliability. If the same results are obtained, it is seen to be reliable.
- Sociologists can generalise from reliable results taken from a representative sample
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Structured Interview Disadvantages:
- The use of pre set questions assumes that the sociologist has the skill to decide, before the interview takes place, what questions need to be asked, how to ask them and in what order
- Interviewees have few if any oppurtunities to raise new issues
- The hawthorne effect - This is when someone changes their behaviour when they know they are being observed, so that they look what they consider to be normal, or acceptable. This can make the results of the interview not valid (Not truthful)