Choice of research methods
Practical issues, Ethical issues, Theoretical issues
Practical issues -
- Time, money, sample size
- personal skills/characteristics (age, gender etc)
- subject of research
- research opportunity
- personal danger
- funding bodies
- personal concerns
Humphreys Tearoom trade - participant observation
Ethical issues -
choice of research methods
R - Representativeness - is the group or situaltion being studied typical of others?
R - Reliability - whether it is consistent and can be replicated to get the same results.
V - Validity - gives a true and genuine picture.
choice of research methods
- meanings motives
- Micro sociologists qualitative data
- validity subjectivity
Positivists - functionalists, marxists
- scientific generalisations
- objectivity social facts
- cause and effect Macro sociologists
- quantitative data reliable, representativ
Self-completing written questionnaires- postal
Interviews- (structured) face to face, telephone, internet
- Gallup- church attendence
- Peter Townsend
- literary digest
Closed ended questions
- easy to quantify/classify
- lack of researcher bias (however questions come from researcher in first place)
- reliable data
- finds out what the respondent is thinking
- asks more complex questions
- respondents compose their own answers
- more valid data
selecting a sample
- Target population- the group your'e interested in finding out about
- sampling frame- list of relevant members of of the population that the sample can be chosen from.
- Sample- smaller group elected from the larger survey population
- sampling unit- members of the group or individuals being studied within the relevant population.
Gatekeepers are people who the researcher has to go through in order to gain access to the participants.
The British Census - every 10 years since 1801. However the census has some problems as it doesn't go to the homeless, students, elderly homes, soldiers, prisoners, people working abroad.
- Random - selected purely by random chance.
- systematic/quasi- equal probability of being chosen e.g every 10th name on a list.
- stratified random sample- designed to contain a % of certain groups e.g. ethnicity
- quota sampling- looking for the right number of each person for the certain group
- snowball sampling- individuals suggest others to take part. someone is recommended.
- opportunity- choosing from those who are easiest to access e.g passers by in the street.
The 'hite report on the family' only got a 3% response rate.
Oakley's study on housework got 100% response rate because her survey was face to face.
Reasons for non response include
- failure to make contact (people move, on holiday, in prison)
- contact is made but the interview cannot be conducted because of illness,deafness, English as a second language.
- refusal to participate.
Problems such as leading questions, interviewer bias etc can be avoided using a pilot study.
e.g Willmott and Young carried out 100 pilot interviews before the finalized their survey.
Advantages of pilot studies
- avoids wasting time and money
- establish a rapport with people you are studying
- may determine whether research goes ahead.
- used to convince funding bodies
Advantages of questionnaires
- quick and cheap no need to train researchers.
- easy to quantify reliable (consistent)
- testing a hypothesis (cause + effect) unbiased ( objectivity)
Disadvantages of questionnaires
- limited data low response (postal questionnaires)
- inflexible snapshots
- lack validity lying, forgetting
- imposing the researchers meaning
Structured (W+Y) Unstructured (Dobash + Dobash) group (Willis) semi-structured (Gavron)
Advantages of structured interviews
- quantitative data
- scientific data
- face to face = better response rate
- limited interviewer effect