Research Methods

What are the 2 ways can socoiologists classify data about society?
1. Primary & Secondary sources of data. 2. Quantitative and qualitative data.
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What is Primary data?
Info collected by sociologists themselves for their own purposes.
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What could these purposes be?
To obtain a first-hand 'picture' of a group or society or to test a hypothesis (an untested theory)
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What are the 3 methods for gathering primary data?
1. Social surverys 2. Participant observations 3. Experiments
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What are social surveys?
These involve asking people questions in a written questionnaire or an interview.
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What are participant observations?
The sociologist joins in with the activities of the group he or she is studying.
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What is an experiment?
Sociologists rarely use laboratory experiments, but they sometimes use field experiments and the comparative method.
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What is a main advantage of sociologists using primary data?
They can precisely gather the info they need to test their hypothesis.
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However, what is the main disadvantage of this?
It is time consuming and costly.
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What is secondary data?
Info that has been collected or created by someone else for their own purposes, but which the sociologist can then use.
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Name 2 sources of secondary data.
Official statistics and documents
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What are official statistics?
Produced by the government on a wide range of issues, such as education, crime, divorce and unemployment, as well as other statistics produced by charities, businesses, churches and other organisations.
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What are documents?
Letters, emails, diaries, photographs, offical reports, novels, newspapers, the internet and TV broadcasts.
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What is the main advantage of using secondary data?
Quick and cheap way of doing research as someone has already produced all of the info.
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What is the main disadvantage of using secondary data?
Those who produced the info may not have been interested in the same questions as you are researching. Secondary data may not provide you with the data/info you need.
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What is quantitative data?
Info in numerical form.
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Examples of quantitaive data.
Official statistics on how many girls passed 5 or more GCSEs, percentage of marriages ending in divorce or the number of people who are unemployed.
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What is qualitative data?
Gives a 'feel' for what something is like.
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For example...
What it feels like to get good GCSE grades or what it feels like to get a divorce.
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What do participant observations give the researcher?
PO aim to give us a sense of what it feels like to be a member of that particular group.
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What do in-depth interviews provide the interviewer with?
The insight into what it feels like to be in that person's 'shoes'.
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What can these methods provide researchers with?
Provide rich descriptions of people's feelings and experiences.
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Identify 2 types of PRIMARY, QUANTITATIVE data.
Questionnaires and structured interviews.
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Identify 2 types of PRIMARY, QUALITATIVE data.
Participant observations and unstructured interviews.
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Identify a SECONDARY, QUANTITATIVE source of data.
Official statistics.
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Identify 2 types of SECONDARY, QUALITATIVE data.
Letters and newspaper articles.
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Identify 4 TYPES of issues that may affect a researchers choice of method.
1. Practical issues 2. Theoretical issues 3. Ethical issues 4. Choice of topic
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What are 5 main practical issues?
1. Time and money 2. Requirements of funding bodies 3. Personal skills and characteristics 4. Subject matter 5. Research opportunity
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How does time and money affect choice of method?
Different methods require more time and money. E.g. Large scale surveys may employ dozens of interviewers and data-inputting staff which costs a great deal of money. Small-scale project involving a lone researcher using PO may be cheaper to carry out
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It may take years to complete.
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What else can be a major factor in terms of time and money?
The researcher's access to resources can be a major factor in determining which methods they employ.
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For example...
An experienced professor may have access to more research funds, more than a young student.
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How does the requirement of a funding body affect choice of method?
Research instiyutes, businesses and other organisations that provide the funding for research may require the results to be in a particular form.
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For example...
A goverment department funding research into the educational achievement may have targets for pass rates so require quantitative data to see whether these targets are being achieved.
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What does this mean?
The sociologist will have to use a method capable of producing such data e.g. questionnaires or structured interviews.
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How do personal skills and charactersistic affect choice of method?
Every sociologists has different personal skills which may affect their ability to use different methods.
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For example...
PO usually requires the ability to mix with others as well as good skills of observation and recall, while depth interviews call for an ability to establish a RAPPORT.
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What is a rapport?
Relationship of empathy and trust between interviewer and interviewee.
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How does subject matter affect choice of method?
It may be harder to research into one aspect of society with one method than with another.
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For example...
It may be hard for a male sociologist to study an all-female group by means of PO, while Q may be useless for studying those who are illiterate.
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How can research opportunity affect choice of method?
Sometimes the chance to research into an topic occurs unexpectedly meaning you cannot use a structured interview or questionaire because they take longer to prepare.
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Explain the example of Patrick (1973).
He had the chance 'out of the blue' to spend time with a gang in Glasgow, he had little/no time to prepare for this. This meant that he had to use a PO.
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What do ethical issues refer to?
The moral issues of right and wrong. Methods that sociologists use may raise ethical questions.
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Who/what association sets out the ethical guidelines for the conduct of research?
The British Sociological Association
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Identify the 5 ethical issues that could be raised.
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Other cards in this set

Card 2


What is Primary data?


Info collected by sociologists themselves for their own purposes.

Card 3


What could these purposes be?


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


What are the 3 methods for gathering primary data?


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


What are social surveys?


Preview of the front of card 5
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