Research methods: key terms

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Quantitative
Relating to, measuring, or measured by the quantity of something rather than its quality.
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Qualitative
Relating to, measuring, or measured by the quality of something rather than its quantity.
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Representative
Typical of a class, group, or body of opinion.
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Validity
The quality of being logically or factually sound.
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Reliability
The quality of being trustworthy or of performing consistently well.
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Methodological perspective
A sociologist's view of what society is like and how one should study it.
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Interpretivism
The belief within social science that the social realm may not be subject to the same methods of investigation as the natural world.
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Positivism
A philosophical theory stating that positive knowledge is based on natural phenomena and their properties and relations.
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Hypothesis
A supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation.
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Operationalisation
A process of defining the measurement of a phenomenon that is not directly measurable, though its existence is indicated by other phenomena.
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Sampling
The selection of a subset of individuals from within a statistical population to estimate characteristics of the whole population.
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Sampling frame
The source material or device from which a sample is drawn.
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Simple random sample
A subset of individuals chosen from a larger set, randomly and entirely by chance.
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Systematic sampling
Progressing through a sampling frame circularly, with a return to the top once the end of the list is passed.
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Stratification
The process of dividing members of the population into homogeneous subgroups before sampling.
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Snowball sampling
A non-probability sampling technique where existing study subjects recruit future subjects from among their acquaintances.
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Gatekeeper
A person who controls access to something.
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Impression management
A goal-directed conscious or unconscious process in which people attempt to influence the perceptions of others about a person, object, or event.
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Experiment
A procedure carried out to verify, refute, or validate a hypothesis.
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Experimental group
The group in an experiment that receives the variable being tested.
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Control group
The group in an experiment that does not receive the variable being tested.
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Hawthorne effect
A type of reactivity in which individuals modify or improve an aspect of their behavior in response to their awareness of being observed.
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Field experiment
An application of the scientific method to experimentally examine an intervention in the real world.
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Comparative sociology
Comparison of the social processes between nation-states, or across different types of society.
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Questionnaire
A research instrument consisting of a series of questions and other prompts for the purpose of gathering information from respondents.
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Open-ended question
A question format that gives the respondent scope to give the information that seems to them to be appropriate.
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Closed-ended question
A question format that limits respondents with a list of answer choices from which they must choose to answer the question.
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Interview
A conversation where questions are asked and answers are given.
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Participant observation
Gaining a close and intimate familiarity with a given group of individuals and their practices through an intensive involvement with people in their cultural environment, usually over an extended period of time.
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Overt
Done or shown openly; plainly apparent.
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Covert
Not openly acknowledged or displayed.
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Secondary source
A document or recording that relates or discusses information originally presented elsewhere.
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Soft data
Information about things that are difficult to measure.
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Hard data
Information that can be proved.
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Card 2

Front

Relating to, measuring, or measured by the quality of something rather than its quantity.

Back

Qualitative

Card 3

Front

Typical of a class, group, or body of opinion.

Back

Preview of the back of card 3

Card 4

Front

The quality of being logically or factually sound.

Back

Preview of the back of card 4

Card 5

Front

The quality of being trustworthy or of performing consistently well.

Back

Preview of the back of card 5
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