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Flashcards in Week 3: Methods of Sociological Research Deck (33):

Research Methods

a set of standard approaches that we follow in investigating our questions. They're the tools we use to describe, explore, and explain various social phenomena in an ethical fashion. There are two main types.


Quantitative Methods

seek to obtain information about the social world that is already in or can be converted to numeric form. This methodology uses statistical analysis to describe the social world that those data represent.


Qualitative Methods

there are many, attempt to collect information about the social world that cannot be readily converted to numeric form. The info gathered with this approach is often used to document the meanings that actions engender in social participants or to describe the mechanisms by which social processes occur


Deductive approach

starts with a theory, forms a hypothesis, makes empirical observations, and the analyzes the data to confirm, reject, or modify the original theory (De-ductive deducts what w know to be also after we form an original theory or hypothesis.


Inductive Approach

starts with empirical observations and then works to for a theory (IN-ductive means you bring IN a theory).



changes in one factor cause a change in another. To determine causality, three things are needed: time order, correlation, and ruling out alternative explanations.


Correlation (association):

simultaneous variation in two variables. We notice variations in nutrition across countries and simultaneously observe different average heights across the same countries that tend to correspond statistically to those differences in nutrition.


Time order

have people in country A always been taller than those in country B?


Reverse causality

just what it sounds like. You think A is causing B, when B is causing A. E.g. Analyze the relationship between health and income. Does low income mean you're sick more or does bad health cause low income?


Dependent variable

the outcome that the researcher is trying to explain.


Independent variable

measured factors that you believe have a causal impact on the dependent variable.



educated giess. In science, it refers to a proposed relationship between two variables, usually wit a stated direction. The direction of the relationship refers to whether your variables move in the sam direction (positive) or in opposite directions (negative).



the process of assigning a precise method for measuring a term being examined. E.g Assigning an OPERATION for the operation.


Moderating variables

affect the relationship between my independent and dependent variables.



means that it measures what you intend it to. E.g.: if you step on a scale and it measures your height, it's not valid.



refers to how likely you are to obtain the same result using the same measure the next time.



is the extent to which we can claim that our findings inform us about a group larger than the one we studied. Can we generalize our findings to a larger population? And how do we determine whether we can? E.g. Do athletes in college all kick ass academically or is just the athletes I studied in Wells East?



a treatment given to a control group in an experimental study to distinguish between the effect of being in an experiment from the effect of the actual treatment under consideration. E.g. A man told an interviewer that he would play pro ball for ten years and then he would have a heart attack at 45. He did.


Double-blind study

an experimental study where neither the subjects nor the researchers know who is in the treatment group and who is in the control (placebo) group.



analyzing and critically considering the white coat effects you may be inspiring with your research process. E.g. Researchers might have more money, more education, or more resources in general. How does this shape the interactions between researcher and subject, and ultimately, the findings?


White-coat effect

the effects that researchers have on the very processes and relationships they are studying by virtue of being there.


Feminist methodology

a set of systems or methods that treat women's experiences as legitimate empirical and theoretical resources, that promote social science for women, and that take into account researcher as much as the over subject matter.



an entire group of individual persons, objects, or items from which samples may be drawn.



the subset of the population from which you are actually collecting data.


Case study

an intense investigation of one particular unit of analysis in order to describe it or uncover its mechanisms.


Participant observation

aims to uncover the meanings people give to their behavior by observing their actions in practice. "Hanging out and documenting people's practices in society."



are an ordered series of questions intended to elicit information from respondents, and they can be powerful methods of data collection. These are usually converted into quantitative data.


Historical Methods

research that collects data from written reports, articles, newspapers, journals, transcripts, television, diaries, artwork, and other artifacts that dates to a prior time period under study.


Comparative research

methodology by which a researcher compares two or more entities (usually countries or cultures) with the intent of learning more about the facts that differ between them.


Experimental methods

methods that seek to alter the social landscape in a specific way for a given sample of individuals and the track what resist that change yields; involves comparisons to a control group that wasn't altered in the same way.


Content analysis

a systematic analysis of the content such as written work, speech, or film. E.g. Ann Morning used content analysis to investigate depictions of race in American textbooks.


Public sociology

the practice of sociological research, teaching, and service that seek to engage a wide audience for a productive end.


Describe this week's paradox.

If we successfully answer one question, it only spawns others. There is no moment when a social scientist's work is done.