a. Identify the major research methods used in sociology.
b. Explain how various methods are used to conduct research in sociology.
c. Evaluate the strengths and weakness of the methods of sociology research.
d. Explain the importance and influence of ethics in guiding research and data collection in sociology.
Quantitative data collection usually involves numbers, graphs and charts, whereas, qualitative data collection methods deals with feelings and other non-quantifiable elements.
The most popular qualitative methods of data collection and analysis are interviews, focus groups, observation, case studies, games and role playing etc.
Popular quantitative methods of data collection and analysis, on the other hand, include correlation analysis, regression analysis, mean, mode and median and others.
Questionnaires can be used as qualitative, as well as, quantitative method. Specifically, if open-ended questions are used qualitative methods will be used for data analysis. Alternatively, if questionnaire consists of closed-ended questions, then quantitative approach is adopted for data analysis.
It's full steam ahead into the sociology research process. Let's say you have a theory about how the world works. Now what? Time to do a little research. You'll find out how sociologists create a hypothesis, search for literature and observe their subjects. Then we'll travel back in time as we cover the different types of societies that have existed throughout history, like hunter/gatherer societies.
A semi-structured interview (also known as a standardized interview or a researcher-administered survey) is a qualitative research method commonly employed in sociological research. The aim of this approach is to ensure that each interview is presented with exactly the same questions in the same order. This ensures that answers can be reliably aggregated and that comparisons can be made with confidence between sample sub groups or between different survey periods.
Select your Sociological research topic: CLICK HERE
PART 1: Designing a semi-structured interview
PART 2: Conducting a semi-structured interview
PART 3: Analyzing data from a semi-structured interview
So, you want to design a guide (or protocol) for your semi-structured interview, as part of your qualitative research project? This video shows you how to develop the right questions and ask them in right order, so you can get the information you need every time!
A good interview should feel like a good conversation; a respectful exchange between interested parties.
So, you want to have completed your semi-structured interview – well done you! Not sure of the best way to go now?
This video will show you how analyze your data so you can produce meaningful answers to your research question.
Ethics asks how we should live, what choices we should make and what makes our lives worth living. It helps us define the conditions of a good choice and then figure out which of all the options available to us is the best one.
Ethics is the process of questioning, discovering and defending our values, principles and purpose. It’s about finding out who we are and staying true to that in the face of temptations, challenges and uncertainty. It’s not always fun and it’s hardly ever easy, but if we commit to it, we set ourselves up to make decisions we can stand by, building a life that’s truly our own and a future we want to be a part of.
Ethical considerations are of particular importance to sociologists because of the subject of investigation - people. Because ethical considerations are of so much importance, sociologists adhere to a rigorous set of ethical guidelines. The most important ethical consideration of sociological research is that participants in sociological investigation are not harmed. While exactly what this entails can vary from study to study, there are several universally recognized considerations. For instance, research on children and youth always requires parental consent. Research on adults also requires informed consent and participants are never forced to participate. Confidentiality and anonymity are two additional practices that ensure the safety of participants when sensitive information is provided (e.g., sexuality, income, etc.). To ensure the safety of participants, most universities maintain an institutional review board (IRB) that reviews studies that include human participants and ensures ethical rigor.
It has not always been the case that scientists interested in studying humans have followed ethical principles in their research. Several studies that, when brought to light, led to the introduction of ethical principles guiding human subjects research and Institutional Review Boards to ensure compliance with those principles, are worth noting, including the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, in which 399 impoverished black men with syphilis were left untreated to track the progress of the disease and Nazi experimentation on humans. A recent paper by Susan M. Reverby found that such unethical experiments were more widespread than just the widely known Tuskegee study and that the US Government funded a study in which thousands of Guatemalan prisoners were infected with syphilis to determine whether they could be cured with penicillin. Ethical oversight in science is designed to prevent such egregious violations of human rights today.
Sociologists also have professional ethical principles they follow. Obviously honesty in research, analysis, and publication is important. Sociologists who manipulate their data are ostracized and can have their memberships in professional organizations revoked. Conflicts of interest are also frowned upon. A conflict of interest can occur when a sociologist is given funding to conduct research on an issue that relates to the source of the funds. For example, if Microsoft were to fund a sociologist to investigate whether users of Microsoft's product users are happier than users of open source software (e.g., Linux, LibreOffice), the sociologist would need to disclose the source of the funding as it presents a significant conflict of interest. Unfortunately, this does not always happen, as several high profile cases illustrate (e.g., the Regnerus Affair). But the disclosure of conflicts of interest is recommended by most professional organizations and many academic journals. A comprehensive explanation of sociological guidelines is provided on the website of the American Sociological Association.
The American Sociological Association's (ASA's) Code of Ethics sets forth the principles and ethical standards that underlie sociologists' professional responsibilities and conduct.
These principles and standards should be used as guidelines when examining everyday professional activities. They constitute normative statements for sociologists and provide guidance on issues that sociologists may encounter in their professional work.
Using the ASA Code of Ethics link; Go to the American Sociological Association website
US government experiments illegally on black men with syphilis for 40 years.
Potential ethical issues in sociological research are normally not as serious as those in medical research, but sociologists must still take care to proceed in an ethical manner in their research.
The guideline that informed consent must be obtained from potential research subjects is a special issue for vulnerable populations such as prisoners.
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