UB SOC 101 - Step 4: Formulating a Hypothesis or Research Question

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SOC 101 Monday February 22 Lecture OutlineStep 4: Formulating a Hypothesis or Research Question A hypothesis is a statement you expect to find according to predictions froma theoryHypothesis –an empirically testable statement Three-part sequence:1. ConceptualizationConceptualization –the process of identifying and defining the concepts your research will addressRefining an idea by giving it a very clear, explicit definition.Hypotheses require that concepts be formulated.A variable is a concept whose value may change from one case to another Before we set out to measure a variable we must further define it 2. OperationalizationWe need operational definitions – that is, we need to operationalize a variable -- specify exactly what one is to measure in assigning a value to a variable.Operationalization = the process of linking a conceptual definition with specific measuresHelps us move from a broad but somewhat refined conceptual definition, to a more specific definition that they will use to form their research questionFor example -- social classBefore we can measure people's social class we must first decide what it is we will measure.1We could choose:Income levelYears of educationOccupational types3. Measurement the process of observing concepts, as indicated by their operational definitions, and assigning some type of score or meaning to people’s responses.Variable = a feature of a case or unit that represents multiple types, valuesor levels.  Independent Variable = the variable of factors, forces, or conditions acting on another variable to produce an effect or change in it.  Dependent Variable = the variable influenced by and changes as an outcome another variable. Intervening Variable = a variable that comes between the independent and dependent variable in a causal relationship. 2Be aware of spurious correlationsA spurious correlation refers to a connection between two variables that appears causal but is not.3Step Five: Choose a Research MethodA research methods is an accepted means by which you collect your dataDISCUSSED AFTER STEP SIXStep Six: Collecting the Data1. We have to make certain that the operational definitions must measure what they are intended to measure and not something else. validity: the measurements are consistent with what was intended to be measuredValidity tells you how accurately a method measures something. So many options on how to measure constructs such as “gender equality” or“corporate social responsibility.” 2. We have to make certain that our operational definitions would illicit the same findings if the study was conducted again by you or another researcher. reliability: the quality of consistency in measurement. The process must yield the same results if repeated time after time.Ideally, research strives for consistency across time and across researchers.This is difficult in social science research.Six Types of Research Methods1. SurveysThe most popular method among researchersInvolves direct questioning of research subjectsPractical issues involve:Selecting a samplePopulation: the target group that you intend to study4Sample: a set number of individuals from among the target populationIf you wish to generalize your findings (generalizability), then your samplemust be representative of your populationRandom sample: every element of the population has the same chanceof ending up in the sample. Important if goal of study is to be generalizeableStratified random sample: a sample for selected subgroups of the target population in which everyone in those subgroups has an equal chance of being included in the research 5Snowball sampling: sample is created by a continuous series of introductions to friends and colleagues. Not very representative or generalizableQuestion FormationNeutral questions: Your questionnaire must be designed to allow respondents to best express their own opinions. Avoiding Survey Question BiasPoorly worded questions can create a response bias by only having positive or negative statements. Double-barreled QuestionsA double barreled question is a question that addresses two or more 6mutually exclusive issues and requires only one answer. A double barreled or compound question is subject to multiple interpretations.How satisfied are you with the organization's core management team and prescribed work ethics?Question TypesSurvey questions are generally of two types:Closed-Ended Questions provide a series of fixed responses to questions. They are used mostly in structured interviews and they are faster to administer and easier to code.Open-Ended Questions allow subjects to respond freely to questions. They are used mostly in unstructured interviews and they allow subjects to use their own words and the meanings behind them2. Participant observation (Fieldwork)This method entails the researcher participating in the research setting while simultaneously systematically observing what is happening.Also referred to as the ethnographic methodParticipant observation is based on living among the people under study for a lengthy period, usually a year, and gathering data through continuous involvement in the routine, culture, traits and daily lives of the people understudy.Alice Goffman’s On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City (2014)Things to consider:Rapport with a few key informants who become researcher’s guide to 7community and the gatekeepers of information. A key informant provides guidance on local customs, language, who to talk to, who to avoid.Observing activities and behaviors Observing informal interactions and unplanned activities Advantages of Participant Observation1. The behavior occurs in its natural setting. Researcher takes part in the events he or she is observing, describing, and analyzing.2. the sociologist gains insights beyond any gained from more distant description and surveys. Some behaviors and beliefs can only be understoodin more intimate, day to day relationships or by just being there when things happen. Disadvantages of Participant Observation1. Time consuming2. Results are not generalizable3. The problem of researcher’s attachment and detachment to the community is a blurring of subjectivity and objectivity.3. Secondary AnalysisResearchers analyze data already collected by others4. DocumentsResearch based on the study of documents—written sources that provide data, such as letters, diaries, newspapers, books, police reports, and government records It may also

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UB SOC 101 - Step 4: Formulating a Hypothesis or Research Question

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