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SOC 101 Monday February 22 Lecture Outline Step 4 Formulating a Hypothesis or Research Question A hypothesis is a statement you expect to find according to predictions from a theory Hypothesis an empirically testable statement Three part sequence 1 Conceptualization Conceptualization the process of identifying and defining the concepts your research will address Refining 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 Operationalization We 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 measures Helps us move from a broad but somewhat refined conceptual definition to a more specific definition that they will use to form their research question For example social class Before we can measure people s social class we must first decide what it is we will measure 1 We could choose Income level Years of education Occupational types 3 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 values or 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 2 Be aware of spurious correlations A spurious correlation refers to a connection between two variables that appears causal but is not 3 Step Five Choose a Research Method A research methods is an accepted means by which you collect your data DISCUSSED AFTER STEP SIX Step Six Collecting the Data 1 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 measured Validity 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 Methods 1 Surveys The most popular method among researchers Involves direct questioning of research subjects Practical issues involve Selecting a sample Population the target group that you intend to study 4 Sample a set number of individuals from among the target population If you wish to generalize your findings generalizability then your sample must be representative of your population Random sample every element of the population has the same chance of ending up in the sample Important if goal of study is to be generalizeable Stratified 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 5 Snowball sampling sample is created by a continuous series of introductions to friends and colleagues Not very representative or generalizable Question Formation Neutral questions Your questionnaire must be designed to allow respondents to best express their own opinions Avoiding Survey Question Bias Poorly worded questions can create a response bias by only having positive or negative statements Double barreled Questions A double barreled question is a question that addresses two or more 6 mutually 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 Types Survey 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 them 2 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 method Participant 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 under study 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 7 community 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 Observation 1 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 understood in more intimate day to day relationships or by just being there when things happen Disadvantages of Participant Observation 1 Time consuming 2 Results are not generalizable 3 The problem of researcher s attachment and detachment to the community is a blurring of subjectivity and objectivity 3 Secondary Analysis Researchers analyze data already collected by others 4 Documents Research 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 include in a more extended sense archival material of any sort such as recordings

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

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