“Examine Some of the Problems Associated with Using Official Statistics as a Research Method”

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“Examine some of the problems associated with using Official Statistics as a research method”

Official statistics are secondary data produced by national and local government bodies. They either provide qualitative or quantitative (sometimes both) information on all major areas of the population’s lives such as births, deaths, marriage and divorce. The Office for National Statistics collects the government’s statistics and they collect their data from surveys such as the Census. They also collect statistics for both unemployment and crime these are collected by the Home Office. Official statistics provide a wide range of quantitative data. They are very useful for sociological research and have a wide range of advantages such as the fact that they can be conducted on a regular basis for example on a monthly, annually or on a ten year basis. This allows sociologists to examine comparisons over time and the identification of trends, such as the correlation between unemployment and crime rates. Another advantage is the fact that published statistics are readily available and cost little or nothing to use, this therefore means that they are accessible to all who wish to use. Surveys are mostly used to collect data from a large proportion of the population. This means they are mostly representative samples. Surveys such as the General Household Survey are usually outside of sociologists’ research budgets, therefore it is a gain when the government fund surveys such as this as both them and sociologists are able to monitor the effects that policies have on individual households. Many government surveys are well planned and organised with detailed questionnaires or interview schedules. As such, they meet the standards of sociological research. They are conducted regularly and are easily administered and analysed with relative ease. They are also a way of gauging the extent of belief, action and opinion amongst a small group of people. From the perspective of a...
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