Comm 88 Readings

Topics: Sampling, Sampling error, Simple random sample Pages: 18 (4120 words) Published: May 5, 2013
Social research consists of the process of formulating and seeking answers to questions about the social world.

The methods of social research can be applied to investigate any curiosity, and our understanding of them can make us smarter consumers, better-informed voters, and better students

A knowledge of methods can benefit you as both a consumer and a producer of research evidence

Consuming research evidence
“Beware of Crosswalks…they’re dangerous” example about more accidents in marked crosswalks than unmarked. Not that they’re more dangerous…but that more people used marked crosswalks and have a sense of security (less aware as they walk) than unmarked (usually very cautious)

Producing research evidence
We are gatherers and producers of research evidence
We manufacture evidence every time we seek out others’ opinions about some issue, attempt to estimate the prevailing opinion within a particular group, or draw conclusions about persons and events on the bases of our own observations Trustworthiness of your information will depend on:

# of opinions solicited
consistency of those opinions
whether your informants’ opinions are formed and solicited independently of one another how you pose the question when asking for opinions about professors x and y

Methodological approaches to the social world
4 principle research strategies for understanding the social world: experiments
field research
use of available data

An Experimental Answer
Experiments frequently offer the best approach for investigating the causes of phenomena

An Answer from Survey Research
Survey research involves the administration of questionnaires or interviews to relatively large groups of people One purpose: to describe the frequency of certain characteristics among groups or populations Key feature: information is collected from part of a group to make generalizations about the whole group But, such generalizations are hazardous unless procedures are carefully followed in deciding whom to include in the study *

* An Answer from Field Research
Field research is a matter of immersing oneself in a naturally occurring set of events in order to gain firsthand knowledge of the situation Seeks to understand the world as his or her subjects see it and to collect information without unduly influencing its shape and content

Key Point
A variety of approaches may be taken to study social phenomena; the best strategy is to use multiple approaches that do not share the same weaknesses

The aim of science
To produce knowledge, to understand and explain some aspect of the world around us

Key point 1
Scientific concepts describe what is being studied
Scientific hypotheses and theories explain how and why patterned events occur

Knowledge as understanding
Causal relationship-
a relationship in which a change in one event forces, produces, or brings about a change in another

Key point 2
Scientific knowledge cannot be proven as the search for understanding is uncertain and unending

Logical reasoning
Deductive reasoning-
the conclusion is absolutely certain if the evidence is true Inductive reasoning-
The conclusion is uncertain even if the evidence is true b/c its content goes beyond the evidence EX:
D: All union members are Democrats. Jen belongs to the union. Therefore, Jen is a Democrat. I: Bob, Jen, and Marc are union members and Democrats. Therefore all union members are Democrats. *
* Key point 3
Deductive reasoning, as when deriving a hypothesis from a theory, is either valid or invalid Inductive reasoning, as when generalizing from specific observations, is more or less sound depending on the scope of the observations

A way of knowing or understanding the world that relies directly or indirectly on what we experience through our senses: sigh, hearing, taste, smell, and touch.

Key point 4
Scientific inquiry is guided by empiricism (reliance on...
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