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Sociological Research


Sociologists are committed to the use of the scientific method in their research efforts. In this chapter, we examine the basic principles of the scientific method and study various techniques used by sociologists in conducting research.
  1. There are five basic steps in the scientific method: defining the problem, reviewing the literature, formulating the hypothesis, selecting the research design and then collecting and analyzing data, and developing the conclusion.
  2. Whenever researchers wish to study abstract concepts, such as intelligence or prejudice, they must develop workable operational definitions.
  3. A hypothesis usually states a possible relationship between two or more variables.
  4. By using a sample, sociologists avoid having to test everyone in a population.
  5. According to the scientific method, research results must possess both validity and reliability.
  6. The two principal forms of survey research are the interview and the questionnaire.
  7. Observation allows sociologists to study certain behaviors and communities that cannot be investigated through other research methods.
  8. When sociologists wish to study a cause-andeffect relationship, they may conduct an experiment.
  9. Sociologists also make use of existing sources as in secondary analysis and content analysis.
  10. The Code of Ethics of the American Sociological Association calls for objectivity and integrity in research, respect for the subject's privacy, and confidentiality.
  11. Max Weber urged sociologists to practice value neutrality in their research by ensuring that their personal feelings do not influence the interpretation of data.
  12. Technology today plays an important role in sociological research, whether it be a computer database or information from the Internet.
  13. Despite failure to obtain government funding, researchers developed the National Health and Social Life Survey (NHSLS) to better understand the sexual practices of adults in the United States.

Sociologists are committed to the use of the scientific method in their research efforts. In this chapter, we examine the basic principles of the scientific method and study various techniques used by sociologists in conducting research.

After studying this chapter, you should be able to:


1.
Explain why the scientific method is used for research by sociologists.
2.
Identify the basic steps of the scientific method.
3.
Differentiate between validity and reliability.
4.
Discuss the major research designs used by sociologists.
5.
Differentiate between quantitative and qualitative research.
6.
Explain what is meant by secondary research.
7.
Discuss why the issue of ethics is important in the area of sociological research.
8.
Note the ways in which technology has impacted sociological research.
9.
Summarize why conflict theorists and feminists are critical of some research that claims to be objective.







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