Pupils note research methods extra nab helpPresentation Transcript
Research Methods Extra Help for NAB
PRIMARY METHODS SECONDARY METHODS QUALITATIVE DATA QUANTITATIVE DATA
Telephone Interview (AH MS)
Key Features – Unstructured Interviews
Between interviewer & respondent – Questions cover ‘General areas’ eg ‘Your School’ or ‘Living in Your Area’
Open Questions – producing Qualitative, detailed data
No interview schedule or list of questions
Advantages – Unstructured Interviews
Respondent can elaborate on interesting points/ areas
Interviewer can clarify/ explore particular points mentioned (things seen as important by the RESPONDENT)
Produces detailed qualitative data – deep understanding of attitudes, feelings of each respondent.
Disadvantages – Unstructured Interviews
Can be difficult to quantify/ compare results of respondents – can only interview small sample so findings can’t be generalised
Can be very time consuming
Can be expensive eg travelling, paying interviewers (HAVE TO BE THERE)
Interview may have to be terminated early – refusal to answer? Emergency? Situation?
Participant Observation – KF’s
Participant observation involves the researcher
becoming a full participant in the group being
studied, and is accepted into the group as a
member. The other members are not aware
they are being ‘studied’ by the researcher. This
produces qualitative data in the form of notes
based on the researcher’s observations as a
Key Features – Participant Observation
Researcher becomes a participant in the group being studied and is accepted as a member
Researcher goes through 3 phases ‘Get in – be accepted as a member…stay in…act, talk same as other group members to continue to be accepted….get out…leave group without causing upset or harm to future functioning of the group’
Participant Observation – KF’s 2
The researcher as to get in (gain access the
group) stay in (be accepted as a member) and
get out (remove himself from the group without
consequences). These studies have high researcher involvement – the researcher must spend lots of time with the study group, so this can be very expensive . The data can be biased because it’s only one person’s view/ interpretation of the group’s behaviour
Participant Observation: Disadv’s
This type of research can be very dangerous ,
eg if the researcher is observing a criminal
gang , football hooligans, etc. The researcher
needs time alone to write up observations and
this may be difficult as part of the group.
It is also difficult to quantify the results –
observations and findings are specific to the
group studied and can not be generalised or
applied to the whole population
Disadvantages – Participant Observation
Very high cost & high researcher input (time) High researcher involvement – 24 hours a day? Over several months or years?
Can be biased – researcher interprets reasons/ meanings of observed group
Can be dangerous – criminal activity? Researcher perhaps begins to ‘justify’ illegal activity – begins to think like one of the group?
Difficult to record behaviour and reflect on it when being a member of a group – need time alone
Difficult to quantify results/ generalise & apply to findings from group to whole society – observations are sample-specific
Participant Observation – Adv’s
These studies DO give realistic pictures of
NORMAL group behaviour , but the
Hawthorne effect unlikely to be a problem – as group member’s behaviour will be typical as they will not realise they are being studied.
Observer is ‘submerged’ in the culture, behaviour and thought-process’ of the observed group, so gets an in-depth understanding of observed behaviour – more than would be obtained from a non-participant observation
Advantages – Participant Observation
Gives very realistic picture of ‘normal’ group behaviour - Avoids Hawthorne Effect where group members change their behaviour if they think they’re being studied by outsider – if researcher is an insider (group member) then observed behaviour is ‘real’ and ‘typical’
Very detailed data relating to behaviour, thoughts, motivations of a small group – great understanding of that small group – but can’t generalise to whole population
Difficult to get a sociologist accepted into a ‘private’ group eg criminal gang, monks…how do you gain access to study these groups’ behaviour?
Key Features – Non- Participant Obs.vn
Researcher observes behaviour – does not participate in group activity
Primary method – qualitative data produced
Could be covert (ethics?) Overt (Hawthorne Effect)
Researcher interprets behaviour and records details of observed behaviour
Adv’s – Non- Participant Obs.vn
By not being involved, observed behaviour is not influenced by researcher presence (if covert) so recorded behaviour is ‘real’
Qualitative data produced – gives detailed understanding of behaviour and reasons for behaviour of a small group
Good method of gathering information about eg criminal behaviour (can’t do eg participant obs, or questionnaire for eg)
Disadv’s – Non- Participant Obs.vn
High researcher involvement -- Time consuming, need to BE THERE all the time to observe behaviour (unlike questionnaire)
Has to interpret observed behaviour – takes it at face value/ may be wrongly interpreted
Difficult to quantify/ compare results
Can’t check details or explore issues further
High cost – paying researcher for time spent observing/ analysing can be expensive method
Unethical? Should inform subjects they’re involved in a study – but then behaviour wouldn’t be ‘typical’
Can’t Generalise findings to wider population – behaviour observed/ conclusions are ‘sample specific’
Good source of in-depth account or case study – thoughts, actions etc of one person
Provides social comment on society within which person lives/ lived
By reading these personal documents, an understanding of the thoughts/ behaviour of one person or small group
Disadvantages – Personal Documents
May be biased: only one person’s personal view of events and author may be aware someone would read it – may contain exaggeration, lies, may not be factual - Authentic? Is it a REAL account or made up – fact or fiction?
No way of checking accuracy of details if person no longer alive
Doesn’t tell you any important facts that are missed out
Difficulty of getting permission (consent) to use quotes from the personal document in research project publication?
Qualitative and Secondary: Difficult to generalise/ compare, time to analyse, secondary – no control over data collection – days missing? Letters missing
Advantages – Personal Documents
Excellent in –depth source of qualitative data – lots of details about feelings, thoughts and actions of case study person(s)
Can give us info about behaviour of people or feelings about events in the past – eg diaries of Anne Frank (but only tells you about HER)
? Secondary Source – saves time as data already collected
Telephone Interview/ Q’re
Contact respondents via telephone, to conduct verbal interview on given issue. Questions could be open or closed, as in written questionnaire/ survey.
Contacts may be contacted in a random or semi-random way (phonebook) or may be sampled in a way to include particular postcodes, socioeconomic or ethnic groups (targeted sampling)
To what extent is telephone interviewing effective as a research method? AH MS - (10)
Massive contact potential
Unaffected by weather etc
Cheaper than travelling in person to int
Can be carefully constructed
• Not all have phones – generalising?
• Researcher cannot be sure of identity of respondent – IS it who I THINK it is?
• Can cause offence – ‘cold call fatigue’
• Lack of personal contact – you’re just calling up ANYONE whereas if you INTERVIEW me in person, you want to talk to ME…do you even know the person’s NAME you’re phoning?
respondents may lie as not ‘face to face’ with researcher
Key Features – Postal Questionnaire
A questionnaire sent by post
Can cover large sample (1000’s)
Can get responses from wide geographical area (eg whole city, or all Scottish regions)
Low researcher involvement (researcher doesn’t have to be with person when they complete it)
Low cost (even cost of postage and return postage is cheaper than paying interviewer/ travel costs for interviews)
Can get low return rate – so can’t generalise results
Key Features – Postal Questionnaire (cont)
Limited to short-answer/ usually closed questions so can’t explore reasons for responses
Some people will respond to difficult/ personal questions because questionnaire is anonymous, they are less comfortable answering these questions in interview (crime/ sexual/ personal)
Can easily quantify results – put overall results into table/ graph and make conclusions (most people - 90% - said…. Very few people -10% -said ….)
Good for factual information, less useful for opinions/views/ feelings
Key Features – Structured Interview
Carried out by researcher face to face with respondent
Set questions in an interview ‘schedule’
Only those questions – can not explore answers given for further detail, reasons, meaning for responses given to set questions
In same order for every respondent Q1, Q2, Q3….. Accounts for interviewee boredom/ tiredness
Adv’s – Structured Interview
Good response rate – people will answer questions in an interview because they’re in the situation – they feel they ‘might as well’
Good response rate – people will likely turn up for an arranged interview – as opposed to throwing a questionnaire in the bin
Can compare answers given by different respondents, as ALL have answered the SAME questions (unlike unstructured int’s) or look for comparisons by group (gender?) eg boys were more negative than girls about ….issue answers can be pre-coded allowing groups’ responses to be compared
Quicker than unstructured interviews -can go on as long as respondent wishes – structured interview quicker as only answering schedule questions
Disadv’s – Structured Interview
Respondent can only talk about issues raised in interview schedule – interviewer therefore decides what’s important to discuss, not the respondent
Can still take up researcher time and money – more than a postal questionnaire anyway!
Can NOT ask for clarification or details of interesting/ controversial responses given to schedule questions – must just ask the next question on the list without further probe
Produces qualitative data, but can be coded into quantitative data – still difficult to generalise findings – really only reflect the views of the particular people / group interviewed, (eg sample of pupils) not ‘generally’ the views of the whole population (ie ALL pupils)
Disadvantages 2 – Structured Interview
High researcher involvement
Can be time consuming
People may not answer honestly – please the researcher – say what you think they want to hear, embarrassed about truth so lie?
Easy to quantify – can compare results of different respondents as have all answered same questions
Key Features – Social Surveys
Researcher asks a sample of people the same questions, but this time face-to-face eg on the street
Mainly closed questions to gather the views of a large group of people about one issue or a small range of issues – eg Opinion Polls gather people’s views about who they might vote for at the next election
An example of a Primary Quantitative method
Disadvantages – Social Surveys
Respondents may not wish to answer questions of a personal/ sensitive nature (finance, sexual, criminal…) Don’t get required data
Respondents may not give truthful answers, but rather give the responses they think the researcher is looking for
Difficulty getting a large enough sample of people to respond – must be large enough to generalise findings to whole population
Quantitative data produced – no reasons/ meanings for responses given to (closed) questions in social surveys
Advantages – Social Surveys
Good way of collecting the views of a cross section of the population, about any given topical (currently of interest) topic, eg ‘The War in Iraq’ or ‘Gordon Brown as PM’
Closed questions generating quantitative statistical data which can be quickly quantified/ analysed to produce trends or patterns eg ‘support for Labour has declined’ or ‘more people are now in favour of the smoking ban’
Can be generalised as sample can be random so given views can be assumed to be ‘typical’ of views of people in the general population
Key Features – Official (Social) Statistics
Figures about unemployment, crime, suicide, divorce, etc are collected by governmental and non-governmental orgs, and are used to inform government policy for future bills/ laws. Eg if ‘British Crime Survey’ shows crime figures rising, government will address this with policies to increase policing.
Secondary source of quantitative data
Can be used ‘second hand’ to make comparisons/ show ‘co-relations’ between data sets, eg linking unemployment and suicide figures (Durkheim)
Advantages – Official (Social) Statistics
Good for quantitative studies – eg looking at how many crimes/ divorces/ suicides in one year in a population – can see patterns of rising/ falling crime, divorce, unemployment….
Can save lots of time if fig’s are already available – secondary data so lower researcher input
Gives good general trend/ pattern of phenomena eg figs show overall increase in crime in Scotland ‘99 to ’02
Disadvantages – Official (Social) Statistics
May be biased – way figures were collected? Reason figures were collected? Were figures collected to make police/ government look good – stats can hide the truth eg ‘crime’ or ‘reported crime’
Changed criteria/ definitions prevents longitudinal studies over several years (can’t compare ‘class’ across several years as definition of ‘class’ has changed)
Researcher doesn’t collect the data, but may still have to interpret meaning of statistics – what do the figures really show?
People may lie when stat’s being collected eg 1991 census ‘are you a home owner?’ question to avoid paying Poll Tax – so data collected may not accurately show the true picture of Britain
Importance of Choosing Appropriate Method
What TYPE of data is required –
Qualitative? P. Observation, Non-P. Observation, Unstructured Interview all give meaning, reasons, details, feelings, thoughts, motives, explanations
Quantitative? Structured Interviews, Surveys, Postal Questionnaires all give
trends, patterns, figures, general opinion
How much detail is needed – lots or little?
Where are respondents – easily accessed or spread over wide geographical area?
What method would get the info in need?
Would the method involve illegal activity
Be able to give eg’s of studies and appropriate methods for those studies – and WHY
Money! The amount of money a research project has could dictate the method used – lots of money is needed for qualitative research eg interview, observation, whereas a relatively smaller amount of money is needed for quantitative methods like questionnaires
Research Methods - NAB
Main features, advantages and disadvantages of all primary and secondary/ qualitative and quantitative research methods
Why is it important to Choose Appropriate Methods for research?
Describe in detail each of the Steps of the Research Process – Details incl sub-stages of Operationalisation
Compare / Contrast qualitative and quantitative methods of gathering data - use given sources or other studies
Key Feat’s: Postal Questionnaire
Postal Questionnaires are questionnaires sent by post, they can be sent to a large number of respondents who live across a wide geographical area, such as a whole city, region or even country.
These questionnaires allow the views of many people to be compared about the same issues; eg comparing the views of pupils about uniform in schools across Scotland. Patterns and trends can be identified eg most people thought… or very few people thought….
Postal questionnaires are usually limited to short (closed) questions which can be answered quickly (if it takes ages to complete it will not be returned!) so can’t explore meaning/ reasons for responses given.
It is best to include a pre-paid/ stamped addressed envelope and perhaps also a free ‘gift’ pen to encourage return of the questionnaire.
Advantages: Postal Questionnaire
Postal Questionnaires are useful as they have low researcher involvement – the researcher does not have to be there when the respondent completes the questionnaire, unlike an interview. The cost of printing questionnaires, postage, return postage and even envelopes and ‘free gift’ pens is relatively cheaper than paying for travel and time of a researcher to interview a similarly large group of people across a wide area.
The anonymity of questionnaires means people may be more willing than in an interview, to reveal personal, sensitive or embarrassing information. It’s more difficult to do this in a face to face interview.
Results can be quickly quantified – put results into graph/ table to show 90% said….YES 10% said ….NO – gives clear conclusions. Questionnaires are therefore useful for collecting factual information rather than opinions, views or feelings.
Disadvt’es: Postal Questionnaire
Some people might not return the questionnaire – a low return rate means the findings can not be generalised / applied to the larger population – if ‘most’ return the questionnaire then results reflect the views of ‘most’ of the population; if not, then they don’t.
Response rates to questionnaires are often very low – lack of motivation to return it ‘what’s in it for me’ attitude often results in very low return rates, meaning findings can not be generalised to the whole population
Anonymity may encourage respondents to lie (as it’s not face to face, so they may ‘exaggerate’ eg their alcohol intake, so results may not be accurate
1. Describe KEY FEATURES of …
Postal Questionnaire (Quantitative Primary)
Structured Interview (Quantitative Primary)
2. Describe KEY FEATURES of …
Participant Observation (Qualitative Primary)
Unstructured Interview (Qualitative Primary)
3. Describe KEY FEATURES of …
Official/ Social Statistics (Quantitative Sec) OR
Historical Documents (Qualitative Sec) OR
Personal Documents (Qualitative Sec)
Compare ‘Qual’ & ‘Quant’ Methods
Quantitative – Advantages:
Large-scale studies – able to collect views about topic from large number of people, spread across large geographical area – allows comparisons of sub-groups
Cost – much cheaper to carry out survey or postal questionnaire
Low researcher input – doesn’t have to BE THERE when person is responding to questions – respondent does not have to set aside large block of time
Easy to collate responses & to form ‘summary’ of results eg 80% YES, 20% NO – can present findings in graphs easily
Compare Qualitative & Quantitative Methods
Quantitative – Disadvantages:
Lacks in-depth details/ understanding of REASONS why responses are given – eg WHY does someone not like the uniform, not just YES/NO
No opportunity to elaborate on interesting points or to give reasons/ motivation/ explanation
Low response rate – may not return?
Dishonesty – respondents may not answer questions truthfully
Compare Qualitative & Quantitative Methods
Qualitative – Advantages:
Gives in-depth details/ understanding of REASONS why responses are given – eg WHY does someone not like the uniform, not just YES/NO
Gives opportunity to elaborate on interesting points or to give reasons/ motivation/ explanation
High Response rate – most people will turn up for arranged interview – not like questionnaire that can be easily binned
Compare Qualitative & Quantitative Methods
Qualitative – Disadvantages:
High Researcher input – have to BE THERE during interview/ observation
High cost – time, travel, researcher wages
Time consuming analysing the transcripts of interviews or notes from observations to make conclusions/ look for patterns
Difficult to generalise results from small-scale studies eg Participant Observation
Durkheim & Atkinson
Durkheim: Quantitative Data
Large scale study
Shows structural influences on suicide (how institutions affect the individual)
Studies suidice as a social fact – something which has a pattern within society/ social influences on individual to commit suicide – rather than an individual act
Demonstrates trends and patterns across large area
Shows suicide differences between different countries
Durkheim & Atkinson
Atkinson: Qualitative Data
Smaller scale study
Gives view of suicide from the point of view of those actually defining it (people who deal with suicide)
Looks at different meanings and interpretations of particular actions eg suicide
Shows people’s different definitions of suicide
Important to follow a research Strategy
A research strategy is important for sociologists as it shows how they have gone about their research study – it details exactly the methodology used, and shows how they have tested their theories and how they have provided evidence to support their ideas. A research strategy and methods chosen allows other researchers to replicate or re-test the original ideas of the original research using another sample,using the SAME step by step procedure. Different results means changed attitudes/ behaviour if study is re-done exactly the same way
Importance of a research Strategy
Sociologists need to carry out research in a systematic way
A research strategy and appropriate method selection means research can be re-tested making it reliable and valid
Some methods more appropriate for particular theories – eg Action – qualitative small scale methods, structural perspectives – large-scale quantitative methods
Can be ‘replicated’ by other sociologists wishing to carry out same research with different population – only difference measured is changed opinion, not due to any difference in methodology