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When conducting content analysis, it is important to consider the date of publication of an existing source and to take into account attitudes and common cultural ideals that may have influenced the research. For example, Robert S. Lynd and Helen Merrell Lynd gathered research for their book Middletown: A Study in Modern American Culture in the 1920s. Attitudes and cultural norms were vastly different then than they are now. Beliefs about gender roles, race, education, and work have changed significantly since then. At the time, the study’s purpose was to reveal the truth about small American communities. Today, it is an illustration of 1920s attitudes and values.

Summary

Sociological research is a fairly complex process. As you can see, a lot goes into even a simple research design. There are many steps and much to consider when collecting data on human behavior, as well as in interpreting and analyzing data in order to form conclusive results. Sociologists use scientific methods for good reason. The scientific method provides a system of organization that helps researchers plan and conduct the study while ensuring that data and results are reliable, valid, and objective.

The many methods available to researchers—including experiments, surveys, field studies, and secondary data analysis—all come with advantages and disadvantages. The strength of a study can depend on the choice and implementation of the appropriate method of gathering research. Depending on the topic, a study might use a single method or a combination of methods. It is important to plan a research design before undertaking a study. The information gathered may in itself be surprising, and the study design should provide a solid framework in which to analyze predicted and unpredicted data.

Sociological research methods have advantages and disadvantages.
Main sociological research methods
Method Implementation Advantages Challenges
Survey
  • Questionnaires
  • Interviews
  • Yields many responses
  • Can survey a large sample
  • Quantitative data are easy to chart
  • Can be time consuming
  • Can be difficult to encourage participant response
  • Captures what people think and believe but not necessarily how they behave in real life
Field Work
  • Observation
  • Participant observation
  • Ethnography
  • Case study
Yields detailed, accurate real-life information
  • Time consuming
  • Data captures how people behave but not what they think and believe
  • Qualitative data is difficult to organize
Experiment Deliberate manipulation of social customs and mores Tests cause and effect relationships
  • Hawthorne Effect
  • Ethical concerns about people’s wellbeing
Secondary Data Analysis
  • Analysis of government data (census, health, crime statistics)
  • Research of historic documents
Makes good use of previous sociological information
  • Data could be focused on a purpose other than yours
  • Data can be hard to find

Short answer

What type of data do surveys gather? For what topics would surveys be the best research method? What drawbacks might you expect to encounter when using a survey? To explore further, ask a research question and write a hypothesis. Then create a survey of about six questions relevant to the topic. Provide a rationale for each question. Now define your population and create a plan for recruiting a random sample and administering the survey.

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Imagine you are about to do field research in a specific place for a set time. Instead of thinking about the topic of study itself, consider how you, as the researcher, will have to prepare for the study. What personal, social, and physical sacrifices will you have to make? How will you manage your personal effects? What organizational equipment and systems will you need to collect the data?

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Create a brief research design about a topic in which you are passionately interested. Now write a letter to a philanthropic or grant organization requesting funding for your study. How can you describe the project in a convincing yet realistic and objective way? Explain how the results of your study will be a relevant contribution to the body of sociological work already in existence.

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Further research

For information on current real-world sociology experiments, visit: (External Link)

References

Butsch, Richard. 2000. The Making of American Audiences: From Stage to Television, 1750–1990 . Cambridge: Cambridge UP.

Caplow, Theodore, Louis Hicks, and Ben Wattenberg. 2000. “The First Measured Century: Middletown.” The First Measured Century . PBS. Retrieved February 23, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Durkheim, Emile. 1966 [1897]. Suicide . New York: Free Press.

Franke, Richard and James Kaul. 1978. “The Hawthorne Experiments: First Statistical Interpretation.” American Sociological Review 43(5):632–643.

Grice, Elizabeth. “Cry of an Enfant Sauvage.” The Telegraph . Retrieved July 20, 2011 ( (External Link) ).

Heussenstamm, Frances K. 1971. “Bumper Stickers and Cops” Trans-action: Social Science and Modern Society 4:32–33.

Igo, Sarah E. 2008. The Averaged American: Surveys, Citizens, and the Making of a Mass Public . Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Lynd, Robert S. and Helen Merrell Lynd. 1959. Middletown: A Study in Modern American Culture . San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace Javanovich.

Lynd, Staughton. 2005. “Making Middleton.” Indiana Magazine of History 101(3):226–238.

Mihelich, John and John Papineau. Aug 2005. “Parrotheads in Margaritaville: Fan Practice, Oppositional Culture, and Embedded Cultural Resistance in Buffett Fandom.” Journal of Popular Music Studies 17(2):175–202.

Rothman, Rodney. 2000. “My Fake Job.” Pp. 120 in The New Yorker , November 27.

Sennett, Richard. 2008. The Craftsman . New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Retrieved July 18, 2011 ( (External Link) ).

Sonnenfeld, Jeffery A. 1985. “Shedding Light on the Hawthorne Studies.” Journal of Occupational Behavior 6:125.

Questions & Answers

where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
nanopartical of organic/inorganic / physical chemistry , pdf / thesis / review
Ali
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
learn
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
learn
Google
da
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Bhagvanji
hey
Giriraj
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
revolt
da
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
ya I also want to know the raman spectra
Bhagvanji
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
Damian
yes that's correct
Professor
I think
Professor
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
Alexandre
nanocopper obvius
Alexandre
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
Rafiq
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
Damian
How we are making nano material?
LITNING Reply
what is a peer
LITNING Reply
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
LITNING Reply
What is STMs full form?
LITNING
scanning tunneling microscope
Sahil
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Santosh
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
Mahi
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
Rafiq
if virus is killing to make ARTIFICIAL DNA OF GRAPHENE FOR KILLED THE VIRUS .THIS IS OUR ASSUMPTION
Anam
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Anam
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
Hafiz
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
Bob
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
brayan
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Damian
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
Renato
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
?
Kyle
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
Adin
why?
Adin
what school?
Kyle
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
Joe
What is society and how society understand
Ashmi Reply
Deceit social imitation bye C.Writ
Ashmi
What is called research problem and how we narrow down a research question and why it is needed
Karamat Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to sociology. OpenStax CNX. Jun 12, 2012 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11407/1.7
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