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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

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Stoney Reply
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Adin Reply
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Kyle
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Adin
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Adin
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Kyle
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
Joe
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research.net
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Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
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there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
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are you nano engineer ?
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fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
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Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
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of graphene you mean?
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or in general
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Graphene has a hexagonal structure
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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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