Strength and Limitations of research methods


Strengths and limitations overview of the research methods for unit 2 sociology
Isobel Wagner
Flashcards by Isobel Wagner, updated more than 1 year ago
Isobel Wagner
Created by Isobel Wagner over 8 years ago

Resource summary

Question Answer
Structured interviews The interviewer asks pre-set questions with closed answers. Method favoured by positivists as they believe they can study society scientifically. STRENGTHS- High response rate/Quick and easy method to administer cheaply/More reliable LIMITATIONS- Invalid picture/Atypical sample is possible/Inflexibility
Pilot Study A trial run of the research process or design you intend to carry out on a larger scale, used to discover strengths and limitations of your research. STRENGTHS-Practicalities of research/Develop and test questions/Discover and adapt any specific requirements
Observation Researcher watches and analysis participants behaviour, whilst taking part. Favoured by the interpretivists since they believe it's the best way to study the social world and to establish social relations. STRENGTHS- Experience/Research into difficult areas/Truthful LIMITATIONS- Bias and going native/Hawthorne effect/Ethical issues
Longitudinal studies A study that follows a group or sample over an extended period of time STRENGTHS- More detailed picture/Make comparisons/Cause and effect LIMITATIONS- Sample attrition/less representative/Hard to Analyse/Only represents the world from 50 years ago
Data triangulation When a piece of research has used many different research techniques STRENGTHS-/Produce a Hypothesis/ Complimentary/Fill gaps left by one method/Check accuracy LIMITATIONS- Practical problems/Results could contradict each other/ (limitations of methods used)
Non-Participant observation The researcher observes a group yet doesn't participate int heir activities. Interpretivists favour this since it produces qualitative data. STRENGTHS- Validity/Studying specific groups/Making comparisons LIMITATIONS- Socially constructed/ Hawthorne effect/Can't generalise
Mail or Postal Questionnaires Closed questionnaire administered through the post STRENGTHS- Geographically wide sample/Detached and objective/Ethical LIMITATION- High non-response rate/ interpretivists argue that they are invalid/Reliability
Social Survey Large scale method of research using structured questionnaires or interviews Favoured by positivists since they believe they can study society scientifically, and easiest way to establish social facts. STRENGTHS- Gain a large and representative sample/Ethical/Reliability LIMITATIONS- Unreliability/Invalid/Practical - time consuming and costly
Case Study An examination of a single group, institution, event or place, it can use a variety of methods. Favoured by the interpretivists STRENGTHS- In-depth study/Suggest or test a hypothesis/Studying deviant or unique cases LIMITATIONS- Can't make comparisons/Unrepresentative & can't generalise/Can't study trends and patterns
Official Statistics Secondary sources that produce quantitative data, gathered by the government or any other official body. Favoured by the positivists. STRENGTHS- Vast amount of data available/Representative/Reliable LIMITATIONS- Lacks depth and no meaning/Invalidity/Unreliable
Content Analysis A quantitative method used to systematically measure the content of qualitative documents. STRENGTHS- Practical - inexpensive and quick/Objective and reliable/Ethical LIMITATIONS- Exclusions/Subjective and inflexible/No meanings uncovered
Documents Secondary source including public and personal documents. Favoured by the interpretivists STRENGTHS- Detailed in-depth insight/Only source of information/Practical - cheap and quick LIMITATIONS- Difficulty interpreting and uncovering meaning/Credibility - too subjective/Unrepresentative
Secondary sources Quantitative or qualitative data collected by someone else. STRENGTHS- Large and wide-ranging amount of data/Only source of information/Practical - cheap and quick LIMITATIONS-Lacks sociological detail/Credibility - too subjective/Representativeness - how typical?
Sampling technique A Smaller section of the potential population you wish to study. Two main sampling techniques random and non-random STRENGTHS- No sample frame/Studying deviant or difficult to access groups/Practical LIMITATIONS- Subjective or non-random/Losing control/Unrepresentative
Ethical Issues Refers to the moral issues of right and wrong, in carrying out sociological research ISSUE- Informed consent/Confidentiality and consent/Effects on research participants EVALUATION- Can be justified
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