Research Methods


A mindmap of the definitions, advantages and disadvantages of research methods.
Joanna Griffith
Mind Map by Joanna Griffith, updated more than 1 year ago
Joanna Griffith
Created by Joanna Griffith almost 9 years ago

Resource summary

Research Methods
  1. Primary
    1. observations
      1. unstructured
        1. structured
          1. participant
            1. where the researcher has a role within the group being studied and takes part in activities
            2. non-participant
              1. when the researcher has no involvement with the group being studied, and simply observes behaviours from the sidelines
              2. overt observations
                1. where the identity and purpose of the researcher is made clear to participants
                2. covert observations
                  1. where the identity and purpose of the researcher is hidden, and participants are unaware that research is being conducted
                3. interviews
                  1. structured
                    1. semi-structured
                      1. unstructured
                        1. group interviews
                          1. a method of gathering qualitative data, where a researcher asks questions face-to-face with a respondent
                          2. questionnaires
                            1. a list of open/closed questions that respondents answer without the help of the researcher
                              1. open questions
                                1. allows the respondent to answer in their own words, collects qualitative data
                                  1. more valid
                                    1. allows issues to be explored more deeply
                                      1. difficult to quantify
                                        1. less reliable
                                        2. closed questions
                                          1. allows the respondent to answer through pre-set options, collects quantitative data
                                            1. more reliable
                                              1. can easily be quantified and graphed
                                                1. less valid
                                                  1. does not tell a researcher WHY a behaviour is occurring
                                                2. postal questionnaires
                                                  1. a large sample can be reached at once
                                                    1. highly targeted
                                                      1. cheap (low cost of printing and distribution)
                                                        1. the respondent may have more time to think about their answers, so their answers may be more honest and valid
                                                        2. self-completion questionnaires
                                                          1. face-to-face questionnaires
                                                            1. internet/email questionnaires
                                                              1. telephone questionnaires
                                                              2. experiments
                                                                1. sociological studies carried our under test conditions in order to remove the influence of confounding variables
                                                                  1. laboratory experiments
                                                                    1. an experimental group is exposed to the independent variable, and a control group is not changed in any way, while all other variables are controlled
                                                                    2. field experiments
                                                                      1. where an experiment is carried out in a natural setting
                                                                  2. Secondary
                                                                    1. official statistics
                                                                      1. statistics collected and published by agencies, eg. NGOs or governments
                                                                      2. official documents
                                                                        1. public documents, eg. media, school records, parish registers
                                                                          1. personal documents, eg. letters, photos, autobiographies
                                                                            1. historical documents
                                                                            2. content analysis
                                                                              1. analysing social life by investigating and interpreting the content of mass media
                                                                            3. Qualitative
                                                                              1. gives an idea of how participants view the world
                                                                                1. more "real-life"
                                                                                  1. validity
                                                                                    1. preferred by Interpretivist sociologists
                                                                                      1. we construct society through the meanings we attach to things
                                                                                        1. bottom-up (micro) approach
                                                                                          1. subjectivity
                                                                                        2. Quantitative
                                                                                          1. information presented in a numerical form
                                                                                            1. trends/patterns can be analysed
                                                                                              1. preferred by Positivist sociologists
                                                                                                1. interested in social reality
                                                                                                  1. objectivity
                                                                                                    1. top-down (macro) approach
                                                                                                      1. reliability and representativeness
                                                                                                    2. PET
                                                                                                      1. Practical
                                                                                                        1. time
                                                                                                          1. cost
                                                                                                            1. access
                                                                                                              1. research opportunity
                                                                                                                1. utility in relation to the research issue
                                                                                                                  1. funding bodies
                                                                                                                    1. researcher's safety
                                                                                                                      1. researcher's personal skills/characteristics
                                                                                                                      2. Ethical
                                                                                                                        1. harm to participants
                                                                                                                          1. informed consent
                                                                                                                            1. confidentiality
                                                                                                                              1. privacy/anonymity
                                                                                                                              2. Theoretical
                                                                                                                                1. methodological preference
                                                                                                                                  1. reliability
                                                                                                                                    1. validity
                                                                                                                                      1. representativeness
                                                                                                                                        1. researcher bias
                                                                                                                                          1. Hawthorne effect
                                                                                                                                        2. Sampling techniques
                                                                                                                                          1. random sampling
                                                                                                                                            1. every member of the target population has an equal chance of being picked
                                                                                                                                              1. equal opportunities
                                                                                                                                                1. quick, can even be performed by a computer
                                                                                                                                                  1. reduces the potential for human bias
                                                                                                                                                    1. allows researchers to make generalisations within the target population
                                                                                                                                                      1. can only be used if the population is whole
                                                                                                                                                        1. may not be representative
                                                                                                                                                        2. quasi-random sampling
                                                                                                                                                          1. every 10th, 100th, etc. person on a list is selected
                                                                                                                                                            1. quick, can even be performed by a computer
                                                                                                                                                              1. reduces the potential for human bias
                                                                                                                                                                1. allows researchers to make generalisations within the target population
                                                                                                                                                                  1. equal opportunities
                                                                                                                                                                    1. it can be difficult to gain access to a list
                                                                                                                                                                      1. the list must equally represent every member of the sampling frame
                                                                                                                                                                        1. it can be difficult to contact chosen participants
                                                                                                                                                                        2. stratified random sampling
                                                                                                                                                                          1. dividing the sampling frame into smaller strata (eg. age, gender) and randomly selecting a number of people from each strata
                                                                                                                                                                            1. very representative
                                                                                                                                                                              1. allows large groups to be studied effectively
                                                                                                                                                                                1. fewer sampling errors
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. greater precision than random sampling
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. smaller samples can be used
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. may be more time-consuming to organise
                                                                                                                                                                                      2. snowball sampling
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. sociologists ask a few volunteers to find other volunteers
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. makes it easier for researchers to get volunteers from groups that they may not have access to
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. very little effort is required on the part of the researcher
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. volunteers may only choose their friends
                                                                                                                                                                                                1. peer pressure may force some people to volunteer even if they are not comfortable with the research
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. not representative
                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. volunteer sampling
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. sociologists ask for volunteer participants within their sampling frame
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. informed consent is easily obtained
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. only people from certain social groups may be willing to volunteer
                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. opportunity sampling
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. selecting individuals nearby
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. quick, easy
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. individuals are not forced to participate
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. researcher bias, as they choose who to approach
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. may not be representative
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