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CH 7-11 of POLS Research Methodology

Ambiguous Question

a question containing a concept that is not described clearly

Archived Surveys

Old pre-written surveys. Cheap and fast, but may not apply

Central tendency

the most frequent, middle, or central value in a frequency distribution

Closed Ended Question

a question with response alternatives provided

Cluster Sample

A probability sample that is used when no list of elements exists. the sampling frame initially consists of clusters of elements

Content Analysis

A systematic procedure by which records are transformed into quantitative data

Convenience Sample

a nonprobability sample in which he selection of elements is determined by the researcher's convinience

cumulative proportion

the total proportion of observations at or below a value in a frequency distribution

data matrix

an array of rows and columns that stores the values of a set of variables for all the cases in a data set

descriptive statistic

a number that, because of its definition and formula, describes certain characteristics or properties of a batch of numbers

Direct Observation

Actual observation of behavior


the distribution of data values around the most frequent, middle, or central value

Document Analysis

Research of Literature

Double-barreled question

a question that is really two questions in one


Then unit of analysis. a particular case or entity about which information is collected

Episodic Records

Record that is not part of a regular, ongoing record-keeping enterprise but instead is produced and preserved in a more casual, personal, or accidental manner

Estimator (μ or p)

A statistic based on sample observations that is used to estimate the numerical value of an unknown population parameter

Expected Value

the mean or average value of a sample statistic based on repeated samples from a population

Field study

open ended and wide-ranging (rather than structured) observations in a natural setting


number of observations per value of category of a variable

Indirect Observation

observation of physical traces of behavior. May misinterpret data, but do not affect the things being studied


persons who are willing to be interviewed about the activities and behavior of themselves and of the group to which they belong. They also help the researcher engaged in participant observation to interpret group behavior.

Informed Consent

Procedures that inform potential research subjects about the proposed research in which they are being asked to participate; the principle that researchers must obtain the freely given consent of human subjects before they particitare in a research project

Institutional Review Board (IRB)

Panel to which researchers must submit descriptions of proposed research involving human subjects for the purpose of ethics review

Intercoder Reliability

demonstration that multiple analysts, following the same content analysis procedure, agree and obtain the same measurements

interquartile range

the middle 50% of observations


collecting information from respondents in a non-standardized, individualized manner

Interview, documents, physical observation

three broad types of empirical observation

Interviewer Bias

the interviewer's influence on the respondent's answers, an example of reactivity

Leading Question

a question that encourages the respondents to choose a particular response

Margin of Error

The difference between a sample estimate and a corresponding population parameter that arises because only a portion of a population is observed

negatively skewed

a distribution of values in which fewer observations lie to the left of the middle value and thaaose observations are fairly distant from the mean

Nonprobability sample

a sample for which each element in the total population has an unknown probability of being selected
Purposive Sample
Convenience Sample
Quota Sample
Snowball Sample

open-ended question

a question with no response alternatives provided for the respondent

Participant Observation

observations in which the observer becomes a regular participant in the activities of those being observed


All the units to which a hypothesis applies. Well defined set of units of analysis

Population Parameter (θ or P)

A characteristic or an attribute in a population (not a sample) that can be quantified.

positively skewed

a distribution of values in which fewer observations lie to the right of the middle value and thaaose observations are fairly distant from the mean

Primary data

data that is recorded and used by the researcher making the observations

Probability sample

a sample for which each element in the total population has a known probability of being selected
Simple Random Sample
Systematic Sample
Stratified Sample
Cluster Sample

Purposive Sample

a nonprobability sample in which a researcher uses discretion in selecting elements for observation

Push poll

a poll intended not to collect information, but to feed respondents (often) false and damaging information about a candidate or cause

Questionnaire design

the physical layout and packaging of a questionnaire

Question order effect

the effect on responses of question placement within a questionnaire

Quota Sample

A nonprobability sample in which elements are sampled in proportion to their representation in the population


the distance between the highest and lowest values


if the respondents reply genuinely or artificially

recording/coding unit

The things we want to analyze, unitize, in content analysis

relative frequency

proportion of total number of observations in a frequency distribution that have a particular value

resistant measure

a measure of central tendency that is not sensitive to one or a few extreme values in a distribution

Response Quality

the extent to which responses provide accurate and complete information

Response Rate

the proportion of respondents selected for participation in a survey who actually participate

Response Set

the pattern of responding to a series of questions in a similar fashion without careful reading of each question

Running Records

A written record that is enduring and easily accessed and covers and extensive period of time. Useful in observing changes, low costs


Any subset of units collected in some manner from a population. (The selection of the population selected for the study)

Sample bias

occurs whenever some elements of a population are systematically excluded from a sample. it is usually due to an incomplete sampling frame or a nonprobability method of selecting elements

Sample-Population Congruence

The degree to which sample subjects represent the population from which they are drawn

Sampling Distribution

A theoretical (non-observed) distribution of sample statistics calculated on samples of size N that, if know, permits the calculation of confidence intervals and the test of statistical hypotheses. Measure the mean, variations, and shape of distribution

Sampling Frame

The population from which the sample is drawn. Ideally, it is the same as the total population of interest to a study

Sampling Interval

the number of elements in a sampling frame divided by the desired sample size

Sampling unit

The entity listed in a sampling frame. it may be the same as an element or it may be a group or cluster of elements

secondary data

data from the written record

semi-structured interview

An interview guide is provided, giving previous knowledge if the questions being asked and in what order

Simple Random Sample

A probability sample in which each element has an equal chance of being selected

Single-sided question

a question in which the respondent is asked to agree with a single substantive statement

Snowball Sample

A sample in which respondents are asked to identify additional members of the population

standard deviation

a measure of dispersion of data points about the mean for interval and ratio related data. difference between each score and the mean, averaged

Standard Error

the standard deviation or measure of variability or dispersion of a sampling distribution. Increasing the sample size reduces this by raising confidence in having the true mean

Statistical inference

the mathematical theory and techniques for making conjectures about he unknown characteristics (parameters) of populations based on samples

Stratified Sample

A probability sample in which elements sharing one or more characteristics are grouped and elements are selected from each group in proportion to the group's representation in the total population


a subgroup of a population that shares one or more characteristics

Survey Instrument

The schedule of questions to be asked of the repondent

Systematic Sample

A probability sample in which elements are selected from a list at predetermined intervals

trimmed mean

the mean calculated by excluding a specified proportion of cases from each end of the distribution

two-sided question

a question in which two substantive alternatives are provided for the respondent


making sure the study is measuring the right thing

Validity, Reactivity, Cost and availability of data

Considerations for selecting a method for collecting data


a measure of dispersion of data points about hte mean for interval and ratio level data. the average of squared deviations


Using hypothetical questions to find out opinions

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