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Terms in this set (39)

Time and money:

- Different research methods require different amounts of time and money to complete. For example a large scale questionnaire will employ multiple staff who input data and researchers to carry out the questionnaire. This contrasts with a small scale questionnaire which will take much less time and money however the research may be less representative and validity.

Requirements of funding bodies:

- As research institutes and businesses fund the research, they dictate what research is to be carried out. They may also require the data to be in a certain format (qualitative or quantitative) which limits research methods available. For example, a government research body may be researching educational achievement in school so require data in quantitativ format.

Personal skills and characteristics:

- Different research methods require different skills to be used effectively. For example, interviews require the researchers to have the ability to gain a rapport (sense of trust and empathy) with the interviewee. Also, with participant observation requires good recall and a good ability to mix in with others. Some sociologists may lack these skills and therefore may not be able to use some research methods.

Subject matter:

- Some topics or groups may be difficult to research its some methods. For example, questionnaires are useless when your research contains those from the illiterate population and a male researcher may find it difficult to research an all girl group as he may not easily fit in or be able to gain their trust.

Research opportunity:

- Sometimes the researcher may get the opportunity to research a group unexpectedly. A Glasgow gang leader offered James Patrick (1973) the chance to spend time with his gang out of the blue. Therefore he had no time to plan his research and was forced to use participant observation. In usual circumstances, the researcher will be able to plan their research carefully and select their methods.
Ethically related aspects that may have affected how research was carried out. The British sociological association sets out ethical guidelines for the conduct of research.

Informed consent:

- Research participants have the right to refuse to be involved in research. The researcher must tell them about all aspects of the research so they can make a informed decision. Consent should be before research begins and if the research is lengthy, consent should be received at intervals throughout the research.

Confidentiality and privacy:

- Researchers should keep the identity of the participants secret in order to prevent them from getting negative effects of the research. E.g if names are in the results, some invoked may have a bad look on them. Personal information should also be kept confidential.

Harm to participants:

- Researchers need to be aware of the possible side effects that their work has on those they study. E.g police intervention, harm to employment prospects, social exclusion and psychological damage. Wherever possible, researchers should anticipate and prevent such harm. An example of a study where there was psychological abuse is the Milgram study of 40 males ages 20-50 where the researcher was interested in studying how far people would obey to authority even if it involved harming another person. An actor did a quiz and if they got the question, wrong, they would recieve a fake increasing electric shock from the participant. 65% of the participants gave the highest electric shock.

Vulnerable groups:

- Special Cade should be taken When researching vulnerable groups (e.g elderly, young, disabled or people with mental health. For example, when studying children in schools, the researchers should gain the consent of the child and parent and explain the research in a language that the child can understand. In addition they should pay attention to child protection.

Covert research:

- This is when the researcher and the research taking place is unknown to the participants. Therefore it is very difficult to gain informed consent while carrying out the research. The researcher deceives and lies to the participant(s) to gain their trust and obtain information. Some sociologists believe this research is justified as it allows research to take place in some hard to reach groups such as gangs, secretive or powerful groups.
This refers to questions such as wether we can obtain an accurate and truthful picture about society and wether our views will affect the research methods used which will affect the final data.


- A valid method is one that produces a picture of what something is really like. Many sociologists believe qualitative methods such as participant observation tare a good way to produce valid results as they give a deeper insight into what it's like and how it feels.


- Reliability is a term to identify wether research can be repeated where the researcher will get similar or duplicate results than the original research. Quantitative methods Methods such as written questionnaires tend to produce more reliable results.


- Research is representative if it can be used to make generalisations of the wider population and the sample are a part of the group we want to study (e.g children of divorced parents or boys aged 12-15 ect.)

Methodological perspectives:

- Sociologists choice of research method is influenced by their methodological perspective. This being positivist or Interpretivists.
-Positivists prefer quantitative data and seek to discover patterns of behaviour and see sociology as a science. Functionalists and Marxists often take a positivist approach and view society from a large scale (macro level).
-Interpretivists prefer qualitative data and aim to understand the meanings behind behaviours. They reject the idea that sociology is a science. They focus on small scale approach to society (micro level) and focus on face to face interactions.