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Flashcards in The Process Of Research Deck (28)
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Define hypothesis

A possible explanation that can be tested by collecting evidence to prove it true or false


Is disregarding a hypothesis a bad thing?

No, it means progress has been made


Give an advantage of hypothesis

Gives direction to our research. It will give a focus to our question, since their purpose is to gather information that will either confirm or refute (disprove) our hypothesis


Do either positivists or interpretivists prefer using a hypothesis?

Positivists- as it is a starting point for research. This is because they seek to discover cause and effect relationships


Define an aim

Identifies what we intend to study and hope to achieve through the research


Give an advantage of using an aim

It is more more open- ended. We are not tied to trying to prove a particular hypothesis; instead we can gather data on anything that appears interesting about a situation


Do either positivists or interpretivists prefer using an aim?

-favour a broad aim rather than a hypothesis, since they are interested in understanding actors meanings, so the task is to find out what the actors themselves think is important, rather than to impose the researchers own possible explanations in the form of a hypothesis


What is meant by operationalising a concept?

The process of converting a sociological concept (social class) into something we can measure


How do positivists and interpretivists feel about operationalising a concept?

Positivists = they are concerned to operationalise concepts because of the importance they place on creating an testing hypotheses

Interpretivists = put less emphasis on operationalising concept because they are more interested in actors own definitions and understandings of ideas such as 'class' and 'achievement'


What's involved in a pilot study?

Involves trying out a draft version of the questionnaire or interview schedule on a small scale


Why is the aim of a pilot study?

To iron out any problems, refine or clarify questions and there wording and give interviewers practice, so the actual survey goes as smoothly as possible


Give an example of people who carried out a pilot study

Young & Willmott (1962)
-carried out just over 100 pilot interviews to help them decide on the design of their study (the questions they ask and how they word them)


Define a sample

Smaller sub-group drawn from a wider group that we are interested in


Define sampling

Process of creating or selecting a sample


What is the purpose of sampling?

Ensure that those people chosen to be included in the study are representative/typical of the research, including all the people we have not been able to include in the study

-as long as the sample is representative, we should be able to generalise the findings to the whole research population


What is a sampling frame?

List of all the members of the population we are interested in studying


What can happen once a sampling frame is obtained?

The sample can be chosen from it - however needs to be representative of the wider population that we are interested in


What are the 4 types of sampling techniques?

-quasi-random/ systematic
-stratifies random


What is random sampling?

Simplest technique, where the sample is selected purely by chance.
For example, names are drawn from a hat.
Everyone has an equal chance of being selected. A large enough random sample should reflect characteristics of the whole population


What is quasi-random / systematic sampling?

Every nth person in the sampling frame is selected


What is stratified random sampling?

The researcher first stratifies (breaks down) the population in the sampling frame by age, class, gender etc.. the sample is then created in the same proportions of the population (if 20%of the population are under 18, then 20% of the sample will be the same)


What is quota sampling?

The population is stratified, and then each interviewer is given a quota of say, 20 females and 20 males, which they have to fill with respondents who fit these characteristics


What 2 reasons may the sample not be representative?

Practical and theoretical issues


What are the practical issues around making a sample representative?

-the social characteristics of the research population, such as age, gender and class may not be known- thus it is impossible to create a sample that was an exact cross section of the research population
-may be impossible to find or create a sampling frame for that particular research population
-potential respondents may refuse to participate


When it is not possible to create a representative sample, sociologists use what?

Snowball sampling OR opportunity sampling


What is snowball sampling?

Involves collecting a sample by contacting a number of key individuals, who are asked to suggest others who might be interviewed, and so on, adding to the sample 'snowball' fashion, until enough data has been collected


What is opportunity sampling?

Sometimes called convenience sampling, involves choosing from those individuals who are easiest to access


What are the theoretical issues around making a sample representative?

Even though it is possible to create a representative sample, some researchers may not chose to do so, because of their methodological perspective
-interpretivists believe that it is more important to obtain valid data and an authentic understanding of social actors meaning than to discover general laws of behaviour- less concerned =less need for representative samples