soc 101

## Send to the Discussion Forum five topics you think would make valid studies for a sociologist and tell why you think a sociologist would be interested in them. ## 


We talked about common sense and the need for sociological research in, but I want us to discuss it a little further. Quite often we have heard or have said, ?Why, that?s just common sense.? Common sense has helped a lot of us through various situations in our lives, but it really can?t be relied on as a source of knowledge because it?s quite limited (How much common sense does one have?) and what we feel is ?correct? often is not. What may seem ?right? for you or is considered as common sense to you may not be for me. 


## Send to the Discussion Forum five things you think are common sense concepts, e.g., common sense tells us it?s foolish to cross the street when the light is green. ## 


When sociologists do research, they work from a model which has eight Basic Steps. First they choose a topic that generally will have the following criteria for doing the study. 

Curiosity: Why do certain behaviors lead to certain outcomes? Why is it that two children raised by the same methods (it doesn?t matter if they are from upper or lower income families) turn out differently? One reaches their potential, the other doesn?t. 

Interest: A particularly interesting topic surfaces and sparks interest in the researcher. 

Funding: Often, grants from Federal, state, and local governments become available to study certain topics, e.g., what has made society so conducive to the formation of gangs? 

Social Issues: Social issues of global to local significance attract sociologists? attention. Things like drug cultures, unemployment, gangs, urban blight, etc. 

Second, once the problem is identified, it must be defined. Then they will ask, ?What do we want to learn and why?? 

Third, they will take a look at any existing data or literature that is 
available. What have previous studies (if any) shown? What methods of study were used? When and where was the data collected? (Time, year, etc.) 

Fourth, they will develop a hypothesis. What are the expected relationships between all of the variables according to what our theory predicts? Are they congruent or are there differences. If so why? (The hypothesis needs 
to have operational definitives, i.e. If this happens, a particular event, emotion, etc. then we can expect this result by this time.) It is very important that precise ways are used in measuring hypotheses. 

Fifth, the choice of a research method is critical. Some methods will not work as well or at all when you are collecting data. Surveys, questionnaires, etc., all have to be specifically written and administered to obtain ?scientific? results. The way questions are asked can ?skew? the data. You cannot ?load? the dice. 

Sixth, validity and reliability are two issues of utmost importance when collecting data. You must have a method that will produce the results it was designed for (Validity) and the results are consistent throughout the sample (Reliability). 

Seventh is analyzing the data. Several methods can be used singly or in combination with other methods to analyze the data. Testing for correlations, doing statistical analysis, analyzing content, etc., are all used. The advent of the computer has helped to compress the amount of time it takes to get the results. Often predictions can be made quite accurately with data as soon as it starts coming in, for example, election results. 

Eighth is the sharing of results, e.g., presentations at seminars and conferences. Articles published in journals and scientific magazines and lectures in university classes are all ways of getting results to the public and others interested. Other sociologists may want to duplicate a specific study (called Replication) and compare the results to see if they continue to be reliable. 

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