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Why We Do Research Chapter 1. Ordinary Versus Systematic Biased Question: A question that leads to a specific response or excludes a certain group Nonscientific.

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Presentation on theme: "Why We Do Research Chapter 1. Ordinary Versus Systematic Biased Question: A question that leads to a specific response or excludes a certain group Nonscientific."— Presentation transcript:

1 Why We Do Research Chapter 1

2 Ordinary Versus Systematic Biased Question: A question that leads to a specific response or excludes a certain group Nonscientific thinking leads to asking questions that are slanted in a particular direction

3 Limited Sample: can only make conclusions about the group that was surveyed Tendency is to generalize to all people Results only as good as the way the question was framed and the responding sample

4 Selective Attention: Putting emphasis on what is important to ‘us’ Need to consider what we perceive and what we retain Difficulty comes in overgeneralization, based on a few observations

5 Scientific Thinking It is common to think about in terms of questions, observations, data, hypotheses, testing, and theories. These are formal parts of the scientific method. Most important parts of scientific thinking: using empirical evidence practicing logical reasoning possessing a skeptical attitude

6 Empirical Evidence Empirical evidence: evidence that one see, hear, touch, taste, or smell. It is evidence that others can experience. It is repeatable. Another name for empirical evidence is natural evidence: the evidence found in nature.

7 Authoritarian Evidence Authoritarian evidence: what authorities (people, books, billboards, television commercials, etc.) tell you to believe The most common alternative to empirical evidence. Education relies almost entirely upon authoritarian evidence. Teachers, instructors, and professors are generally considered to be reliable and trustworthy authorities, but even they should be questioned on occasion.

8 Rationalism Logic allows us to reason correctly, but it is a complex topic and not easily learned. Logic is a skill or discipline that must be learned within a formal educational environment. Often logical reasoning requires a struggle: emotions are not evidence feelings are not facts subjective beliefs are not substantive beliefs

9 Skepticism Skepticism: constant questioning of your beliefs and conclusions. Good researchers constantly examine the evidence, arguments, and reasons for their beliefs. Question the truth and reliability of the knowledge claims of others and the knowledge you already possess.

10 Scientific Thinking Scientific and critical thinking require that one reject blind faith, authority, revelation, and subjective human feelings as a basis for reliable belief and knowledge.

11 Purposes of Research Exploratory gaining some familiarity with a topic, discovering some of its main dimensions, and possibly planning more structured research Descriptive Political poll predicting who will win an election Anthropologist’s ethnographic account of a preliterate tribe Census Bureau’s report on number of Americans Explanatory Take it one step further

12 Evaluation Evaluate specific outcomes and provide explanations for why and how a particular result occurred

13 Research Methods “In practice, survey research methods, like many specific scientific laboratory techniques, remain more of an art than a science.” Lauman, etal. (1994:57)

14 Let’s do a little group work Compare/Contrast everyday experiences and scientific thinking. Does correlation imply causation? Explain. What research method do you find most useful, related to your research interest? Why?

15 Cause and Effect Causal Research: objective is to determine which variable might be causing a certain behavior Correlation is a measure of association that tests whether a relationship exists between two variables. it is never possible to prove causality, but only to show to what degree it is probable.

16 Establish ‘causal relationship’ 1) Time order: The cause must have occurred before the effect 2) Co-variation (statistical association): Changes in the value of the independent variable must be accompanied by changes in the value of the dependent variable 3) Rationale: There must be a logical and compelling explanation for why these two variables are related 4) Non-spuriousness: It must be established that the independent variable X, and only X, was the cause of changes in the dependent variable Y; rival explanations must be ruled out.

17 Correlation Does Not Imply Causation There is a statistical correlation over months of the year between ice cream consumption and the number of assaults. Does this mean ice cream manufacturers are responsible for crime? No! The correlations occurs statistically because the hot temperatures of summer cause both ice cream consumption and assaults to increase. Thus, correlation does NOT imply causation. Other factors besides cause and effect can create an observed correlation.

18 Choosing Methods Must consider the pros and cons What are you studying? Time? Cost? Set of assumptions Philosophical questions

19 Warning… Do not say ‘I want to do survey research, but I am not sure what I am studying’ ALWAYS start with a Research Question

20 Class Focus and other Choices Focus will be on quantitative survey methods Other choices include: Experimental Qualitative Methods Content Analysis/Archival Research Quantitative Methods

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