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Sociology 210 - the Research Process

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Intro to Sociology 210

Wed. 6 - 8:30

The Research Process

All research problems require their own special emphasis and approach. The research procedure is usually custom-tailored to the research problem. The research process involves defining the problem, reviewing previous research on the topic, developing one or more hypotheses, determining the research design, defining the sample and collecting data, analyzing and interpreting the data, and finally preparing the research report. Each process is described below.

Defining the Problem:

To define the problem, one must determine what the problem is and proceed by gathering data to prove or disprove it. This can be done by answering these questions:

* What is the purpose of the study?

* What information is needed?

* How can we operationalize the term?

* How will the information be used?

Review Previous Research:

To decide what to ask, we must first learn as much about the subject we are researching. You must familiarize yourself with as many of the previous studies on the topic as possible, particularly those closely related to what you want to do. Determine if you need additional information before you begin and decide from what perspective you should approach the issue. By doing this you avoid duplicating a previous study.

Develop One or More Hypotheses:

A hypothesis is a testable statement about the relationships between two or more empirical variables. A variable is anything that can change (vary). When developing hypotheses, you must determine the following:

* What are the independent and dependent variables?

* What is the relationship among the variables?

* What types of questions do we need to answer?

Determine the Research Design:

A research design must provide for the collection of all necessary data to test the stated hypotheses. It must be determined if you can use existing data, what will be you measure or observe, and what research methods should you use. If the research design is faulty, it may be possible to conclude whether the hypotheses are true are false, and whole project have been a waste of time.

Define the Sample and Collect Data:

Once you have decided how the information will be collected, you must decide what will be observed or questioned. It must be determined if you are interested in a specific population, how large should the sample be, who will gather the data, and how long will

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