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Chapter 2: Research Process and Research Methods

2.6 Test Your Knowledge

1. What are the 5 sources of our usual knowledge and understanding of social reality?  Why can’t we always trust these sources of knowledge to help us understand social reality?  Provide examples. 

2. Sociologists choose research topics based on theoretical interests, social policy interests or personal experience. Develop a research question (topic) and explain which of the 3 categories above it fits into.

3. Practice The Scientific Method — Think of a topic you might be interested in learning more about (for instance, sports, social media, video gaming, the environment, etc.). Now think of a few questions you might have about your chosen topic. After that, you just might be able to come up with a hypothesis to drive your research and identify your variables.

Choose a Topic _________________________________________________

Ask a question__________________________________________________


Independent Variable ____________________________________________

Dependent Variable ______________________________________________

4. What is the difference between quantitative data and qualitative data? Which research designs (research methods) are typically associated with each of the types of data?

5. A research population is the group of people a researcher is purporting to study (e.g. Canadians, LCC students, women, the homeless, etc.). It is typical that researchers will sample the population they are studying. What is a sample? What is a random sample and why are random samples used in sociological research?

6. A sociologist wanted to get an idea about how much students enjoyed her class. Since there were only 20 students enrolled in the class, she decided to create a survey and have all 20 students participate. The survey consisted of one simple question: How much did you enjoy this class? Each student was instructed to choose one of the following responses:

1 = Suffered through it;  2 = Kind of bad;  3 = Meh;  4 = Somewhat enjoyed it;  5 = Enjoyed it

The results were as follows:


Frequency of Responses

Total Values of Responses

1 = Suffered through it



3 X 1 = 3

2 = Kind of bad



3 = Meh



4 = Somewhat enjoyed it



5 = Enjoyed it





Complete the calculations for the Total Values of Responses column.

From the data above, calculate the following measures of central tendency:




7. A sociologist who routinely traveled by air noticed a pattern between the “fasten your seat belt” light and what the pilot described as turbulence. So for 5 years, whenever he traveled by plane, he kept track of every time the “fasten your seat belt” light went on and how often turbulence accompanied it. After vigorous analysis, he found that 85% of the times the seat belt light went on, turbulence was experienced. Of course, there was only one conclusion he could reach — that the seat belt light was causing the plane to experience turbulence. Being a highly conscientious sociologist, he quickly drafted a letter that detailed his findings and sent it to his favorite airline company; also suggesting that the seat belt light use be kept to a minimum if they wanted to offer customers smoother plane rides.  Is there a correlation between the seat belt light and experiencing turbulence? Did the sociologist satisfy the criteria for causality that must be met in order to claim his analysis supports his hypothesis? If not, which one(s) were not met?

8. A sociologist is interested in studying how third grade boys and girls relate to one another. So, for an entire semester she observed a third grade class as they ate lunch and later played games like, red rover, tag, kick the can, etc. Of course, she took notes and even made recordings of the interpersonal bantering which she later analyzed. During the course of the semester, the sociologist was fairly surprised to observe that despite the boys and girls segregating themselves along gender lines while they ate lunch, the teams they formed on the playground were mixed gender. The sociologist was able to make fairly substantial contributions to our understanding of how young boys and girls learn normative gender roles and expectations through socializing with one another.  What type of research method best describes how the sociologist is conducting her research? Please explain why you chose this method.

9.  Experiments typically include an experimental group and a control group. Explain each and discuss why experimenters include both in their research.

10. Institutional Review Boards (IRB) are blind and anonymous committees of experts that review all research proposals in order to safeguard the rights and privacy of human subjects. They were established by the federal government and are in place in every research institution, in part, as a response to the atrocities committed by Nazis that were exposed during the Nuremberg Trials. One of the most fundamental components for which any research project is scrutinized is that subjects understand what they are participating in and give their permission to be used as subjects.  This is known as _________________________.


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Exploring Our Social World: The Story of Us by Jean M. Ramirez, Suzanne Latham, Rudy G. Hernandez, and Alicia E. Juskewycz is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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