Module 5: Data Collection

As we learned in the first module, the true foundation of the social sciences is its empirically based process of inquiry. Social scientists do not simply accept things as fact without some form of evidence. This module really is the ‘meat’ of the course. There are numerous methods of data gathering including: experiments, observations, interviews, surveys, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), content analysis, etc. We will review a number of these techniques as we work our way through part three of the Babbie text. Also, while this is not a data analysis course, we will spend some time looking at the basic approaches to qualitative and quantitative data analysis and learn a few simple statistical procedures.

Upon completing our review of the ways in which researchers collect and analyze data, we will do a bit of data gathering of our own. Based upon your operationalization of a research question and informed by your review of the literature, you will construct an online survey using Qualtrics (an online survey program). You will then field this survey to friends and acquaintances. Once they have responded, you will analyze and report on your data. In this way, you won’t just read about data collection methods, you’ll also get to practice one.

In this module…

There is a lot to do in this module, for that reason we have more than a month slated for it.  I would like for you to begin by reading Babbie Ch 8 before beginning with the exercise on Social Experiments. You’ll then move to Chapters 10 and 13 on qualitative field research and analysis. You will then have an external reading on interviewing (Johnson,John M. 2001. “In Depth Interviewing,” Chapter 5 in Jaber F. Gubrium and James A. Holstein, eds, Handbook of Interviewing Research.Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. ), followed by the viewing of a documentary and a discussion activity. We’ll then move on to Chapter 11, Unobtrusive Research and an activity on mapping and spatial analysis. We will end with  Chapter 9 covering Surveys and Chapter 14 on quantitative analysis. We will then get back to work on our project by designing, testing, deploying a survey on the web, then analyzing the results.

Check your Course Schedule for due dates.

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