Parameters of Social Research, Survey Research in Sociology

Multiple Assignment Tasks

Assignment TASK 1

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1. Find in the literature or develop yourself a hypothesis or hypotheses you would like to test. I strongly advise you draw upon a middle range theory of come up with your hypothesis or hypotheses. Hypotheses should be logical, clear, and testable.

2. Provide a short paragraph describing why testing this hypothesis is important.

3. Identify the concepts in the hypothesis or hypotheses and their definitions. Are these satisfactory definitions? Can you improve on them?

4. Attach an article/relevant-pages-from-a-book that is the source of your idea. Make me a copy I can keep.

5. Find in the literature or develop yourself a hypothesis or hypotheses you would like to test. I strongly advise you draw upon a middle range theory of come up with your hypothesis or hypotheses. Hypotheses should be logical, clear, and testable.

6. Provide a short paragraph describing why testing this hypothesis is important.

7. Identify the concepts in the hypothesis or hypotheses and their definitions. Are these satisfactory definitions? Can you improve on them?

8. Attach an article/relevant-pages-from-a-book that is the source of your idea. Make me a copy I can keep.

As sociologists, you should do a sociological study. You should also consider a topic that as a connection to other studies. This will make this project easier to do. I have wandered into new territory in the past; it took five years and five versions of the proposal before it was finally funded.

Soci 623 Assignment TASK 2

Finding and Describing Articles or Book Chapters

Hopefull you have chosen something sociological providing a theory and its parts. You should attempt to find at least of 4 of these. Explain how these help you move beyond assignment 1. Address shortly what you found in terms of these papers.

The more papers you find, the more likely you will find definitions of the concepts how they provided in the study in its measurement.

Soci 623 Assignment TASK 3

Sampling Plan

1. Define your population. Who you wish your sample to represent?

2. Discussion possible sampling frames and how you might use them. If your population is sociology majors, your sampling frame is all sociology majors. However, you may find it more practical to cluster/stratify colleges/universities with sociology programs. A possible frame is a list of such majors provided by the selected schools. You would then propose sampling some portion of these will probably consist of some portion of those majors. What techniques will you use to select member of the sample? Is there a possibility for bias in your sample?

3. Suggest a sample size, based on the statistical power you believe to be acceptable. Mention what that power is and what table in Clark-Carter you used. You may not be able to get a good estimate for this because you have no information on effect size. The conservative approach is to assume a weak effect size and use the appropriate table.

Soci 623 Assignment TASK 4

Your next project step is to formulate a survey instrument. You need to identify the variables you wish to examine statistically and to test your hypotheses. These include independent variables, dependent variables, and control variables. You may wish to think about Aneshensel’s advice about identifying rival hypotheses and creating measures for them. Some of you have already done this. You also need to consider how you will format the questionnaire in terms of question order, instructions, definitions of key terms, and so on. Consult your notes and text books to make sure you aren’t making common errors.

While this is a draft, do pay attention to the formatting and wording issues. If you are using someone else’s questions, this is ok as long as you give them credit.

Finally, develop a narrative that explains which questions represent the concepts in your hypotheses. Reviewers expect such explanations in the proposals they evaluate.

Soci 623 Assignment TASK 5

Pretest of Questionnaire

By now you should have begun a questionnaire. Once you have a draft of this you need to pretest it. I am not too demanding regarding this exercise. You should administer the questionnaire to approximately 10 persons. At the end of each administration, ask your respondents what they thought each question was about and their interpretation of the answer choices. You should also ask if 1) you left out something the respondents believe should have been asked and 2) were there any answer choices that should have been provided but were left out. You may try out some of the cognitive interview questions mentioned in class.

The function of this exercise is to determine whether you instrument works the way you think it does. Do the questions mean the same to the respondents as they do to you? Do the respondents misunderstand some of the words or the way the sentences that make up the question are worded? Have you left out important answer choices? Have you made assumptions about the respondent in your question that may not be true?

Soci 623 Assignment TASK 6

This is the last assignment prior to the final project document. A data analysis plan ought to be tied closely to your focal hypotheses, rival hypotheses (if you plan to test such things), and control variables. Let me give you some hints regarding this plan. Using Aneshensel’s description is a good starting point in terms of organizing your thoughts. Next turn to possible statistical analyses you would undertake after you have collected your data.

One point that I have tried to stress is the importance of multivariate statistics (e.g., multiple regression; logistic regression with multiple independent-control variables; principal components analysis and related factor analysis techniques; cluster analysis; structural equation modeling and so on). The vast majority of research publications involving surveys use multivariate statistics. The hint here is that you need to think in the same terms. Most of you have proposed questionnaires that make this possible; if you are not sure about how to go about describing this, email me.

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