General Research Orientations:
Methods as Questioning
Importance of evidence: “absence of evidence is no evidence of absence”
WHAT IS RESEARCH?
The word "research" is derived from the Latin word meaning "to know." Research is about asking questions
Components of research as a belief system
Research is the accumulation of evidence by researchers over time.
Research as a collection of methods, tools, and techniques
- Empirical research
Empirical research is concerned with describing, explaining, and predicting natural phenomena.
However, this understanding will always be partial, incomplete, and probabilistic. And some questions cannot be answered by this process.
Empirical research is guided by evidence obtained in systematic and controlled observations.
It is a means of decreasing ignorance about natural phenomena.
Positivism was an approach to the study of human conduct that relied on the scientific methods.
The use of scientific techniques positivism as systematic observations and the accumulation of evidence and objective fact within a deductive frame work, thus moving from a general statement to a more specific one.
Nature of Objectivity
- Science and ‘social science’ demand objectivity.
Nature of the research question.
Positivism, as a philosophy of science, claims that the only "things" scientists should ask about are questions based on reason and measured according to criteria that demand systematic methods for collecting empirical data.
In response to the deterministic propositions, interpretive perspectives have explored the nature of the self-conscious individual who does not merely act but reflects on the meaning of action.
The interpretive approaches abandon the problematic practices of predefining or predetermining causalities
- Participants, therefore, negotiate and reconstitute meanings.
- For the interpretive perspective, social order is problematic.
Reality remains inexhaustible; and, knowledge, existing in the interaction of the subject and object, is equally tentative.
Max Weber’s (1969) verstehen - an empathic and interpretive understanding of the subjective meanings which actors attach to social action.
- knowledge based on the centrality of "understanding" (or "interpretive understanding").
STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH PROBLEM
REVIEW OF THE RELATED RESEARCH
Characteristics = qualitative
Causes and Consequences = quantitative
Six Types of Social Phenomenon Addressed by Field Researcher:
Methodology is merely an operational framework within which the facts are
placed so that their meaning may be seen more clearly.
Science: Basic Elements and Limitations.
Concepts, variables, and measurement.
Limitations of scientific sociology
Data can be gathered through either quantitative or qualitative research methods, depending on the research question.
The interplay of theory and method.
- Inductive logical thought is reasoning that builds specific observations into general theory.
- Deductive logical thought is reasoning that transforms general ideas into specific hypotheses suitable for scientific testing.
- Most social science research uses both types of logical thought.
THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVE a set of interrelated theories that offer explanations forimportant aspects of social behavior.
Inference is defined as the attempt to generalize on the basis of limited information.
Deductive reasoning begins with general statements.
Almost all quantitative researchers rely on a positivist approach to social science. They follow a linear research path, speak a language of "variables and hypotheses," and emphasize precisely measuring variables and testing hypotheses that are linked to general causal explanations
Qualitative research is based on interpretive or critical social sciences. This research is sensitive to the process by which analysis emerges from ongoing engagement with the findings and analysis
AN INTEGRATED VIEW: Human Rights
Observations are a starting point for the development of theory
Deductive reasoning (or deduction) reverses the processes used in induction. Deductive reasoning begins with general statements.
Methods (and theory) are intimately involved
- defining the problem
- reviewing the literature
- formulating research questions
- selecting a method
- analyzing the data
- reporting the findings and discussing the results (applications and implications)
Empirical Referent: An observable item that can be measured and counted and later presented as an abstraction.