Module 1: Questionnaire Design
This module will provide an introduction to one of the main methods of data collection in the social sciences : questionnaires. The first workshop will present the principles of questionnaire design and several questionnaires that have been used in recent research within the Sociology Department will be assessed. Emphasis will be placed upon the nature of the questions asked and how they relate to sociological concepts and theories. Notions of operationalization, validity and reliability will be introduced. Types of question (closed or open –ended) will be discussed. The assessment will take the form of the construction and implementation of a short questionnaire to a small number of respondents. This approximates a pilot study and the assignment will involve three parts. Firstly, the rationale for the precise questions posed. Secondly, an analysis of how well the questionnaire worked in practice. Thirdly, an assessment of the utility of the instrument as a whole
Module 1 Reading List
Converse, J.M. & Presser. S. 1986. Survey questions: handcrafting the standardized questionnaire.
Penn, R. And Lambert, P. 2009 Children of International Migrants in Europe
Fink, A. et al. 1995. The Survey Kit.
Foddy, W. 1994. Constructing questions for interviews and questionnaires: theory and practice in social research.
Gillham, W.E.C. 2000. Developing a questionnaire.
Oppenheim, A.N. 1992. Questionnaire design and Attitude Measurement.
Sudman, S. & Bradburn, N.M. 1982. Asking questions.
Wilson, N. & McClean, S. 1994. Questionnaire Design: A Practical Introduction.
Module 2 Interviewing
Interviewing – asking people questions for a purpose – is a traditional technique for gathering data in the social sciences, particularly sociology. In these two sessions we will explore the different types of interview, from the informal directed conversation to the carefully prepared list of questions and discuss the impact of the different ways of forming and asking questions. The emphasis will be on ‘qualitative’ interviewing where the questions are intended to produce meaningful data that requires interpretation rather than interviewing to generate quantitative data for statistical analysis but.
We will think about the interview as a social event in itself – an interaction between the interviewer and the interviewee – and consider what the interviewer brings to this interaction besides some questions. In the first session you will have an opportunity to try out interviewing others in the group and between the first and second session you will be expected to undertake at least three interviews that you can use as the basis for your assessed work.
In the second session we will begin to explore what you might do with the data that you have gathered in your three interviews and how they might be turned into a ‘report’. During the class session we will also try out interviews that involve a number of respondents simultaneously – also known as focus groups.
Module 2 Reading list:
Arksey, Hilary and Knight, Peter (1999) Interviewing for Social Scientists, London: Sage.
Gubrium, Jaber and Holstein, James (2003) Postmodern Interviewing, Thousand Oaks: Sage.
Holstein, James and Gubrium, Jaber (2003) Inside Interviewing: New Lenses, New Concerns, Thousand Oaks: Sage.
Mason, Jennifer (1996) Qualitative Researching, London: Sage. – especially chapters 3 and 7.
Seale, Clive et al. (eds) (2007) Qualitative Research Practice, London: Sage. – especially chapters 1,2,3 and 4.
Silverman, David (ed.) Qualitative Research: Theory, Method and Practice, London: Sage. – especially chapters 7,8,9 and 10.
Weiss, Robert S. (1994) Learning from Strangers: The Art and Method of Qualitative Interviewing, New York: Free Press.
Module 3: Ethnography and Observation
Ethnography, as both a form of qualitative research and genre of writing has undergone numerous transformations during the past century and especially over the past two decades. Inspired and influenced by feminist, postcolonial, postmodern and poststructural theory and practice, researchers taking an ethnographic perspective, doing ethnographic fieldwork, and undertaking ethnographic representat ions offer key insights into the politics of social science research. During the two sessions we will explore the implications of some of these insights for people who currently take part in ethnographic research and writing. What is an ethnography? What is ethnographic research? What is fieldwork? What types of methodological issues are raised when doing ethnographic research and crafting ethnography? What is the link between fieldwork, ethnography and theory?
Module 4: An Introduction to Bibliographical Databases
This module will introduce students to bibliographic databases in sociology. The Library has a wide range of such bibliographic databases.
Investigating prior literature is an essential part of any sociological project. From a professional point of view sociologists need to demonstrate a grasp of literature relevant to any topic. More crucially, an assessment of prior research findings is an important part of developing any new research project.
The module will introduce students to such databases and in particular to Web of Science and national newspapers using the Newsbank database. The assignment will involve a literature search on a topic chosen by the student – hopefully relevant to the course(s) currently being undertaken by them. The essay will explain how the topic was initially defined, how successful the initial search was and how this was subsequently refined. Part of the work to be handed in will include the results of the searches themselves.
Module 4 Reading list
S. Stein Learning, Teaching and Researching on the Internet :
A Practical Guide for Social Scientists
D. Miller and D. Slater The Internet : An Ethnographic Approach
Module 5: Statistical Analysis
This module introduces students to numerical methods of analyzing sociological data. It presupposes little in the way of prior mathematical or statistical knowledge. The first workshop will examine the principles underlying cross-tabulations of data and also the chi-squared statistical test of significance. The second workshop will extend this to include notions of ‘control’ and will emphasise the conceptual underpinnings to such techniques as well as the need for multivariate analysis. The intention is to provide students with an understanding of the principles underlying cross-tabulations, statistical tests of significance and notions of ‘control’, and with the skills to be able to interpret sociological data presented in numerical form.
Module 5 Reading list:
Argyous, G.(2005) Statistics for Research: With a Guide to SPSS
De Veaux, R., Velleman, P and Bock, D. (2004) Intro Stats
Huizingh, E. (2007) Applied Statistics with SPSS
Kinnear. P. and Gray, C. (2007) SPSS 15 Made Simple
Module 6: Analysis of Graphical Data in Sociology
The module will provide an introduction and evaluation of graphical methods of presenting sociological data, including histograms, bar charts, line charts, pie charts and donuts. Students will examine examples of good and bad practice and develop an understanding of the principles of producing effective graphical representations of sociological data. The intention is to provide students with an understanding of how graphical data are used [and often misused] in sociology, and with the skills to be able to interpret graphical images.
Module 6 Reading list:
De Veaux, R., Velleman, P and Bock, D. (2004) Intro Stats
Penn, R. And Lambert, L. (2009) Children of International Migrants in Europe
Module 7: Analysis of Visual Data in Sociology
This module has two aims. The first involves examining appropriate methods for the interpretation of visual data in sociology and the second covers issues surrounding the creation of visual data by sociological researchers themselves. The central principles of good representations of visual data, as well as associated ethical issues, will be probed in the context of a series of topical examples. These include street art and graffiti. The course will also discuss how to use visual data to develop theoretical notions through an examination of ethnic enclaves/ethnic niches. The course will also discuss the role of animation in sociological enquiry. The intention is to provide students with an understanding of how visual data are used in sociology, to provide them with the skills to be able to interpret visual images and to generate visual data whilst undertaking sociological research
Module 7 Reading list:
Kaplan, D. and Li, W. (2006) Landscapes of the Ethnic Economy.
Emmison, M. and Smith, P. (2000) Researching the Visual.
Gold, S. (2007) ‘Using Photography in Studies of Immigrant Communities’ in A. Stanczak, ed. Visual Research Methods: Image, Society and Representation.
Marchi, P. (2007) Italia Spray.
Mathieson, E. (2007) Street Art and the War on Terror.
Phillips, S. (1999) Wallbangin’: Streets and Gangs in LA.
Module 8: Research Design
It is important to know about a range of research techniques and to think about the philosophy and theory of sociological method, but what is involved in putting this into practice and actually planning and doing a research project? Many interesting sociological questions can be debated, but not all of them can be researched. For example, it’s interesting to think about whether social mobility will have increased or decreased by the year 2025, but it would be tricky to research the question now. In these two sessions we will consider what kinds of sociological questions are amenable to practical research, and how to get from a question to a convincing research design. We will tackle this through the ‘game’ of designing a proposal for research funding. This is a very competitive process, so it has to be good – fewer than one in five research proposals in the UK are successful.
Module 8 Reading List
Becker, Howard (1998), Tricks of the Trade: how to think about your research while you’re doing it, Chicago: Chicago University Press, K4
Bell, Colin and Newby, Howard (eds) (1977) Doing Sociological Research, London: Allen and Unwin, KAF
Gilbert, Nigel (ed.) (2001) Researching Social Life (second edition), London: Sage, K4
Knight, Peter (2002) Small-Scale Research, London: Sage, K4 – for very good practical advice, especially chapter 1, ‘Starting with Writing’ and chapter 2 ‘Research as Claims Making’
May, Tim (2001) Social Research: Issues, methods and process (third edition), Milton Keynes: Open University Press, K4
Mills, C. Wright (1959) The Sociological Imagination, New York: Oxford University Press, KAA
O’Leary, Zena (2004), The Essential Guide to Doing Research, London: Sage, K4
Seale, Clive (ed.) (2005) Researching Society and Culture (second edition), London: Sage, K4