SOCI 2013 B Research Methods

Prof. Dr. Sylvia Hale
Office EC336

This course is designed to give hands-on practical experience of doing sociological research, concentrating on two core methodologies: in-depth interviewing and a survey using a closed-ended questionnaire. This year the course is organized around the class project: Researching Juvenile Delinquency.

The course will begin with a theoretical introduction to research methodology, ethics, and the art of qualitative interviewing. We will then read selected research articles on juvenile crime that use case-study methods and interviewing. These will form the basis for developing broad ideas for our study. We will pool these ideas to design an in-depth interview guide. Each student will use this guide to conduct an in-depth interview with one person, to explore his or her personal memories of juvenile delinquency. This interview will be transcribed in full detail, showing the main questions and the probes and follow-up questions used to guide the interview, and as near as possible verbatim responses by the person being interviewed.

We will draw upon what we learn from qualitative interviews to develop theories and specific research hypotheses about variables that might explain or help to account for different juvenile experiences. Hypotheses will be translated into closed-ended questions that will be pooled into a single class questionnaire. This survey will be quickly circulated to a large ad-hoc sample of people and the responses tabulated for computer analysis, using SPSS Statistical Package for the Social Sciences.

Required Text

A collection of photocopied articles entitled: SOCI 2013 Research methods. Sections A and B Selected Readings for Fall 2000. Topic: Researching Juvenile Delinquency. Instructors; Dr. Sylvia Hale and Dawne Clarke van Every.


In-depth interview 30%
Statement of theory and hypotheses 10%
Midterm test 30%
Final report 30%


This course is roughly divided into three sections

  1. The first 4 weeks will focus on qualitative methods and preparation of the in-depth interview
  2. The next 4 weeks will focus on quantitative methods and the development of the survey
    The main examination for the course will be held about the end of the 8th week, after the questionnaire has been designed
  3. The last section will focus on analysis of survey data, learning to work with SPSS and reading tables for the final report.


Introduction to Research Methods In-class lectures will focus on logic of research - the process of moving from evidence or data, thinking about evidence, trying to develop explanations (inductive reasoning), testing these tentative explanations against further evidence (deductive reasoning), thinking about this new evidence and trying to develop better or alternative explanations. Key terms will be introduced: inductive research, deductive research, empirical generalization, theory, hypothesis, variable, independent variable, dependent variable, experiment The Schutt reading describes an experiment that is critiqued in the Dobash and Dobash article.

Schutt, Russell K. 1996 Investigating the Social World. The process and Practice of Research Thousand Oaks, California: Pine Force Press. excerpt from chapter 2 "The Process and Problems of Social Research" TEXT pp 1-5 - Dobash, and Dobash (2000) "Evaluating Criminal Justice Interventions for Domestic Violence Crime and Delinquency 46(2)252-270 TEXT pp 6-14 - Cole, Stephen 1976 The sociological Method Chapter 1 "The Sociological Perspective" pp 1-28 TEXT pp 15-25

Weeks 2-3 Exploratory research using in-depth interviews.

Lectures will explore techniques for conducting a qualitative interview. We will also discuss ethical issues that arise when asking someone to consent to being interviewed for a research project. We will further explore the strengths and limitations of interview data, and techniques for analysis of interview data.

Unknown author Chapter 11 "Ethical Issues in Analysis" TEXT pp 26-35. (separate handout ) - Cole, Stephen 1976 The sociological Method Chapter 5 "Qualitative Research" (excerpts) TEXT pp 36-50 - Berg, Bruce (2001) Qualitative Research Methods for the Social Sciences Chapter 4 " A Dramaturgical look at Interviewing" TEXT pp 66-101 - Silverman, David 1993 Interpreting Qualitative Data Ch. 5 "Interview Data" TEXT pp 90-114

Weeks 3-4 Practical Application of Case Study Methods and In-Depth Interviewing

In-class collaborative work groups will generate an interview guide for a exploring juvenile delinquency. We will draw extensively from examples of qualitative research on delinquency included in the text, and try to push beyond them to explore questions raised by their evidence.

Erikson, Kai (1966) Wayward Puritans "On the Sociology of Deviance" TEXT 81-83 - Teevan, James (2000) "First Person Accounts and Sociological Explanations of Delinquency" CRSA TEXT 84-92 - Brezina, Timothy (2000) Delinquent Problem-Solving: An Interpretive Framework for Criminological Theory and Research" TEXT 93-106


Weeks 5-6 Deductive Reasoning: Formulating Explanations

Lectures will focus on the logic of causation that forms the basis of deductive research - the process of moving from a clearly formulated theory to the statement of hypotheses, and the testing of these hypotheses through the careful measurement of evidence. We will examine articles based on survey research as models for our own survey.

Cole, Stephen 1976 Chapter 2 "The Logic of Proof" TEXT 107-131 - Gibbs, Giever and Martin (1998) "Parental Management and Self-Control: An empirical test of Gottfredson and Hirschi's General Theory" TEXT 132-147 - Burton, Cullen, Evans, Alarid and Dunaway (1998) "Gender, Self-Control, and Crime TEXT 148-159

Week 6-8

Measurement of Concepts in Survey Research Collaborative in-class groups will work on developing questions to include in our survey. We will try to follow some simple rules for survey design summarized in the Jackson chapter. Lectures will examine problems in measurement and particularly the difficulties involved in translating complex ideas like "family violence" into survey questions. We will also look at the limitations of survey research in bridging the gap between what people say they do and what they actually do.

Cole, Stephen (1976) Chapter 3 "Quantitative Methods. Types of Data" TEXT 160-168 - Jackson, W (1999) Methods: Doing Social Research Ch. 13 "Questionnaire Development" TEXT 169-180 - Cicourel, Aaron V Method and Measurement in Sociology Ch 4 "Fixed-Choice Questionnaires" TEXT 181-189 - Kurz, Demie 1998 "Physical Assaults by Husbands. A Major Social Problem" Strauss, Hamby, Boney-McCoy and Sugarman (1996) "The Revised Conflict Tactics Scale" TEXT 190-203 - Babbie (1998) The Practice of Social Research Ch 5 "Conceptualization and Measurement" TEXT 204-210 - LaPiere, Richard (1994) "Attitude vs Actions and the Pitfalls of Quantitative "Survey" Research" TEXT 211-218

The survey section will conclude with a brief overview of sampling theory. We will not be using a random sample for our survey because of time constraints, but it is important to know how such samples should be constructed.

Gray and Guppy (1994) Successful Surveys. Research Methods and Practice Ch. 12 "Sampling from Populations and Ch. 13 "Sampling: Methods of Selection TEXT 216-230 - Schutt (1997) "Nonprobability Sampling Methods" TEXT 231-232

Week 9 Review and Take-home Examination
Collection of completed questionnaires to input into computer


Weeks 10-11 Getting the data out.

As soon as possible after completed questionnaires are returned, we will get the data on an SPSS file, and begin to generate the tables needed to test hypotheses. This will involve a week or so of intensive work in the computer lab learning how to work the SPSS for Windows program.

Weeks 11-13 Analyzing Data, constructing and reading tables.

The last three weeks of the course will be devoted to analyzing data. Each student is responsible for testing two basic hypotheses, and one third-factor or sub-table analysis. Lectures and collaborative work groups will focus on reading basic tables and third-factor analysis. This is the basis of the final research report.

Dr. Sylvia Hale
Sociology 1006 Introduction to Sociology
Sociology 2013 Research Methods
Sociology 2443 Race and Ethnic Relations
Sociology 2633 Sociology of the Family
Sociology 4023 Honours Workshop

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