In this module, you learned the ways that empirical and interpretive scholarly research differ from what we might consider self-evident common sense. Sociologists must adhere to a plethora of ethical guidelines that must be part of a written research plan before they conduct research on human subjects. When sociological research is founded on scientific data, we can get a much more accurate depiction of how people live and behave. You learned about how sociologists use the scientific method to test hypotheses and gather data:
- First, we ask a question.
- Then we review existing studies to see if someone has already studied this particular issue.
- Next, we set up a method by which to study the hypothesis and gather our data.
- After conducting our study, we look at the answers we have found and draw a conclusion.
- Finally, we report our findings so that those who come after us will have the benefit of our studies.
You saw that there are a number of strategies sociologists might use in order to conduct their studies, including the strengths and weaknesses of these methods. Depending on the question being asked, a sociologist might use one of these approaches:
- Field Research
- Participant Observation
- Case Study
- Secondary Data Analysis
Which method would you select to examine the scene in Figure 1? Why? What would you need to consider before you begin your research?