sociology research assignment

timer Asked: Dec 25th, 2015

Question description

SOCI331 D002 Fall 15 2 items (0 unread)

Assignments for SOCI331 D002 Fall 15

Assignment 1: Evaluation of Article Due Dec 27, 2015 (in 3 days)



Assignment 1: Evaluation of a peer-reviewed article (25 points):

Due no later than 11:55p ET on Sunday of Week 3

Purpose: The purpose of exercise is to conduct a detailed, critical evaluation of the research design, methods and analysis of a study written up and published in a peer-reviewed journal. Students will be using Wolfer’s (2007) critical questions for evaluating written research to evaluate an article; these questions are provided below.

Article selection tips:

- select an article from a peer-reviewed Sociology Journal

- the article should clearly be written about a study the author conducted

o a meta-analysis of multiple studies is not appropriate for this assignment

o secondary data analysis of an existing national data set is OK, but be sure you understand what you are reading


Your evaluation should include

- All sections 1-5,

- 1 section from 6-10 (based on design in your article), and

- 1 section from 11-12 (based on analysis in your article).

This assignment does not have to be written in essay format. You may organize it by section/chapter number, question number with question text, and then your answer.

APA formatting should be used throughout. Any time your paraphrase or directly quote a source (such as your article), in-text citations should be used. A full APA-formatted reference should be included at the beginning or end of assignment.

Disclaimer Originality of attachments will be verified by Turnitin. Both you and your instructor will receive the results.

1.Title (3 pts)

1) Is the title specific enough to differentiate it from other related topics?

2) Do subtitles, if present, provide important information regarding the research?

3) Are the main variables expressed in the title?

4) Are the terms in the title easily understood by most people?

5) Does the title avoid any reference to the study’s results?

6) Overall, is this a good title? Why or why not?

2. Ethical Evaluation (2.5 pts)

7) Are the steps the researcher took to honor ethical responsibilities to individuals clear? Are they appropriate? Are they enough?

8) If there were any findings (based on your readings of tables or other means of data presentation) that refuted the researcher’s hypothesis, did he address these findings?

9) If any results were unexpected, did the researcher discuss any explanations for the unexpected effects?

10) Did the researcher adequately acknowledge the limitations of the research?

11) Overall, has the researcher adequately fulfilled his ethical obligations?

3. Literature Review (4 pts)

12) Is the material presented in the literature review relevant to your research interests?

13) Is the special problem area identified in the first paragraph or two of the report?

14) Does the researcher establish the importance of the research problem?

15) Has the researcher been appropriately selective in deciding what studies to include in the literature review?

16) Is the research cited recent?

17) Is the literature review critical?

18) Is the researcher clear as to what is research, theory and opinion?

19) Overall, do you think this is an adequate literature review? Why or why not?

4. Operationalization and Measurement (5.5 pts)

20) Is the conceptualization suitably specific?

21) Are the definitions productive?

22) How many different dimensions are being measured at once?

23) Are the various dimensions sufficient?

24) Are the actual questions (or a sample of them) provided?

25) Is the response format clear, or, when not already clear, does the researcher provide information on the response format? Is there any information on restrictions in respondents’ responses?

26) If the researcher is using a published instrument, does he or she cite sources where additional information can be found?

27) Has the researcher avoided overstating the preciseness of the measurement?

28) Does the researcher provide some measure of reliability? What type of reliability is established? Do the measures indicate adequate reliability for your purposes?

29) Does the research provide some measure of validity? What measures of validity are presented and are they adequate for your purposes?

30) Overall, is the measurement appropriate and adequate given the research purpose?

5. Sample Strategy (3 pts)

31) Does the research goal lend itself to generalization? Is the broad sampling method appropriate for the research goal?

32) Does the researcher provide information regarding the study population? The sample?

33) Is the exact sampling method (e.g. simple random, purposive) specified? Remember, it is not sufficient for a researcher to simply state that a sample was selected ‘randomly.’

34) Is the sample size sufficient, given the research goals, the degree of accuracy the researcher desires, and the nature of the population studied? Given the nature of the research, is the sample size sufficient?

35) If the researcher uses a probability sample, does he or she generalize the findings to the appropriate population? If the researcher uses a non-probability sample, does he or she refrain from generalizing to a wider population?

36) Overall, is the sampling appropriate?

Your evaluation should include one of the following sections (6-10) (4 pts):

6. Experiments

37) Can you identify a treatment variable that indicates that an experiment is the method of observation?

38) How many groups were studied?

a. If there were two or more groups, did the researcher use random assignments

b. If the researcher did not use random assignment, did the researcher present evidence that the groups were similar regarding key variables at the beginning of the study?

39) Is the treatment and any pre- or posttests described in sufficient detail that facilitates replication?

40) Is deception necessary?

a. If so, is the deception within the parameters of the research topic?

b. Have the participants been debriefed so they know the true nature of the study (and can enact their right to privacy by declining to participate after the fact?)

41) Based on the description of treatment and experimental procedure, do you see any red flags regarding ethical issues?

42) Did the researcher use assistants?

a. If so, did the researcher state that they were properly trained?

b. If so, did the researcher specify any special measures to make sure that the assistants administered the treatment properly?

43) Is the setting natural or artificial (in a laboratory)?

a. If it’s in a laboratory, does the researcher recognize that external validity may be weak?

b. If it’s in a natural setting, does the researcher recognize that there may be some differences in the environments of the various groups?

c. Overall, do you think the experimental design is sound?

7. Survey

44) Is the research topic worded appropriately for survey research?

45) Did the researcher specifically state which type of survey method was used?

46) Do the survey questions adequately address the topic?

47) Are the survey questions constructed correctly?

48) Did the researcher provide any information about the response rate? Did the researcher provide any information about follow-up mailings or other ways of increasing response rate? What are the implications of the response rate?

49) Did the researcher explain how he or she guaranteed anonymity or confidentiality?

50) Overall, is the survey methodology effective and appropriate?

8. Field Research

51) Does the research describe the selected site? Does the research provide some explanation as to how that site was chosen?

52) Did the researchers explain how they addressed gatekeepers?

53) Did the researcher address how he developed field relations? If conflict arose, did the researcher make any comment about how personal or research problems in the field were addressed?

54) Did the researcher adequately protect the identity of the respondents? Did the researcher address other ethical considerations?

55) Did the researcher describe, at least in passing, his method of note taking? Does the method seem adequate?

56) In the analysis, does the researcher present general patterns of behavior and support those patterns with data such as quoted comments? Does the researcher use quotes selectively?

57) Does the researcher make any mention of issues of validity and/or reliability?

58) Overall, is the research adequate?

9. Unobtrusive Measures

59) What is the researcher’s research purpose or hypothesis? Is content analysis an appropriate method of observation?

60) What are the researcher’s units of analysis? What are the units of observation (if they are different than the units of analysis)?

61) Is the researcher studying a population or a sample of these units? If the researcher is studying a sample, is it a probability sample? If so, was it correctly drawn? If the researcher is not studying a population or a probability sample, is he or she appropriately cautious about the nature of any conclusions?

62) Does the researcher identify the characteristics and level of content being analyzed? Does the researcher explain how material is coded, especially for issues of latent content?

63) Did the researcher do any type of pretest with other coders to test for reliability? Where they any tests for validity?

64) Are the conclusions consistent with the units of analysis?

65) Are the results clearly presented and the conclusions appropriate?

66) Generally, is the method of observation done appropriately?

10. Evaluation Research

67) What is the purpose of the evaluation presented?

68) Is the nature of the program described in detail?

69) Are the goals presented and can the goals that the author presents be evaluated?

70) What type of observation method is used? Is it appropriate, given the real-life restrictions of evaluation research?

71) Is a control group used? If so, how has the researcher tried to show that it is equivalent to the experimental group? If not, does the researcher adequately explain its omission?

72) How are people selected for program participation? Does this affect the interpretation of findings, and, if so, does the researcher discuss this?

73) Are the results clearly explained?

74) How does the article address the other areas of evaluation discussed in earlier chapters?

Your evaluation should include one of the following sections (3 pts):

11. Qualitative Analysis

75) Is the results section a cohesive essay?

76) Does the researcher connect the results to any general research questions or goals?

77) Is the perspective of the results presentation appropriate? Does it match the research technique?

78) Has the writer presented enough examples to support the conclusions? Do the examples make the readers ‘believe’ the researcher’s points?

79) Do you have reason to believe that the presence of the researcher influenced the actions or statements of other group members? If this is possible, has the researcher addressed it in the research?

80) Especially in field research (although this may be an issue to a lesser degree in other forms of qualitative data gathering), does the researcher discuss how he or she interacted with subjects in the field, what problems arose, and how the researcher addressed them?

12. Quantitative Analysis

81) Is the results section a cohesive essay with the important findings highlighted?

82) In the essay, does the researcher tie the results to the research hypotheses or goals stated in the introduction?

83) If there are tables or graphs, are they clearly presented?

84) Does the researcher present any descriptive statistics?

85) Are the statistics appropriate for the level of measurement?

86) Are the conclusions the researcher draws appropriate for the statistical information?

87) In the discussion section, does the researcher briefly summarize the research purposes, methodologies, and key findings (in a non-statistical manner)?

88) Does the researcher acknowledge any methodological or statistical weaknesses?

89) Are the implications of the research or suggestions for future research discussed?

90) Overall, is the results section adequate?

91) Overall, is the discussion section adequate?

Assignment 2: Field Observation Due Jan 10, 2016 (in 17 days)



Assignment 2: Field Observation (25 points):

Due no later than 11:55p ET on Sunday of Week 5

Purpose: The purpose of this two-step exercise is for you to conduct inductive and deductive research using qualitative methods.

Note: it is important that you conduct the observations as two distinct events during this class; ‘recalling’ past observations is not the same as purposefully observing your surroundings from a sociological perspective, and applying two different types of reasoning to one observation will not be ‘truthful’ or successful.

The purpose of this exercise if for you to observe one social setting or social artifact to begin to detect patterns in human behavior – observance of norms and potentially behaviors that deviate from the norm. This week’s exercise includes two parts. First, without any prep work, you will need to go to one public place (or conduct content analysis with your social artifact) and observe the people/artifact for 25 minutes. Social Setting: Note people’s behavior, their demeanor, their reactions/interactions to/with each other. Social artifact: from second to second (for TV), or page to page (for print), Note themes, sounds (i.. music), texture of page (i.e. ads in magazine), etc. Second, you will develop a research design with research problem, hypothesis and operational definitions for variables; then you will conduct another 25 minutes of observations.

Disclaimer Originality of attachments will be verified by Turnitin. Both you and your instructor will receive the results.

Part 1

1) Choose whether or not you will be conducting non-participant observation in a social setting, or content analysis of a social artifact

a. Social setting: this should be a public place such as a park, mall, restaurant, etc.

b. Social artifact: this may be ads in a particular magazine; one television show, a time-block of commercials, etc.

2) For your inductive approach, you will simply choose a time and location/artifact for where you are going to conduct your observations


a. Social Setting: Go to the specified location and proceed with your observations.

i. You must be a keen social observer; a ‘peeping Tom’ in the sociological sense. Take handwritten (recommended) and/or mental notes of:

1. details about your chosen location (time of day, lighting, furniture, plants, sounds, temperature, smell, vibe/energy, etc)

2. the people around you, not only their behavior but general information about their sociodemographic characteristics (age, race/ethnicity, gender, SES, etc);

3. your thoughts and feelings while making observations

Social Artifact: At a specified time (i.e. when a particular show is), carefully observe your social artifact

i. Content analysis provides a sustained, systematic way to observe and measure the portrayal of that reality, as opposed to the quick, impressionistic way that we normally read consume media. Take handwritten notes of:

1. Details about the setting in the images you see (lighting, furniture, background, vibe/energy portrayed); if audio-visual (note sounds such as pitch of voice, music, etc)

2. Note details about the people portrayed, not only their behavior but general information about their sociodemographic characteristics (age, race/ethnicity, gender, SES, sexuality);

4) When you have returned from you observation, type up your notes. Review your notes for patterns in behavior, socio-demographic characteristics, etc.

5) Write-up your observations using ‘thick description’ of the location (i.e. building you were in (what is the architecture like), descriptions of people there (in terms of socio-demographic characteristics: age, race/ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status), sounds, smells, temperature, time of day and week, etc);

6) Analyze trends you identified in your observations/content analysis. What is a possible sociological/theoretical explanation for the trends you observed? This is best done by using sources to provide credibility to your analyses.

Part 2

7) Based on your initial observations and written analyses, develop a specific research problem/question to be further investigated (i.e. the variation in behavior of males versus females when entering a store with a glass store front)

8) Identify the key variables you are going to be investigating, and develop an operational definition for each of them (this should include at least two variables, but not more than four). Your operational definitions will help to provide parameters for how record variations in your observations.

9) Write a hypothesis for what you expect to observe in your second round of observations.

10) Repeat observations/content analysis

a. Social Setting – this should be done at the same social setting at approximately the same time of day (if you can do this one week later on the same day, it would be great!)

b. Social Artifact – this should be done at the same time (if commercial block), or with the same show, or with a different issue of the same magazine , etc.

11) When you have returned from you observation, type up your notes. Review your notes for patterns in behavior, socio-demographic characteristics, etc. and how they corresponded with your expectations/hypothesis

12) Describe observations using ‘thick description’ of the location (i.e. building you were in (what is the architecture like), descriptions of people there (in terms of socio-demographic characteristics: age, race/ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status), sounds, smells, temperature, time of day and week, etc);

13) Analyze your observations in terms of how they supported/did not support your hypothesis.

14) What is a possible sociological/theoretical explanation for the trends you observed? This is best done by using sources to provide credibility to your analyses.

15) Discuss the differences between your inductive observations and your deductive observations. How did the way you were observing change? How did what you observed change?

16) Briefly describe your thoughts/feelings in the two steps. Did you prefer one approach to the other? Why/why not?

Grading Rubric



Above Average


Below Average


Observation Description

Provided thick description of observations/content analysis with a lot of detail about social setting and socio-demographic characteristics of people observed (5 pts)

Needed some elaboration on either social setting or socio-demographic characteristics of people observed (4 pts)

Need significantly more detail about social setting or socio-demographic characteristics observed; or some elaboration on both (3.5 pts)

Summary of observations lacks detail overall (3pt)

No summary of norm breaking behavior included (0-2 pts)

Research Problem/Question

Clearly identified a specific, measurable research problem (3 pts)

Clearly identified research problem (2.5 pts)

Identified a research problem; it needs some refining/specification (2 pts)

Research problem unclear, not easily measured (1.5 pts)

Research problem not specified or very unclear (0-1 pts)

Variables identified and operationalized

Clearly identified and operationalized 2+ variables that are clearly used in the research problem (3 pts)

Clearly identified and operationalized 2 variables that are clearly used in the research problem (2.5 pts)

Identified and operationalized 2 variables that are from the research problem (2 pts)

Missing one variable or operationalization; or variables not clearly associated with/from research problem (1.5 pts)

Variables incorrect; missing operationalizations; variables unrelated to research problem (0-1 pts)


Succinct hypothesis predicts relationship between two+ variables, based on research problem; in statement form (2 pts)

(1.6 pts)

Hypothesis not in statement form; needs to more clearly specify ‘relationship’ between two variables (1.4 pts)

Hypothesis unclear; does not specify relationship (1.2)

Hypothesis not related or missing (0-1pts)


Clearly applied relevant sociological theory(ies) to analysis of observations/content analysis (5 pts)

(4 pts)

Need to more clearly use sociological theory(ies) to analyze observations/content analysis (3.5 pts)

Analysis based entirely on opinion, or application to theory unclear (3 pts)

Did not apply sociological theory to analysis (0-2 pts)


Included discussion of your experience of the situation (1pts)


Need to elaborate on your experience of the situation (.7 pt)


No discussion of your experience of the situation (0-.5 pts)

Compared Inductive to Deductive Approach

Thoughtful discussion about differences between the two approaches; clearly illustrate understanding of the two approaches (3pts)

Needed some elaboration in discussion (2.5 pts)

Need significant elaboration about differences between two approaches (2 pts)

Discussion lacks clarity and detail overall (1.5 pt)

No discussion of comparison (0-1 pts)

APA Formatted Citations

Included APA formatted in-text citations and full references for ALL paraphrased and quoted work from other sources (1 pts)

Minor errors in APA formatting of citations (.8 pts)

Multiple errors in APA formatting of citations (.7 pt)

Missing some citations, and errors in APA formatting (.6 pts)

No citations included (0-.5 pts)

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