Research Methods

Links to summaries of the main quantitative and qualitative, primary and secondary social research methods within the social sciences, incorporating Methods in the Context of Education. This is mainly focused on the A Level Sociology AQA 7192 specification, but counts just as well towards the methods content on the AS sociology 7191/1 and 2 papers.

All of the topics below are covered in detail in my ‘Theory and Methods Revision Bundle‘.

Research Methods at a Glance – Key Concepts  

Research Methods A-Z Glossaryan index of the key terms you need to know for AS and A Level Sociology

Research Methods Top Ten Key Conceptsstart here if you’re all at sea – includes simple explanations of terms such as validity, reliability, representativeness, Positivism and Interpretivism

An Introduction to Research Methods

Good Resources for Teaching and Learning Research Methods – simply links (with brief descriptions) which take you to a range of text books and web sites which focus on various aspects of quantitative and qualitative research methods. NB this post is very much a work in progress, being updated constantly. 

Research Methods in Sociology – An Introduction – detailed class notes covering the basic types of research method available to sociologists such as social surveys, interviews, experiments, and observations

Factors Effecting Choice of Research Topic in Sociology – detailed class notes on the theoretical, ethical, and practical factors effecting the choice of research methods

Factors Effecting Choice of Research Method in Sociology – detailed class notes covering theoretical, practical and ethical factors and the nature of topic

Positivism and Interpretivismvery brief summary revision notes 

Positivism, Sociology and Social Research – detailed class notes on the relationship between The Enlightenment, industrialisation and positivist sociology 

Stages of Social Research – detailed class notes covering research design, data collection and analysis

Outline and explain two practical problems which might affect social research (10)

Primary Quantitative Research Methods 

An Introduction to Social Surveys – a brief introduction to the use of different types of survey in social research, including structured questionnaires and interviews

The advantages and disadvantages of social surveys in social research – detailed class notes covering the theoretical, practical and ethical strengths and limitations of social surveys

An Introduction to Experiments in Sociology – a brief introduction covering definitions of key terms including hypotheses, dependent and independent variables and the Hawthorne Effect

Laboratory Experiments in Sociology – detailed class notes on the strengths and limitations of laboratory experiments. Sociologists don’t generally use lab experiments, but examiners seem to ask questions about them more than other methods – one hypothesis for why is that sociology examiners have a burning hatred of teenagers. 

Field Experiments in Sociology  – detailed class notes on the strengths and limitations of field experiments

Seven Examples of Field Experiment for Sociology – class notes outlining a mixture of seven classic and contemporary field experiments relevant to various aspects of the AS and A level sociology syllabus

Primary Qualitative Research Methods

Interviews in Social Research – detailed class notes focussing mainly on the strengths and limitations of unstructured interviews.

Overt and Covert Participant Observation  – detailed class notes on overt and using covert participant observation in social research. 

Some recent examples of sociological studies using participant observation – including Pearson’s covert research into football hooligans and Mears’s research into the modelling industry.

Non-Participant Observation – detailed class notes on non-participant observation.

Secondary Research Methods

Official Statistics in Sociology – class notes on the general strengths and limitations of official statistics. 

Evaluating the Usefulness of Official Statistics

Secondary Qualitative Data Analysis in Sociology – class notes covering public and private documents. 

Content Analysis of the Media in Social Research – class notes covering formal content (quantitative) analysis and semiology

Sociology, Science and Value Freedom (Part of A2 Theory and Methods)

Sociology and Value Freedom – Detailed class notes

Methods in Context – Research Methods Applied to Education

Field Experiments applied to Education – are Chinese Teaching Methods the Best?

Participant Observation in Education – focussing on the work of Paul Willis and Mac An Ghail.

Non-Participant Observation in Education – focussing on OFSTED inspections.

The Strengths and Limitations of Education Statistics – distinguishes between different types of statistic within education.

Evaluating the Usefulness of Secondary Qualitative Data to Research Education – distinguishes between publicly available documents and private documents. 

Focus on the AS and A Level Exams

Research Methods Essays – How to Write Themgeneral advice on writing research methods essays for the AS and A level sociology exams.

Assess the Strengths of Using Participant Observation in Social Research (20) – example essay, top mark band.

Methods in Context Essay Template – gap fill essay plan.

Methods in Context Mark Scheme – pared down mark scheme – easy to understand! 

Other Relevant Posts

Learning to Labour by Paul Willis – Summary and Evaluation of Research Methods

How old are twitter users?applied sociology – illustrates some of the problems us using social media to uncover social trends.

Twitter users by occupation and social classapplied sociology – illustrates some of the problems us using social media to uncover social trends.

Other posts and links will be forthcoming throughout 2016-17, check back soon! 

Theory and Methods A Level Sociology Revision Bundle 

If you like this sort of thing, then you might like my Theory and Methods Revision Bundle – specifically designed to get students through the theory and methods sections of  A level sociology papers 1 and 3.

Contents include:

  • 74 pages of revision notes
  • 15 mind maps on various topics within theory and methods
  • Five theory and methods essays
  • ‘How to write methods in context essays’.

If you’re not quite that flush, then you might like this – just the research methods stuff — over 50 pages of accessible, user friendly, exam-focused notes for only £0.99* – from iTunes, Barnes and Noble and Kobo.

Research Methods Coverv3

Purchase on iTunes for only £0.99*

*Price will fluctuate with the dollar exchange rate