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Term
Description
Access
The process by which an ethnographer gains entry to a field setting (page 46)
Applied research
Research designed to gather knowledge that can be used learned to create some sort of change (page 59)
Basic research
The search for knowledge without any agenda or desire to use that knowledge to effect change (page 59)
Bias
An opinion held by the researcher that might affect the research or analysis (page 48)
Causation
A relationship between variables in which a change in one directly produces a change in the other (page 41)
Closed-ended question
A question asked of a respondent that imposes a limit on the possible responses (page 50)
Code of ethics
Ethical guidelines for researchers to consult as they design a project (page 61)
Comparative and historical methods
Methods that use existing sources to study relationships between elements of society in various regions and time periods (page 54)
Confidentiality
The assurance that no one other than the researcher will know the identity of a respondent (page 52)
Content analysis
A method in which researchers identify and study specific variables -- such as words -- in a text, image, or media message (page 54)
Control
In an experiment, the process of regulating all factors except for the independent variable (page 56)
Control group
The part of a test group that is allowed to continue without intervention so that it can be compared with the experimental group (page 56)
Correlation
A relationship between variables in which they change together; may or may not be causal (page 41)
Deception
The extent to which the participants in a research project are unaware of the project or its goals (page 61)
Dependent variable
Factor that is changed (or not) by the independent variable (page 56)
Double-barreled questions
Questions that attempt to get at multiple issues at once, and so tend to receive incomplete or confusing answers (page 50)
Ethnography
A naturalistic method based on studying people in their own environment in order to understand the meanings they attribute to their activities; also the written work that results from the study (page 44)
Existing sources
Materials that have been produced for some other reason, but that can be used as data for social research (page 53)
Experimental group
The part of a test group that receives the experimental treatment (page 56)
Experiments
Formal tests of specific variables and effects, performed in a controlled setting where all aspects of the situation can be controlled (page 56)
Fieldnotes
Detailed notes taken by an ethnographer describing her activities and interactions, which later become the basis of the ethnographic analysis (page 47)
Grounded theory
An inductive method of generating theory from data by creating categories in which to place data and then looking for relationships between categories (page 48)
Hawthorne effect
A specific example of reactivity, in which the desired effect is the result not of the independent variable but of the research itself (page 59)
Hypothesis
A theoretical statement explaining the relationship between two or more phenomena (page 41)
Independent variable
Factor that is predicted to cause change (page 56)
Informed consent
A safeguard through which the researcher makes sure that respondents are freely participating and understand the nature of the research (page 49)
Institutional review board
A group of scholars within a university who meet regularly to review and approve the research proposals of their colleagues and make recommendations for how to protect human subjects (page 61)
Intervening variable
A third variable, sometimes overlooked, that explains the relationship between two other variables (page 41)
Interviews
Face-to-face, informationseeking conversation, sometimes defined as a conversation with a purpose (page 49)
Leading questions
Questions that predispose a respondent to answer in a certain way (page 50)
Likert scale
A way of organizing categories on a survey question so that the respondent can choose an answer along a continuum (page 51)
Literature review
A thorough search through previously published studies relevant to a particular topic (page 41)
Negative questions
Survey questions that ask respondents what they don't think instead of what they do (page 51)
Objectivity
Impartiality, the ability to allow the facts to speak for themselves (page 59)
Open-ended question
A question asked of a respondent that allows the answer to take whatever form the respondent chooses (page 50)
Operational definition
A clear and precise definition of a variable that facilitates its measurement (page 41)
Paradigm shift
The term used to describe a change in basic assumptions of a particular scientific discipline (page 42)
Participant observation
A methodology associated with ethnography whereby the researcher both observes and becomes a member in a social setting (page 46)
Pilot study
A small study carried out to test the feasibility of a larger on (page 53)
Probability sampling
Any sampling scheme in which any given unit has the same probability of being chosen (page 52)
Qualitative research
Research that works with nonnumerical data such as texts, fieldnotes, interview transcripts, photographs, and tape recordings; this type of research more often tries to understand how people make sense of their world (page 40)
Quantitative research
Research that translates the social world into numbers that can be treated mathematically; this type of research often tries to find cause-and-effect relationships (page 40)
Rapport
A positive relationship often characterized by mutual trust or sympathy (page 46)
Reactivity
The tendency of people and events to react to the process of being studied (page 59)
Reflexivity
How the identity and activities of the researcher influence what is going on in the field setting (page 48)
Reliability
The consistency of a question or measurement tool; the degree to which the same questions will produce similar answers (page 52)
Replicability
Research that can be repeated, and thus verified, by other researchers later (page 48)
Representative sample
A sample taken so that findings from members of the sample group can be generalized to the whole population (page 52)
Representativeness
The degree to which a particular studied group is similar to, or represents, any part of the larger society (page 48)
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