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Cover Research Methods in the Social Sciences: An A-Z of key concepts

Big Data  

Yannick Dufresne and Brittany I. Davidson

This chapter assesses big data. Within the social sciences, big data could refer to an emerging field of research that brings together academics from a variety of disciplines using and developing tools to widen perspective, to utilize latent data sets, as well as for the generation of new data. Another way to define big data in the social sciences refers to data corresponding to at least one of the three s of big data: volume, variety, or velocity.. These characteristics are widely used by researchers attempting to define and distinguish new types of data from conventional ones. However, there are a number of ethical and consent issues with big data analytics. For example, many studies across the social sciences utilize big data from the web, from social media, online communities, and the darknet, where there is a question as to whether users provided consent to the reuse of their posts, profiles, or other data shared when they signed up, knowing their profiles and information would be public. This has led to a number of issues regarding algorithms making decisions that cannot be explained. The chapter then considers the opportunities and pitfalls that come along with big data.


Cover Research Methods in the Social Sciences: An A-Z of key concepts

Ethics in Research  

Laurence Marquis and Mark Daku

This chapter studies ethics in research. Ethics play an important role in scientific inquiry, beyond cases of plagiarism, fraud, and misconduct. Importantly, there is a difference between ethical research and ethical researchers. While principles of ethics in research stem mostly from the biomedical field, they have also been adapted to apply to the social sciences. These principles are generally addressed through three common principles: voluntary participation, informed consent, and confidentiality. Researchers themselves must be wary of a number of other factors that can influence their project and role, such as the supervision of students, or other situations where there is a relationship of authority. Similarly, researchers must be careful not to make misrepresentations to subjects about the project or the related risks, or fail to disclose any conflict of interest. Researchers must take steps to ensure their neutrality so that no preconceptions or personal bias can risk influencing the results or subjects. The chapter then looks at ethics review boards and the emergent ethical issues.


Cover How to do your Social Research Project or Dissertation

Tom Clark, Liam Foster, and Alan Bryman

How to do your Social Research Project or Dissertation looks to help readers to navigate research for a project or dissertation. It starts with an introduction to the research process and how to get started. It examines the process of developing an idea. It reviews the available literature. It then considers how to build upon the project idea, the ethical issues, and how to write a proposal. Next it considers sampling, and collecting and analyzing quantitative and qualitative data. Finally, it describes how to evaluate the project and the process of writing up.


Cover Political Research

8. Experimental Research  

This chapter explores the principles of experimental research design as well as the issues and problems associated with different aspects of the approach. In particular, it considers the issue of internal and external validity, the common obstacles associated with experimental research, and what can be done to try and avoid or minimize them. The chapter first describes the five steps involved in the classic version of the experimental design before discussing three types of experimental design: laboratory experiments, field experiments, and natural experiments. It also examines the ethical issues that arise from experimental research and concludes by highlighting some of the advantages of experimental research.