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

Research Methods in the Social Sciences: An A-Z of key concepts (1st edn)

Jean-Frédéric Morin, Christian Olsson, and Ece Özlem Atikcan
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date: 02 December 2021

p. 301U. Unit of Analysis and Observationlocked

p. 301U. Unit of Analysis and Observationlocked

  • Jean-Frédéric Morin,
  • Christian Olsson
  •  and Ece Özlem Atikcan

Abstract

This chapter addresses the unit of analysis and observation. Each empirical social or behavioural science study typically includes the identification of one or more units of analysis. The unit is the entity, element, or grouping that constitutes the focus of the study’s analyses, and multiple cases of this unit are analysed. The unit of analysis is of primary importance, as this is the unit that is referred to in hypotheses or research questions and therefore the unit that is the focus of data analyses that address these hypotheses or research questions. However, there are two other types of units that need to be considered. In sum, the three types of units in any empirical study are the unit of sampling, the unit of observation or measurement (sometimes called the unit of inquiry or unit of data collection), and the unit of analysis.

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