BASIC AND APPLIED RESEARCH

  1. Basic and applied research is sociology.
    1. Basic research is conducted to expand knowledge and understanding by either developing or testing theory. Its focus is knowledge for knowedge's sake. It is typically what we think of when we think of scientific research.
      1. What is theory?
        1. Theory is a carefully constructed set of interrelated concepts and statements that explain or interpret some phenomenon.
        2. Theory is never proven, only supported.
        3. Researchers are constantly challenging and questioning existing theory.
        4. The goal of basic research is to develop theory that is supported by empirical evidence, or more precisely, that empirical evidence does not contradict or refute.
        5. Theory in a given field consists of those theoretical statements and propositions that have not yet been refuted.
      2. Components of theory.
        1. Assumptions.
          1. All theories are based on assumptions.
          2. Positivistic and interpretive assumptions.
        2. Concepts.
          1. Concepts are abstract symbols (words) that represent some phenomena, idea, or entity.
          2. Concepts can be very abstract (romantic love) or they can be more concrete (income).
          3. Concepts can be complex and multidimensional (political liberalism) or simple and unidimensional (weeks unemployed). Often concepts that appear simple can be conceived and defined more complexly (gender).
          4. Concepts that represent phenomena that can take on different values, quantities, or intensities are called variables.
          5. The different values variables can take are called their attributes.
        1. Statements and propositions.
          1. Statements and propositions make declarations about relationships between concepts and variables.
          2. Statements and propositions are often causal, but may also be correlational or even declarative in nature.
          3. Statements and propositions may be simple or complex.
      1. Variations in the scope and abstractness of theory.
        1. General theoretical frameworks.
        2. Mid-range theories.
        3. Hypotheses and sensitizing concepts.
      1. Types of theory.
        1. Causal theory.
          1. Causal theories attempt to explain social phenomena by making statements about causal relationships between two or more variables.
          2. Causality, explanation and prediction.
          3. Multiple versus single causes.
          4. Necessary, sufficient, and contributing causes.
          5. Causality and association.
          6. Causality and time order.
          7. Causality and extraneous factors.
        1. Interpretive theory.
          1. Interpretive theory attempts to describe and interpret social phenomena, thereby increasing understanding. It tends to be narrative and discursive, with little interest in causality.
          2. Descriptive and definitional theory.
          3. Typologies and classification schemas.
          4. Metaphor and analogy.
      1. The relationship between theory and research in basic research.
        1. The "wheel of science."
        2. Inductive and deductive logic.
        3. The importance of both theory and research.
          1. Theory alone is speculation or at best philosophy.
          2. Research alone is blind empiricism, offering little in terms of real explanation.
      1. Applying basic research.
    1. Applied research is research conducted to further the development of effective policies and programs. It collects and analyzes empirical data to provide knowledge that can be used to develop new policies and programs or evaluate existing ones.
      1. What are policies and programs.
      2. Types of applied research.
        1. Needs assessment.
        2. Program evaluation and outcome assessment.
        3. Client, patient, employee, and product satisfaction research.
        4. Cost-benefit analysis.
        5. Social impact assessment.
        6. Action research.
        7. Operations research and organizational analysis.
        8. Market research and utilization studies.
        9. Public opinion and political polling.
        10. Quality assurance research.
      1. Applied research uses the same methods of data collection and analysis as basic research, but applies them slightly differently.
      2. Theory in applied research.
  1. General steps in the design and implementation of sociological research.
    1. Choose a topic or problem.
    2. Review the relevant literature.
    3. Develop research questions and hypotheses.
    4. Develop a strategy for collecting data.
    5. Develop a strategy for managing and analyzing your data.
    6. Write a research proposal to get approval and/or funding.
    7. Conduct the research and publish the results.