Department of Sociology
Fall, 2006
[September 5th

Soc. 920:501, Sociological Research Methods I
Patricia A. Roos
Rm. A-342, Lucy Stone Hall
Phone: (732) 445-5848
Office Hours: Wednesdays 4-5 p.m. (or by appointment)

I. Goals: The focus of this course is on the basic methods sociologists use. I also introduce descriptive statistical techniques to illustrate the logic of the research process. Throughout the semester, we will review the processes whereby researchers in the social sciences investigate theoretically informed hypotheses about the behavior of individuals and the organization of social institutions. The course will address the major components of the research process, including procedures to protect human subjects, hypothesis testing, conceptualization and operationalization of theoretical concepts, modes of data collection, sampling, the elaboration paradigm, and the presentation and interpretation of research results. You will gain expertise in the practice of social research and elementary statistical analysis, and learn the preliminary skills necessary to read and evaluate published work. We will also focus on writing, especially how to write about data.

The course readings will consist of material from assigned books and scanned readings (see below). The major focus will be on learning by doing. You will use the GSS website to investigate hypotheses you generate from the 2004 (or earlier) General Social Survey (GSS). The GSS codebook needed to use these data is available online. If you want to be a bit more adventurous, feel free to access other online datasets, or any data to which you have access (see below).

II. Books: The following books are required (and available at the Livingston bookstore):

Russell K. Schutt. 2006. Investigating the Social World. 5th edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.

Jane E. Miller. 2005. The Chicago Guide to Writing about Multivariate Analysis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Other readings will be available online (ask me for the userid and password to access these readings).

III. Course Requirements: You will be evaluated in four ways:

1) A combined in-class/take-home, open-book exam on the first two-thirds of the course material (November 7-8th; 30 percent). I will prepare a study guide for you at least a week prior to the exam.

2) A set of assignments that will test your comprehension of course material/readings and develop your analytic writing abilities (30 percent). Most of these assignments will use descriptive techniques available on the GSS website. Assignments not turned in on the day they are due will automatically lose a grade each day they are late.

Tentative due dates:

Assignment 1: readings due September 20th and written exercise due September 27th
Assignment 2: October 4th
Assignment 3: October 18th
Assignment 4: November 29th

3) A final paper that will involve library research, data analysis, and interpretation; the final paper will build on the assignments; due December 18th (30 percent). I don't like incompletes, and you shouldn't either!

4) Course participation (10 percent). Each of you will "lead the discussion" on course readings one or more times during the semester, and will also present your ongoing work (October 4th and December 13th). For proposals, class members should come prepared with comments for other presenters (e.g., suggestions for references, critical commentary). For both the mid-semester and final presentations, presenters will send around copies of their preliminary writeups/tables two days prior the presentation. Class discussion will focus on comments and suggestions for revisions.

IV. Data Sets

Although most of you will probably use the General Social Survey, there are other data possibilities. Recognize, however, that you will be more on your own if you decide to go this route. This option is therefore best used by those of you already comfortable with data access and analysis on the web.

Here are some online alternatives:

World Values Survey
UC Berkeley's SDA Archive
[this site includes several surveys, in the same easy-to-use format as the GSS: American National Election Study, American Community Survey, Multi-Investigator Survey, Census Microdata for US and California, as well as a few others]

Other data are available through data extracts (and require more sophisticated skills):
Integrated Public Use Microdata Series
Midlife in the United States (MIDUS)
Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID)
Wisconsin Longitudinal Study

V. Miscellaneous:

1) All assignments and the final paper must be typed. Use Word or Excel to prepare tables.

2) We have only 14 meetings, 3 of which are given over to the exam and presentations. Attendance and participation are required. The norm for graduate courses is: thou shalt not miss class! Note that we do NOT have class during Thanksgiving week.

VI. Course Outline (see attached schedule of readings and due dates):

Unit 1: Research Design

Week 1 (September 6): Introduction to Social Science Inquiry

Week 2 (September 13): Research Design

Week 3 (September 20): Logic of Causation I

Week 4 (September 27): Logic of Causation II

Week 5 (October 4): Proposal presentations

Unit II. Collecting and Analyzing Data

Week 6 (October 11): Multivariate Analyses I: Classical Experiments and Quasi-Experimental Designs/ IRBs and Human Subjects Research [Note: class this day will start at 11:30 to enable us to complete IRB Certification]

Week 7 (October 18): Multivariate Analyses II: Survey Research and Sampling

Week 8 (October 25): Interpretive Analyses: Field Research, Participation, Ethnography

Week 9 (November 1): Historical/Comparative Analyses

Week 10 (November 8): In-class portion of open-book exam (out-of-class due)

Week 11 (November 15): Descriptive Techniques: Analyzing Crosstabs

Unit III. Thoughts on Theory and Method

Week 12 (November 29): Critiquing the General Linear Model

Week 13 (December 6): Critiquing Ethnography

Week 14 (December 13): Final paper presentations


(see below for links)

** selected students will lead the
on readings

Week 1 (September 6)
Introduction to Social Science Inquiry

Schutt, Chs. 1-2

Don't wait to start work on Ass. 2!  
Week 2 (September 13)
Research Design
Schutt, Chs. 3-4
Miller, Chs. 1-2, Appendix A
[Recommended: Banaji]

 Project Implicit
[try out one or more of the demonstrations, bring in results]
Continue work on Ass. 2!

Week 3 (September 20)
Logic of Causation I
Schutt, Chs. 6, 14 (pp. 466-479)
Babbie, Elaboration Paradigm
Miller, Chs. 3-4
Read Ass. 1 readings for today
Week 4 (September 27)
Logic of Causation II
Writeup of Ass. 1 due 
Week 5 (October 4)
Proposal presentations
Read class members' proposals
Ass. 2 due
Proposal presentations

Week 6 (October 11)
Multivariate I/IRBs
IRB Certification
[class will begin 11:30 today!]

Schutt, Ch. 7
Shea, IRB Reading, Bosk & DeVries, Wolfe

Week 7 (October 18)
Multivariate II
Schutt, Chs. 5, 8, 11
Conley, Chs. 1-2
Miller, Chs. 11-12

Ass. 3 due


Week 8 (October 25)
Schutt, Chs. 9, 10
Waters, Chs. 1, 4, Appendix
Week 9 (November 1)

Schutt, Ch. 12
Historical/Policy: Skocpol

Week 10 (November 8)
In-class exam
No reading
In-class exam/take-home due
Week 11 (November 15)
Descriptive Techniques

Schutt, Chs. 13, 14, 15
Agresti & Finlay, Ch. 8 (pp. 197-209),
Miller, Chs. 5-7, 13 (pp. 301-332)

Week 12 (November 29)
Critiquing the General Linear Model

Abbott: Chs. 1-3

Ass. 4 due


Week 13 (December 6)
Critiquing Ethnography

Wacquant, Anderson, Duneier, Newman

Week 14 (December 13)
Final paper presentations
No reading
Final presentations
Monday, December 18th
Final paper due


Citations for Articles:

Abbott, Andrew. 2001. Time Matters: On Theory and Method. Chicago: University of Chicago. (Ch. 1 "Transcending General Linear Reality, Ch. 2 "Seven Types of Ambiguity," and Ch. 3 "The Causal Devolution") (click here)

Agresti, Alan, and Barbara Finlay. 1986. Statistical Methods for the Social Sciences. San Francisco: Dellen. [parts of Ch. 8 "Measuring Association")

Anderson, Elijah. 2002. "The Ideologically Driven Critique." American Journal of Sociology 107:1533-1550. (click here)

Babbie, Earl. 2004. The Practice of Social Research, 10th edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. (Chapter 15 on Elaboration Paradigm)

Banaji, Mahzarin R. 2001. "Implicit Attitudes Can Be Measured." Pp. 117-150 in Henry L. Roediger, James S. Nairne, Ian Neath, and Aimee M. Surprenant (eds.), The Nature of Remembering: Essays in Honor of Roert G. Crowder. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association. (click here)

Borocz, Jozsef. 2000. "The Fox and the Raven: The European Union and Hungary Renegotiate the Margin of 'Europe'." Comparative Studies in Society and History 42:847-75. (click here)

Bosk, Charles L., and Raymond G. DeVries. 2004. "Bureaucracies of Mass Deception: Institutional Review Boards and the Ethics of Ethnographic Research." Annals, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 595:249-263. (click here)

Conley, Dalton. 1999. Being Black, Living in the Red: Race, Wealth, and Social Policy in America. Berkeley: University of California Press. (Ch. 1 "Wealth Matters" and Ch. 2 "Forty Acres and a Mule: Historical and Contemporary Obstacles to Black Property Accumulation") (click here)

Duneier, Mitchell. 2002. "What Kind of Combat Sport is Sociology." American Journal of Sociology 107:1551-1576. (click here)

Eckstein, Susan. 2001. "Community as Gift-Giving: Collectivist Roots of Volunteerism." American Sociological Review 66:829-851. (click here)

Germano, William. 2005. "Passive Is Spoken Here." Chronicle of Higher Education, April 22, 2005. (click here)

IRB Reading: Rutgers Human Subjects Research Annual Memo: [click here]

McLean, Paul. 2005. “Patronage, Citizenship, and the Stalled Emergence of the Modern State in Renaissance Florence.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 47:638-64. (click here)

Newman, Katherine. 2002. "No Shame: The View from the Left Bank." American Journal of Sociology 107:1577-1599. (click here)

Pager, Devah. 2005. "The Mark of a Criminal Record." American Journal of Sociology 108:937-975. (click here)

Rothman, Barbara Katz. 2005. "The I in Sociology." Chronicle of Higher Education, April 22, 2005. (click here)

Shea, Christopher. 2000. "Don't Talk to the Humans: The Crackdown on Social Science Research." Lingua Franca 10 (6). (click here)

Skocpol, Theda. 2000. The Missing Middle: Working Families and the Future of American Social Policy. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. Ch. 2 "How Americans Forgot the Formula for Successful Social Policy" (click here)

Stolzenberg, Ross. 2003. Book Review, Andrew Abbott, Time Matters: On Theory and Methods (2001, University of Chicago Press). Sociological Methods & Research 31:420-434. (click here)

Wacquant, Loic. 2002. "Scrutinizing the Street: Poverty, Morality, and the Pitfalls of Urban Ethnography." American Journal of Sociology 107:1468-1532. (click here)

Waters, Mary. 1999. Black Identities: West Indian Immigrant Dreams and American Realities. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. (Ch. 1 "Introduction," Ch. 4 "West Indians at Work," Appendix "Notes on Methodology") (click here)

Wolfe, Alan. 2003. "Invented Names, Hidden Distortions in Social Science." Chronicle of Higher Education, May 30, 2003. (click here)

Research, Thinking, and Writing:

Alford, Robert T. 1998. The Craft of Inquiry: Theories, Methods, Evidence. New York: Oxford University Press.

Becker, Howard S. 1998. Tricks of the Trade: How to Think About Your Research While You're Doing It. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Becker, Howard S. 1986. Writing for Social Scientists: How to Start and Finish Your Thesis, Book, or Article. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Clarke, Lee. "On Proposing" and "On Writing and Criticism"

Germano, William. 2005. "Passive Is Spoken Here." Chronicle of Higher Education, April 22, 2005.

Jasper, James. "Why So Many Academics are Lousy Writers"

Miller, Jane E. 2005. The Chicago Guide to Writing About Multivariate Analysis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. [this encompasses Miller, 2004]

Rosenfield, Sarah. "Some Things To Think About While Reading Papers"

Strunk, William Jr., and E.B. White. 2000. The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition. New York: Allyn & Bacon.

American Sociological Association, "Writing an Informative Abstract"

And, for some humor: "How to Write Good"

Mark Peters, "Like a Bowl in a China Shop"