University of north texas / Department of Sociology




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UNIVERSITY OF NORTH TEXAS / Department of Sociology


SOCI 5200.001& 791 Fall 2008

2:00 to 5:00 PM - Wednesday Chilton Hall 274 (was WH 212 or 213)


COURSE OUTLINE for SEMINAR ON RESEARCH METHODS AND DESIGN


CATALOG DESCRIPTION: Research designs; techniques of sampling and scaling; problems of reliability and validity; consideration of appropriate tests of association and significance.


EXPANDED DESCRIPTION: The course will focus upon social research methods of inquiry. Topics covered include philosophical issues, problem formation, measurement, sampling, research designs, analysis of data, ethics, and uses of social research. The course should help sharpen your existing research skills and introduce you to new techniques. By the end of the semester you should have a new appreciation for social research, understand how social research enhances our understanding of human behavior, and be able to conduct social research.


INSTRUCTOR: Rudy Ray Seward, Ph.D.

OFFICE: Chilton Hall 390B

1155 Union Circle #311157-UNT

Denton, Texas 76203-5017 USA

Email: Seward@unt.edu

Phone: 940 565 2295 (office)

Fax: 940 369 7035 (dept.)

Office hours: 2:00 - 4:00 PM, Tuesday & Friday; Also available by appointment


ASSOCIATE INSTRUCTOR:

Karen Claiborne Kaiser, MS, ABD

Office: Chilton Hall 390

Email: Karen.kaiser@unt.edu

Phone:

Fax: (940) 369-7035

Office hours: TBA, Also by appointment


WEBPAGE with access to class website(UNDER Construction): http://courses.unt.edu/rseward/


TEXTBOOKS REQUIRED:

Earl Babbie. (2007). The practice of social research (11th ed.), Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Access to textbook WEBPAGE: http://sociology.wadsworth.com under “Select a Course” click on “Research Methods and Statistics” and go to Babbie book and click on “Companion Site”

Fred Pyrczak & Randall R. Bruce (2007). Writing empirical research reports: A basic guide for students of the social and behavioral sciences (6th ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Pyrczak. OPTIONAL:

Floyd J. Fowler, Jr. (2002), Survey research methods, (3rd ed.), Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

AIMS FOR SEMINAR:


1. To introduce the logic and skills of social scientific research

a. Review the basic elements and steps necessary to perform research

b. Perform research activities to gain a working, practical knowledge

c. Develop hypotheses from existing literature which can be empirically tested.

d. Write an empirically based research paper that can be the basis for one submitted for presentation at a professional meeting and for publication in a journal

e. Cover major bibliographic and research data sources

2. To train informed consumers of social research findings

a. Develop skills to better assess research findings related to education, career, community, and home

b. Learn to appreciate the impact of methodological limits upon usefulness of research findings

3. To appreciate the challenges of researching social structure, social behavior, and human development and impact on one another

a. Reduce overgeneralization from personal experience

b. Appreciate how logical and observational rigor help us pierce through our personal viewpoints to the "world beyond” leading to opportunities to take on social problems and discover the experience of making a difference

c. Appreciate how the maxim that society depends upon its members for existence is liberating as individuals play active roles by shaping, as well as, being shaped by social contexts (NOTE: Society is a grand human experiment and thus "invites" our efforts to improve it and make it better, in short, to help.)


These aims will be one of the sources used for the questions on the exams.


GRADING: Your grade is based upon the total number of points you earn in the course.

Percentage Scale: Point Levels for Each Grade:

100-90% 400-360 A

89-80% 359-320 B

79-70% 319-280 C

69-60% 279-240 D

59-00% 239-000 F


To earn points you must complete work in each of the following areas:


1. CLASS ASSIGNMENTS: You will be asked to submit at least short four assignments. Assignments deal with academic journals, data sources, topics covered in class, and your research problem. (You may do these in teams based upon shared research interest.)


Each assignment will be evaluated and worth up to 10 points each, for a total possible of at least 40 points. Late assignments may be penalized by deducting 1 point for each calendar day past due date.


2. CLASS PRESENTATIONS: You must make at least four presentations during class on the following: 1. Assigned course chapter or topic(s), 2. Your proposed research problem [including need and purpose, theoretical perspective(s), most relevant literature findings, conceptual model (must note relationship between at least one independent, one dependent, and one control concept/variable) and author guidelines for the academic journal in which your selected model article appears (you need to find a paper dealing with your topic and approach that will be used as a guide for your paper) and your default journal for possible submission of your paper. 3. Your research methods [including hypotheses or research questions (stating the direction of relationships between variables), description of quantitative and qualitative data sources, operational definitions for research variables, and proposed analysis]. 4. Your findings [including descriptive and relational statistics based upon univariate, bivariate, and multivariate analysis of data some of which must be presented in tables and/or graphs, and interpretations]. 5. Summary, discussion, conclusions, and implications (presentation subsections subject to change and presentations 2 through 4 should be early drafts for sections of your research paper).


You MUST prepare an appropriate brief outline or statement of the key points for each presentation and distribute it to instructors and class members before your presentation (you are responsible for making copies or emailing the class; maximum length is two pages).


Each presentation and outline or statement will be evaluated and worth up to 15 points each, for a total possible of 60 points. You may present your topic in a lecture, discussion, or informal style but only reading your presentation will result in dropping the final points the equivalent of one letter grade. If you fail to make a presentation as scheduled or rearrange it during the semester, you may turn in your outline and may earn up to a maximum of 9 points (or 3/5 of the point value).


3. RESEARCH PAPER: You must write a paper on the research problem you select in consultation with the instructors (selection due on or before September 17th). The paper must use and analyze both quantitative and qualitative data (a minimum of one source each). The paper must be well written and typed, in a form suitable for submission to an academic journal, have between eight and 14 pages of text, be double-spaced, and be paginated. (More details presented below)


The paper is worth a possible 100 points and is due on or before December 3rd. Papers turned in after the due date may be penalized by deducting 5 points for each calendar day the paper is late.


4. EXAMS: A midterm exam will be given on October 15th and a final exam will be given on December 10th. Each exam will contain both short answer and essay questions covering the textbooks and material presented during class. Each exam will be worth up to 100 points. Make-up exams for a missed midterm can be taken with the final exam, if the absence is excused.


5. ATTENDANCE AND PARTICIPATION: A good seminar requires participation by all (raising questions, commentary, gathering data, etc.). Students should be prepared before each class to discuss readings from the textbook and points covered in the previous session. You are expected to attend every class.


If you must miss please let the instructor know as soon as possible as a courtesy to your colleagues. A good attendance record, no absences or one excused absences and being to class on time, as well as, participating during class may earn you up to 10 extra points added to other points earned. If you accumulate two or more excused absences or are late (15 minutes plus) to class three or more times, you will not receive any extra points. If you accumulate two or more unexcused absences you will either be dropped from the course with a grade of WF or your final grade will be lowered one level.


6. RECORD KEEPING: You are responsible for retaining all exams and other graded materials returned to you. These are records of your class performance and may be needed in case a discrepancy occurs with regard to your grades.


7. CHEATING in any form (including copying other students' answers, using unauthorized materials during exams, and submitting someone else's work as your own) can result in a “F” or failing grade for the course and referral to the Dean of Students for disciplinary action.


8. AVOIDING PLAGIARISM: From http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/589/01/ Retrieved on August 24, 2008: “Research-based writing in American institutions, both educational and corporate, is filled with rules that writers, particularly beginners, aren't aware of or don't know how to follow. Many of these rules have to do with research and proper citation. Gaining a familiarity of these rules, however, is critically important, as inadvertent mistakes can lead to charges of plagiarism, which is the uncredited use (both intentional and unintentional) of somebody else's words or ideas.

While some cultures may not insist so heavily on documenting sources of words, ideas, images, sounds, etc., American culture does. A charge of plagiarism can have severe consequences, including expulsion from a university or loss of a job, not to mention a writer's loss of credibility and professional standing.”


9. APPROPRIATE ADJUSTMENTS AND AUXILIARY AID are available for persons with disabilities. As required by the Americans with Disabilities Act an attempt will be made to meet all certified requirements. See instructor or call (817) 565-2456 (TDD access 1-800-735-2989).


Tentative Topic and Reading Assignments by Weeks and Schedule of Presentations and Activities Related to Paper


Dates Topics Readings


Aug 27 Introductions


Review course outline


Discuss possible research topics and past class projects (Examples: Seward, R. R., Stivers, R. A., Igoe, D. G., Amin, I., & Cosimo, D. (2005). Irish families in the twentieth century: Exception or converging? Journal of Family History, 30, 410-430; and Seward, R. R., Igoe, D. G., Richardson, V., & Cosimo, D. (2006). Demographic transitions, family changes, and social developments in Ireland. In C. Gomes (Ed.), Social development and family changes (pp. 272-299). Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom: Cambridge Scholars Press.)


Professional Organizations( you must belong to at least one to receive a passing grade in this class): ASA, International Sociology Association’s Research Committee 06 or Committee on Family Research or other research committee, Southwestern Social Science Association/SSA, CCF, NCFR, TCRM, TCFR (if you can not afford it I will pay for membership in the CFR)


Professional conferences (Dr. James Williams, TWU, usually provides list)


Data sources for research:


Local: Undergraduate Family Issues Survey 1970-1990s; Soci5200 Parent Surveys 1989, 1994, 2003, & 2005; Parents & Paid Work Project 1998; Yeatts & Cready’s Nursing Home Data Set, and other faculty data sets.


External examples: ICPSR data archive and online analysis; NSFH 1987-88, 1992-94, 2003-4 waves of national panel study; Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study of nearly 5,000 children born in large U.S. cities between 1998 and 2000 – follow-up in 2009


Funding Sources: NSF; National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; Fulbright, Hogg Foundation, Swedish Institute, Rotary Club, Office of Nationally Competitive Scholarships


True & False Items & 1st Class assignment due Sept. 3rd


2nd Class assignment: Find a model research article that approaches your proposed topic in a way you like and make a copy. For the Journal containing the article provide copies of "Notice to Contributors or Authors," mission or synopsis of content, and submission and rejection rates. Also identify two potential DATA SOURCES (find out about access and possible use of data) related to your research interest due Sept.10th


3rd Class assignment: PROPOSED RESEARCH TOPIC/PROBLEM due Sept. 17th (Bring assignments to class to present and discuss)


Federation Methods Qualifying Exams


ASSIGN FIRST PRESENTATIONS


Sept 3 Review Parent/Baby Survey 2008 questionnaire and articles published on previous parent surveys

Briefly present Assignment 1 to class (and turn in to instructor)

Human Inquiry & Science Babbie 1

Paradigms, Theory, & Social Resarch Babbie 2

(? Presentations Donal Igoe, NUIG, Research in Ireland; George Yancey on available data sets)


Sept 10 Briefly present Assignments 2 (and turn in to instructor)

The Ethics & Politics of Social Research Babbie 3

Introduction Fowler 1

Research Design Babbie 4

(? Presentation Dr. Dale Yeatt Grant Seeking and Past Class Projects

Assignment 4: For your model journal article identify key parts and do the same for an article assigned by instructor, due on 24th


Sept 17 Briefly present Assignments 3 (and turn in to instructor)

CFR 2009: Feb. Conference, Call for papers for Oslo in June, & Membership opportunity

Conceptualization, Operationalization&

Measurement Babbie 5

Indexes, Scales, & Typologies Babbie 6

The Logic of Sampling Babbie 7

(?Presentation on library resources by your personal Librarian Lilly Ramin)


Sept 24 Briefly present summary of your model article for Assignments 4 (and turn in all of assignment to instructor)

Update on calls for papers and professional membership (joining CFR)

Assignment 5: Complete for NIH training Protecting Human Research Participants (http://phrp.nihtraining.com/users/login.php ) due Oct. 1st

Sampling & Nonresponse Fowler 2 & 3

Experiments Babbie 8

(? IRB presentation by Boyd Herndon, JD or Adrian Tan)

ASSIGN SECOND PRESENTATIONS


Oct 1 2nd Presentations

Assignment 5: Certificate of completion of NIH training due to instructor

Survey Research Babbie 9

Data Collection and Designing Questions Fowler 4 & 5

Evaluating Questions, Interviewing, and

Preparing Data Fowler 6, 7, & 8

Qualitative Field Research Babbie 10


Oct 8 2nd Presentations continue


Unobtrusive Research Babbie 11

Evaluation Research Babbie 12

Possible questions on mid-term (Qualifying exams and beyond)

(? Presentation by Paul Ruggiere. Director of Survey Research Center)

ASSIGN THIRD PRESENTATIONS


Oct 15 MIDTERM EXAM


Oct 22 3rd Presentations

Qualitative Data Analysis Babbie 13

Quantitative Data Analysis Babbie 14


Oct 29 3rd Presentations continue

Access online data sets analysis (?with Dr. Yoder)

Elaboration Babbie 15

Statistical Analyses Babbie,16

2nd Presentations begin:

First part of paper due (optional)


Nov 5 3rd Presentations continue

Introduction or review of SPSS as necessary (?Karen Kaiser)

Conduct trial analyses for research paper.

ASSIGN FOURTH PRESENTATIONS


Nov 12 4th Presentations

Reading and Writing Social Research Babbie 17

Writing empirical research reports Pyrczak & Bruce

(? Presentation by Roy Ralston on full-time career doing research)

Providing information & Errors Fowler 10 & 11


Nov 19 4th Presentations continue


Nov 26 4th Presentations continue


Dec 3 ? 5th Presentations

Instructor and course evaluations

PROJECT PAPERS DUE -December 3


Dec 10 FINAL EXAM 2 to 5 PM

MORE DETAILS on COURSE RESEARCH PAPER:

(based on model and outline developed by Dale E. Yeatts in 1980s & 1990s)


LEARNING COMPONENTS TO HELP ACHIEVE AIM 1(above) Each student researcher will select a research problem or topic that can be investigated using a minimum of one quantitative and one qualitative data source (Previous class topics includes parenting, grand parenting, juvenile delinquency, gender, religion, elderly, higher education, and work-life issues.)


Each researcher will then complete the following:

1. Provide a need (justification) and purpose for research problem

2. Complete a literature review on problem

3 Select and define research concepts, theoretical framework, and conceptual model for understanding the problem

4. Formulate hypotheses or research questions to test or answer

5. Select appropriate quantitative and qualitative data sources

6. Detail methods (e.g, research designs, data sources, sampling and collection procedures)

7. Prepare and analyze some data at univariate, bivariate, and multivariate levels

8. Interpret findings, reach conclusions, and generate implications.

9. write a paper in a publishable format.


UNT faculty firmly believe that you can produce a valuable, publishable paper. Over 30 presentations at professional meetings, at least 10 journal articles, and 4 master’s theses have been based on papers written in this class. Most articles have joint authorship of student(s) and faculty. Consider collaborating with a faculty member or student colleague. Most faculty like to be co-authors if they provide you with data, work with you in developing your topic, or help analyze your data either in or outside of class. You should include them as authors when you submit the paper to a professional meeting or for publication.


RESOURCES FOR WRITING PAPER:

1. American Psychological Association. (1994). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author

(Chapter 4: Manuscript Preparation and Sample Paper is the most relevant but the entire volume is a valuable resourse.)

2. Fred Pyrczak & Randall R. Bruce (2007). Writing empirical research reports: A basic guide for students of the social and behavioral sciences (6th ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Pyrczak. (Appendix A provides a checklist of principles for writing many parts of your research paper)

3. Creswell, John W. (1998). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five traditions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage (Chapter 6: Introducing and focusing the study)

4. Locke, Lawrence F., Spirduso, W. W., & Silverman, S. J. (2000). .Proposals that work: A guide for planning dissertations and grant proposals. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

5. Journal of Marriage and Family’s Information for Authors: http://www.ncfr.org/jmf/apastyle_guide.htm

6. Babbie: Chapter 17: Reading and Writing Social Research.

7. Becker Howard S. (1986). Writing for social scientists: How to start and finish your thesis, book, or article. Chicago, IL:University of Chicago Press. (See 11/30/05 email)


SPECIFICS: The paper must be well written and typed, in a form suitable for submission to an academic journal [use the American Psychological Association’s Publication Manual 5th Edition (required style for UNT Theses & Dissertations), American Sociological Association Style Guide, Chicago Manual 15th Edition author-date system or the reference style appropriate for the model Journal article you select)], have between eight and 14 pages of text, be double-spaced, and be paginated. Your font size must be 12 CPI or larger. You must use at least 8 academic and relevant research references. Your paper must have a title page and an abstract on a separate page with a maximum of 150 words (or appropriate word count for the model Journal article you select). The abstract must follows (include) the Social Science Quarterly’s four item format (objectives, methods, results, and conclusions). The body of the paper must include an introduction to the research problem including need and statement of purpose, a literature review that is no longer than 4 pages, theoretical perspective(s)with research concepts, conceptual model, hypotheses or research questions that state the postulated direction of relationships between your research variables, identification of research design(s), data sources including a discussion of sampling and collection procedures for both quantitative and qualitative data, operational definitions, limitations of methods, discussion and presentation of data analyses (must include univariate, bivariate, and multivariate levels) and interpretations or findings, conclusions, and implications. You are encouraged to submit early drafts for review


ELABORATION OR HELPFUL HINTS: Papers for publication typically begin with an introduction, which "grabs" the reader and explains why the topic is important (need/justification) and what aspect of the topic will be studied (i.e., the research problem including a statement of purpose). This is followed by a literature review to explain what has been found so far, regarding the topic, the theoretical perspective, and what the research paper intends to contribute to this knowledge. This typically means that you will be either replicating someone else's study, testing the same problem in a new way, testing a related problem, or developing a new problem not previously considered. In all cases you are looking for variables that should impact your dependent variable of concern or your topic.


1. FOR REVIEW BY INSTRUCTORS’ PURPOSES: The first part of the paper should include a complete draft of the items specified above for your second presentation. The literature review should generally be around 4 pages as journals typically have a page limit for a complete article of around 20 pages or 10,000 words for the body of the paper. The introduction and literature review should be similar to those generally found at the beginning of published research articles.


Whenever you turn in your paper also turn in a copy of the model published journal article that most closely relates to your selected topic and approach plus also turn in the "Notice to Contributors or Authors" from the journal that published the article. The format of your written paper should in most cases follow the same format used by your model article. Journals require certain formats that often include rules about headings, citations, and references. Follow the guidelines in the "Notice to Contributors", e.g., it always requires that the paper be typed and double spaced. One exception for 5200 papers is that they do not need to double space tables, graphs, figures or references. Be sure and put the paper in the order specified by the “Notice to Contributors” - usually tables, graphs, and figures are at the end. Use appropriate verb tenses as suggested by APA manual, that is, introduction, review of the literature, objectives, theoretical or conceptual model, methods, and findings sections should use past tense, while discussion of results, conclusions, and implications sections should use present tense.


The first part of your paper is due before or on October 29, if you want us to review it. Comments from the class and instructor should be used when you write the final version of the paper.


2. MORE on the final draft of your paper:


The THEORETICAL AND CONCEPTUAL MODEL, which contains the concepts related to your topic that you will study and your hypotheses or research questions, can be integrated into the literature review (very common) or placed at the end of that section. Your research questions generally would follow. If you write hypothesis these are usually in the Methods section.


The METHODS section should describe (1) the research design, (2) the data collection procedures followed, (3) how the dependent, independent, and control variables were measured (operational definitions), (4) statistical procedures used and why (must include univariate, bivariate, and multivariate analysis), and (4) limitations of the research (e.g. common methods variance or lack of triangulation).


The FINDINGS section should present the data within tables, graphs, or figures and review for the reader what was found (did the findings support the hypotheses or how were the research questions answered).


A CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS section that gives a very brief overview summary of the paper including implications related to the previous research reviewed in the literature and proposed further research needed.


The final paper is due before or on December 3. Be sure you have followed all the specifications listed on this outline. New sections of this draft should be based upon later presentations.


Best Wishes for a Successful Semester!!! 5200 Fall 2008 Outline




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