Discussion Questions

  • Think about a topic of contemporary relevance in which you may be interested (for example, poverty, juvenile delinquency, teen births, or racial neighborhood segregation). Using what you learned in this chapter, create a simple research question about the topic. Match your research question to an appropriate research method. Share your ideas with classmates.

  • What is the difference between quantitative and qualitative research? Give an example of each from the chapter. In what kinds of cases might one choose one or the other research method in order to effectively address an issue of interest?

  • Sociologists often use interviews and surveys as methods for collecting data. What are potential problems with these methods of which researchers need to be aware? What steps can researchers take to ensure that the data they are collecting are of good quality?

  • Imagine that your school has recently documented a dramatic rise in plagiarism reported by teachers. Your sociology class has been invited to study this issue. Consider what you learned in this chapter about survey research and design a project to assess the problem.

  • In this chapter, you learned about the issue of ethics in research and read about the Zimbardo prison experiment. How should knowledge collected under unethical conditions (whether it is sociological, medical, psychological, or other scientific knowledge) be treated? Should it be used just like data collected under ethically rigorous conditions?