Depth vs. Breadth: Sociologists planning new studies must often choose between the detail and realism of qualitative data (depth of information), which sacrifices some generalization, and the large samples and generalization findings of quantitative data (breadth of information), which sacrifices realistic detail. Briefly describe a topic, the theory you would use to analyze it, and your resulting research question. Then discuss how you would handle this trade off in doing research on that question. Be sure to explain not just your choices but also your reasons–why would you choose a particular type of data to answer your question, and why is or isn’t it important for you to have a large sample? (Notes: To do this topic well, you must state and discuss a specific research question–don’t skip that step! Also, this can be a trial run for Writing Assignment 2 — feel free to use your intended topic, theory, research question, etc. for the Assignment, and see what kind of feedback you get.)

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Research in the News: Find a newspaper, magazine, or web article that discusses a social science research study (see article requirements below). In your post, briefly describe the research and then use the issues and concerns in Unit 7 to assess its quality—or, if the article is missing important details, what further information you would need to evaluate the study. Some areas to think about: research design, data type, sample and generalization, whether adequate control variables are included, validity and reliability of measures, possible Hawthorne effects, research ethics, etc. At the beginning or end of your post, provide a citation that includes the article author, date, title, publication title, and URL (if applicable).
ARTICLE REQUIREMENTS: The article must address social behavior, events, or issues—it cannot be purely medical or biological research. It must provide enough detail on a single study that you can evaluate the research – do not use an article that briefly summarizes several studies. To find an article, you can try searching news sources like the AC or New York Times. I also found the Science Daily website to be a pretty good source: go to, then click on the Society/Education tab or just search “sociology” and see what you get.

Suggestions for reply comments: Both topics require that you really understand the unit concepts and are able to apply them. If you see someone headed down the wrong path—e.g., misusing a concept, omitting an important concern—help get them back on the right track. Also, remember that while there are better and worse ways to address these questions, there are no 100% correct answers. Thus, feel free to agree or (kindly) disagree with people’s research choices and critiques, and do not take it personally if they disagree with yours.

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