This course is a general introduction to social research methods. During the semester we will cover four general topics: research design, conducting research, analyzing data, and evaluating research. We will also consider the goals and ethical implications of social research. I honestly believe that this is the most useful course you will take as an undergraduate. By the end I hope to have equipped you with the skills to conduct solid research as well as critically examine and evaluate the findings and assertions of others. Through lectures, discussion, and practice we will:

  • Discuss the relationship between theory and researhc
  • Explore the nature, principles, and methods of conducting social research
  • Practice an array of research methodologies
  • Grapple with some of the ethical implications of studying human beings
  • Acquire a greater knowledge and understanding of the discipline of sociology

By the end of the course, you should be able to:

  • Conceptualize a research problem and formulate good research questions
  • Develop a number of complementary research designs that will help you find answers to your particular research question(s)
  • Collect your own data using a variety of methods
  • Present your findings
  • Acquire a greater knowledge and understanding of both qualitative and quantitative data analysis techniques to determine the ones that will be most relevant to your own research questions and data collection methods
  • Evaluate the work of other academics as well as the use of social science research in more popular outlets (eg The New York Times, Star Tribune, Wired, ESPN, Cosmopolitan, etc). and arguments in general (eg knowing how to respond to your Uncle Bill when he tells you there is proof that aliens are causing the economic inequalities within the United States, or that males drink beer and women drink sugary mixed drinks due to evolutionary differences)
  • Appreciate different ways to observe and analyze the social world

Most importantly, this course is an opportunity to be exposed to useful tools to help you study and think about the things that interest you, and improve your ability to tell a story about what you learned in a convincing and interesting manner.