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INTRODUCTION TO RESEARCH METHODS

Spring 2016
Sociology 382: CRN 21038 M/W 9:00 10:50 HGH 225
Contact Information
Instructor
Dr. Tony Silvaggio
Department of Sociology

Office, Phone & Email


Office Hours: BSS 532 Mon 3-4pm, Weds 8-9am
Other meetings by appointment
Phone 826-3142
Email: avs1@humboldt.edu

Course Description
This course is an overview of social science research methods. It will familiarize you with the tools, methods and
ethics of sociological research, helping you think logically, live ethically, and generate new knowledge. These
tools and methods will be valuable to you in nearly any kind of job you undertake or graduate program in which
you enroll in the future, whether it be community organizing, law, business, administration, or any kind of social
science. As such, this course helps establish what I consider a framework for lifelong learning. If successful,
this course will enable you to digest research results reported in the field and in the media with greater
comprehension, and help you learn to question critically what you read. This course will not make you a research
wizard, but I hope it intrigues you to pursue further courses and projects in social science research. For the next
fifteen weeks, we will be using our imagination and intellect as we learn how to think like researchers. Each of us
will formulate researchable questions, learn about the appropriate methods for answering our various questions,
and, ultimately, propose an actual research project. We will accomplish these things by reading the published
results of others research, referencing the textbooks, and conversing with one another.

Learning Objectives for Course


After completing this course, you should be able to demonstrate the following course learning outcomes, as well
as progress toward final department and university-related learning outcomes:
Course Objectives
1. Identify the fundamental theoretical and methodological differences between quantitative and qualitative
research designs.
2. Evaluate the relative strengths and weaknesses of different research designs.
3. Understand the ethical and political issues surrounding social science research.
4. Use theoretically informed social research methods as tools for change in work or community settings.
5. Develop and defend a research proposal.
6. Communicate with precision and style in both writing and orally.

Required Books and Course Readings


Dixon, Jeffrey C., Royce A. Singleton and Bruce C. Straits. 2016. The Process of Social Research. New York:
Oxford University Press.
Other course readings are available on the course Moodle Site

Course Requirements
Components and Weight
Online Quizzes 10%
There will be online Moodle quizzes that you must complete that cover the reading and lecture material. Each
quiz will cover the material since the previous quiz and will tend to be comprehensive in nature. Lectures and the
course readings will be your best clues as to what is likely to be on the quiz. Each quiz will be approximately 1
point each for a total of 10 points. Over the semester I will post approximately 12 quizzes on Moodles weekly

schedule. You must complete 10 of 12 these quizzes over the course of the semester. If you choose to compete
all 12 quizzes I will drop the lowest two quiz scores. Quizzes are open book and need to be completed before our
9am class on Wednesdays.
In Progress Assignments 30 %
The In-Progress Assignments below (a thru g) will be handed out prior to due dates for each assignment and will
be posted on Moodle. Students must complete all seven In-Progress written assignments. These are sequential
components of the research proposal that will be reviewed and graded by the instructor and returned to students
with comments and feedback.
a. Tentative problem area (statement/topic), research question, relevance to sociology (2 points: Due
February 3)
b. Annotated bibliography & Article Summary Sheets (3 points: Due February 10)
c. Revised problem area/statement, literature review, research question(s)/hypothesis, relevance (5 points:
Due February 17)
d. Operationalization of concepts, measurement of variables, instrumentation, validity/reliability (6 points:
Due March 2)
e. Research design/rationale, sampling strategy/rationale (6 points: Due March 9)
f. Data collection methods (3 points: Due April 4)
g. Human subjects protocol and Online Citi Training (5 points: Due April 13)
Final Research Proposal 25%
The final proposal is an 8-12 page single spaced written paper in which you will use the knowledge you have
gained over the entire term to propose a research project. Specific instructions are on the course Moodle site.
Many of our class discussions and exercises throughout the term, as well as the writing assignments, will help you
prepare for writing this assignment. Minimum of 10 peer reviewed sources, not including your textbook.
Research Proposal Presentation 5%
During the last two weeks of class each student will give a ten-minute presentation on their research proposal.
Details for your presentation will be discussed in class throughout the term.
Short Papers 20%
There are two short paper assignments. Each assignment is worth 10% of your grade and will be roughly two
single-spaced typed pages in length. The assignments give you the opportunity to apply concepts from the
readings, lectures, and class discussions. Specific instructions for each assignment will be on the course Moodle
site.
Attendance/Participation 10%
There is an attendance requirement. Attendance and participation are critical to the success of this course. You
can miss two classes without penalty. Regardless of whether you start the course late, get sick, have to work,
etc., you only get two absences (1 full week). My recommendation use your absences only when you are sick.
After the second absence your grade drops by one half-letter grade. The fourth absence your grade drops one
full letter. Five absences and the highest grade you can receive will be a C-. At six (three weeks) absences you
will receive an F for the course. There are no excused absences, nor do you need permission from me to be late.
It's just like a job -- after you use up your sick time, it comes out of your check. If you chronically arrive late or
leave early I reserve the right to mark you absent. If you chronically come to class not having done the readings,
pack up before the end of class, or text message in class, I reserve the right to mark you absent for that day. I will
send a sign-up sheet around during class to check attendance, but after I learn names I will do this by sight. You
are expected to come to class familiar with the required readings and ready to participate in discussions.
If you do miss a class and do not have a valid reason (defined below), please do not ask me, What did I miss?
or, my personal favorite, Did I miss anything? Instead, get the notes from a fellow classmate, keeping in mind
that they may or may not be a good note taker.
*All assignments must be turned in to get a passing grade for the class. If you fail to turn in one assignment, you
will not get a passing grade for the class.
The goal of the exams and writing assignments described above is to facilitate your learning and understanding of
course materials. Therefore, I use a non-competitive grade scale. This means that the grade you receive will

depend entirely on your mastery of the course material, not on how well you perform compared to others in class.
Course requirements will be weighted as follows in determining your final grade:
Grading Scale
A = 95-100 %

A- = 90-94

B+ = 87-89

B = 83-86

B- = 80-82

C+ = 77-79

C= 73-76

C- = 70-72

D+ = 67-69

D = 63-66

D- 60-62

F = 0-59

COURSE RESOURCES AND POLICIES


This class has a website on Moodle. The course web site contains useful information including a copy of this
syllabus, links to readings, and handouts used in class, important announcements such as changes in the class
schedule or office hours, assignments, and suggestions for further readings on topics related to this class.
POLICY ON LATE ASSIGNMENTS, MISSED EXAMS, AND SCHEDULING CONFLICTS
Unless otherwise noted, papers and other assignments are due at the beginning of class on the specified due
dates. It is your responsibility to check the class website, syllabus, and listen in lecture for assignment due dates.
Please make it easier on all of us by turning in your assignments on time. It is unfair to students who turn their
work in on time to give full credit for late assignments. If you absolutely must turn something in late, know that
your grade will be affected as follows:

Papers are considered late if they are turned in after class.


Papers not turned in within one week after the due date will get a grade of zero.
All work must be turned in by the last day of class; otherwise, you will be given an F for the course.
I do not accept any work via email.

Any assignment turned in after class on the day which it is due will be penalized with a 20% deduction (i.e. two
letter grades). Translation: If you show up at my office at 10:55 after class on a day that an assignment is due,
exhausted because you just ran across campus from the computer lab, I will automatically deduct 20% from your
grade for that assignment. Similarly, if you put your assignment in the wall folder outside of my office later that
night or the next day, again, 20% gets taken right off the top. If your assignment is not in my possession by 4:00
p.m. within one week after the due date, you will receive a zero for the assignment, but you still must turn in every
assignment to receive a passing grade.
Writing is a necessary component of this course. There are accepted methods of referencing and noting materials
in essays. Check the course Moodle site for ASA guidelines, or see the Chicago Manual of Style or Kate
Turabian's Guide to Writing. Proofreading is absolutely crucial for all your written work; you should use a
spellchecker, but do not depend on this alone. If in doubt, let me know. I will be happy to offer guidance about
writing style and content. Office hours are provided for you to utilize. If you need to contact me outside those
times or make an appointment, please email me. I very rarely check my phone.
If you are not able to commit to doing the course work or meeting the attendance requirement, I strongly
recommend you do not take this course. Also, if you run into problems getting to class or doing the work, see me
immediately so you can try to figure out how to accomplish those objectives. Whatever you do, do not try to cheat
on exams, quizzes, attendance or plagiarize (copy) your papers--it can get you kicked out of school.
*Again, all assignments must be turned in to get a passing grade by 10:00 am Monday May 9 th. If you fail to turn
in one assignment, you will not get a passing grade for the class.
Keys to Success in This Course
Sociology is an extremely complex subject that will require you to think in a way that may be entirely new to you.
Please be prepared for a challenging semester, although I hope it will also be an exciting and illuminating one.
Here are some basic suggestions for doing well in this course:

Read assignments before coming to class.

Attend all lectures on a regular basis.


Take notes on lectures.
Take notes on readings.
Study for quizzes in advance.
Read assignments and quiz questions carefully you dont want to lose points for not reading the
assignment.
Hand in all assignments completed and on time.
Proofread all your papers at least once.
If you are having difficulty with the class, I strongly recommend using some of the resources at the HSU
Learning Center (826-5217).

Additional Information
HSU Learning Outcomes
This course explicitly contributes to students acquisition of skills and knowledge relevant to the following
HSU Learning Outcomes:
HSU graduates will have demonstrated:
1. Effective communication through written and oral modes.
2. Critical and creative thinking skills in acquiring a broad base of knowledge and applying it to complex
issues.
3. Competence in a major area of study.
4. Appreciation for and understanding of an expanded world perspective by engaging respectfully with a
diverse range of individuals, communities, and viewpoints.
HSU graduates will be prepared to:
5. Succeed in their chosen careers.
6. Take responsibility for identifying personal goals and practicing lifelong learning.
7. Pursue social justice, promote environmental responsibility, and improve economic conditions in their
workplaces and communities.
Sociology Major Learning Outcomes
Graduates with a BA in Sociology and a B.A. in Criminology and Justice Studies:
1. Ability to link empirical data with social theory.
2. Ability to critically engage with research methodology.
3. Demonstrate ability to think critically about social and environmental justice.
4. Ability to communicate effectively orally and in writing

Classroom Behavior
This course may produce discomfort sociology is considered by many to be subversive. Sociology looks at the
institutions and structures of society critically: facades are stripped away and society is exposed for what is really
is. Since we all will have something to say, but may be saying vastly different, even contradictory things, the
following few simple, common sense guidelines will be adhered to while in this course. If everyone follows these
our class time together will be a pleasant experience for us all.

Acknowledge that prejudice and discrimination based on race, class, sex, sexual orientation, and physical
differences exist.
Acknowledge that all of us have learned misinformation about our own group and about members of other
groups, whether we belong to a majority or a minority group, from the mass media and other sources.
Assume that people in this class are doing the best they can do.
Never demean, devalue, or in any way put down people for their experiences, backgrounds, or statements.
This does not mean that you cant disagree, only that you do so with respect.
Please dont interrupt. Listen before speaking.
Please arrive on time. If you must come late, please sit down as quietly as possible.

Please do not pack up your belongings before the end of class. I do keep an eye on the clock and will let you
out in time. In exchange, I ask that you refrain from shuffling papers, etc. before class is over.
Do not be deceived by the illusion of anonymity in this class. You are visible to everyone, so please do not talk
to your friends, sleep, read newspapers, listen to music, surf the web, etc. All of these behaviors are
distracting to other students.
Please turn off all cell phones and any other little beeping, shrieking, or music-making devices before you
come to class. Absolutely no cell phone, text messaging, or laptop use is allowed in this class. Violations will
result in a deduction in your final grade. Frequent offenders will be asked to leave the class.
Do not interrupt others or talk to your neighbor while others are speaking.
Address your fellow classmates respectfully, whether or not you agree with their particular opinions on
something.
Do not read the newspaper, work on an assignment for another class, or otherwise be disengaged from what
is going on in the classroom.
Students are responsible for knowing policy regarding attendance and disruptive behavior: See the HSU
policy http://studentaffairs.humboldt.edu/judicial/attendance_behavior.php

Students with Disabilities


This syllabus was designed using recommended practices for creating accessible word documents. If you have
suggestions regarding improving the accessibility of this document or other content for this class, please contact
me. Persons who wish to request disability-related accommodations should contact the Student Disability
Resource Center in House 71, 826-4678 (voice) or 826-5392 (TDD). Some accommodations may take up to
several weeks to arrange. http://www.humboldt.edu/~sdrc/
Add Drop Policy
Students are responsible for knowing the University policy, procedures, and schedule for dropping or adding
classes. http://www.humboldt.edu/~reg/regulations/schedadjust.html
Emergency Evacuation
Please review the evacuation plan for the classroom posted on the orange signs and review
http://studentaffairs.humboldt.edu/emergencyops/campus_emergency_preparedness.php for information on
campus Emergency Procedures. During an emergency, information can be found campus conditions at: 826INFO or www.humboldt.edu/emergency
Academic Honesty
Students are responsible for knowing policy regarding academic honesty:
http://studentaffairs.humboldt.edu/judicial/academic_honesty.php or
http://www.humboldt.edu/~reg/documents/HSUcatalog2009-10forWeb.pdf
Course Schedule
The course schedule is subject to change by the instructor, depending on our progress in covering the material.
Any changes will be announced in class. It is your responsibility to know what is announced in class, whether or
not you are present when it is announced. Readings should be completed prior to class for which they are
assigned.
WK
1

Date
Jan 18
Jan 20

Readings
NO CLASS MLK DAY!
Introduction to Research Methods?
Review Syllabus, Course Expectations, Introductions

Jan 25

Why Care about Research Methods: Dialectics of


Social Research
Dixon: Preface, Ch 1
Moodle Readings Week 2

Assignments Due

WK

Date
Jan 27

Readings
Social Science Paradigms, Theory and Social
Research
Dixon: Ch 2

Feb 1

The Ethics and Politics of Research


Dixon: Ch 3

Feb 3

Moodle Readings Week 3

Feb 8

Research Design : How to Design a Research Project


Dixon: Ch 4

Feb 10

Moodle Readings Week 4

Feb 15

Measurement and Operationalization: Linking theory


to research
Dixon: Ch 5

Feb 17
Feb 22

Moodle Readings Week 5


Constructing Indexes and Scales; Sampling
Moodle Readings Week 6a

Due: Assignment 1-C

Feb 24

Dixon: Pp. 137-161


Moodle Readings Week 6b
Social Science Sampling Methodologies
Dixon: Pp. 161-172
Moodle Readings Week 7
Experiments
Dixon: Ch 7
Quantitative Research Methods: Survey Questionnaire
Construction and Sampling
Dixon: Ch 8

Due: Short Paper #1

March 9

Moodle Readings Week 8

Due: Assignment 1-E

March 11-19
March 21

SPRING BREAK
Qualitative Methods: Field Research and In-Depth
Interviews
Dixon: Ch 9

March 23

Moodle Readings Week 9

March 28

Existing Data Analysis


Dixon: Ch 10

March 30

NO CLASS - CESAR CHAVEZ HOLIDAY


Dixon: Ch 11
Quantitative Research Methods: Existing Data
Analysis
Dixon: Ch 12

Feb 29
March 2

10

11

March 7

April 4

Assignments Due

Due: Assignment 1-A

Due: Assignment 1-B


Annotated Bibliography

Due: Assignment 1-D

Due: Assignment #1-F

WK

Date

Readings

12

April 6
April 11

Moodle Readings Week 11


Qualitative Data Analysis:
Dixon Ch 13

April 13

Moodle Readings Week 12

April 18

Reading and Writing in Social Research


Dixon Ch 14

April 20
April 25
April 27
May 2

Moodle Readings Week 13


(In Class Article Critique)
Research Proposal Presentations
Research Proposal Presentations
Research Proposal Presentation

May 4
Finals Week
May 9

Research Proposal Presentations


FINAL RESEARCH PAPER PROPOSAL DUE 10:00 AM
Monday May 9th at my office - BSS 532

13

14
15

Assignments Due

Due: Assignment #1-G


Must turn in CITI Training
Certificate in Class

Due: Short Paper #2

DUE: FINAL PROJECT


PROPOSAL

You must turn in all assignments and your final revised paper at by 10:00am May 9th to receive a passing grade
for the course. Late finals will incur a 20% deduction.