Social Research

Fourth edition

by Sotirios Sarantakos

Chapter 8 - Multi-Sample Studies

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Educational objectives
After completing this chapter, you will:
  1. have a thorough knowledge about collecting data by means of studies using more than one sample;
  2. have a clear understanding of these methods as employed in quantitative and qualitative research;
  3. be well informed as to how experiments are conducted and how relevant data are assessed and used;
  4. have an awareness of how panel studies and focus groups are employed as methods of data collection;
  5. have a critical appreciation of the purpose and significance of employing multi-sample studies.

Contents

  1. Experiments
  2. Panel studies
  3. Focus groups
  4. Practical exercises
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Points to remember

The following are the major points introduced in this chapter. Ensure that you are very confident with their meaning, content, context and significance.
  1. Methods of data collection are often generic tools that can be employed in a variety of methodological contexts.
  2. Experiments involve the measurement of effects on a subject by controlling environmental factors and conditions.
  3. Environmental factors and conditions are controlled through ruling out, closing off or controlling for a set of factors and conditions.
  4. Experiments follow a set of steps. In a typical case experimentation involves a pre-test, a test and a post-test.
  5. Sampling in experiments is accomplished by means of randomisation, subject matching and group matching.
  6. There are several experimental designs employed in social research. Although they differ from each other, they all fall within the parameters of the standard research model introduced earlier in this volume.
  7. Field experiments are new in social research but a growing method indeed.
  8. The validity of experiments depends on a number of factors, some of which relate to maturation, conditioning and instrumentation, and others to the history effect, changes in samples, interaction, sampling, ecology, modelling or what is known as the Hawthorne effect.
  9. Focus groups are usually employed in the areas of social work and less in other social sciences.
  10. Focus groups facilitate collection of data by means of group discussion.
  11. Group discussion is affected by a number of problems but if carefully employed can be a useful tool of data collection.
  12. Panel samples include a number of respondents chosen in a systematic way and subjected to data collection on more than one occasion.
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Short-answer questions

Answer each question carefully (there is no need to write down the answer). Consult your Social Research text when your memory fails you or when you are in doubt about the accuracy of your responses.
  1. What is meant by 'closure' in experimental studies?
  2. What are the main stages of experimental research?
  3. How is sampling carried out in experimental research and how different is it from the standard sampling procedures employed in survey research?
  4. How is 'randomisation' carried out in experimental research and what purpose does it serve?
  5. Describe the process of data collection in experimental research?
  6. What are the major types of experimental designs?
  7. What are the major types of experiments?
  8. Describe briefly the nature and purpose of demonstration experiments.
  9. Explain the way in which field experiments are carried out and the purpose they serve.
  10. Name the most important factors that can affect the validity of experiments.
  11. Describe briefly the nature and purpose of 'group discussion'.
  12. How is a focus group chosen in which 'discussion' is going to take place?
  13. How is 'discussion' organised and controlled when 'group discussion' is carried out?
  14. What is the role of the leader in the context of 'group discussion'?
  15. List some of the problems that can affect group discussion.
  16. What are panel studies, and how are they used in social research?
  17. Describe briefly the differences between panel studies and trend studies.
  18. What are the main problems of panel studies?
  19. List some of the problems that can affect group discussion.

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Fill-in questions

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True/false questions

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Multiple choice questions

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Practical exercises

  1. You have been asked to investigate the effects of increased taxation on the spending patterns of working-class families. How will you design the study using panel studies?
  2. Prepare a complete experimental research design to study the effects of the gender of interviewers on the response rate to door-to-door surveys.
  3. Show how you will construct and employ focus groups as a tool of data collection when studying the views of persons of ethnic origin on female police officers.
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