This course looks at the ways sociologists collect information about social phenomena with a
special emphasis on what can be done to yield information that is trustworthy and useful for our
theoretical understanding of social life. It assumes no background in research methods or
statistics. We will talk about the scientific method, the complexities of applying methods to social
research, ethics and bias, and research design. You will also learn about major “quantitative”
and “qualitative” methodologies, including surveys, interviews, ethnography, experiments,
participant observation, and content analysis – and have opportunities to try out these methods.
Other classes you have taken, both in Sociology and other disciplines, had the goal of teaching
you what we know. In this class, you will learn how we know what we know. By the end of the
semester you will:
(1) be familiar with research methods used by social scientists to examine and explain
the complexities of the social world;
(2) have the necessary skills to understand and critically evaluate both the methods and
results of published research, as well as the world around you; and
(3) be able to design, implement, and analyze your own social research.