Social Research Method (Mid-Term Examination)

Herewith a number of questions to be answered as a material for my Mid-Term Examination, on the subject of Social Research Method.

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Describe how scientific inquiry differs from non-scientific inquiry.

One of the most defining features of scientific inquiry is that scientific inquiry uses certain criteria that must be met before the reality is accepted. The assertion must be both logical and empirically supported, not contradicting actual observation. It uses methodologies to find out things.

Non-scientific inquiry, on the other hand, uses no methodologies, nor have any criteria in defining the reality. It commonly falls into these forms: [1] ordinary human inquiry (basic phenomenon that any human beings may discover from daily life), or in the form of agreement reality (those things we “know” as part of the culture that we share); [2] tradition (inheritance of a culture); [3] authority (dependence on the status of the discoverer)

Discuss how scientific inquiry tries to avoid the common pitfall that produces error in non-scientific inquiry.

There are four errors in inquiry, each with its own solution(s):

  1. Inaccurate observations, i.e. often observations are made casually, without proper conscious planning to observe and record. Solution: usage of measurement devices to ad the degree of precision which beyond the capacity of unassisted human senses.
  2. Overgeneralization, i.e. assuming that a few similar events provide evidence of a general pattern, only on the basis of very limited observations. Solution: using sufficiently large and representative sample of observations, repeating the study.
  3. Selective observation, i.e. prejudice, after creating overgeneralization, observers tend to focus on those patterns replicating, ignoring those that do not. Solution: deliberately finding for the deviation (something outside the pattern), planning in advance the number and kind of observations to be made as basis for reaching a conclusion.
  4. Illogical reasoning, i.e. observations that happen to be in contradiction of common understanding of the observer. Solution: usage of system of logic, consciously and explicitly, keeping the scientists’ honesty.

Contrast in inductive model of theory construction with the deductive model. Give example of researches that use each of these models.

Inductive reasoning (induction method) is the logical model in which general principles are developed from specific observations. E.g. the believe that more Papuans watch the TV channel A, could lead to the conclusion that the population outside Java are more likely to watch TV channel A.

Deductive reasoning (deduction method) is the logical model in which specific expectations of hypotheses are developed on the basis of general principles. E.g. The believe that most students of the West Java province enrolled in public schools, may lead to the expected hypothesis that most students of the city of Bandung enrolled in public schools.

Discuss the three purposes for doing research. Describe a study that illustrative each purpose.

There are three purposes of research. They are:

  1. Exploration, i.e. to start familiarize a researcher to a certain topic, which commonly a new interest or when the subject is relatively new. Exploration is also useful to more persistent phenomena (what is happening to a certain phenomenon, why it is happening, etc). It serves the purpose of (1) to satisfy researcher’s curiosity, (2) to test the feasibility of undertaking a more extensive study, (2) to develop the methods to be employed in any subsequent study. E.g. a student in a school wants to examine whether the education fair held annually in his school gives direct impact when students are enrolling for university.
  2. Description, i.e. to describe certain situations and events. Scientific descriptions are typically more accurate and precise. E.g. the five-yearly census in Indonesia gives the description of the composition of the population, occupation, etc.
  3. Explanation, i.e. explaining certain things. Commonly, explanation answers the explanatory questions of “why”, i.e. the reasoning behind a certain phenomenon. E.g. in the Tangerang Selatan election for mayor, surveys try to answer why the Candidate no. 4 wins over Candidate no. 3 (which coincidentally a very popular public figure).
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