SOC122: PhD’s Guide to Research Methods


We continue our PhD’s guide series with a broad overview of sociological research methodology. WAIT! Don’t fall asleep! We talk a ton about concepts and theories, but how do sociologists come up with the evidence to back them up? How do we do our research? This episode will give you a little insight into how. We cover the basics of qualitative and quantitative methods, as well as discuss the ethics of human research. Whether you like numbers or words, statistics or stories, there’s a method to suit your mode of thinking! Join in as we discuss the Nuremberg trials, the Stanford Prison Experiment, and a run down of the basics of sociological research.


sociology, sociological imagination, methodology


  1. On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City by Alice Goffman
  2. Good summary and follow up to the aftermath of this book (NYTimes)
  3. Victor Rios harsh criticism of book in book review
  4. Amazing easy-to-read primer on multiple regression analysis. A 5TH GRADER CAN READ IT. Every sociologist needs this book
  5. Here’s a fun crash course on sociological research methods
  6. Institutional Ethnography–Lecture by the founder, Dorothy Smith


▪ data are reduced to numbers and statistical analyses are commonly


▪ research tool tends to be reliable

▪ results of research are more generalizable to larger and other populations

▪ cannot study individual units of analysis in depth

▪ studies large populations broadly

▪ commonly used methods of data collection used are:

✓ survey

✓ experiments

✓ content analysis


▪ data are text or visual images

▪ can study populations that are hard to find (snowball sampling)

▪ results tend to be accurate

▪ studies a small number of units of analysis in depth

▪ research results generally are not generalizable

▪ commonly used methods of data collection used are:

✓ participant observation (aka ethnography or fieldwork)

✓ historical research

Discourse analysis

Institutional ethnography


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