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Robert Crosnoe, Chair CLA 3.306, Mailcode A1700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-232-6300

Spring 2010

SOC 317M • Intro to Social Research

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
46310 MW
9:00 AM-10:00 AM
9:00 AM-11:00 AM
BUR 220
BUR 124
Angel, R.

Course Description

In this course we will investigate the methods used in social scientific research. We will examine such issues as how one establishes causality and just what "proof" consists of in social scientific inquiry. We will investigate the nature of data and examine the strengths and weaknesses of qualitative and quantitative data. We will also deal with issues related to ethics and the uses to which social scientific research can legitimately be put.

The final project consists of a research proposal for a theoretical project on a topic you will choose in consultation with the Professor or the Teaching Assistant. In it you will outline all relevant aspects of the project, including sampling and questionnaire construction, but you will not actually carry out the research itself. In preparation for the final research proposal two preliminary papers are required. In these you will (1) define the research question and (2) outline the research methods to be used to address it. The course includes a lab in which material presented in class will be elaborated and in which computer applications will be discussed. All course materials will be available on Blackboard. Assignments, schedule changes, and announcements related to the course will appear on Blackboard and students are responsible for keeping informed.

The course includes three Internet assignments that involve answering a particular question using information you locate online. These assignments will be related to the development of the final research proposal.

Grading Policy

The final grade will be based on three equally weighted hourly exams (together 40% of the final grade), graded lab work (10% of the final grade) and two graded writing assignments, the first of which is a draft of the problem statement of the final research proposal (15% and 35% of the final grade). Attendance at class and lab are mandatory and will be factored into the final grade. All assignments must be turned in on the date they are due. Late work will be accepted only with prior approval. The lab sessions will be critical in developing the proposal.


In the course we will do a good bit of data analysis with an eye toward understanding what numbers and graphs can tell us and what they cannot. The required text is Earl Babbie, The Practice of Social Research, tenth edition or later, Thompson publishers. Other readings are provided in the Readings file on Blackboard and will be assigned in class. We will use the computer lab in Burdine. All of the software and manuals are available on line. The Teaching Assistant is available to provide whatever help you need.


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