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Sociological Research Methods


An effective research method involves a number of elements for it to be relevant and to yield best results. The ideas being researched upon have to be clearly spelt out and explained in a good manner. The collection of data affects greatly the outcome of the research generally, so it has to be exhaustive. For the data collected to be proven valid, there will be a need for measurement and analysis in order to get the specific points that are required by research. Sociological research will, therefore, need the use of concepts and methods that are relevant depending on the topic being considered in research. Research has to be substantive and display quality in the findings. The ideas have to be supported by evidence which should be well-represented with the major concepts being outlined clearly. The type of data analysis is very important and should be decided upon carefully to ensure the maximum information the research is meant to examine is gotten.

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In the given research “The Mark of A Criminal Record”, the author is examining the employment outcomes after release from jail for the white and black men. The research has been used to get information on the problems these men face in getting employment after they have been released from jail. The author is keen on this issue, which, therefore, becomes his prime objective. The author has clearly stated his objective in his writing of the article based on the research, and uses real jobs to demonstrate the association between the incarceration and employment. Another research objective is to show the effect of race in seeking employment among the whites and blacks who are from jail.

The author has used an experimental approach to formulate this research and has come up with his conclusion. The sample he used is representative of the general population it has been gotten, from which are the ex-offenders. It has used no personal contact approach to conduct the studies. The set objectives of the study have been clearly shown as the writer has explained each of these objectives clearly in his writing. The researcher has used a good audit methodology that is effective in deciding from the predictions that have been made. On the issues regarding the treatment of the ex-offenders, the author has put them across clearly, and he explains their fate after they have finished their terms of incarceration. The generalization used here is up to standard, as the information used is first-hand from other studies that have been conducted on the same issue and also from some of the ex-convicts. From this, one can say that the information used is valid and can be relied on for other similar groups. The author has clearly quoted the sources of the information used and can, therefore, not be accused of plagiarizing, for example, Becker (1975) who is a researcher among those who have offered various hypothesis regarding the relationship between the employment and incarceration.

The study being conducted has a research question which is essential in conducting sociological research. It is through this question that one is able to formulate the relevant method to use, as well as the strategies and design. It is after this that the researcher has been able to put across his ideas to explain the concepts he was trying to put across regarding the effects of a criminal record in getting employment. The research question should be in line with the general concept of the overall research.

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The prior research method, which was a survey, was faced by several limitations as the results it yielded were not very convincing. The author has acknowledged these limitations and has clearly explained their shortcomings. It is through referring to the prior study that the author is able to come up with another method, which is the experimental one, and, therefore, research is bound to yield better findings and results. The author has chosen to use an audit study, so that he would be able to combine experimental methods with real life context and allow his greater generalizability. The audit has often been used in the study of civil rights and, since the objective of the study is about problems of ex-offenders, it becomes the most appropriate way of the study.

The author has used a sample of the entire population to conduct the study. According to Berger (2010), sampling generally involves selecting from a larger group that will statistically represent the larger group. For example, in this study, the author uses two black men and two white men to apply for jobs as ex-convicts as an experimental strategy in their study. These four men in total are representatives of the ex-offenders at large who have difficulties in getting jobs due to their criminal records. He has used probability sampling method. From this group he has chosen to use quota sampling. The authors have used this method, since the samples used will be more representative of the large population and research, therefore, will yield good findings and reasonable conclusions will, therefore, be reached. The generalizability of the study will be good, as the sampling method used is reliable.

The whole concept of the problems ex-offenders face in getting employment has been treated as a multidimensional thought. This has been shown as the authors use different areas to come up with their research mechanisms. For example, the author is keen on the challenges of the black men and also the white men. This shows diversity in how he conducts his research that will give results from a larger perspective, other than the one way which would have resulted if he conducted research on the white men only. The concept will, therefore, provide room for the covering of a large population which represents almost all the convicts who have served their sentences.

The author has further gone down to doing his analysis on the findings he gets from the sampling. He does this in a clear way explaining what he gets, and this is based on the objectives of his study. For example, he starts a new part of the study, where he heads with the effects of criminal records for the whites. He has clearly represented his findings in his writing and on the graph labeled figure 5. The information represented here is easily understood. He has gone further to represent the effects of the race on employment and representing it on figure 6. The author also represents his limitations in the appendix, and he explains why those limitations were a barrier to his research. This will help in understanding fully the findings of his research.

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