Almost any career involves and benefits from using social science evidence to inform decision-making. The ability to read published research critically is essential and is different from the skills involved in undertaking research using statistical analysis. In this course we examined both qualitative and quantitative methods social scientists use to develop new knowledge about the social world. We examined issues of measurement, sampling, research design, data collection and data analysis by addressing the following major issues: Are the questions and hypotheses advanced appropriate and testable? Is the research design sufficient for the hypothesis? Is the data gathered valid, reliable and objective? Are the statistical techniques used to analyze the data appropriate and do they support the conclusions reached?
Oftentimes in the media we read stories about major studies and their findings. We often see headlines like:
Red wine makes you live longer. Bras cause cancer. Sugar is as addictive as heroine.