You are on page 1of 56


Semester 1, 2013-2014 Instructor: Ly Slesman @ Sulaiman Mohd Ali

Method %

Course Work: Midterm Exam Research Report Presentation of the Report/Exercise/Quizzes Class Participation & Attendance
Final Examination Total

60 25 20
10 5 40 100

Week 1: 10th Sept. 2013


is Social Research?

Alternative to social research

important of Social Science? What is Science?

Scientific Enquiry/Method

of Social Research


Research guide decisions. Research helps individuals/leaders/policy-makers to make the best choice out of available alternatives.
How to reduce crime rate How to jump-start your economy Why democracies is the best form of governance relative to the communism?...private vs. collective property ownership Why more investment/foreign-aid does not always work in low-qualities governance countries? Why open trade regime make everyone better off?.. Exportoriented economic approach to national development.

BUT What is research? What do you understand about research? What constitute research?


What is research? Research is a way of going out finding answers to questions. Research is a process through which new knowledge is discovered.

Social Research is a collection of methods and methodologies that researchers apply systematically to produce scientifically based knowledge about the social world.


Methodology is the a subfield of epistemology (i.e. the science of knowing). Methodology encompass Methods Methodology: understanding the social organizational context, philosophical (theoretical) assumptions, ethical principles, and political issues of the enterprise of social researchers who use methods.
It is the science of finding out.

Method: sets of specific techniques for selecting cases, measuring and observing aspects of social life, gathering and refining data, analyzing the data, and reporting on results.
It is the technical/scientific tool/instruments that allow researcher to find out or answer his research


In a social research process, researchers

Think logically, Follow rules, Repeat steps over and over again Combines theories/ideas with facts in a systematic way Use the imagination and creativity Plan and organize carefully Select the appropriate technique to address the research question Treat people in the study ethically and morally Communicate with others

After all, it is the process of discovery.


Alternative to Social Science Knowledge comes not always from research but also the alternatives sources: authority, tradition, personal experiences, media, or even common sense. However Social research is a more structured, organized, and systematic processes than the alternatives. Its more likely to be true with fewer errors.


AlternativesCont. Authority We accept something as being true because someone in authority say its true.
Authoritative publication In Islam, were obliged to do so (i.e. Quran & Sunnah, & other sources of Islamic law). So theres no issue here regarding limitations.

Limitation (Western perspective)

Overestimate/reliance and misused (experts can be wrong). Scientific research can sometime refute. E. g. Galileo discover on rounding earth v.s. Church/common belief at the time that the earth is flat.

Tradition Tradition is the authority of the past.

Something true in the past may no longer be true now


AlternativesCont. Common Sense Ordinary reasoning or common sense (i.e. what make sense)
E.g. it makes sense that crime is lower in countries with capital punishment. E.g. Gamblers fallacy: after series of losses, I have a better chance of winning. (probabilistic sense: 5050)

Media Myth Beside informing the public

Media can create prejudice/stereotypes (e.g. in the US most people receive welfare benefit are black) Forum for competing interest to win support from the public.


AlternativesCont. Personal Experiences (Seeing is believing) Has a strong impact and is a forceful source of knowledge. 4 Limitations
Overgeneralization: statements that go far beyond what can be justified based on the data or empirical observations that one has. Selective observation: Making observation in a way that it reinforces preexisting thinking, rather than observing in a natural and balanced manner. Premature closure: Making a judgment, or reaching a decision and ending an investigation, before one has the amount or depth of evidence required by scientific standards. Halo effect: Allowing the prior reputation of persons, places, or thing to color ones evaluating all in a


Natural science (physics, mathematics) Social science (political science, psychology, sociology) Science refers to both a system for producing knowledge and the knowledge produced from that system. The system:
evolves and slowly changing over time. combines assumptions about the nature of the world and knowledge is sets of procedures, techniques, and instruments for gaining knowledge.


Science is often characterized as logico-empirical. Two pillar of science:

Logic Observation

A scientific understanding of the world must make sense and corresponding to what we observe. Three major of social scientific enterprise:
Social theory: a system of interconnected ideas that condenses and organizes knowledge about the social world. Simply means a set of statements that predict things that will occur in the future and explain things that happen in the past. Data collection: empirical evidences or information that one gathers/collects carefully according to rule or procedures. It can be qualitative or quantitative data. Data/Empirical analysis: what can be observed and experience directly through human sense or indirectly using techniques that extend the senses.
Analyze the pattern exist in the data and make inference (i.e. compare, predict, accept, or refute) about the social world being observed.

Role of Scientific Community

Scientific community: a collection of people who share a system of attitudes, beliefs, and rules that sustains the production and advance of scientific knowledge.
Norm of scientific community: a set of informal rules, principles, and values that governs how scientist conduct their research.
Universalism: research is to be judged based on the scientific merit (regardless of who/from where that conduct the research) Organized skepticism: new idea/evidence are intensely scrutinized Disinterestedness: scientists must be neutral, impartial, and open to unexpected observation/new ideas/particular point of view. Communalism: scientific knowledge must be shared with

Role of Scientific Community

Scientific method refers to the ideas, rules, techniques, and approach that the scientific community use.
It is a loose consensus within scientific community. Scientific attitude is a way of thinking about and looking at the world that reflects a commitment to the norms and values of the scientific community.

Scholarly journal article is an article in a specialized publication that has members of the scientific community as its primary audience.
Its a means to disseminate new ideas and findings within the scientific community. Blind review: a process of judging the merits of a research.
Two way withheld of identity: It is unknown to each sides (the researcher who conduct research and the one who review it).


Asking Question Asking New Question Identify Important Factors

Reconsidering the Theory

Formulating Hypothesis

Working with Hypothesis

Collecting Relevant Information

Testing the Hypothesis


Asking Question

I wonder what would happen if

Asking New Question

Identify Important Factors

Question come out of your curiosity/idea/hunchIs increase in soft-skill training really lead to increase in IIUM employability?
Reconsidering the Theory Formulating Hypothesis

Example: Can democratic institutions lead to better economic performance?

Working with Hypothesis Collecting Relevant Information

Good question lead to good hypothesis

Testing the Hypothesis


Asking Question Asking New Question Identify Important Factors

After question is asked (e.g. Can democratic institutions lead to better economic performance?) Identify the Factors: Reconsidering What are the factors defining democratic Formulating the Theory Hypothesis institutions: free & fair election, education, constraint on chief-executive What do we mean by better economic performance? it increase in gross domestic Collecting with productWorking (GDP) overtime?... Relevant Hypothesis Information Refer to theories and past studies/research (i.e. Testing the literature) Hypothesis


What is hypothesis: Educated guess Identify Asking New Hypothesis result when the (research) Important Question Factors question is transformed into statement that express the relationship between variables like an ifthen statement.
Formulating Reconsidering It may look like this: the Theory Hypothesis Country possess credible democratic institution tend to perform better economically than countries with lowcredible democratic and nonCollecting Working with Relevant Hypothesis democratic institutions. Information A good hypothesis (which comes from a Testing the Hypothesis testable question) lead to good study. Asking Question

STEPS IN (SOCIAL) SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH METHOD Hypothesis posit a clear relationship between different factors (e.g. economic performance and democratic institutions)
Asking New Question Identify Important Factors Asking Question

You need to collect information/empirical data that will confirm or refute your hypothesis you set out in the earlier stage Measures/indicators of democratic institutions, economic performance
Reconsidering the Theory Formulating Hypothesis Working with Hypothesis Collecting Relevant Information

Testing the Hypothesis

STEPS IN (SOCIAL) SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH METHOD Say hello to Inferential statistics a set of tools that allow the researchers to
Asking Question

separate the effects of an isolated factor(s) (i.e. the effects of the controlled factors under study, e.g. democratic institutions) from effects that owing to something else or luck/chance.
Reconsidering the Theory Formulating Hypothesis

Asking New Question

Identify Important Factors

After collecting empirical data, you need to test your hypothesis so you can make inference (based on the outcome of your hypothesis testing).
Measures/indicators of democratic institutions, Testing the economic performance Hypothesis
Working with Hypothesis Collecting Relevant Information

STEPS IN (SOCIAL) SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH METHOD A simple last step in this simple
Asking New Question

scientific enquiry is to ask new question. Identify

Asking Question

Important Can education help democratic Factors governance to deliver better economic performance?

Reconsidering the Theory

Take a stock on what guide your research in the first place. . Formulating Hypothesis

Its Theory ! Your finding (i.e. well-research) may confirm/refute hence modify the theory

Working with Hypothesis

Interpret your result

Collecting Relevant Information

Results may/may not confirm Testing the Hypothesis your hypothesis



Generally there are two approaches to social research:

Quantitative Social Research refers to the systematic empirical investigation of social phenomena via statistical, mathematical or computational techniques (Wikipedia). Qualitative Social Research is a social/behavioral research that explores the processes that underlie human behavior using exploratory techniques such as interview, surveys, case studies, and other relative personal technique.
E.g. sociological & anthropological research (ethnographic researchresearch on culture)

Quantitative Social Research Measure the objective facts Focus on variable Reliability is the key Value free Theory & data are separate Independent of context Many cases, subject Statistical analysis Researcher is detached


Qualitative Social Research Construct social reality

Focus on interactive process, events

Authenticity is key Values are present & explicit Theory & data are fused Situationally constrained Few cases, subjects Thematic analysis Researcher is involved

Social research method is primarily differed based on:

Nature of the question being asked The method used to answer it The degree of precision the method brings to answering the question.


Generally, there are two types of research methods:

Non-experimental Research Methods: includes a varieties of different methods that describe relationship between variables.
Descriptive Research: describe the characteristics of an existing phenomena. E.g. Census survey Correlational Research: provide a picture of events that are currently happening and have occurred in the past.
It is beyond a mere descriptive to include the likely relationship between events/variables.

Qualitative Research: includes case studies, ethnography and historical studies.

Experimental Research Methods: the research methods that seek to establish a causal relation among variable.
True Experimental Research: assign the participants into groups: treatment groups (treatment variable/condition) and the non-treatment base on some criteria.

Week 2: 12th Sept. 2013

Theory, Research and Practice

What is Theory?
Social Theory: a system of interconnected ideas that condenses and organizes knowledge about the social world.
Simply means a set of statements that predict things that will occur in the future and explain things that happen in the past. A good theory is a parsimonious theory.
Parsimony means simpler/simple. Less complex theories is likely to be good theory. It explain things with minimal complexity, with no redundant and excess elements.

An awareness of how theory fits into research process would lead to better research design, easier to understand, and better conducted study.

Social Theory, Not Philosophy or Belief Social theory has to do with what is not with
what should be.
Social philosophers liberally
Mixed their observations of what happened around them, Their speculation about why, And their ideas about how things ought to be.

Social scientists focus on how things actually are and why.

Science does not involve solving the debate on value. For example:
It cannot determine whether capitalism is better than socialism. What it can do is to determine how these system performs in term of some set of agreed-upon criteria. For example, Human dignity and freedom [Agreed way of measure these terms] Economic activities [How to measure this] Once the definition and measurement is agreed, the finding is limited to such measure.

Social Theory vs. Ideology

Ideology a nonscientific quasi-theory, often based on political values or faith, with assumptions, concepts, relationships among concepts, and explanations.
It is a closed system that resists change Cannot be falsified with empirical data. Makes normative claims

Opposite is true for scientific theories.

Components of Social Theory

There are four parts of social theory: Assumption Concepts
Level of abstraction Single vs. Clusters Simple vs. Complex Scope (narrow vs. broad)

Forms of relationship Proposition & Hypothesis

Unit of analysis


Theories contain built-in assumptions. Assumptions is an untested starting point or belief in a theory that is necessary to build a theoretical explanation. It is also can be called postulates (or axioms): fundamental assertions (on which a theories is grounded).
It is basically statement about the natures of things that are not observable or testable. We accept them as true for our starting point.
E.g. nature of human being, social reality, or a particular phenomenon.
E.g. voters are rational; everyone desires for material comfort; everyone care for their own self-interest or maximization of self-interest.

It is often hidden or unstated.

Median voter theory (MVT) states a majority rule voting system will select the outcome most preferred by the median voter.
(1) Voters can place all election alternatives along a one-dimensional political spectrum. (2) Voters preferences are single-peaked. (means that voters choose alternatives closest to their most preferred outcome). (3) Voters always vote for their true preferences (4) Median voter theory applies best to majoritarian election system.

How these assumptions work to allow MVT to predict. Let apply to three friends who choose restaurant to eat: Ahmad (RM. 5), Baharum (RM.10), Chow (RM.20)Which one to win?
Options Pattern of votes B: 5 Result 5 $20 vs. $5 A: 5 C: 20

$10 vs. $20

A: 10

B: 10

C: 20


$10 vs. $5

A: 5

B: 10

C: 10



Concept is a building block of a theory.

It is an idea expressed as a symbol or in words.
E.g. Y = f (L, K, T); democracy (DEM), election (ELEC), Voter (VOT), employability (N), welfare (Y), inflation (p).

Level of Abstraction concept varies by level of their level of abstraction.

Abstract concepts refers to aspects of the world we do not directly or easily experience but they help organize thought and expand understanding.
Lower-level abstract concepts (e.g. bottom, speed, distance) Higher-level abstract concepts (e.g. aggression is more abstarct that hit, shout, push, yell).

Single vs. concept clusters. Concept are rarely used in isolation.

E.g. If we want to explain urban decay (cluster concept) we would need a number of concepts like Urban expansion, economic growth, urbanization, suburbs, city center) Other types of concepts may take a range of value: e.g. amount of income, year of schooling.

These Concepts are called Variables


Simple vs. Complex Concepts.

Some concepts are simple and vary (change) along a single dimension, while other have multiple dimension.
E.g. A group of scholars define democracy along three dimensions:
1. 2. 3. Regular, free elections with universal suffrage. An elected legislative body that controls government Freedom of expression and association.

They then group three concept together (aggregate) and define type of regime: Totalitarian (low on all three) vs. Democracy (high on all three).

Different way to approach complex concepts:

Combine many simple concept to form a meaningful concept. Classify them into category.


Scope. Concept vary by scope.

It is an abstract elements representing classess of phenomenon within the field of study. Some are narrow and applied to a specific social setting. Other are broad and applied many context.
Narrow concept tent to be less abstract. E.g. Karoshi (death by overwork); Economic growth. Example of concepts with broad scope: physical aggression, labor, institutions.


In addition to making assumptions and providing concepts, social theory specify relationship among concepts (or variables).
It will inform us whether concepts relate to one another (weakly/strongly, negatively or positively), how and why it is related or not related, and what kind of those relationship (correlation, structural, or causal relation, or other).
E.g. Production Theory: Y = f (L(+), K(+), T(+))
Output (Y) is produced using labor (L) and capital (K) input plus technology (T).

Proposition and Hypothesis

Theories often contain propositions or statements about the connection among concepts.
Proposition is a theoretical statement that specifies the relationship between two/more concepts and says something about the kind of relationship it is.
E.g. poverty is a cause of bad economic management/low economic growth. E.g. Theory: fair and better quality of democratic institutions lead to better economic performance. Why? Because better democratic institutions ensure people freedom to selfdetermination (they can choose what best for themselves: profit maximize, better protection on their property rights, no expropriation from authority, i.e. the powerful elites) [rule of law] which lead to increase the incentive to do what best for themselves.

Hypothesis is an empirically testable version of a proposition.

Unit of Analysis

Many different unit/level within any analysis:

Individual Groups National Sub-national Institutions, organizations..

Concept like democracy can be applied across nations, sub-national or even organization, firms

Elements of Social Theorysummary Assumptions/postulat es Propositions Hypothesis Theory

Aspects/Form of Social Theory

There are four major aspects of social theory:

1. Direction of theorizing [Deductive or Inductive] 2. Level of analysis [Macro, Micro or the Middle (Meso)] 3. Focus of the theory [Substantive or Formal Theory] 4. Form of Explanation [Causal, Structural or Interpretative]

Direction of theorizing

Researchers approach the building and testing of theory from two direction: Deductive & Inductive Reasoning.
Deductive Reasoning: you begin with abstract concepts or a theoretical proposition that outlines the logical connection among concepts and then move toward concrete empirical evidence. E.g. Relationship between study habit and performance in the examDeductive approach:

Deductive approach how it works

[Part a] We know that doing well in exam reflects student ability to recall and manipulate information.
Both of these activities should be increased by exposure to information before the exam. We can extract the hypothesis that depict the positive relationship between numbers of hours spend studying and the grade earn on the exam. So it is positive relationship.

[Part b] Then, we need to make/collect relevant observations (data) to test our hypothesis. .

The shaded area represent hundred/thousands of data on students hours of study & grade they receive.

[Part c] compare the hypothesis and the observationswe may need statistical methods [hypothesis testing]

Another example: Deductive Reasoning [Traditional Model of Science]

Direction of theorizing

Inductive Reasoning: An approach to developing or confirming a theory that begins with concrete empirical evidence and works toward more abstract concepts and theoretical relationships.
You begin with observing the empirical world and then reflect on what is taking place, and move in a more abstract ways towards theoretical concepts and propositions Theory generate through Inductive approach can be called Grounded theory. (see figure below)

E.g. Relationship between study habit and performance in the examInductive approach:

Inductive approach how it works

[Part a] Curious about the relationship between study habit and grade earned, you collect the data on student hours spend and their grade. Look for the pattern exist in the data.

[Part b] We notice the pattern that: Student spend time studying between 1-15 hours, each successively hours would yield higher grade. But between 15-25 hours, each hour increase would produce slightly lower grade. However, when he go for more than 25 hours, grade start to increase [Part c] from pattern identify from the data, we can draw some tentative conclusion. We do so because we do not test it but just observe out of our collected data.

Level of Analysis

Micro-level theory: focus on the micro-level of social life that occur over short duration. [individual levels]
E.g. face-to-face interaction and encounter among small groups/individuals.

Macro-level theory: focus on macro-level of social life and process that occur over long duration. [larger aggregate level]
E.g. social institutions, major sector of society, world region. E.g. study on black-white race relation, colonial experience,

Meso-level theory: focus on the relations, processes, and structures at a midlevel of social life and events operating over moderate duration. [Link micro & macro level]
E.g. organization, movements and communities. E.g. study on the relationship between economic inequality and schooling.

Focus of theory and form of theoretical explanation

Theory can be on specific (on substantive issue/topic) or general (on the process and structure that span across area). Theoretical explanation come in many forms:
Simple explanation that logical argument that tell you why something take a specific form or occur. Causal Explanation (Cause & Effects relationship): explain about causal relationship between two or more things. Structural Explanation: explain social process/factors/ events that take place within a larger structure. Interpretative Explanation: attempt to explain or discover the meaning of an event or practice by placing it within a special social context.

Links Between Theory and Research

In the deductive model of reasoning, research is used to test the theory In the inductive model of reasoning, theories are developed from the analysis of research data. How in practice theory is linked with research in the actual scientific enquiry?
Sometime theoretical issues are introduced merely as a background for empirical analysis. In other cases, empirical data/finding are cited to make case for theoretical argument. Sometime theory are modified in a way that serve the tool for researcher to suit his/her study on a specific issue understudy.

How to Do your Research Report

Form your group compose of 5 persons Discuss among yourself a specific issue related to Political Economy (or International Political Economy) that your group intend to research on. E.g.:
Political rights and Inequality Economic freedom and economic performance. Government stability and rule of law

How to Do your Research Report

After deciding on what issue your group intend to do, follow the following:
Read Chapter 13 of Salkind, N. J., (2006). Exploring research. Upper Saddle River, NJ:

How to Do your Research Report Then do the following:

Your must briefly provide the following [2.5 pages, One page for cover page and 1.5 pages for your research issues (font 12, double-space, Times New Roman)]:
Cover Page [Title of your Research (Research Topic) and Group member names and other necessary Info] Briefly state what your group want to do:
Briefly introduce the issues [one-two paragraph] Introduce Research question [one paragraph] State your problem statement. [one paragraph]

Answer this question: Is this research issue can be measured with the data?
If Yes, thats doable If no, and not clear, discuss it with me. [will have a session for this]

Due date: 13 December 2013 Submit both hard copy [in class] and through email:

How to Do your Research Report Format of your Research Report:

I. II.

Problem Statement Rational for the research [why is it important that you think (i.e. based on your reading on the issues from journal articles, books,) therere no/unsatisfactory answers to the research issue at hand]
Statement of your research objectives [what is your object in researching the issue]



Research Hypothesis Definition of the relevant terms [How you define it and operationalize/measure it with relevant indicators/measurement]


Brief Review of the Literature Data and Methodology Finding, Interpretations and Implication Conclusion Reference