SYA6305: Methods of Social Research I

Fall 2011

Class: Tuesday 3:00-6:00 p.m. in 2303 Turlington





Monika Ardelt, Ph.D.



3350 Turlington



392-0265 ext. 247




Office Hours:

T, Th 1:30-2:45 p.m. and by appointment





Course Content


This course is primarily an introduction to qualitative research methods. We will begin by briefly discussing the goal, purpose, ethic, and logic of social research, comparing quantitative and qualitative approaches. The remainder of the course is reserved for the study of qualitative research. We will discuss and practice qualitative data collection, writing fieldnotes, qualitative interviewing, and the analysis of qualitative data. At the end of the course, you should be confident enough to initiate and conduct your own qualitative research project.

Required Readings

Bernard, H. Russell. 2000. Social Research Methods. Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Emerson, Robert M. 2001. Contemporary Field Research. Perspectives and Formulations. 2nd Ed. Prospects Heights, IL: Waveland.

Lomand, Turner C. 2007. Social Science Research. A Cross Section of Journal Articles for Discussion and Evaluation, 5th Edition. Los Angeles, CA: Pyrczak.

Course packet (abbreviated as “CP” in the reading list) available at Target Copy (1412 West University Avenue right next to Chipoltle Resturant).


Highly Recommended Readings

Esterberg, Kristin G. 2002. Qualitative Methods in Social Research. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.

Ragin, Charles C. and Lisa M. Amoroso. 2011. Constructing Social Research, 2nd Ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.

Maimon, Elaine P., Janice H. Peritz, and Kathleen Blake Yancey. 2010. A Writer’s Resource. A Handbook for Writing and Research. 3rd Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill.



Readings and Class Participation: An interaction between students and instructor will be the basis of most classes. Hence, it is absolutely essential that you read the assigned material in advance so that you are able to participate in class discussions.

For each class, you will prepare one or more questions based on the assigned readings and write down possible answers to those questions or issues that should be considered when attempting to answer those questions. Questions and answers should contain a heading that identifies the reading(s) that inspired the question(s). Each set of questions and answers is worth 1 point if you write at least 300 words of original text (excluding headings and quotations) for a total of 10% of your final grade. You will have 12 opportunities to submit a Q&A entry, but you only need to submit 10 entries.

Q & A entries for each class are to be submitted via e-Learning in Sakai after the file has been saved either as a Word document (*.doc or *.docx) or as a rich text format (*.rtf) file. I will not be able to download, read, and grade any other file format. The deadline for submission is noon each Tuesday for which there are readings assigned (except for the first day of class), so that I have time to compile a list of questions for discussion before class. For general information about e-Learning in Sakai visit


To submit your MS Word file or *.rtf file in e-Learning, go to the University of Florida e-Learning Support Services home page at <> (bookmark this page). To sign into e-Learning in Sakai, click on the “Continue” link under “Sakai System Entry” using your assigned Gatorlink username and password. If you do not have a Gatorlink ID or if you cannot remember your Gatorlink login information, go to the Gatorlink website at <> or to the CIRCA Help Desk in the Hub (phone: 392-HELP) for assistance.


After you have successfully logged into e-Learning, you will be taken to your My Workspace, where you can access the sites you own and/or the sites you belong to. The “?” icon set to the right side of each title bar will bring up a help file associated with that window. Note: You can also access the Help tool in the left tool bar of each site. For further assistance please contact e-Learning Support Services at (352) 392-4357 select option 2 or email:


To submit a Q & A entry via e-Learning, navigate to our course and click on Assignments in the menubar. Assignments are displayed in the order they are due. Do the following to submit a Q & A entry:

Step 1: Click the Q & A entry you want to submit.

Step 2: Follow the directions.

Step 3: To add an attachment, click the Add Attachments button. Browse for a Local File and click Continue.

Step 4: Click Submit when you are done. Once you have submitted the assignment, you can view it later, but you cannot modify it.


To view your grades, click on Gradebook in the menubar.


Attendance: Attendance of class is required because non-attendance by several students at a time will destroy the dynamic of the class. Students who miss all or part of a class session must e-mail or hand in a written excuse for their absence.


Term Paper: There will be one group term paper that is due on December 6 during regular class time. The term paper will consist of qualitative fieldwork, qualitative interviews, and the examination of one or more social groups. If you like to use the term paper as the basis of your thesis, you will need to get my permission and individual instructions to write an individual term paper. Detailed instructions for the group term paper can be found in the course packet.


Cheating: I define copying parts or all of an author’s or another student’s work, allowing another student to copy parts or all of your work, or simply duplicating parts or all of your fieldnotes, interview notes, interviews, analysis, or critique as cheating.

WARNING: Students who are caught cheating in this way will fail the class immediately! If cheating occurs within a research group, all members of the group will be held accountable.


Exams: There are no exams in this course. J

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities: Students requesting classroom accommodation must first register with the Dean of Students Office. The Dean of Students Office will provide documentation to the student who must then provide this documentation to the Instructor when requesting accommodation.



                     Q & A for class discussions

Statement of intent

IRB approval

Qualitative research assignments

(Group) Term paper

(Group) Presentation

% of Final Grade








I will not grade on a curve, i.e. your grade will depend on your absolute performance, not your performance compared to other students.


The points that you will earn can be translated into letter-grades as follows:


92.5 - 100.0 = A

90.0 - <92.5 = A-

87.5 - <90.0 = B+

82.5 - <87.5 = B

80.0 - <82.5 = B-

77.5 - <80.0 = C+

72.5 - <77.5 = C

70.0 - <72.5 = C-

67.5 - <70.0 = D+

62.5 - <67.5 = D

60.0 - <62.5 = D-

         <60.0 = E


For information on current UF grading policies for assigning grade points, see


Three Tips for Staying Awake in Class (and make class more interesting to you):

(1)   Ask questions. (2) If you feel yourself falling asleep, ask provocative questions. Challenge your professor. (3) Read the assigned material before class to do (1) and (2).


Tentative Class Schedule





What is social research?

Bernard: Ch.1; Esterberg: pp.1-12; Lomand: Appendix A. Optional: Ragin: Ch. 1 & 2; How to Read a Journal Article in Social Psychology (“Methods I” folder on the S-drive)


Qualitative vs. quantitative research

Emerson: Ch. 13; CP: Shrum and Kilburn: Ritual Disrobement at Mardi Gras (“Methods I” folder on the S-drive); Optional: Ragin: Ch. 3


Getting started:
Collecting qualitative data

Bernard: pp. 66-70 & Ch. 9; Esterberg: Ch. 2 & 4;
Emerson: Ch. 5 & pp. 131-134; CP: Collecting qualitative observational data; Example of fieldnotes


The process of social research:
Ethics and objectivity

Emerson: pp. 134-149, Ch. 12, pp. 295-306, Ch. 17;
Bernard: pp. 70-74 & 397-403; Esterberg: Ch. 3;
CP: The Science Wars, Newsweek, April 21, 1997; Belmont Report; Researcher Responsibilities; Examples of IRB submission. Optional: The Doubt Makers; Case of Korean Cloning Scientist; US Apologizes for Syphilis Tests in Guatemala (“Methods I” folder on the S-drive)


Qualitative interviewing

Bernard: Ch. 6; Esterberg: Ch. 5; CP: Qualitative interviewing; Example of interview and interview notes


General characteristics of qualitative research

Emerson: pp. vii-x, Introduction, pp. 113-116 & 123-131, Ch. 11. Optional: Workshop on scientific foundations of qualitative research (“Methods I” folder on the S-drive)


Theory in qualitative research

Emerson: pp. 27-53, Ch. 1-4 & 16; Esterberg: pp.12-22


Direct and indirect observation

Bernard: pp.376-397 & 403-409; Esterberg: Ch. 6


Analysis of qualitative data

Bernard: Ch. 11-13; Esterberg: Ch. 8 & 9;
Emerson: pp. 281-295, Ch. 14, 15, & 18


The praxis of qualitative field research: Issues of race/ethnicity, gender, and age

Emerson: pp. 116-123, Ch. 6-10


Practicing qualitative data analysis:
The example of Objective Hermeneutics

CP: Methods of Objective (or Structural) Hermeneutics; Titscher et al. 2000. Objective Hermeneutics


General issues and problems of qualitative research. Presenting and publishing qualitative research.

Esterberg: Ch. 10; Bernard: pp. 87-92; Emerson: pp. 306-315; Lomand: Ch. 35-41.
Optional: How Wise People Cope with Crises and Obstacles in Life (“Methods I” folder on the S-drive)


Discussion of published qualitative research

Lomand: Ch. 35-44


THANKSGIVING Week: No class!



More discussion of published research



(Group) presentations of research findings