Sociology is scientific in the way it collects and analyzes systematic evidence used to address theoretical or applied questions or hypotheses. It uses both qualitative and quantitative methods of research, including surveys, interviews, participant observation, content analysis, and historical and comparative research. For more information, see the full curriculum description of this unit.
The goal of this unit is to help students understand that sociology is a data-based field that depends on careful and systematic observation and analysis. Students should understand what the elements of the scientific method are and how they apply in the social sciences, how sociologists move from a general issue to a researchable question, what kinds of evidence are needed to infer a causal relationship, how sociologists gather data and try to minimize bias, and how ethical codes affect the conduct of research. In brief, students are being introduced to some of the ways sociologists come to warrant some evidence as better than other evidence.