Situation specific research methods

It was really interesting to read Kline’s article on violent video games and see how contentious research method usage is, especially when you’re using research to back up legislation on issues as polarizing as the effects of violent video games on children. Understandably, research methods must be well-structured and well-thought out in order for a study to be useful and have a wider application (and not be torn to shreds by other researchers).


As Kline showed, choosing your research methods is also very situation specific. For example, it seemed as if the general consensus of experts in Kline’s field was that a longitudinal study was probably the best way to show a correlation between violent video games and aggressive behaviour in children. That seemed to make sense to me, as experiments with a Bobo doll doesn’t really capture how aggression in children is or is not linked to violent media exposure.


I suppose that’s why operationalization is so important. By defining and re-defining your variables, you begin to see why certain research methods work for your study. Luker talks about how salsa dancing social scientists are attempting to research a “grain of sand very, very closely, and show how the world is reflected in it (p. 125),” so understandably canonical social science methods won’t work for most of us. Since correlation is our ultimate end goal, we have to go beyond statistics, probability, and other math related research methods and make sure we constantly reiterate that we’re studying correlations not causation.


- Stephanie Quail

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