Introduction to Social Research

I.     Course Prefix/Number: SOC 240

       Course Name: Introduction to Social Research

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite

Introductory course in any of the social sciences.

III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course provides basic introduction to social research.  Content includes research design, methodology, simple statistical analysis of data, and interpretation of empirical social data.  Students design, conduct and interpret a short survey.

IV.   Learning Objectives

  1. The student will understand the proper role of research in the social sciences.
  2. The student will understand the various steps involved in doing social science research.
  3. The student will be able to interpret the results of social science research.
  4. The student will demonstrate what they have learned by designing their own research project.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

  1. Introduction to the Social Sciences
    1. What are the Social Sciences
      1. Political Science
      2. Psychology
      3. Sociology
      4. Anthropology
    2. Similarities and Differences Between Social Science Disciplines
  2. Introduction to Social Research
    1. What is Research
    2. Qualitative and Empirical Research
      1. The Scientific Method
      2. Hypothesis Formulation and Testing Theories
  3. The Uses of Research
    1. Explanation of Social Phenomena
    2. Application to Programs and Policies
  4. An Overview of Social Research Methods
    1. Aggregate Data
    2. Experimentation
    3. Observation -- Non-obtrusive and Participant
    4. Content Analysis
    5. Survey Research
  5. The Development of Social Attitudes and Behavior Patterns
    1. Psychological Theories Explaining the Nature of Humans
    2. Sociological Theories Explaining the Nature of Humans -- Socialization
    3. The Development of Social Attitudes
      1. What are Social Attitudes
      2. What Function do Social Attitudes Serve
        1. For the Individual
        2. For the Society
    4. The Development of Behavior Patterns
      1. What Function do Regularized Behavior Patterns Serve
        1. For the Individual
        2. For the Society
    5. Social Roles
  6. Specific Examples of the Development and Functions of Social Attitudes and Behavior Patterns in the United States -- the Attitudes and Behavioral Patterns of the Sexes.
  7. The Formulation of Hypotheses
    1. Hypotheses as the Basis for Social Research
    2. Current Hypotheses Regarding the Attitudes and Behavioral Patterns of the Sexes in U.S. Society (Note: Class will Develop Hypotheses Based on Readings and Lecture Materials)
  8. The Development and Implementation of Survey Questionnaires
    1. Questionnaire Construction
      1. Closed and Open-ended Questions
      2. Collection of Demographic Data
      3. Attitude Testing
      4. Ordering of Questions
      5. Wording of Questions
      6. Coding
    2. Methods of Administering the Questionnaire
      1. Mailed Surveys
        1. Benefits
        2. Drawbacks
      2. Telephone Surveys
        1. Benefits
        2. Drawbacks
      3. Personal Interviews
        1. Benefits
        2. Drawbacks
        3. Interview Simulations
  9. Sampling
    1. Definition of Samples
      1. Random Samples
      2. Quota Samples
      3. Stratifies Samples
    2. Methods for Drawing Samples
  10. Data Processing
    1. Card-Sort Techniques
    2. Computers
    3. Software Programs
    4. Using Printout
  11. Interpreting Social Science Data
    1. Statistics
      1. Descriptive Statistics
      2. Levels of Measurement
        1. Nominal
        2. Ordinal
        3. Interval
        4. Ratio
      3. Measures of Association and Correlation
      4. Significance Testing
      5. The Concept of Probability
    2. The Relationship Between Empirical Data and Hypotheses
      1. The Null Hypotheses
      2. Support for Hypotheses
  12. The Presentation of Social Science Research
    1. Review of the Literature
    2. Description of Methodology
    3. Presentation of Hypotheses and Data
    4. Interpretation of Data and Discussion
    5. Conclusions

VII.  Methods of Instruction

Methods of presentation include lectures, discussion, computer experience, and research design.
Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

  1. Reading
  2. Writing: Students will be required to write for the class the equivalent of 12-15 typed pages of material that will be graded. This writing may take the form of a research or term paper, summaries of journal articles, and/or a series of shorter, analytical papers.
  3. Computer Use

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

Schively, W. Phillips (1997). The Craft of Political Research (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

Grades are based on exams and involvement in the research design.

XI.   Other Course Information

Attendance required.

Students will be able to take make-up exams if they have an acceptable excuse; late assignments will be penalized.

The Learning Center offers a wide variety of instructional support services for students, including the "College Survival Workshops," which are designed to help students succeed in college course work.  Time management, textbook reading, note taking, critical reasoning and test taking are among the topics addressed.

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.