Richard Williams, Notre Dame Sociology

Sociology 30902, Section 1

Undergraduate Research Methods

Richard Williams, Instructor

Fall 2013

Under construction. The page may be modified a bit as the semester progresses. Students will need to refer to it regularly for the online readings and discussion questions.

NOTE: The following special types of files are sometimes used on this web page. If you aren't using one of the campus networked machines, you may need to download and install the free Adobe Acrobat Reader, available for both Windows and Apple machines.

Pdf files. Require Adobe Acrobat.

Course Syllabus - Fall 2013

Online Readings Packet with Discussion Questions (ND.Edu Netid is required for access)

Dropbox and Box. Almost every semester I seem to have a student whose computer crashes or who accidentally deletes the most current version of their paper or has some other problem. I've even had students who had to rewrite their papers from scratch. I therefore strongly encourage you to set up a Dropbox account (or something similar) if you do not already have one. Dropbox gives you a minimum of 2GB of free online storage. I try to keep most of my current teaching and research work in Dropbox; that way it is backed up and I also have online access wherever I am. If you set up an account use your .edu email address because you can get more bonus storage that way. For more click on this link. Or, you may wish to use the Box feature offered by Notre Dame. I've never used it but it sounds like a good service. Note, however, that you lose access to Box after you graduate, so you'll eventually need to copy your files somewhere else. See .


Online readings for the Introduction


Online readings and discussion questions for experimentation

            Additional hints and tips for project 1.

Measurement: Reliability and Validity; Questions & Questionnaires; Sensitive Questions

Online readings and discussion questions for Measurement

Surveys I - Basics of Survey Research; Sampling

Online readings and discussion questions for Surveys I

Surveys II - Survey Administration; Alternative types of Surveys

Online readings and discussion questions for Surveys II

Some Useful Links for the 2nd project

For your convenience, I have listed some of the links I think you will find most useful; but feel free to browse around the Census web pages, as there is lots of information and lots of different ways of doing things. You'll most likely want to use the Census 2010 data and/or the latest 5 year American Community Survey (ACS) estimates, e.g. 2007-2011.

You can find out which census tract and county you live in, and get a rough map of your census tract, from the FFIEC Geocoding system. This site also has a lot of good basic demographic information.

Social Explorer is an alternative to the Census Bureau sites. It can produce nice looking tables and maps. You'll need a Notre Dame Netid and password to access the site.

The Census Bureau's American Factfinder provides handy access to information from the Decennial Census, the annual American Community Survey, as well as other sources. The address search on the right hand side will be especially helpful to you as you work in the second project. You can get maps of the areas you want to study as well as make detailed demographic comparisons of different areas. State and County Quick Facts (which also includes towns of 5,000 and above) highlights many major statistics, although perhaps not enough for your projects. You can also find out more at the Census 2010 Home Page  and the American Community Survey Home Page. If you want to go further into the past, you can check out the Census 2000 Gateway and Census 1990.

Census data provides a quantitative approach for describing areas. However, there are a lot of things it can't show you. Your own personal experiences may help you to better describe what your neighborhood is like and how it came to be that way. For a more qualitative approach to describing an area, take a look at

Options for Foreign Students.  Foreign students are welcome to choose the neighborhood they live in now or lived in in the past for Project 2. However, they are also welcome to compare, say, their country with the US, or some other country, or the entire world.  You could, for example, compare countries on literacy rates, educational attainment, women in the labor force and other gender-related variables, birth rates, population growth, use of contraception, health and mortality, income... Actually, there are a lot of interesting variables in international data sets that you don't find in the US Census.There are many good sources of easy to use international data.  Some suggestions:  (Just pick the country or countries you want.  If you choose the customize option, you could, for example, get side by side comparisons of the US and your country.  Even more easy is to just compare, say, your country with the rest of the world). (lots and lots of side by side comparisons of countries -- especially nice since things are measured more or less the same way for each country)  (Again, you can search for the countries you want).

Content Analysis

Online readings and discussion questions for Content Analysis

Observational Research

Online readings and discussion questions for Observational Research


Online readings and discussion questions for Ethics

Semester in Review

Online readings and discussion questions for Semester in Review