Richard Williams, Notre Dame Sociology

Sociology 30902

Undergraduate Research Methods

Richard Williams, Instructor

Fall 2022 (In Progress)

Note: Students signed up for the class or thinking about doing so may want to know the following:


NOTE: There may be some revisions to this page, and to the readings packet and discussion questions, as the semester goes along. Any updates/changes will be available at least one week before we start covering the material.

NOTE: Adobe Acrobat reader is required for many of the online files.

Course Syllabus - Fall 2022 [DRAFT]

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

Notre Dame Cloud Storage. 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, e.g. Box, Google Drive) 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.


Online readings for the Introduction


Online readings and discussion questions for experimentation

Tips for Project 1 - Here are good (and bad) things that students have done in the past.

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

Online readings and discussion questions for Measurement


Online readings and discussion questions for Surveys

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 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. 2013-2017.

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. I like to start here.

Social Explorer is an alternative to the Census Bureau sites. It can produce nice looking tables and maps. You may need your Notre Dame Netid and password to access the site. Personally I prefer it to the Census Bureau's own web pages, but you can use whatever you feel most comfortable with. The Census Bureau sites are of course handy for those who do not have access to Social Explorer.

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. Many cities, communities, and neighborhood associations have web sites with lots of useful information. For one qualitative approach to describing an area, take a look at

If you don't like Social Explorer, or someday don't have access to it, or want to get even more information: 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 by Decade pages.

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:  (Click on Regions and Countries and pick the country or countries you want).

Population Reference Bureau Data Sheets  (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. A lot of info is online but you can also download the entire reports.)  (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