Hong Kong university

AIS 2012 – Social Research Methods Midterm exam D ue d ate: October 19 ( Tuesday ) , 12:00pm The midterm exam is an open – book , take – home test that is worth 35 % of your grade in this course. It consists of three questions designed to assess your ability to apply the knowledge acquired in Weeks 1 – 7 to concrete examples of social research. They cover issues such as formulating research questions, conceptualization, measurement, establishing causality and sampling. To help you write a focused a nswer, each question presents a set of sub – questions. M andatory readings and lecture slides will provide most of the knowledge you need to answer these questions . However, since each question refers to specific topics, arguments and/or empirical cases you may not be familiar with, some additional research is required to write high – quality, well – informed answers. This is an individual assignment. No group work is allowed, and you should acknowledge the sources used for your answers. All submitted exams will be subject to a plagiarism check, which will compare your exam to internet sources and submissions from your peers. You will answer all three questions. There are no word limits for this this assignment. The overall amount of work required to answer the t hree questions should be between three and eight hours. Please write your answers using the numbering below (1a, 1b, etc.) . Your final grade will be based on a score ranging from 0 to 2 9 . The numbers in brackets indicate how many point each sub – question is worth. Question 1 ( 11 points) A researcher is interested in how the COVID – 19 pandemic is affecting democracy , but they have so far been unable to translate this broad interest into a specific research question. a) H elp the researcher to choose a viable research question on the link between COVID – 19 and democracy . What question would you propose? ( 2 pt) b) To convince the researcher, explain why this research question presents the features of good research questions : empiri cism , specificity, complexity, and relevance . Refer to existing research on the subject. ( 3 pt) c) Suggest a suitable argument that the research er could develop in their research project. (1pt) d) Explain the logic/theory /causal mechanism that underpins this argument. Refer to existing research to show that the logic is plausible . (3pt) e) To further help the researcher, formulate two research hypotheses for empirical testing. (2pt) Question 2 ( 10 points) A researcher is interested in the relationship between social media usage and mental health in teenagers . The ir argument is that high levels of usage of social media negatively affects mental health through various channels, for example by increasing a sense of inadequacy, fear of missing out , or the risk of cyberbullying. Their hypothesis is that mental health is lower in teenagers with higher levels of social media usage. a) How would you conceptualize “mental health” , w ould you say that this is a concept with various dimensions, or only one? (1pt) b) Offer a working definition of mental health that the researcher can use in their analysis. ( 1 pt) c) Is “mental health” observable? (1pt) d) Advise the researcher on how “mental health” can be operationalized. (2pt) e) The researcher’s argument suggests a causal effect of social media usage (independent variable) on mental health (dependent variable). Could this relationship be spurious? Identify and describe possible “confounding factors” that might be associated with both independent and dependent variable. (3pt) f) What could the researcher do to strengthen their argument that indeed the relationship between social media usage and mental health is causal? (2pt) Question 3 ( 8 points) A researcher has been following the recent student – led protests in Thailand, which have been critical of the monarchy. They would like to know more about how the monarchy is perceived by ordinary citizens: Do Thais support the monarchy as an institution? Would they like it to have more or less powers? And so forth. To answer these questions, the researcher decides to run a survey of public opinion . a) Do you see any possible e thical issues in this project? If so, explain what they are and help the researcher find a way to address them. (2pt) b) The researcher first asks you if the sample of respondents should be probabilistic or non – probabilistic? Answer this question and explain your reasoning . ( 1 pt) c) Would you recommend to over – sample any population group? Why, or why not? ( 1 pt) d) If this project were to follow a multistage cluster sampling procedure, wh at could the primary sample unit be in the context of Thailand , and why? Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this sampling strategy . (2pt) e) The researcher finally decides for simple random sampling. They would like to sample about 2,000 respondents, but unfortunately, they don’t have sufficient budget for that. They can only sample half as many respondents. Explain to the researcher the implications of a smaller sample in terms of sampling error and confidence of the estimates produced by the sample. (2pt)

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