The aim of this course has been to try to draw together work on numbers and text, and to try to be helpful to those who, like me, find numbers and statistics rather unapproachable. Evidence is used in social science to convince us of the value of a claim, and is a crucial element in our evaluation of theoretical perspectives.

The task here is very different from our task when faced with numbers, where we need to deal with a high level of abstraction. Writing is often dense and multi-layered, and usually gives us, if anything, too much surface information about our subject. We need to make a mental effort this time in selecting and abstracting information ourselves. In order to do this effectively we need to be aware of the context of the writing. We need to check if we can, for instance, the political and s
Author(s): The Open University

Social scientists use particular methods to gather qualitative evidence, from observation to interview, but they also use autobiographical accounts, journalism, and other documentary material to flesh out and add meaning to statistics.

As with reading numbers, reading textual evidence requires us to practise, to set time aside to learn how to do it, and to understand the conventions of writing which operate in the different forms of writing we encounter. One of the main pr
Author(s): The Open University

Examine in more detail the explanations surrounding the numbers or diagram. Check the small print to make sure you aren't drawing the wrong conclusions. Are the axes of diagrams clearly labelled, and do you understand what they mean? (Axes, pronounced â€˜axeaseâ€™ is the plural of axis. Axes are the vertical and horizontal lines against which lines on a graph or bars on a chart are plotted. They must be labelled to tell you what courses you are counting in.) If there is shading on the
Author(s): The Open University

After studying this course, you should be able to:

• identify that social scientists can collect evidence to support their claims and theories in different ways

• give examples of quantitative and qualitative evidence

• recognise a variety of methods for obtaining evidence

• understand the ways in which evidence can be presented; how to read it actively and with purpose.

Author(s): The Open University

Croall, H. (1998) Crime and Society in Britain, Harlow, Addison Wesley Longman.
Smith, D.J. (1997) â€˜Ethnic origins, crime and criminal justiceâ€™ in Maguire, M., Morgan, R. and Reiner, R. (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology (2nd edn), Oxford, Clarendon Press.
Zedner, L. (1997) â€˜Victimsâ€™ in Maguire, M., Morgan, R. and Reiner, R. (eds) The Oxford Hand
Author(s): The Open University

Conclusion

This free course provided an introduction to studying sociology. It took you through a series of exercises designed to develop your approach to study and learning at a distance and helped to improve your confidence as an independent learner.

Author(s): The Open University

4 Taking the point: identifying key ideas

As earlier activities have demonstrated, active reading and note taking often come hand-in-hand. In order to read effectively we often have to jot down the main ideas and key words introduced in the text. We might also note down one or two questions as we go along to assist in the â€˜thinkingâ€™ part of the process. But, like reading, note taking comes in all shapes and sizes, and different kinds of notes can be useful for different purposes. Moreover, good note taking, like purposeful, activ
Author(s): The Open University

## Activity 1

The short extract reproduced below is taken from The Scotsman and is a journal
Author(s): The Open University

Critical Social Psychology
We live in a complex, fast changing and highly social world. One of the most compelling questions we face is how to understand ourselves and other people. The video tracks on this album introduce the four main theoretical perspectives in social psychology - cognitive, psychoanalytical, discursive and phenomenological. The album also explores interrogative themes that help in the understanding of key topics in social psychology. This material forms part of The Open University course DD307 Soci
Author(s): The OpenLearn team

Cannabis, Consciousness and the Imagination
We know drunk-driving causes death on the roads, but how does taking drugs like cannabis affect your driving skills? This album offers a chance to see how psychologists perform experiments which measure how much cannabis distorts a normal state of consciousness. Tracks 5-8 explore human inventiveness, pointing out that nothing in the world could have been made without the human capacity for imagination. Evolutionary anthropologists use the example of tool-making, showing that humans started to d
Author(s): The OpenLearn team

Identity In Question
This album Investigates recent debates in sociology, cultural theory and psychoanalysis, and explores the nature of social identity, â€˜socialisationâ€™, subjectivity and personhood. The case studies explore the value and relevance of different theoretical frameworks for understanding identity by applying the main concepts in real situations. The material is taken from The Open University course D853 Identity in question.Author(s): The OpenLearn team

Mindfulness in mental health and prison settings
This free course, Mindfulness in mental health and prison settings, introduces the key ideas and practices of mindfulness, describes how it is helping counselling clients and prisoners, and also looks at some of the criticisms mindfulness has received in recent years. First published on Mon, 22 Jul 2019 as Author(s): Creator not set

Forensic psychology
In this free course, Forensic psychology, you will discover how psychology can help obtain evidence from eyewitnesses in police investigations and prevent miscarriages of justice. First published on Tue, 24 Apr 2018 as Forensic psychology. To find o
Author(s): Creator not set

3.8 Summary

• Because the subject matter of psychology (ourselves and non-human animals) is complex and reactive, psychologists have to choose from amongst a wide range of methods.

• Psychologists make use of methods that aim to maximise objectivity; they also use methods that focus on and explore subjectivities and meanings.

• Depending on the topic they are researching, psychologists can choose to adopt an outsider viewpoint or an insider
Author(s): The Open University

3.3 Psychological tests

The most commonly used psychological tests, such as intelligence tests and personality tests, are highly structured forms of self-report where participants have to solve problems or choose from fixed alternatives on a questionnaire. Researchers then work out a score for each participant that gives information about their intelligence or personality. These tests are different from ordinary questionnaires in the way they are constructed and pre-tested. They are tried out on large numbers
Author(s): The Open University

2.3 A brief look at different kinds of data

For a long time there has been a very important argument about what are the â€˜legitimate dataâ€™ of psychology â€“ what can and should be used as evidence. We have already seen that, from the very beginnings of psychology as a formal discipline, psychologists have used experimental methods, observations and introspection. In one form or another these methods continue to be central to psychology. The experimental method, adapted from traditional science, has most consistently been considered
Author(s): The Open University

2.2 Researching ourselves

Psychology aims to provide understandings of us, as humans. At a personal level this closeness to our private concerns draws us in and excites us. However, since psychologists are humans, and hence are researching issues just as relevant to themselves as to their research participants, they can be attracted towards researching certain topics and maybe away from others. This is perhaps more evident for psychological research that is most clearly of social relevance. At a societal level all kin
Author(s): The Open University

Learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

• describe the diversity of psychology as a discipline

• list some of the ways psychologists focus on different aspects of human behaviour

• identify different methods psychologists use to explore human behaviour

• illustrate the importance of ethical considerations.

Author(s): The Open University

Conclusion

In this course you have been introduced to the software package SPSS and how to enter and manipulate some simple data. You should now have a good understanding of how to open SPSS, define variables, and enter a variety of data into the package.

A simple dataset was provided at the end of some of the third activities so that you can expe
Author(s): The Open University