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1.3.7 Summary

  • We can learn to use writing of all sorts as evidence by practising how to interpret it and by becoming aware of the conventions attached to its primary purpose for example as personal testimony, journalism, commercially produced material, such as market research and academic writing as well as material produced specifically through research such as interview data.

  • When approaching a piece of writing:

     

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1.2.5 Stage 3: Details

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 ‘axease’ 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 units you are counting in.) If there is shading on the di
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1.2.2 Stages in reading numbers and diagrams

Having established roughly what we are looking at when we see a table of numbers or a diagram, how do we read it systematically? It may be best to think of this as a process with several stages.


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1.2.1 What evidence are we reading?

Although we live in a society where a huge amount of information is available in the form of numbers, some of us still feel a mental fog descend when we are asked to deal with them. This is because numerical information is information in a very condensed and abstract form. A number on its own means very little. You have to learn to read it. Numeracy (the ability to work with numbers) is a skill that we can learn. It is a very useful skill, because it allows us to understand very quickly the <
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Learning outcomes

After studying this unit 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.


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Acknowledgements

The content acknowledged below is Proprietary (see terms and conditions) and is used under licence.

Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following sources for permission to reproduce material in this supplement:

Map 1 Image produced by: getmapping.com PLC, tel. 01252 845444,
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References

Gould, P. and White, R. (1974) Mental Maps, Harmondsworth, Penguin.
Knox, P. and Agnew, J. (1989) The Geography of the World Economy, London, Edward Arnold.
Further reading
Smith, R. (1997) Simple Map Reading, Edinburgh, HMSO. This is a short handbook on the techniques of map reading, explained in a str
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3.3.1 Mapmaking for the twenty-first century

In early mapmaking history, maps were compiled from travellers’ tales, sailors’ logs and other maps. Information could, therefore, come from various sources and different dates. By the nineteenth century, maps were being made by more technically and scientifically rigorous procedures. Recently, mapmaking has benefited from developments in electronic surveillance techniques and computer programming. The Ordnance Surveys are now using aerial photography coupled with detailed checking on the
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3.2 Maps and the circuit of knowledge

Activity 3

The circuit of knowledge starts with a question or questions. For example, look at Figure 1 and Map 3, A and B. Figure 1 shows how the circuit of knowledge can be used to investigate a question, using Map 3, A and B, as e
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2.2 Mental maps

One of the maps mentioned in the description of my journey to London is the idea of the ‘mental map’. This concerns the notion that we all carry maps in our heads. When asked for directions to a place, our reply is based on a mental map which may be quite close to a ‘real’ map; or may be quite impressionistic and have more to do with our feelings and senses. Have you ever been misled by directions which told you to turn, say, second left, only to discover that the person who gave the
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8.4 Referencing quotes

Quoted material can add to a discussion significantly. It can offer a summary of points that you have explored, or provide an example or even enable you to contrast two different definitions. However, quotes should not be seen as a substitute for your own words. They should be used sparingly. Moreover, quoting material involves the development of particular skills, those of referencing, integrating and selecting. As with ideas, you need to reference the source of the quote that you use as fol
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3 Strange words, long sentences and lost meanings

In reading for a purpose it is not unusual to get stuck on unfamiliar words and concepts or struggle with complex ideas and sentences. This section suggests tactics for coping with unfamiliar words (and inadequate dictionaries), unpacking complex sentences and retrieving lost meanings. In order to do this we will draw on an extract taken from a book, Crime and Society in Britain, by Hazel Croall (1998) which is a social science text. It thus contains more ‘conceptual’ or ‘technic
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2.1 Reading techniques: scanning

There are three main techniques that you can use in order to read in such a way as to achieve your purpose: scanning, skimming, and focused reading. Let's take each in turn.

The technique of scanning is a useful one to use if you want to get an overview of the text you are reading as a whole – its shape, the focus of each section, the topics or key issues that are dealt with, and so on. In order to scan a piece of text you might look for sub-headings or identify key words and p
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1.2 How do you read?

A good way of getting started on developing your reading and note-taking skills is to think about how you read now.

Activity 1

The short extract reproduced below is taken from The Scotsman and is a journalistic piece of wr
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Learning outcomes

After studying this unit you should be able to:

  • recognise some of the skills which are particularly associated with the way social scientists work;

  • describe some basic techniques relating to reading, for example, highlighting, note-taking and the processing;

  • write in your own words using references and quoting sources.


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4.2 The effects of irrelevant speech

Imagine watching a computer screen, on which a series of digits is flashed, at a nice easy rate of one per second. After six items you have to report what the digits had been, in the order presented (this is called serial recall). Not a very difficult task, you might think, but what if someone were talking nearby? It turns out that, even when participants are instructed to ignore the speech completely, their recall performance drops by at least 30 per cent (Jones, 1999).

In the context
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4.1 Introduction

The above account of having attention taken away from the intended target reminds us that, while it may be advantageous from a survival point of view to have attention captured by novel events, these events are actually distractions from the current object of attention. Those who have to work in open-plan offices, or try to study while others watch TV, will know how distracting extraneous material can be. Some try to escape by wearing headphones, hoping that music will be less distracting, bu
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2.2 Knowing about unseen information

An obvious difference between hearing and seeing is that the former is extended in time, while the latter extends over space. So, for example, we can listen to a spoken sentence coming from one place, but it takes some time to hear it all. In contrast, a written sentence is spread over an area (of paper, say) but, as long as it is reasonably short, it can be seen almost instantly. Nevertheless, seeing does require some finite time to capture and analyse the information. This process can be ex
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5 Further reading

Claridge, G. (1985) Origins of Mental Illness: Temperament, Deviance and Disorder, Oxford, Blackwell.

A classic text on ‘abnormal’ psychology.

Faludy, T. and Faludy, A. (1996) A Little Edge of Darkness: A Boy's Triumph Over Dyslexia, London, Jessica Kingsley.

This is the personal account written by Alexander Faludy and his mother, Tanya, of their experiences of understanding and managing Alexander's dyslexia.

Miles, T.R. and Miles, E. (1999) Dyslex
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3.5.1 Expectancy versus effect

One of the biggest problems in evaluating psychological interventions is that even if a treatment appears to ‘work’ it can still be difficult to ascertain whether the results were a consequence of the treatment itself. The improvement might have occurred anyway, with or without the treatment, or the apparent benefits might have resulted from other factors, such as being able to discuss the difficulties with a professional who understands. Any treatment can lead to expectations of i
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