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# Describing and explaining social phenomena is a complex task. Box’s quote speaks

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Describing and explaining social phenomena is a complex task. Box’s quote speaks to the point that it is a near impossible undertaking to fully explain such systems—physical or social—using a set of models. Yet even though these models contain some error, the models nevertheless assist with illuminating how the world works and advancing social change.

The competent quantitative researcher understands the balance between making statements related to theoretical understanding of relationships and recognizing that our social systems are of such complexity that we will always have some error. The key, for the rigorous researcher, is recognizing and mitigating the error as much as possible.

As a graduate student and consumer of research, you must recognize the error that might be present within your research and the research of others.

To prepare for this Discussion:

* Use the Walden Library Course Guide and Assignment Help found in this week’s Learning Resources to search for and select a quantitative article that interests you and that has social change implications.

* As you read the article, reflect on George Box’s quote in the introduction for this discussion.

Post a very brief descriiption (1–3 sentences) of the article you found and address the following:

1. Describe how you think the research in the article is useful (e.g., what population is it helping? What problem is it solving?).

2. Using Y=f(X) +E notation, identify the independent and dependent variables.

3. How might the research models presented be wrong? What types of error might be present in the reported research?

Question:

Remembering that all research has some error, respond to at least one colleague’s post and comment on how we as social change agents and critical consumers of research can balance the usefulness with the error in the research. Do we throw the research out because of too much error, or is there something useful that it can tell us?

Resources:

Frankfort-Nachmias, C., Leon-Guerrero, A., & Davis, G. (2020). Social statistics for a diverse society (9th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

* Chapter 1, “The What and the Why of Statistics” (pp. 1–25)

Wagner, III, W. E. (2020). Using IBM® SPSS® statistics for research methods and social science statistics (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

* Chapter 1, “Overview”

Dietz, T., & Kalof, L. (2009). Introduction to social statistics: The logic of statistical reasoning. West Sussex, United Kingdom: Wiley-Blackwell.

Introduction to Social Statistics: The Logic of Statistical Reasoning, 1st Edition by Dietz, T.; Kalof, L. Copyright 2009 by John Wiley & Sons – Books. Reprinted by permission of John Wiley & Sons – Books via the Copyright Clearance Center.

* Chapter 1, “An Introduction to Quantitative Analysis” (pp. 1–31)

Dietz, T., & Kalof, L. (2009). Introduction to social statistics: The logic of statistical reasoning. West Sussex, United Kingdom: Wiley-Blackwell.

Introduction to Social Statistics: The Logic of Statistical Reasoning, 1st Edition by Dietz, T.; Kalof, L. Copyright 2009 by John Wiley & Sons – Books. Reprinted by permission of John Wiley & Sons – Books via the Copyright Clearance Center.

* Chapter 2, “Some Basic Concepts” (pp. 33–63)

Introduction to Social Statistics: The Logic of Statistical Reasoning, 1st Edition by Dietz, T.; Kalof, L. Copyright 2009 by John Wiley & Sons – Books. Reprinted by permission of John Wiley & Sons – Books via the Copyright Clearance Center.

Walden University Library. (n.d.). Course Guide and Assignment Help for RSCH 8210. Retrieved from http://academicguides.waldenu.edu/rsch8210

For help with this week’s research, see this Course Guide and related weekly assignment resources.

Use this SPSS Resource page to guide you as you as you download, install and register your SPSS software.

Note: You will use this software throughout this course to perform various statistical calculations.

Datasets

Walden’s SPSS website: http://academicguides.waldenu.edu/SPSS

Your instructor will post the datasets for the course in the Doc Sharing section and in an Announcement. Your instructor may also recommend using a different dataset from the ones provided here

Required Media

Milgram, A. (2013). Why smart statistics are the key to fighting crime [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/anne_milgram_why_smart_statistics_are_the_key_to_fighting_crime

Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 12 minutes.

In this media program, Anne Milgram discusses how smart statistics are used to fight crime. Focus on the statement “all models are wrong, but some are useful.”

Price, M. (2015). Statistician promotes social justice and human rights [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orW01w8a4zY

Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 2 minutes.

In this media program, statistician Megan Price explains how she uses statistics to advance social justice issues and protect human rights.

Walden University, LLC. (Producer). (2016e). Introduction and demonstration of SPSS [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 4 minutes.