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BOX 3.1
Some Major Sources of Social Science Data with Examples of Types of Data Collected

People

•As personal observers (e.g., verbal "think-aloud" responses gathered in studies of decision making and problem solving; responses to interviews and question-naires)

•As corporate or community representatives (e.g., descriptions of corporate deployment of information technology elicited in interviews with chief information officers)

•As performers (e.g., scores from educational testing; patterns of participation in groups)

•As decision makers (e.g., data revealing consumer preferences or choices)

Documents and Records—Historical and Contemporary

•Diaries (e.g., details of personal situations)

•Media content (e.g., indicators of cultural themes)

•Commercial records (e.g., data on the diffusion of the telephone)

•Public records (e.g., data from birth and death records indicating population changes over time)

Organizations

•Performance measures collected from publicly reported data such as earnings reports; other financial measures

•Personnel statistics

•Product performance data

Communities

•Data on voter turnout or library circulation rates as indicators of citizen participation

Governments

•Labor market statistics

•National and regional economic statistics

3.1.1 Data from Experiments

Experiments involve setting up control and experimental groups that differ only with respect to the presence or absence of the effect being studied and thus permit researchers to conclude that a difference in outcomes in the two groups is actually due to the difference in treatment. The HomeNet project is an experiment that examines the impacts of computers in the home (see section 2.1.1, "Computer Use in the Home"). The Internet Demand Experiment (INDEX) at the University of California, Berkeley, is attempting to measure user demand for Internet "quality of service" by offering different price-quality combinations and observing what users choose.2 Offering an actual choice is likely to lead to more accurate results than is asking hypothetical questions.



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