When I first began the readings the terms methodology and ontology were new concepts. Now I think I am starting to understand what these concepts mean. To me ontology is what things we question, and methodology is how we decide we will answer our questions about social reality.
I think research can study both things we cannot see like social norms and decision making and things we can see. I think that is why both ontology and methodology are so important. While we can ask questions about most things, we must ask questions and develop research designs in a certain way to make some sound conclusions. Social science research is not about finding an objective truth. So if we understand that the goal of research is to create new knowledge, we can study most things.
To me, I don’t think a researcher can be truly objective. A researcher can make sound conclusions and create internally valid research designs. However, that does not make them immune to bias at all. A researcher cannot separate themselves from the world that they study. Social science research can’t be excluded from the social world. In our quest to find answers, we ultimately create the reality we intended to study. When we decide on definitions of concepts, questions we will ask, and the conclusions we make, we create new understandings. We can always observe social facts, but ultimately, we must decide what those facts mean to gain a better understanding of reality. I am not sure if it matters if research is objective. Before, I believed objectivity was the only way to measure the worthiness of a research project. Now I understand that social science is not about finding absolute truths, but about cultivating knowledge.
For example, we discussed the Wedeen’s piece titled “Acting “As If”: Symbolic Politics and Social Control in Syria” in class and how she used notes to explain how she was a moving part in the social reality she was studying. In her first note she explained how she immersed herself in the culture of the people she studied, the backgrounds of the people she studied, and the places she stayed when completing the research. This example is what came to mind when I thought about if we can be separate from our research. Prior to Olson’s I would have saw this as an example of a lack of objectivity and a flaw. Now that I understand what social science research is, I realize that Weeden acknowledging her background is a part of the knowledge that was produced.
 Wedeen, Lisa. “Acting “As If”: Symbolic Politics and Social Control in Syria.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 40, no. 3 (1998): pg. 503 http://www.jstor.org/stable/179273.