Social science research: overview
Introduction: A systematic and step by step search into a phenomenon is known as research. As its name itself define its meaning, that is Re-search. A new investigation into a subject that may be an existing body of knowledge, we contribute to it through a new investigation. It is termed research. It is a scientific investigation followed by various methods and techniques. “D. Slesinger and D. Stephenson define social science research as the manipulation of things, concepts, or symbols to generalize to extend, correct, or verify knowledge whether that knowledge aids in the construction of theory or the practice of an art”. We can also simply said that it is a gift to the advancement and enhancement of already known pieces of information. Social science researchers also follow scientific methods and techniques to conduct research.
Significance of social science research
- Research has great importance to aid economic policies of a country, both for government and business.
- Research helps to consider the basic necessity of people and thereby provide sufficient allocation of a nation’s resources.
- A new search into society and its people helps us to find the truth about various problems in our social setups and relationships.
- It helps to understand the different social institutions and their functions in society
- Provide an overview of the changing trends in social institutions around the world.
- Helps to compare and contrast among different countries.
Social science research is done in various steps. These steps or actions is inevitable to carry out the entire research. The various steps that involve in an investigation are;
- Formulating the research problem Finding of a research
In the research process, this is the first and the most crucial step. All other steps are depending on this step. The topic or the research problems tells you and others what you intended to study or your destination of research. Mainly there are 2 different kinds of topics one is related to states of nature and the other is related to the relationship between variables. There are mainly two kinds of variables one is a dependant variable and the other is an independent variable. The dependant variables are variables that depend on the independent variable. For example, if we study the unemployment among youth; we can say income, family background, education qualifications; the experience can be dependent variables that depend on the unemployment among youth which is an independent variable. After you select a topic or general topic, the next thing you must consider is to narrow down the general topic into a more specific one. It is not suitable or accurate to research a general topic. Because it is will be difficult to study a wide topic. Therefore it is necessary to determine the specific topic you wish to study or research. For example, if you want to study marriage you have to narrow it down to a more specific one; you can choose to study Catholic marriage customs in some specific geographical areas. It will be easier to study rather study marriage in a specific area. By doing like this one will get the most fruitful and reliable information that will enhance the current knowledge that existing in your field of study.
- Review of existing literature
Reviewing the existing literature is the most essential and unavoidable step in the research process. After you select the specific topic of your interest, you must know what is your topic, its limitations, weaknesses, strengths, to investigate it properly. In the thesis report, you have a chapter named literature review. It includes all the summary or brief notes about the all literature that you refer to understand and to do a better investigation. A literature survey may be a very time consuming and most crucial procedure in a study. But it will provide an insight into your perspective and review your topic. A literature review means to review or crucially look into the previous works within your topic. You can review books, published articles, journals, magazines, blogs, videos, government publications, etc. it can be also said as secondary data for your research.
The reviewing literature provides you most thoughtful ideas, discoveries and a new dimension to your study. So it is really necessary to put your best to do a literature survey. Because above all the sufferings, It will guide your research.
In short, the literature review helps you to provide;
- A literature review provides the researcher with a theoretical idea.
- It provides the researcher with a link between the already known information and what do you want to study.
- It also helps the researcher to understand how your research is going to supply information to the current knowledge. In other words, it will connect the current knowledge and your findings
- Development of hypothesis
After the literature survey, the next step is developing a hypothesis for your research. Hypotheses are tentative assumptions made to test their logical and empirical consequences. It provides a focal point for research. For example, if the topic is related to Gender we can make a hypothesis ‘Women are emotional than men’; this is an assumption made by the researcher and this assumption is tested through the research. We can test this after analyzing the data collected. The hypothesis will help the researcher to concentrate on the topic and to keep the researcher on the same route without any diversion. It also shows the researcher what kind of data is needed and what methods of data analysis should follow.
- Research design
After the formulation of the research topic, the research should prepare the research design. It is a conceptual structure in which the research should conduct. The research design provides the researcher with relevant evidence with sufficient and minimum use of time, money and effort. A research design must include the arrangements to study the topics, the methods that the researcher choose to study the samples, the period to finish the study, analysis and interpretation methods. You must know why I should take this research design for your research, its strengths and weaknesses and limitations.
- Sample design
In social science research, the whole unit under the study is known as the universe or population. For example, if your research topic is the Unemployment of youth in Mexico. The youth in Mexico will be the universe or population of your study. A complete enumeration or study of the entire population or universe means census enquiry. For example, the census took place in India every ten years is an example of the census. But in research, we don’t need to enumerate the entire population under study. Or in other terms, we need to select some units from the entire population under study, that is, we need to select the samples rather than to study the entire population. There are two kinds of sampling, one is probability sampling and the other is non-probability sampling. In probability sampling, the entire population gets an equal chance to be drawn but in non-probability sampling, the entire population does not get an equal chance to be drawn. Simple random sampling, stratified random sampling, systematic sampling are among the probability sampling techniques. In non-probability sampling, the data collected from convenience sampling, judgmental sampling, quota sampling, etc. The result of your data depends on the characteristics and attributes of your selected samples. The selected samples should provide you with the necessary and accurate data. Whether you select probability sampling or non-probability sampling is depends on the topic you selected. When you select a rare and sensitive population that is hard to get, you can choose a non-probability sampling of your choice and your respondent’s confidentiality. The sampling method will eliminate unwanted costs and travelling. It will save you time.
Also Read; Sampling: Types and Examples
- Collecting data
As we all know without the data collection we cannot proceed with our research. In social science research more than quantitative data collection, we tend to do qualitative data collection. And then covert it into quantifiable data to analyse and interpret the data easily. Social science researchers also collect data through quantitative data collection.
We need to collect data for analyzing and interpreting the collected data. In social science also, we can collect the data in various ways. The method you choose depends on what is your topic of study. As mentioned earlier, there are two kinds of data primary data and secondary data. The collection of data also depends on the time, cost and other resources of the researcher. The primary data are first-hand data collected directly by the researcher through experiments, surveys or interviews. If a researcher collected data from the existing body of knowledge like books, magazines, published journals, articles, and thesis etc it is known as secondary data. The social science researcher mainly gathers data through observation, personal interviews, telephonic interviews, questionnaires, and interview schedules.
Also Read: How to write for journals
- Project Execution
The next unavoidable and vital process in research is project execution. The researcher should execute the research at the correct time and in a systematic manner. The questionnaire should prepare when it is a survey method. If the data is collected through interviews the researcher should prepare and train the investigator with the purpose and need of the research questions.
- Analysis of data
After the data are collected the next step is an analysis of data. The collected raw data is passed through different processes such as coding, tabulation and statistical inferences. After the researcher classifies the data it is ready for the next step, which is coding. The coding is transforming the raw data into figures and symbols for tabulating and counting. Tabulation is converting the coded data into tables. And after statistical tools, the tabulated data are analyzed.
- Hypothesis testing
After the analysis of data, the researcher can test the working hypothesis the hypothesis is tested through a different test developed by statisticians such as T-test, Chi-square test, F-test etc. By testing the hypothesis we can either be accepting the hypothesis or rejecting it.
- Generalization and interpretation
After the successful testing of the hypothesis, the researcher can arrive at generalizations and can build a theory. If you don’t have any hypothesis he must explain the findings based on some theory. It is known as interpretation.
- Preparation of the report or thesis
At last, the researcher should prepare the final report based on what he has done. The thesis or report consists of the introductory chapter, main content and the findings and conclusion.
The preliminary pages should include the title of the research, data, acknowledgements and certificates, table of contents, list of tables, charts and graphs.
The main text of the social science research report or thesis consists of 5 chapters
- Introduction: This includes a brief introduction of the topic or research problem, significance of the topic, and relevance of the topic in the current scenario.
- Literature review: This includes all the references that you have done to do this investigation.
- Methodology: The methodology chapter must include the objective of the study, variables, limitation of the study, data collection tools, research design, sampling methods, the population and sample details etc.
- Data analysis and Interpretation: in this chapter, you must include all the tables, charts, graphs related to the collected data. You must provide an analysis of each data provided.
- Findings and conclusion: In this chapter, you can briefly explain your interpretation and results of your research. You can also compare and contrast your findings with the help of a theory. You can provide suggestions also.
Thus social science research is also a scientific and systematic process, in which the researcher is done this by different methods and techniques like the natural scientists do.
Also Read: Research Methods
- Kothari, C.R.:1985 Research Methodology-Methods and Techniques, New Delhi: Vishwa Prakasham
- Krishnaswamy O.R Methodology of Research in social sciences, Himalaya Publishing House, 2005 Chennai