Social research is a research conducted by social scientists following a systematic plan. Social research methodologies can be classified as quantitative or qualitative. Qualitative designs emphasize understanding of social phenomena through direct observation, communication with participants, or analysis of texts, and may stress contextual subjective accuracy over generality. While methods research methods module pdf be classified as quantitative or qualitative, most methods contain elements of both.
For example, qualitative data analysis often involves a fairly structured approach to coding the raw data into systematic information, and quantifying intercoder reliability. Thus, there is often a more complex relationship between “qualitative” and “quantitative” approaches than would be suggested by drawing a simple distinction between them. Methods rooted in classical sociology and statistics have formed the basis for research in other disciplines, such as political science, media studies, program evaluation and market research. Social scientists are divided into camps of support for particular research techniques.
While very different in many aspects, both qualitative and quantitative approaches involve a systematic interaction between theory and data. The choice of method often depends largely on what the researcher intends to investigate.
For example, a researcher concerned with drawing a statistical generalization across an entire population may administer a survey questionnaire to a representative sample population. By contrast, a researcher who seeks full contextual understanding of an individuals’ social actions may choose ethnographic participant observation or open-ended interviews. Studies will commonly combine, or ‘triangulate’, quantitative and qualitative methods as part of a ‘multi-strategy’ design. Typically a population is very large, making a census or a complete enumeration of all the values in that population infeasible.
A ‘sample’ thus forms a manageable subset of a population. In positivist research, statistics derived from a sample are analysed in order to draw inferences regarding the population as a whole. The process of collecting information from a sample is referred to as ‘sampling’. The most common reason for sampling is to obtain information about a population.