Understanding Social Science Research: Research Methods

Understanding Social Science Research: Research Methods


In this short video, I’m going to
describe the main difference between two broad types of social science research.
Social science research is the activity of gathering analyzing and interpreting
information related to human behavior. There are several disciplines that are
part of social sciences such as education, anthropology, psychology and
also economics. There are a variety of methods to study issues related to human
behavior. These methods can be classified into two main categories–qualitative and
quantitative. Qualitative research explores the meaning of people’s
experiences in particular cultures or settings so it focuses on how people
behave in their natural environment. These researchers don’t start with a
clear theory from particular cases. They arrive to a general conclusion so we can
say that its method is inductive. Qualitative researchers emphasize
collecting in-depth information on relatively few individuals or within a
limited setting so for these samples tend to be small. Quantitative research tends
to focus on specific behaviors that can be quantified. Based on theory,
researchers develop an hypotheses which then is accepted or refuted
through the analysis of the data so we can say that the method is deductive
because it starts from a general idea and then it is confirmed or not. To be able
to get more accurate results, quantitative research frequently
includes very large samples. Some studies also use mixed methods combining both types of research. In qualitative research, data
is descriptive and comes from interviews of resources, focus groups
and/or observations. In qualitative research, method may change during the
same research and different kind of data may be decided to be collected. The data
usually takes the form of long written notes. In this case, the same researcher
needs to organize the data and look for patterns and identify specific things or
topics. Reports from qualitative research are usually narrative although it is not
essential. There are some tools that can support researchers in the analysis of
these kind of data for example. NVivo is a popular computer software that
allows you to store organize and categorize your data in quantitative
research. Data are measurable and are expressed in numerical form. To analyze
this data statistical methods are used. The findings from this type of research
are usually presented in a statistical report to compute these calculations.
There are different softwares that can facilitate this process Excel for
example is great for data management and also to run some simple analysis but it
is better to learn to use a specific statistical software as soon as you can
since it will be essential for more complex analysis. There are a number of
easy-to-use statistical software such as Stata SPSS and R. We recommend you use R since it is free and allows you to save data analysis programs. In our next video, we are going to show you how to install
R and R Studio, so don’t miss it!