Scope of Research


Scope of Research

Social research also varies by scope or unit of analysis. Both the personality theorist and the learning theorist, for example, use the same level of analysis or unit of analysis-i.e ., an individual person. Different characteristics of the person being studied, in one case his or her personality development and in another case his or her learning ability, but in each case the units from which the study sample is drawn consist of a population of persons.

However, in social science, which deals with groups as well as individuals, social research can vary not only in terms of subject matter but also in terms of scope or the unit of analysis. A study using a country as the unit of analysis is obviously of larger scope than a study using an individual for this purpose. We call such large-scale studies macro research. Any study that compares large geographical areas or large aggregates of persons such as continents, countries, states, counties, or census tracts is obviously macro. Studies with an individual person as the unit of analysis are called micro research.

Generally one would refer to small group studies involving two three or four people as micro, but there is no consensus on the borderline between micro and macro. It is probably not necessary to set an exact dividing line. what is important is that researcher attempting to choose a subject research project makes a decision concerning the scope of the project, and thus realizes the range in scope that exists in social research.

Research in social science is the scientific analysis of the nature and trends of human behavior so as to formulate broad principles and scientific concepts. It may be defined as the systematic method of discovering new facts or of verifying old facts through the sequence, interrelationship, causal explanations, and the natural laws, which cover them.

Social research may chart out new scientific horizons, extending frontiers of social science, advancing and testing new beliefs and principles. Research inculcates scientific and inductive thinking and promotes the development of logical habits of thinking. The scope of social research, thus, extends beyond the purely academic realm. It has gained prominence in the field of development planning and policy formulation, business and industry, and study of social problems. Let us examine them in detail in the following paragraphs.

1. Academics
The role of research in several fields of social sciences, whether related to business or to the economy as a whole, has greatly increased. The increasingly complex nature of business and government has focused attention on the use of research in solving operational problems. Research, as an aid to widen the horizons of pure and applied research in the field of social and behavioral sciences, has gained added importance both for government and the business.

2. Policy formulation
Research provides the basis for nearly all government policies in our economic system. For instance, the government budgets rest in part on an analysis of the needs and desires of the people and on the availability of revenues to meet these needs. The cost of the needs has to be equated to the probable revenues and this is a field where research is most useful and needed. Through research, we can devise alternative policies and can as well examine the consequences of each of these alternatives. Research facilitates the decisions of policy-makers.

3. Business and industry
Research has its special significance in solving the various operational and planning problems of business and industry. Operations research and market research, along with motivational research, are considered crucial and their results assist in more than one way in taking business decisions. Market research is the investigation of the structure and development of a market for the purpose of formulating efficient policies for purchasing, production, and sales. Operational research refers to the application of mathematical, logical, and analytical techniques to the solution of business problems of cost minimization or of profit maximization or what can be termed as optimization problems. Motivational research to determine why people behave as they do is mainly concerned with market characteristics.

4. Social phenomena
Research is of great importance for social scientists in studying social relationships and in seeking answers to various social problems. It provides the intellectual satisfaction of knowing things for the sake of knowledge and has practical utility for the social scientists to know for the sake of being able to do something better or in a more efficient manner. Research in social sciences is concerned both with knowledge for its own sake (pure research) and with knowledge for what it can contribute to practical concerns (applied research). On the one hand, its responsibility as a science is to develop a body of principles that make possible the understanding and prediction of a whole range of human interactions. On the other hand, because of its social orientation, it offers practical solutions to problems of human relations.

The scope of social science research is thus unlimited. The scope of the research effort in behavioral and social areas is vast. Research in social science spans the fields of economics, anthropology, psychology, sociology, rural development, management, and other disciplines. Over the past few decades, many changes have taken place in terms of the major areas of research in social science. However, the conduct of research investigations, the sophistication of methods, and the kinds of questions that are investigated have changed significantly.

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