11 Steps in social research


Steps in Social Research

Writers usually treat the research task as a sequential process involving several clearly defined steps. No one claims that research requires completion of each step before going to the next. Recycling, circumventing, and skipping occur. Some steps are begun out of sequence, some are carried out simultaneously, and some may be omitted. Despite these variations, the idea of a sequence is useful for developing a project and for keeping the project orderly as it unfolds.

Articles we have read may also suggest that the research process is rational and straightforward. Unfortunately, this is very rarely true, and the reality is considerably messier, with what initially appear as great ideas sometimes having little or no relevance. While research is often depicted as moving through each of the steps outlined above, one after the other, this is unlikely to be the case. In reality we will probably revisit each step more than once. Each time we revisit a step we will need to reflect on the associated issues and refine our ideas. In addition, we will need to consider ethical and access issues during the process.

How do we start a research work? What do we do first and second and next after that? These are pressing questions to the novice in research. The aim of this chapter is to tell how to get started on our research work, step by step. The procedures described will be loose and unspecific because of our emphasis on the diversity of research types and methods.

Remember, nevertheless, that any given procedure is not a sacred order that must be obeyed but is rather a series of steps that has often been found useful in a particular field. It is based upon a practical and stepby-step approach to research and each step provides a smorgasbord of methods, models, and procedures. The steps given here look neatly ordered. Therese L. Baker has suggested eleven steps in her book "Doing Social Research."

Step 1. Define the topic
Research must be grounded in some already known factual information, which is used to introduce the topic and from which the research question will stem.

Step 2. Knowledge about the topic

The research topics are usually embedded in so many different kinds of materials that the researcher must be careful to select the best materials to examine. We should look at the background literature review sections, which generally come at the beginning of published research articles. Most of these reviews are very condensed; they extract a few salient points from numerous, summarizing them in a way that is relevant to the study in question.

Step 3. Concepts and their measurement
In the research, a clear definition of the main concepts must be given. The general question of measurement should be discussed so that it is clear that the potential problems in measuring the concepts have been thoroughly thought out. These include two critical issues: validity and reliability.

Step 4. Data collection method
We must describe how we will collect data and which sources of available data we will actually use. Issues of access to the data are important to discuss. After all, we must be able to get the data we purpose. Most studies have one central type of method to be used (a survey, an experiment), though they may also draw on a few other data sources to widen their scope.

Step 5. Research design

This refers to the "nuts and bolts" of the study. Concepts are sometimes better measured using more than one indicator of the concept. If the concepts are poorly operational, the best sample and the fanciest statistical routine will not make something useful of the data. In the research, the actual way that the concepts will be operational should be spelled out. In addition, the critical questions that measure the most important concepts in the study should be discussed and their level of adequacy addressed.

Step 6. Sample selection
The selection process for deciding what or whom we will study rests on a large body of thought about the nature of sampling. Sampling plans may be very complex or quite straightforward. The design of our sample, it needs to be explained in our research. It should be so precise that someone else could generate a similar sample by following our procedures.

Step 7. Purpose, value, and ethics of the study
Once the topic, the background, the clarification of concepts, and the major methods of data collection have been presented, it is time to address the purpose, value, and ethics of the study. This is done to help us think through how we would justify our study in terms of both its rationale and the ethical issues that it might raise. But in research, the research design must be presented before the rationale and ethical issues involved can be discussed.

Step 8. Data collection
Each form of data collection has its special concerns, which need to be considered fully before doing the study. The plans for collecting data should be described carefully. If we are using already available data, we need to describe at this stage how we will obtain the data.

Step 9. Data procession
Once the data are collected, they must be put into a form that will enable them to be analyzes. If they are quantifiable data, we usually have to prepare them for the computer. If they are field notes, they must be organized and categorized. In the study, a concise statement may be included to address this subject.

Step 10. Data analysis
How you plan to analyze the data must be thought through carefully while the study is being designed. It is true that once the data are collected, there may be some changes in these plans. Nevertheless, it is better to have a strategy that can be adapted than to end up with piles of data for which we have no organized plan. There are numerous analytical tools for studying quantifiable data.

Step 11. Results presentation
The data for an entire study may be collected, but the research is not complete until the results of the study have been written up. For research become professional the projects, basis meetings. final for articles, A reports single books, must study be or may be written. unpublished lead us Most to papers many research and offered projectsvariedat types of publications and presentations.

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