Steps in Social Research

A look inside the steps of Social Research


Table of Contents

As the name says, social research is the research done to determine the social issues or problems faced by a society or a particular area so that the solution for those issues can be suggested and implemented.

Let’s go through the complete process of social research and evaluate the series of steps involved:

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Steps in Social Research1

Preparation of the Research Problem

Preparing a research problem based on a theoretical situation is a difficult task, as it seems. However, if a problem is studied and represented well, half of the problem is solved. The following three questions have served as important elements in preparing the research problem:

  • What do people want to know?
  • Why do they need answers to those questions?
  • What could be the answers to the initial questions?

The correct questions help in observing a particular situation, which leads you towards required data collection and the research process to look for the answers to your questions.

Reviewing the Previous Related Literature

Effective research always contains previous knowledge, thus a researcher must take into consideration the knowledge that has been collected earlier. It helps him in avoiding duplication and also provides him the proof and knowledge he is already familiar with, in addition to things that are already known and tested or untested in the particular topic or field.

By reviewing the previous literature, you get acquainted with the analysis of the writings and findings of the earlier researches in the particular field for a particular area. Like J.W. Best said, ”All human knowledge can be found in books and libraries.” This is true because, unlike other animals, human builds with the past knowledge and preserve their findings for the upcoming generations.

The main aim to review the previous literature is to avoid overlapping of knowledge and save time for other steps. It also gives you ideas, explanations, and theories that may prove to be useful in your research.

Preparation of Explanations

The next step in the process is the preparation of a provisional explanation of the issues in whichever feasible way. To formulate the explanation, the researcher tends to gather data from several sources like previous research reports, existing theories, own insights, etc. However, formulated explanations do not lead all studies.

Some studies lead to the preparation of a theory and some studies begin with a well-formulated theory. Those studies that lead to the preparation of a theory are known as ‘Exploratory Studies’ and those that begin with a formulated theory are known as ‘Hypothesis Testing Studies’.

Making a Research Design

Steps in Social Research2

Once the research problem and hypothesis are formulated, now the researcher needs a design to start the research and study. This design will work as a blueprint of the information and data collected by the researcher, which they will use to formulate a hypothesis and then to analyze the final data.

When you decide the study design, it helps you to carry out the research objectively, accurately, and economically, which ensures the least chances of any failure. However, research purpose and the working procedure highly defines the research designs and thus it varies accordingly. The parts of the research design would be:

  • Observational: describes the way observations will be made.
  • Sampling: Describes the various sampling method to be used.
  • Statistical: Describes the statistical techniques to be used.
  • Operational: Describes the techniques required to operate the complete research.
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Selecting the Sampling Design

During the research, it is not possible to list out all the persons or things as it involves a lot of time, money, and energy consumption. This is the reason, many researchers consider selecting the samples to conduct their research. This selection of random samples is commonly called sampling design. There are three types of samples:

    1. Samples based on judgment
    2. Probability sampling
    3. On a mixed sampling basis

For judgment-based sampling, units are intentionally drawn according to the research’s objectives, so that to include only the important ones. In Probability sampling, samples are drawn as per the chances based on scientific techniques. In mixed sampling, samples are selected partly on the basis of probability and partly as per the fixed sampling rule.

Data Collection Tools

The data is the most important part of any research work. Hence, correct and adequate data is necessary for any research to be conducted. However, due to the time, finances, and several other resources, the data may differ for every research.

A researcher collects data from books, newspapers, reports from previous studies, etc. In addition to them, they also consider an investigation, scope of the research, time, finances, accuracy, and researcher’s own experience and ability in the data collection.

For a survey, the data is collected through personal interviews, telephonic interviews, questionnaires, etc. According to a particular survey, the researcher may use one or more of the above methods. Using an omnichannel survey software like Voxco, it becomes easy to gather insightful data from respondents through online surveys, telephonic (CATI) surveys, and offline interviews

Data Analysis and Hypothesis Testing

Once the data is collected, the researcher starts its analysis. Based on the analysis, statistical conclusions are derived. It means the researcher categorizes the raw data into statistical data or in an understandable format.

When the data is represented in an understandable or representable form, it is verified as if it can work without testing the hypothesis or not. For instance, in behavioral sciences, several hypotheses can not be tested, thus the researcher only tests with the help of sampling. Hence, on these bases, the researcher identifies if the incidents are stable with the hypothesis, so that their logical consequences can be concluded.

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Explore all the survey question types possible on Voxco

Interpretation and Reporting

After the testing of the hypothesis, the researcher reaches the stage of interpretation. In this, the researcher interprets or explains his findings and experiences to others with the help of some theoretical frameworks. These explanations and interpretations may also lead to further questionings, which can become new topics for further researches.

After the interpretation is done, the researcher is left only with the reporting of the research. The report of the research is the final product of all the research activities and processes. Furthermore, writing a research report is no easy task. It requires proper skills and efforts, patience, and penetration from the researcher. Additionally, a good approach to the problem, data, and analysis with a good hold on knowledge and neutrality are also must in the researcher. The reporting is essential as it provides good knowledge, new findings, and even inspiration for further researches. Voxco comes equipped with advanced analytics & reporting functionalities that make it easy to share gathered data across the relevant teams. 

When all the above steps are precisely followed, the research process gets completed with a clear and proper result.

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Hindol Basu 
GM, Voxco Intelligence


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