Characteristics of Social Research Omnichannel

Characteristics of Social Research

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How do you gain an understanding of human behavior? Their social life? Or the reason behind their action?

Social research is the field that studies and explores humankind in its social environment. Researchers use social research to improve their understanding of human nature to establish principles that cater to their various needs. 

Let’s start by understanding what defines Social Research. 

What is Social Research?

Social research refers to the systematic and organized investigation of a social problem that requires a solution. 

It is a kind of research used to investigate individuals, groups of people, and institutions. It contributes to our general body of knowledge by allowing us to identify new facts or even verify/test old facts. 

As Kenneth D. Bailey explains in Methods of Social Research, 1982: Social research gathers data to help us answer questions about various aspects of society, enabling us to understand society. 

One example of social research is the field interviews conducted by REACH (Research, Evaluation & Analysis for Community Health), a research group at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). The research team works to uncover the desires and understandings of community members to resolve problems that affect those communities. In their project, they undertook to investigate the community health of rural Puerto Rico. 

In this blog, we’ll delve into the different characteristics and functions of social research. 

[Related read: Importance of Social Research]

What are the characteristics of social research?

Characteristics of Social Research Omnichannel

There are several characteristics that define social research contributing to its validity and rigor. Let’s explore these characteristics in more detail to understand how it helps generate knowledge about various aspects of social phenomena. 

1. Aims to find Solutions: 

You can use it to find the cause-and-effect relationship between a social problem and its cause. This solution can help eliminate or reduce the prevalence of the social problem and enhance societal welfare in the process. 

For example, social research can conduct a study to understand the cause of poverty in a particular city. It can use the data to develop and propose interventions to address the issue.

2. Empirical-Based Research:

Another core characteristic of social research is that it relies on empirical evidence. Instead of speculations or theories, it gathers data from real-world settings using surveys, experiments, observations, and interviews. The empirical data helps strengthen the validity and reliability of the research findings. 

3. Used to make Predictions: 

The research findings generate generalizations, principles, and theories that allow you to make predictions of future occurrences. 

For example, an educational institution can use it to study the relationship between career success and educational attainment. The research can help them predict that a high level of education can help a person get a better job. 

4. Interdisciplinary: 

Another characteristic of social research is its interdisciplinary nature. It draws insights and methods from various disciplines like political science, economics, sociology, etc. This enables you to understand complex social phenomena. 

For example, economists, environmental scientists, and sociologists can use it to assess the impact of climate change on migration patterns. 

5. Involves Working with Raw Data: 

Although social research can also employ the use of secondary data, it mostly involves working with raw primary data. This includes interviews, observations, surveys, and statistics. You can collect data directly from the target population and interpret it to draw conclusions. 

For example, a healthcare organization can use surveys to gather self-reported data to understand the connection between exercise and diabetes. They can leverage data analysis tools to identify any patterns between the variables.

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6. Requires Current Information: 

Social research is generally conducted to find solutions to common or prevalent social issues, which means the data used is current and relevant to the times. For this reason, journal articles and conference papers are some examples of sources you can use. 

For example, to study the impact of social media on social anxiety, you would need to gather recent data on the usage of social media. 

7. Carefully Designed Procedures: (Systematic Approach)

A major characteristic of social research is its carefully designed procedure that applies rigorous analysis. It follows a structured process to ensure that the research is replicable and findings are reliable.

The process involves developing hypotheses, writing research questions, selecting appropriate data collection methods, analyzing data, and reporting. There are many types of social research, such as quantitative research, qualitative research, descriptive research, and more, all of which follow an organized approach. 

8. Recorded and Reported:

Social research is carefully recorded and reported. The report outlines every detail, including any procedures used and any limiting factors identified. The results are presented in a manner of scholarly caution and restraint and are reported in popular forums and sometimes in popular media. 

9. Objective and Logical: 

Social research aims to apply various tests to validate the procedures employed, the data collected, and the conclusion reached. It maintains objectivity to minimize biased research, which contributes to the main characteristics of social research. 

When conducting this research, you should be able to separate your own beliefs and values. Your approach should be open-minded and must use systematic methods to collect and analyze data. 

For example, say you want to conduct research to study any relationship between job hiring decisions and the gender of the candidate. To gather objective data, neither the researcher nor the participants should be aware of the gender of the applicants. 

10. Ethical:

Social research should comply with ethical guidelines to protect the well-being of the participants. You must obtain consent and maintain confidentiality to ensure voluntary participation and minimize any harm or distress. 

The ethical consideration is not only guidelines to protect the rights of the individuals involved but also to maintain the reliability and authenticity of the research. 

For example, when researching sensitive topics such as mental health, you must ensure the privacy and confidentiality of people participating in the study.

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Function of Social Research

Some functions of social research are: 

  • To Discover New Facts or Verify/Test Old Facts: Social research allows us to discover new facts about social life, individuals, and institution. It adds to our current body of knowledge. You can also leverage the research it to test or verify old facts. 
  • To Improve Social Welfare: Social research allows us to identify the root of a social problem so that we can take appropriate remedial actions to improve social welfare. 
  • To Gain More Control over Social Phenomena: Social research helps obtain first-hand information about social dynamics and social institutions. This helps us gain more control over social phenomena. 
  • Development Planning: Social research provides a base for the planning and designing of developmental schemes and programs.
  • Systematic study of social life: It examines human behavior in a social environment and collects data on diverse aspects of a person’s social life. The data helps research establish an interrelationship between these. 

Related read: How to conduct social research?

What are the Benefits of Social Research?

By uncovering knowledge and generating evidence-based findings, social research promotes data-driven decision-making and informed discussion. This contributes to efficiently addressing societal challenges and introducing positive changes. 

We have explored some benefits of social research below. 

  • Identify social problems.
  • Develop solutions to social problems.
  • Improve public policy.
  • Raise awareness of social issues.

1. Identifies social problems:

This research discipline plays a vital role in understanding and identifying prevailing social problems affecting communities. Thanks to the characteristics of social research, systematic and objective data collection, you can uncover patterns and underlying causes of issues. 

2. Develops solutions to social problems:

Now that you have identified the issues, you can use the insights to develop effective solutions. You can reevaluate the effectiveness of social programs, propose new interventions, and assess the impact of these strategies. 

3. Improves public policy:

This research type is empirical in characteristic, which enables you to inform the evaluation and development of public policies. You can leverage the research findings to understand the complexities of social issues and identify the areas of improvement. As a result, you can develop or refine policies that effectively and promptly resolve the issue from expanding. 

4. Raises awareness of social issues:

The research findings can help you raise awareness of issues that affect the society. You can highlight the prevalence, consequences, and solutions to those problems across public discourse.

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Summing up;

Every stage in a human life is a field of inquiry in social research. It collects meaningful information about human and their interaction with the social world to make decisions on a course of action. This concludes the characteristics and functions of social research. 

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