Here is a term paper on ‘Social Research’ for class 10, 11 and 12. Find paragraphs, long and short term papers on ‘Social Research’ especially written for school and college students.
Term Paper on Social Research
Term Paper Contents:
- Term Paper on the Meaning of Social Research
- Term Paper on the Nature of Social Research
- Term Paper on the Steps in Social Research
- Term Paper on the Utility of Social Research
- Term Paper on the Benefits of Social Research
Term Paper # 1. Meaning of Social Research:
‘Social Research’ is again a broad term having a reference to different kinds of scientific inquiries conducted in the field of social sciences and the behavioural sciences (the distinction between social sciences and behavioural sciences is itself not very clear).
Sociological research, for example, which may be an especial concern for quite a few may be considered a part and parcel of the general category or rubric that is designated as ‘social research’. It may be said that, all sociological research is ‘social research’ but not all ‘social research’ would qualify as sociological research.
‘Social Research’ would refer to a large class of researches while sociological research may be considered a sub-class within it. In practice, i.e., during the conduct of a study, it hardly makes much difference how one labels the study.
What matters is the scientific character of one’s procedures and how successfully one can solve the difficulty (theoretical or practical) that originated the study.
Whether one calls study ‘A sociological study of old people’ or just plane, ‘A study of the old people’, it does not make much difference as long as it is a scientific study of the old people. It is not the label that by itself determines a researcher’s procedures, insights, emphases and his findings, it is rather his training and capabilities, which does it.
A rigid division of researches on the basis of the traditional division of sciences is not only not practicable but also not quite desirable. It is well to take heed of Francis Bacon’s reminder that “The divisions of sciences are not like different lines that meet in one angle but rather like the branches of trees that join in one trunk.”
Lavoisier, in 1773, stated in a Memorandum to the French Convention: All forms of knowledge are threads in one great tapestry and we are assured of one ultimate pattern and design because there in a unity behind all knowledge.
In modern times, research is often a corporate affair in as much as the complex techniques of collecting and processing data require interdisciplinary cooperation. The scholars belonging to different fields of specialised studies applying different forms and techniques work together and pool their knowledge and insights at one point to solve some common problem which initiated research.
In so far as the social or behavioural sciences differ from the natural or physical sciences in quite significant ways and also, in as much as they share among themselves certain common problems of control, measurement, quantitative analysis etc. with more or less equal intensity (so much so that at one time ‘scientific study’ of social phenomena was thought of as impossible), it would not be improper to use the term ‘social research’ to embrace all scientific inquiries within the large field of social behavioural sciences. Convenience also advises this.
It will do the subject to harm if we adopt the broad definition of research to what is generally known as ‘social research.’ By this token, social research may be defined as “a method of studying, analyzing and conceptualizing social life in order to extend, modify, correct or verify knowledge, whether that knowledge aids in construction of a theory or in practice of an art.”
It will be seen that social research is nothing more than the application of scientific procedures of manipulation (purposeful control), of analysis and of synthesis at a higher level of generality, to the social-human phenomena with a view to test, modify and enlarge systematic knowledge about social facts and social life, generally.
Thus, social research has a reference to an investigation focused on social phenomena processes and organization which aims to discover new facts about social reality or verify old ones, to analyse their sequence, interrelationships, causal connections and laws governing them by means of logical and systematized methods.
It is clear that social research does not aim at finding the ultimate truths. Rather, it aims to understand and clarify the behaviour of man, the social world he lives in, the relationships he maintains, the influences which are exerted on him and the effects these have upon him and subsequently, upon the social institutions of which he is a part and through which his behaviour is mediated.
A recent tendency to equate research with a particular method of investigation calls for comment. Such tendency stems from a misconception of scientific method, resulting in the setting up of a criterion which ignores its many important contributions to knowledge.
It hardly needs to be over-emphasized that a “A study is scientific when its data are subjected to a logical analysis resulting in the development of a theory whether those data are secured by experiment, by statistics or common sense.”
The fact that experiment cannot be performed in a particular case does not negate the possibility of scientific study. The term ‘ experiment’ is sometimes used in a more restricted sense, to apply only to situations in which objects or events involved can be deliberately manipulated by the investigator.
This amounts to assuming that manipulation is just about the only method of control. An astronomer cannot manipulate the stars and the planets and yet he can conduct controlled enquiries into their relationship because he knows the values of the variables.
So also can the social- scientist study the miniature social systems in a controlled manner if he is able to determine the significant properties of these systems (i.e., groups).
The historic reason why manipulation is sometimes confused with control is that at one time manipulation was necessary to reduce the number of variables to just two, thus making them amenable to mathematical treatment.
The development of methods of ‘multivariate analysis’ has removed the necessity of manipulation and laboratory. Though control is not synonymous with manipulation, some scientists, Ackoff tells us, consider it useful to make a distinction between the general class of controlled manipulation. This special class they call ‘experimentation’ while the general class is designated as ‘research’.
This practice has had the unfortunate consequence of according to the non-manipulative inquiries a status lower than the manipulative ones. In fact, the emphasis ought not to be on manipulation but on control, where it belongs. For our purposes, research would also involve experimentation.
Term Paper # 2. Nature of Social Research:
The distinctive nature and character of social research derives in a significant measure from the real and supposed nature of the social phenomena which poses certain difficulties when it comes to application of the sophisticated scientific procedures characterizing the natural science to social phenomena. It does not mean, of course, that social sciences are not science in any real sense.
We may like to see what the typical limitations of social science research are:
In case of the softer social sciences so little spontaneous guidance is afforded by the subject matter than in some of the natural sciences which have a logic of their own unobtrusively pointing the way that substantive research often yields place to repetition discussion on methodology.
A natural scientist need not worry about his laboratory experiment getting vitiated by his mood or by declaration of a foreign policy and other social events, however, his breath may affect the chemical elements in the course of a chemical experiment while all these and many more such factors need to be carefully controlled lest a social scientist should foul up his work.
Also, certain properties of the subject-matter that social scientists deal with give rise to special problems.
The results of social science inquiry are statistical, that is, presented in probability terms. They are never strictly categorical and clear cut. A certain new technique of advertising may work better than the conventional method with a certain proportion of the manufacturing while, the conventional method would appear to suit the rest.
In other words, the differences between two or more categories within a social system may be so small that nothing can be said conclusively on the basis of comparison.
Besides, more than one important variable is generally involved in social science problem. Quite often it is nearly impossible to segregate or disentangle the different variables to ascertain their effects individually.
This difficulty is nearly insurmountable when these different variables operate jointly and also are not amenable to experimentation. For example, when people are less educated they usually have lower income too. Hence, it is difficult to determine whether less educated people are less mobile than other people because of their education or because of their income operative together or because of both.
Furthermore, the researcher himself, being a human being a member of groups a buyer etc., frequently affects the subject matter and in effect changes the whole situation. Again, as contrasted with the natural sciences the social sciences can barely construct a complete system.
A physicist can discuss and set up equations for the entire system in which electrons flow in a circuit. But interactions among human beings cannot be so described for the human ‘systems’ get punctured so often and so easily that predicting a long-term sequences of events becomes well nigh impossible since a number of new influences enter with each interchange among human being; the system is never really closed.
Quite too often, the social scientists are criticized for labouring hard to contribute snake bites of knowledge. In all fairness to the critics it may be said that they are not far wrong when they make lead a criticism of this order. Conceivable, two factors can explain the poor output of social scientists.
There is no denying the fact that many a serious problem of the world has barely been scratched. What causes war? What will ensure peace? Why so much of dehumanization? Social science may, of course, be said to have made some gains in certain fields, especially in the economic discipline, but many a huge human problem still remains untouched.
However, we are used to learning much about our social world in a very simple way. Most social questions can be answered seemingly very easily. Why people in slums suffer from ailments? Because they are poor. Why don’t many women seek legal redressal of their genuine grievances? Because they feel it is unbecoming of women as a class to do so; on and on.
Such and many other questions can be answered quite well (we feel) by consulting our own experience, by relying on our habits of thinking or by asking other people. These questions are not trivial but most of these have no single clear answer. In each case, some third factor is held responsible for what happens. But in the social sciences, it is a major task to unravel even such problems.
The behaviour of human beings is affected by diverse influences such as environmental, temporal, biological, psychological and sociocultural, all of them affecting it contemporaneously. The complexity of human or social data may be largely attributed to this.
It is difficult for an observer to see the underlying uniformities in the profuse diversity of human behaviour which is in a sense unique for each person. Hence, it is a formidable task for a scientist to discover another order principle which would apply to all men or the bewilderingly complex human data.
In social sciences, the laboratory is the society and the objects in the main are conscious and active human beings.
“The observer and observed both being similar become so confused that an objective approach is really difficult to make. Moreover, except in totalitarian society, a controlled experiment in the laboratory of society with free men as objects … sine qua non of an empirical science, is well nigh impossible in social science, generally.”
At this stage, it may be well to answer the emphasis on the distinctive features of Social Sciences. For instance, the complexity of social data is not so well founded. In the midst of the apparent chaos, there is indeed some pattern. If social life were so utterly complex, it would be unlivable.
All social interactions are based upon expectations of behaviour, it may be an interaction between thousands of people in highly complex groups or an interaction in small cohesive groups.
This means that a reasonable prediction about people’s behaviour is possible — nay, it is an important aspect of social life. Talking of complexity, we should realize that complexity is a relative term. Social phenomena are complex to us, because our knowledge of them is inadequate and our tools of study have developed a little beyond infancy.
It has been pointed out above that as contrasted with the physical sciences, the social sciences lack the power of exact prediction. This is attributed to the ‘erratic, idiosyncratic and irregular’ nature of human behaviour.
It must be said that the case of unpredictability of social behaviour is a gain, not so well-founded. While individual behaviour may be unpredictable, one can predict with quite a high degree of accuracy the behaviour of a whole group (on the basis of knowledge of the pattern).
Lundberg has rightly pointed out that the low predictive potential of social sciences is due mainly to our limited knowledge of relevant variables operative in the groups.
“As our knowledge of the variables increases and we will be able to judge the effort of various varieties involved, it will be possible for us to predict social events with much greater accuracy.”
Whereas the physical phenomena may be known directly through senses, the social phenomena are known only symbolically through words or terms referring to such phenomena, e.g., tradition, custom, values and the whole range of the subjective world, which makes verification of conclusions very difficult.
It may be pointed out in this connection that there has come about a standardization of concepts connoting social facts, and also that techniques have been developed to measure many of the so-called subjective items in objective terms, e.g., anthropometrics or sociometric measures.
Lundberg feels that most of the subject-matter of social science so qualitative and does not admit of quantitative measurement.
This contention leaves some ground for criticism for, qualitative and quantitative measurements are only different stages in the growth of a science and it is not as though some data are by nature quantitative and others qualitative as science develops, what were previously thought of as a qualitative data may be transformed as quantitative ones.
Secondly, we should not forget that qualitative expressions and analyses have their own place of importance in a social inquiry.
It has been argued that social phenomena compared to the physical ones are categorized by greater heterogeneity. Even if we accept this, it is possible by adequate stratification or classification effected in terms of certain traits or poverties, to ensure a fairly high degree of internal homogeneity within each stratum or class. Thus, social research may reach conclusions of broad applicability.
It has to be conceded that most physical sciences also known as exact sciences, allow for controlled laboratory experiments, hence their exactness. The social sciences suffer from this handicap, although to a limited extent laboratory experiments are possible here too. As social sciences develop, a number of human problems may hopefully be brought within the reach of laboratory experiments.
One of the characteristics of the social phenomena is that cause and effect (better still the producer and product) are hard to be segregated or disentangled clearly. In social sciences, it does not many a time, make sense to ask which is the cause and which is the effect (e.g., poverty and lack of skill). It is obvious that unless we realize this fact, we could be asking wrong questions and finding wrong answers.
The readers would have realized in the light of the above exposition that social data typically pose certain problems when it comes to these being treated by the highly developed quantitative methods of the physical sciences. It should be now clear also that quite a few critiques of the stature of social science research do not hold much water. At least the difficulties are not insurmountable.
The difficulties which appear to preclude the possibility of a ‘science of society’ derive from our underdeveloped techniques and methodology of study and our consequent unfamiliarity with data rather than from the inherent differences between the data related to these two types of sciences.
It is an acknowledged fact that social sciences in their present state of development are far behind the physical science.
Says R. K. Merton, “We, social scientist, happen to live at a time when some of the physical sciences have achieved comparatively great precision of theory and an abundance of technical by-product … many social scientists take as a standard of self-appraisal … they want to compare biceps with their bigger brothers. But this is to ignore the distinctive fore history of each: between 20th century physics and 20th century sociology stand billions of man-hours of sustained, disciplined and cumulative research.”
Merton advises social scientist not to despair and harbour doubt whether a science of society is really possible, but, with the present limitations in view, “develop special theories applicable to limited ranges of data” and slowly build their way up toward more general theories of broader applicability.
Term Paper # 3. Major Steps in Social Research:
It should be borne in mind that designating certain steps as ‘major’ only implies that each of such steps subsumes under it a set of interrelated operations, each of which is important in its own way in affecting the value of the research results and their worth.
Thus, ‘major’ steps should advisedly be considered as groupings or classes of operations or activities hundreds of which are involved in research, each corresponding to some requirement of research.
For example, ‘data collection’ phase subsumes decisions about the kinds of data needed, the most efficient way of collecting them, the activities to be carried out in the development and pre-testing of the data collection instruments etc.
In addition, such decisions as constitute responses to the practical requirements of research are also covered, i.e., planning of budget, procurement and administration of funds, selection of personnel, training of personnel (e.g., interviewers), strategies of eliciting co-operation from people who are to be respondents and so on.
It is obvious that each one of these operations will have some effect on the quality of research. A small omission anywhere will affect as adversely the quality of the study, just as a small lapse, even in the manner it is catered will affect the satisfaction people get from a recipe as it is served.
Topics prompted by intellectual concerns differ from those mooted by practical ones in that the former are less likely to involve the study of specific situations primarily as objects of interest in themselves. The specific situations have only an illustrative relevance, i.e., they are studied as specimens of some larger class of structure or processes in which the researcher evinces theoretic interest.
The researcher’s decision as to what his-general area of interest is going to be, i.e., problem formulation, i.e., the topic, hardly puts him in a position to start considering the procedures for data collection and analysis of data in right earnest, since at this stage, he does not know precisely what specific questions within his general area of interest he would want to be answered.
Hence, the researcher needs to formulate a specific problem from within his general area of interest before he can take any decision relating to collection and analysis of data. Many a time, investigators may be tempted to jump immediately from the selection of a general topic to the collection of data.
But this only means that they would have to face the task of formulating a problem at some later stage when only the lucky ones may be able to produce a worthwhile scientific inquiry.
Obviously, without a problem the heaps of data would hardly mean anything. The meaningfulness of data collected can be assessed only after their scrutiny and organization with a view to finding out how these data would answer a specific problem. The problem is, indeed, the organizing principle for the processing and organization data of.
At first glace, it would seem fairly easy to see and pose a problem for study. But the experience of scientists is summed up in the adage:
“It is often more difficult to find and to formulate a problem than to solve it.”
In most scientific work the difficulty lies in framing problem or questions rather than in finding their solution. The researcher has to put a great deal of thought into the formulation of problems if he expects to get anything worthwhile from his efforts to solve them.
Cohen and Nagel aptly remark:
“No enquiry can get under way until and unless some difficulty is faced in a practical or theoretic situation. It is the difficulty or problem which guides the search for some order among facts in terms of which the difficulty is to be removed.” In point of fact, research really begins when the researcher experiences a difficulty or a challenge which is the basic component of a research problem.
The formulation of a specific research problem is the first material step in a scientific inquiry must be influenced basically by the requirements of scientific procedure.
There is no surefooted and infallible principle which can guide an investigator in posing some conditions which have over the years proved very helpful in formulating significant problems for research.
A careful study of literature having some bearing on the general area of the researcher’s interest, systematic immersion into the subject-matter, analysis of ‘insight stimulating’ cases, etc., are some of these conditions. Formulation of problem for research, sensibly, involves on the plane of practice, researcher’s concern for reducing the research task to a manageable size.
The problem, thus delimited to make it more specific and manageable, the researcher proceeds to take several interrelated steps, e.g., formulation of hypotheses (where feasible), explication of concepts that enter into the hypotheses and consideration of methods for relating the study to other studies using similar or kindred concepts.
These steps are so closely intertwined that they cannot be worked on, one at a time. The suggested explanations or solutions to the problem formulated as propositions are called hypotheses. Such tentative explanations, i.e., hypotheses, may be the solutions to the problem. The inquiry is directed at finding out whether they really are the solutions to the problem.
Whether or not explicit hypotheses are proposed at this stage, the researcher needs to define the concepts which would be used in organizing the data. Such definitions include formal definitions that are designed to convey the general nature of the process or phenomenon.
But no matter how simple or elaborate a researcher’s formal definition of concept, he cannot usually proceed without devising some way of translating them into observable events or referents. In other words, the researcher has to devise some operations that yield data which will serve as satisfactory tangible indicators or referents of the given concepts.
Threaded through all these processes is the concern for generality of finding of the study and their relation to other knowledge, which means that the researcher is required to study critically the work already done in the field and formulate his problem in terms so general and abstract as to make clear its relation to other knowledge and permit replication of study in other concrete situations.
Once the research problem is formulated in clear-cut terms such that the types of information needed to answer it is clearly indicated, the researcher turns to the task working out a design for the study.
A study/research design is a plan comprising the researcher’s decisions about the procedures of sampling, data collection and analysis of data in respect of a given study, which aims to fulfill the objects or purpose of the study without wasteful expenditure of time, energy and money.
If one can anticipate problems or difficulties that he may have to face subsequently, that is, before he actually conducts a given inquiry, to that extent he is in a position to face them as and when they arise, to decide beforehand what can be done to overcome them.
This way, a researcher can increase his chance of deliberate anticipation directed towards bringing some expected situation under control. The researcher in the process of making decisions is also required to evaluate the methodological basis for making such decisions.
Designing a research ensures researcher against its failure. It is economical in the long run, because it forestalls the possibility of fruitless inquiry and its intractable failures. The researcher engaged in formulating a research design prepares, advisedly, an idealized research design, which is concerned with laying down the optimal research procedure that would be followed if there were no practical restrictions.
However, every researcher has to work in a practical situation characterized by varied constraints. Hence, he is required to take up the task of translating the idealized design into a reliable working procedure, i.e., the practical research design.
The practical requirements of a study are designed in such a manner that compromises between the ideal and the practical aspects are accomplished without much damage to its scientific merit.
The research designs differ according to the research purpose:
Research purposes may be grouped into four broad categories, viz.,
(3) Diagnosis, and
Design requirements would understandably vary for different kinds of studies. For example, the studies whose purpose is exploration, require a flexible research design, whereas those aiming at description and diagnosis would warrant a more rigid design.
The process of working out a research design involves, as has been pointed out, making decisions (with reference to the research problem or purpose) about the techniques to be employed for collection of relevant data, the safeguards to be employed in the interest of validity, reliability and precision of the instrument of data collection, the mode of drawing the sample from the ‘universe’ and the size of the sample that would best serve as a basis for drawing fairly acceptable inferences about the population of which the sample is a part, organizing or analyzing the data, interpreting the results of analysis and effecting ‘compromises’ prompted by practical exigencies, without adversely affecting the quality of work beyond a tolerable limit, etc.
The researcher engaged thus, has to anticipate the field situation which goes a long way toward helping himself to get prepared and armed against future hazards. ‘To be forewarned is to be forearmed’ is indeed an old and wise dictum. Through designing the research, the investigator ensures that he will most probably achieve his research objective without having to spend prohibitive amounts of time, money and energy.
With the completion of the designing phase, researcher turns to the implementation aspect of it. Thus, he addresses himself to the task of formulating the instruments or tools of data collection, such as the questionnaire, interview schedule and observation guide, etc.
The task of formulating these measuring instruments is not an easy one by any reckoning. Usually, considerable preparation in terms of a deep understanding of the research problem, discussions with experienced and knowledgeable persons, systematic study of pertinent literature, reflection and imaginative ‘role-taking’ etc. has to go underway before the researcher is in a position to formulate meaningful and effective measuring instruments.
These tentatively formulated instruments have to be ‘pretested’ with a view to detecting their shortcomings before their final deployment in the field.
The choice of techniques to be utilized for collection of data and the form in which these are to be pressed into service, depend on such considerations as: who are to be the respondents, what is sought to be known from them, when, where and how.
Some techniques have a distinct advantage over others in certain kinds of situations. Certain techniques are especially suited to certain kinds of respondents and information whereas other techniques are virtually inapplicable in such situations.
Certain situations and problems require that not one but two or more techniques be used for obtaining the information. Different forms of the same technique may be used with differing degrees of efficiency and advantage in different situations and settings.
Alongside with the formulation of measuring instrument, the researcher defines the ‘population’ or ‘universe’ of his study, i.e., the total number of items/objects/people of a specified class which is directly related to or covered by the research problem.
It is rarely necessary and feasible (also, sometimes even undesirable) to study all the items which constitute the ‘universe’ or ‘population’ in order to provide an accurate and reliable estimate of its characteristics. More often, a sample of the ‘population’ under study is enough to afford a reliable base and it will closely match those that would have been obtained had the ‘universe’ in toto been studied.
The researcher thus selects sample, in such a way that there is a probability that the selected sample, for the purpose at hand, is sufficiently representative of the ‘universe’, i.e., the conclusions based or the sample would by and large be the same as one would be arrived at, by studying each and every item, person, family, groups comprising the population or universe.
There are times, however, when the time incurred in drawing a sample would be higher than what it would be if the entire ‘population’ was studied. In such a situation the researcher investigates the ‘universe’ in its totality. The basic distinction in the sampling theory is between the probability sampling design and the non-probability sampling design.
It is only by recourse to the probability sampling plan that the researcher can specify for each element of the ‘population’ the probability or chance of its being included in the sample and on this basis, estimate the extent to which the inference based on the sample may be accepted as one virtually based on the study of the ‘universe.’
While the non-probability sampling design does not afford a basis for making such estimates. It is utilized for reasons of convenience and economy. The researcher may in certain cases adopt a mode of sampling that combines certain ingredients of the probability and non-probability sampling procedures.
Having drawn a suitable and numerically adequate sample from the ‘universe’ the researcher proceeds to administer the measuring instruments or tools of data collection on the items comprising the selected sample.
In order to ensure that the data are reliable and free from bias, the researcher needs to consider what mode of administering the instruments or tools of data collection would be most desirable in view of the kinds of responses sought and the nature of the objects or persons covered by the study.
The administration of the data generating instruments brings to the fore the need for recording responses or Measurement presents difficulties all its own. Faulty recording of responses, understandably, has serious implications for the ultimate worth of the study.
In fact, the recorded responses comprise the data. The researcher proceeds to examine them for completeness, comprehensibility, consistency and reliability.
The data collecting phase over, the researcher turns to the task of analysing them. The process of data-analysis subsumes a number of closely related operations. The overall purpose of data-analysis is to summarize the completed observations in such a manner that they yield answer to the research questions.
Heaps of collected data would not mean anything unless these were organized in manner that conclusions or answers having a bearing on the problem of research can be arrived at. It goes without saying that the concern of analysis of data enters each of the earlier phases of study in a variety of ways. In fact, the analysis-plan of a study is shaped to a considerable extent even before the data are collected.
The broad task of analysing data may be viewed as comprising various specific sub- tasks such as the establishment of analytical categories, the application of these categories to raw data through coding, tabulation and drawing of statistical inferences, etc.
A partial obligation relating to the task of analyzing the data requires that the researcher classify the raw data into certain purposeful and usable categories. Classification or categorization facilitates the tabulation operations to be undertaken subsequently.
Coding operation has a reference to the technical procedure by which the data are categorized. Through coding the categories of data are transformed into symbols that may be tabulated and counted. Editing is a procedure involved in data analysis which is employed to improve the quality of the data for coding.
Although in certain cases it is the respondent himself who assigns his response to a particular category (e.g., in poll- type questions), the categorization and coding of complex data are usually taken up after the entire data are in. The researcher has to install safeguards against factors which might operate to make the judgment of the coders unreliable.
With coding, the data are ready for tabulation. Tabulation is a part of the technical procedure involved in the statistical analysis of data. The essential operation involved in tabulation is counting to determine the frequencies or numerical strength of different categories of data.
As was just indicated tabulation is just one part of the statistical analysis of data. Further statistical computations are needed in a study of any complexity.
The researcher may need to work out central tendencies, deviations, correlations etc., to describe and summarize the data obtained on the sample based conclusions. He may also be required to utilize methods of sampling statistics to safeguard against drawing unjustified inferences.
With this, the stage is now set for restating the initially-stated hypotheses (if any were stated explicitly) against the generalizations or conclusions drawn on the basis of data with a view to testing their accord with these.
Here retention or discarding of the hypotheses in if any, are formulated is bound to take place. In case an hypothesis fits the findings, the theory or perspective which suggested the hypothesis would be proved.
If the hypothesis is disproved, the blow of disproof will pass on to theory which originated the hypothesis. In some cases, sometimes the blow may not be so severe and the theory may still survive with modification prompted by the research findings.
If the researcher had no hypothesis to start with, the generalizations established on the basis of data may be stated as hypotheses to be tested by subsequent researches. If the researcher had not proposed any hypothesis to start with, he might seek to explain his findings on the basis of some theory.
This whole operation is geared to the search for broader meanings of given research findings through seeing linkages between the findings and some existing theory or established knowledge. This is termed as interpretation. The process of interpretation quite often triggers off new questions, prompting in turn further researches.
Although research is a continuous process, as limited to specific problem or issue the researcher has by now nearly reached the end of his journey. But he has an important scientific obligation to fulfill, i.e., reporting the research. The research exercise is not really complete till such time as the researcher has faithfully reported it.
Science is public institution and in the interest of its growth on the right lines, every scientist is duty-bound (except in certain situations) to make his findings as also the method by which he arrived at these, known to the public.
Reporting the research, to be sure, requires an order of skills somewhat different from those needed in the earlier phases of research. The chief purpose of a report is communication with an audience.
It is expected that the research report will enlighten the readers on the following aspects:
(a) The problem of research.
(b) The research procedures consisting of the study design, method of manipulation (in experiment), sample, techniques of data collection and analysis.
(c) The results or outcome of the research.
(d) The theoretical and practical implications of the findings.
The social research often necessitates the services of any persons or categories of person; each person or category of persons is specially trained and skilled in a particular aspect of the research process.
For example, a large- scale research programme involves various categories of persons such as investigators, samplers, coders, etc., with the researcher or scientist as the person directing or supervising their operations. He is, so to say, the brain behind the project and articulates the specialized operations to get to the solution of the problem.
We have, in describing the major steps, opted for a model of inquiry in which the researcher scientist alone has to perform all those operations but the research process detailed above is equally applicable to inquiries in which many specialized categories of persons are involved as collaborators.
Quite a few fruitful analyses of the process of inquiry have been made and as a result, our understanding of inquiry is now expanded. Those analysing an inquiry from the point of view of science have generally conceived as problem solving process. Social scientists looking at the process of inquiry as a complex of interactions between individuals and environment have come to view it as a communicative process.
R. L. Ackoff has offered a model representing the process of inquiry which illustrates both its problem solving and communicative phases.
The communication model of inquiry involves four communicants:
(1) The consumer, who has a problem;
(2) The scientist/researcher who purports to solve it;
(3) The observer; and
(4) The observed.
We will do well to remember that these four communicants need not be four distinct individuals, rather they refer to four communicative roles. All four roles may be performed by a single person. Regardless of the number of people involved, one or hundreds, these roles are present in every inquiry.
The communicative operations involving these four roles may be depicted in a diagrammatic form as under:
This formulation of the communication aspects of inquiry also serves a very useful purpose in pointing out the potential sources of research error. It is clear that each of these roles may be a possible source of error.
The diagrammatic representation makes it quite clear that the problem solving phases of inquiry are:
(1) Existence of a problem;
(2) Formulation of the problem and designing a methodological strategy for solving it;
(3) Movement into or creation of the environment in which observations are to be made (i.e., data-collection);
(4) Recording of data;
(5) Treatment of data (analysis and interpretation);
(6) Action based on the reported results to solve the problem.
It is not difficult to see that the communication and the problem solving aspects of research exhibit the very same pattern that was presented in the preceding pages.
Term Paper # 4. Utility of Social Research:
To the question “what use is social research?” one may reply “of what use is a newborn child?” in the manner of Benjamin Franklin who replied thus, when asked the utility of his findings about the relationship between thunderclouds and electricity.
This means that new knowledge like the new-born baby, holds great potential of worth and maturity. Also like the new-born child, it gives us pleasure. It gives us satisfaction of knowing the unknown.
This points to a value that the scientist is committed to, i.e., the self-justifying goodness of’ new knowledge’ about anything big or small. “Social research is persistently opening our eyes to the social reality, simplifying the mysterious within the seemingly common place in social life and shattering its garments of make-believe by which pious hands have hidden their uglier features.
The obvious function of research is to add new knowledge to its existing store, but its power of cleansing our minds of cliches and removing the rubbish of inapplicable theory are equally notable. Scientific research is a cumulative process. It is also a rejective process, especially in social sciences … understanding can be (advanced) not only by gains in knowledge but also by discarding outworn assumptions.”
A social researcher is interested in the discovery and interpretation of social processes, patterns of behaviour, similarities and dissimilarities that apply to typical social phenomena and social systems, generally.
That is the social researcher is concerned with types and classes of social situation, persons or groups of which the unit he is studying at the time, is a specimen or an instance. His facts are selected and related according to their intrinsic nature and the susceptibility to organization into a logical system.
This search for knowledge has a definite relation to people’s basic needs and welfare. The social scientist assumes that all knowledge is potentially useful in the end. It must be remembered, however that science and society have a two way relationship. There is a give and take between science and social conditions. Science helps to create social conditions; social conditions recharge the accumulators of science.
In concrete developmental parlance the major possibilities of utilizing social science research may be identified as under:
(a) Social research may afford valuable background data to be capitalized by social planners for assessing the existing state of affairs; particularly the magnitude, complexity and ramifications of the problem they are expected to grapple with; the critical may be illuminated by analytical studies.
The observed and hidden dimensions of the problem thrown up by such studying may be expected to proffer certain measure of foresight to planners to deal with the problem effectively.
(b) Such social science exercise may provide a basis for testing the validity of certain assumptions that our planners are prone to make in laying down their short-term and long-term goals. These researches conceivably, may help the planner to anticipate the consequences and cost of alternative strategies which may be pressed into operation for achieving the settled goals.
(c) Social science researches may bring into sharp focus the varied influences and factors that contribute to the failure of certain projects. Hence the policy planners may stand forewarned about these.
(d) If social science research finding becomes a part of public knowledge, a general awareness about the situation and challenges, as also, the desired policy to meet them squarely may result.
This would prepare people for accepting a particular policy and for exerting popular pressure for reformulation of amending current policies, or rejecting of modifying them. Let us now consider the utility of social research, especially, for a developing country like ours.
Term Paper # 5. Benefits of Social Research:
In a general way, some of the direct practical benefits and theoretic implications of social research may be listed as follows:
(1) Social research has a crucial role to play in guiding social planning. Adequate social planning depends for its success on a systematic knowledge above the social resources and liabilities, of the people and their culture; of their similarities and differences, of organizations and operative controls, of their needs, hopes, aspirations and problems.
Any effort at social planning is bound to fail of it is based on fictitious assumptions of planners in relation to what the consumers of planning need, what their problems are, what they want remedied, and what kind of system they want as an emergent product of planning.
Social planning, or for that matter any planning, requires a store of reliable, factual knowledge on the basis of which a blue-print may be designed and the difficulties in its implementation anticipated and guarded against.
Nor is it all; such a foundation of scientifically gathered knowledge affords a basis for evaluation the net gains of planning for the social system in question. Social research is of immense help in securing such knowledge.
It happens so often, that the overly zealous practical men with a programmatic orientation consider social research an unnecessary expense only to realize subsequently that the factual data would have helped them avoid the vast wasteful expenditure of money; time and energy occasioned by the failure of their designs on the place of practice. Social research is generally worth much more than the costs incurred over it.
(2) Since knowledge is a particular kind of power, social research, by affording firsthand knowledge about the organization and working of society and its institutions, gives us a greater power of control over the social phenomena and action. Thus, social research may be visualized as having practical implications for formal and informal types of leadership, patterns on influence and reform in different spheres of society.
(3) It is a very apt saying that knowledge is enlightenment. It dispels the thrust of outworn assumptions, superstitions and stereotypes. Social research thus, may be expected at-least to afford a more solid basis for people to hold whatever opinions they do.
Some authors have claimed that social researches may have the effect of promoting better understanding and social cohesion, since it brings to light the underlying oneness in the midst of a bewildering variety or diversity of human societies. But this is claiming too much for one side and ignoring the other possibility; social research may also unravel diversity in the midst of apparent unity.
(4) It is obvious that social research has direct implications for social welfare. By virtue of the deeper understanding of the casual nexus underlying various social ‘maladies’, social research provides a secure basis for effective remedial measure.
Social researchers analyse the problem basis for effective remedial measure. Social researchers analyse the problem in the ‘total context’ (this is desirable) and as such are in a better position to identify social structural anomalies and ambivalences that get reflected in the form of these problems and hence, structural changes would be necessitated.
The ‘remedies’ suggested by research are thus deep going. They hit where they must. Many of the laymen reformer’s ‘remedies’ create other new problem or ‘side effect.’ Scientific social research provides sound guidelines for appropriate measures of welfare of reform. It is no accident that a large portion of legislation and reformative measures own its origin to reports of social surveys.
(5) A researcher is charged with the responsibilities of asserting some order among facts. Thus research affords a considerably sound basis for prediction. Despite the admittedly low predictive potential of social research, reasonably reliable predictions, perhaps ‘culture-bound’ or ‘context-bound’, can be made.
These have the effect of setting our efforts at social planning and control on a sounder footing. The success of planning for social development depends to a great extent on our intimate knowledge of our own society as also of other societies. Thus, social research has the effect of initiating and guiding social growth on proper lines and towards the cherished goals.
(6) Every scientist is obliged to effect constant improvements in the tools and techniques of his trade, i.e., research. The social researcher, in so far as he has to work in reference to different spatial-temporal contexts, each challenging his attack, is constantly faced with the need to improve upon his tools or if need be, to fashion new tools to match his skills with the task prompted by the exigencies of the situation.
Samuel Stouffer and his associates working on the adjustment problem in the context of racial prejudice to cite only one instance out of the many had to effect modifications in the prevailing techniques of research and when occasion demanded, to invent new ones to take the best out of the situation.