STUDYING SOCIETY

How Do Sociologists Carry Out Research?

How Do Sociologists Carry Out Research?

Sociologists try to approach their research in a highly organised way. They need to base their ideas on evidence in the same way that scientists base their theories on the results of experimentation. Sociologists will usually follow a set procedure.

1.) Research Aims and Hypothesis: The sociologist will need to state clearly what he is looking to achieve when carrying out research. This may be based on a hypothesis, which is a written statement of what he believes to be true based on initial observation.

An example of a hypothesis may be: ‘Teenagers from working class backgrounds value education less than those from middle class backgrounds’. Research may prove this hypothesis to be true or false as well as examine the causes behind this phenomenon.

2.) The pilot study is a small trial-run which the sociologist carries out to see if there will be any problems with the research technique.

3.) The sociologist only carries out the research on a small section of the population. This group of people is called a sample.

4.) Data Collection: The sociologist collects the data using a variety of methods, including questionnaires or participant or non-participant observation.

5.) Data analysis: The data is then analysed and may be presented in the form of reports, bar graphs, pie charts etc.

6.) Drawing Conclusions: All being well, the data will indicate a certain set of facts which can then be written up and presented or published. Other sociologists will read and review these in what is known as a peer review.