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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Essential Conditions for Research

Tuesday, June 28, 2011 - 0 Comments

Conditions for Research

1.         Personal Qualities of Researcher:
A researcher has to meet people from various walks of life and has to discuss a variety of topics. Accordingly, he must be a good conversationalist, possess ready wit and ability to get across his ideas to others. He must possess the ability to progressively refine his data and techniques. He must know his subject thoroughly, and be able to take quick decisions. A course of training in research techniques is very useful in this connection.

2.         Social Qualities of Researcher:
The skill to deal effectively with others requires social qualities like pleasant manners, good-humouredness, ability to establish rapport with others etc. An ability for improvisation, inspiring confidence in others and reactive thinking help social researcher to mix easily with others. While a social researcher must be alert and able to vary his techniques, he must be scrupulously honest and have the intellectual integrity. Therefore, it is very important that a research worker be tactful and resourceful enough to make improvisations, he must not do so at the expense of his basic convictions. Above all he must have the quality of patience. He must pursue his work relentlessly and should not let minor irritations and annoyances discourage him. As W. E. Spahar and R. J. Swenson have observed, “……in research, patience is not only a cardinal virtue but an absolute necessity.

3.         Mastery of Subject:
The world famous American journalist, John Ganther, who has written many books about the social and political conditions of various countries of the world, entitled Inside Asia, Inside U.S. Inside Russia etc. has remarked that before undertaking the study of a country he reads all the literature available about it. The same is the case with a researcher. Before investigating any social phenomenon he has to master all the present and past facts about it. Only if he has familiarized himself about each and every aspect of problem, can he hope to face his problem confidently and maturely. Before interviewing his objects he must acquaint himself about their social background.

4.         Time and Place Considerations:
Before approaching his subject, a researcher must ensure that the time and place of interview is both proper and mutually suitable.

5.         Other Considerations:
Research employs many tools, like questionnaire, schedule and interview. The researcher must be fully acquainted about nature, the purpose and the limitations of these tools. He should also avoid all types of biases and preoccupations and must be motivated by an urge to gain scientific knowledge and make discoveries. His efforts must not be swayed by personal considerations of pleasure or pain. He must not get personality involved with the person he interviews. He must be sufficiently trained to resist temptations and seductions which may present themselves in his work. For this, practical experience and emotional maturity is needed.

Scientific Method of Research and its Problems

Scientific Method
Like the typical man or woman on the street, the sociologist is interested in the central questions for out time. Are we lagging behind in our ability to feed the population of the world? Is the family falling apart? Why is there so much crime in Pakistan? Such issues concern most people whether or not they have academic training. However, unlike the typical citizen, the sociologist has a commitment on the use of the scientific method—a systematic, organized series of steps that ensures maximum objectivity and consistency in researching a problem—in studying society.

Many of us will never actually conduct scientific research. Nonetheless, it is important that we understand the scientific method, for it plays a major role in the workings of our society. As this chapter will indicate, the scientific method is stringent and demands that researchers adhere as strictly as possible to its basic principles.
The scientific method requires precise preparations in developing useful research. It investigators are not careful, research data that they collect may prove to be unacceptable for purposes of sociological study. There are five basic steps in the scientific method that sociologists and other researchers follow.
These are discussed one by one

Defining Problem
The first step in any sociological research project is to state as clearly as possible what you hope to investigate. Early in their research, sociologists face the task of developing an operational definition—an explanation of an abstract concept that is specific enough to allow a researcher to measure the concept of—each concept being studied. For example, a sociologist interested in status might use membership in exclusive social clubs or professional organizations as an operational definition of high status. A sociologist who intended to examine prejudice might rely on responses to a series of questions concerning willingness to hire or work alongside members of racial and ethnic minority groups.

Whenever researchers wish to study an abstract concept—such as intelligence, sexuality, prejudice, love, or liberalism—they must develop workable and valid definitions. Even when studying a particular group of people, it is necessary to decide how the groups will be distinguished.

By conducting a review of the literature—the relevant scholarly studies and information—researchers refine the problem under study, clarify possible techniques to be used in collecting data, and eliminate or reduce the number of avoidable mistakes they make.

After reviewing earlier research concerning a particular area or field of interest, and drawing upon the contributions of sociological theorists, the researcher may develop an intuitive guess about the relationship between the factors involved in the research. Such a speculative statement about the relationship between two or more factors is called a hypothesis.

A hypothesis essentially tells us what we are looking for in our research. In order to be meaningful, a hypothesis must be testable; that is, it must be capable of being evaluated. The statement “God exists” clearly cannot be scientifically confirmed. A research hypothesis must also be reasonable specific. “Young people have more fun” and “Florida is nicer than California” are statements that lack the kind of precision that sociologists need in order to collect suitable data.

A hypothesis usually states how one aspect of human behaviour influences or affects another. These aspects or factors are called variables—a measurable trait or characteristic that is subject to change under different conditions. Income, religion, occupation, and gender can all be variables in a study.

In developing hypothesis, sociologists attempt to explain or account for the relationship between two or more variables. If one variable is hypothesized to cause or influence another one, social scientists call the first variable the independent variable. The second is termed as the dependent variable, because it is believed to be influenced by the independent variable. Causal logic involves the relationship between a condition or a variable and a particular consequence, with one event leading to the other. Under casual logic, the degree of integration into society may be directly related to or produce a greater likelihood of suicide (refer back to Durkheim’s study of suicide in chapter 2). Similarly, the time students spend reviewing material for a quiz may be directly related to or produce a greater likelihood of getting a high score on the quiz.

A correlation exists when a change in one variable coincides with a change in the other. Correlation is an indication that causality may be present; they do not necessarily indicate causation. For example, data indicate that working mothers are more likely to have delinquent children than are mothers who do no work outside the home. This correlation is actually caused by a third variable: family income. Lower-class house-holds are more likely to have a full-time working mother; at the same time, reported rates of delinquency are higher in this class.

Social Research, Characteristics and Introduction of Research Methods and its Various Types

Sociological research offers the challenge of going as a “stranger” into the familiar world, often to find one’s assumptions shattered by the facts that one discovers. Research in sociology is really a form of detective work—it poses the same early puzzles and suspicions, the same moments of routine sifting through the evidence and inspired guessing, the same disappointments over false leads and facts that do not fit, and, perhaps, the same triumph when he pieces finally fall into place and an answer emerges. Research in sociology is where the real action takes place. It is in the field, far more than in the lecture room that the sociologist comes to grips with the subject.

There are two sides to the sociological enterprise: theory and research. Both are essential, and each thrives on the other. Facts without theory are utterly meaningless, for they lack a framework in which they can be understood. Theories without facts are unproved speculations of little practical use, because there is no way to cell whether they are correct. Theory and research are thus parts of a constant cycle. A theory inspires research that can be used to verify or disprove it, and the finings of research are used to confirm, reject, or modify the theory, or even to provide the basis of new theories. The process recurs endlessly, and the accumulation of sociological knowledge is the result.

Guesswork, intuition, and common sense all have an important part to play in sociological research, but on their own they cannot produce reliable evidence: that requires a reliable research methodology. A methodology is a system of rules, principles, and procedures that guides scientific investigation. The sociologist is interested in discovering what happens in the social world and why. Research methodology provides guidelines for collecting evidence about what takes place, for explaining why it takes place, and for doing so in such a way that other researchers can check the findings. It is vital that the sociologist use appropriate methodology, for an invalid method can produce only flawed results.

The methods of sociology can be applied only to questions that can be answered by reference to observable, verifiable facts. The sociologist cannot tell us what if God exists, because there is no scientific way to test the theories on the subject. But the sociologist can tell us what percentage of a population claims, to believe in God, because these facts can be established by using appropriate methods.

To explain any aspect of society or social behaviour, the sociologist must understand the relationships of cause and effect. One basic assumption of science is that all events have causes—whether the event is a ball rolling down hill, a nuclear bomb exploding, an economy improving, a political party losing support, or a student passing an examination. A second basic assumption is that under the identical circumstances, the same cause will produce the same effect. If we did not make these assumptions, the world would be utterly unpredictable and therefore unintelligible to us. The problem facing the sociologist is to sort out cause from the effect in the complexities of social life, and to determine which of several possible causes, or which combination of causes, is producing a particular effect.

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