research methods

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical.
Related to research methods: Research methodology, Research design

research methods

The investigative techniques employed within an academic discipline. In sociology, the range of methods is very wide, including many research methods also employed in other disciplines. For example, sociologists have used the critical techniques of the humanities in order to ‘interrogate’ TEXTS, paintings, buildings, etc., ethnographic techniques borrowed from ANTHROPOLOGY and applied to modern societies (see also ETHNOGRAPHY), and historical methods to understand the genesis of social forms.

Some of the most powerful techniques employed by sociologists are those the discipline shares with central and local government agencies, social survey methods based on SAMPLING, but the popular image of sociology as exclusively based on such methods is plainly erroneous. Among the array of further quantitative and qualitative research methods widely used in sociology are: PARTICIPANT OBSERVATION and other forms of’direct observation’, in-depth INTERVIEWS, ATTITUDE SCALING, CONTENT ANALYSIS,‘documentary analysis’, SECONDARY DATA ANALYSIS (including reanalysis of OFFICIAL STATISTICS).

In a particular study, the methods chosen will depend upon a variety of considerations, including the following:

  1. the nature of the problem addressed (e.g. while a study of the incidence of ill-health among the elderly might be effective using questionnaires or medical records, study of deviant behaviour is likely to require participant observation);
  2. the theoretical stance and the preferred methods of the researcher or research team (e.g. symbolic interactionists are likely to prefer direct observation, less likely to operate with standardized variables);
  3. the time and money available (e.g. postal questionnaires are cheaper than face-to-face interviews; secondary data analysis cheaper than conducting new surveys);
  4. the type of research and evidence likely to carry conviction with the sponsors of the research and the audience for the research (e.g. the sponsors of research have often been regarded as preferring research which uses quantitative rather than qualitative data).

Of these, (b) is often most important, also influencing the kind of research problem which is chosen. Thus (a) and (b) are often closely interrelated. However, (c) and (d) operate as strong constraints on the choice of research methods.

Debates on the merits of quantitative and qualitative approaches can be fierce. Some researchers committed to quantitative survey methods refuse to acknowledge the strengths and validity of other methods, while others, whose preference is for direct observation, refuse to countenance quantitative techniques. However, a simple polarization of the two sets of techniques is unjustified. Denzin (1970) has suggested that, whenever possible, social research should seek to ‘triangulate’ different research methods (see TRIANGULATION OF APPROACHES). See also STATISTICS AND STATISTICAL ANALYSIS, METHODOLOGY, MATHEMATICAL SOCIOLOGY.

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
References in periodicals archive ?
This textbook explains clinical research methods in speech-language pathology and audiology, covering the research process from research problems, to different types of research, to reporting and disseminating research, the application of research to clinical practice, and research grants, as well as ethics.
MSc Psychological Research Methods (Evolutionary Psychology): Victoria Ann Martin.
As such, design-based research methods are an interesting way to study and understand contexts where there is a certain amount of what Dominguez (2017) has described as 'messiness'.
The author of the book is a professor at Khartoum University and Ahfad University for Women brings the experience of five decades in the supervision of undergraduate students in this guide of research methods in developing countries.
Dr Aksakal apprised the participants of various technicalities while using qualitative and quantitative research methods for comparative analysis and briefed the audience on engaging in comparisons, particular gain, theoretical approaches, what do researchers compare, methodological implications of comparative analysis, use of comparative analysis in research and applying comparative analysis in research.The faculty members and scholars said that it was a good opportunity provided by the institute to learn modern research techniques and improve their research proposal at different levels.
Within our sample, of those 40 schools that offer a minor, 47.5% (19) had a research methods course or laboratory course requirement.
Organized into six sections, this textbook covers relevant aspects of research methods for information and library science, from developing the initial question to methods of data collection and analysis.
It brings together a collection of articles that specifically discuss innovations in interpreting research methods. Its aim is to consider and discuss how research methods have been used in interpreting studies, and how innovation in the application of such methods can move boundaries in understanding the work of both spoken and signed language interpreters.
The Routledge Companion to Military Research Methods provides insights into how to design and complete research on such topics, and how advances in qualitative methods are being adopted in military studies.
Pieter Van Houten on September 16 held a training on different research methods for staff of the National Strategic Studies Institute of Kyrgyzstan.
To help answer this question, we examined how other Midwestern institutions of higher education approached the teaching of research methods at the undergraduate level.
Research Methods in Interpreting: A Practical Resource

Full browser ?