Examples of research methods that are often used in social research include descriptive, survey, experimental, interview, observation, ethnographic, case studies, and longitudinal methods. This post attempts to briefly explain examples of these research methods so that readers have complete consideration in choosing what research method is most appropriate for their research.
First, I need to say that social research can be understood as an investigative process to find out the social world . Through social research we can describe the social world systematically and scientifically. The most common method in social research is the descriptive method. But lately many demands have been made on social scientists to not only describe the social world, but more than that, namely to explore in depth the social world around them.
How to choose the right research method?
There are many factors to consider, such as sources and data types. In social research, it has become a general rule to distinguish sources and types of data into four parts, namely qualitative data, quantitative data, primary data and secondary data.
- Qualitative data is data in the form of narration in the form of writing, images, audio or visuals.
- Quantitative data is data in the form of numbers in the form of statistics.
- Primary data is data obtained directly by researchers.
- Secondary data is data provided by third parties, such as the government, media, or other organizations outside the researchers and research participants.
The four sources and types of data will determine which examples of research methods are relevant to be used by researchers later. For example, the researcher will calculate the relationship between household income and subjective happiness levels in a country. The data needed is quantitative data. So the survey research method becomes relevant to use. If the researcher wants to write about the meaning and philosophy of cockfighting in a village, ethnographic research methods can be considered.
It should be borne in mind that research methods are not separated by rigid boundaries . In fact, the boundaries between methods are often so blurry that they overlap. Research design cannot be determined by only one method.
Examples of research methods
The descriptive research method was chosen based on the researcher’s need to narrate social behavior that specifically occurs in a particular social context. The descriptive method is also called the narrative method. The data obtained is in the form of an in-depth narrative that explains in detail the object of research under study.
Research that uses descriptive methods seeks to describe, identify why, what and how social phenomena can occur . Examples of descriptive research methods usually adopt the observation method because often descriptions of social phenomena are obtained through observation. However, it is not limited to observation, case study and survey methods can also be used to produce descriptive data.
As mentioned earlier, the survey method is identical to quantitative research . Research that adopts the survey method has a questionnaire or questionnaire as the main research instrument. The questions asked in the questionnaire are generally structured and closed. Respondents were limited to filling in answers according to orders that had been designed before the researchers went out into the field.
Research using survey methods generally covers relatively simple topics. For example, the type of visitors to historical attractions on weekends. Surveys can be carried out by allowing respondents to fill out their own questionnaires or by conducting structured interviews with researchers.
The experimental method was chosen to measure the possible consequences that arise from certain variables. Social researchers can apply experimental methods to see the causal relationship between two or more variables . Examples of experimental research methods, for example, research on the use of minority religious symbols in public spaces in a religiously homogeneous society. Researchers can conduct social experiments to see how people react when they see minority religious symbols in public spaces.
Experimental research generally begins with a hypothesis. Experiments were conducted to test whether the hypothesis was rejected or accepted. In general there are two types of experimental methods; experiments in the laboratory and in the field. Experiments in the laboratory are carried out with computers or teaching aids. Experiments in the field are carried out in social spaces or the ‘real world’.
Interview is a method of collecting data by asking orally . There are three types of interview methods in the social sciences:
- A structured interview is an interview with a structured or closed question model. Typically used in survey methods.
- Unstructured interviews are interviews with an open-ended question model. Informants were given the freedom to narrate orally in answering questions. Typically used in quantitative research.
- Semi-structured interviews are interviews that use a question model from a combination of both. The research questions were structured in a structured manner, but at the end the informants were given the freedom to tell a more open story.
Observations in general are observations with the five senses of social phenomena that are outside the researcher ‘s self . In social research, the observations made usually involve the active role of the researcher. The active role of researchers in making more relevant observations is called participatory observation.
- Participatory observation can be done openly (overt) or closed (covert). Open means that the identity of the researcher and the research being carried out are known to the group or community being researched. Closed means that the community being studied does not know that it is being observed for research.
The ethnographic method is an in-depth study of the way of life of a group of people studied in as natural a social setting as possible . Ethnographic research involves cultural integration between the researcher and the subject being studied. Typically, ethnographic research takes a very long time because it requires the absorption of the culture of the community being studied into the researcher.
Ethnographic research usually uses participatory observation methods. To obtain richer data, in-depth interviews and document checks are often conducted. In daily life, the researcher records in detail the research findings into a diary which can later be used as a primary data source.
An example of a case study research method is applied to research that focuses on one case and the investigation is carried out in depth . Research that adopts the case study method tends to intersect with ethnography. The methods used can also be the same as ethnography, such as: in-depth interviews, document examination and participatory observation. Ethnography is actually also an in-depth case study.
An example of a longitudinal research method is applied to a study designed for a relatively long period of time . Longitudinal research subjects are the same individual or group, studied over a certain period of time. Thus what is seen is the development of individuals or groups during a certain period. For example, we want to look at the characteristics of violence in youth. In 2010 we conducted a survey or interview on a group of youth. Five years later we went to them again to be surveyed or interviewed again.