Social Research Methods

Social research method is a systematic way to study social phenomena. Social phenomena can be explained scientifically if the investigation process is carried out through the application of social research methods. Before going any further, it is necessary to first understand the meaning of research.

What is research?

Research  can simply be interpreted as scientific efforts made by researchers to capture a phenomenon. Therefore, the research in question is social research, so the phenomenon is a social phenomenon. Some social scientists describe research as follows:

Soerjono Soekanto said research is a scientific activity that aims to reveal the truth as a manifestation of human desire to know what is actually being faced.

Hill Way defines research as a study method that is applied carefully and in depth to reveal the facts of the problems that are believed to be able to solve these problems.

Sutrisno Hadi said research is an effort to find, develop, and test the truth of knowledge by applying the scientific method.

Saifuddin Anwar argues that research is a scientific endeavor with the aim of answering research problems. So that research cannot be done without problems and goals.

Sanafiah Faisal said that research is an activity in studying a problem in a planned and systematic way to find scientifically valid and objective stone knowledge.

Winarno Surachmad defines research as a scientific activity to accumulate knowledge from primary sources with the aim of finding general principles, as well as making estimates through generalizations outside the sample studied.

Carter Good said that research is a path to progress and problem solving.

Webster’s Dictionary defines research as an investigation of the process of inquiry in a science to obtain facts and principles carefully and systematically.

From some of the definitions described above, we can catch several key phrases that describe what research is, such as: the application of the scientific method, the process of investigation, efforts to obtain objective facts, efforts to solve problems, and systematic efforts in investigation.

Referring to the above definition, social understanding can be interpreted as an effort to investigate social phenomena using scientific methods in social science.

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What are the types of scientific methods in social research?

We can understand the scientific method in the social sciences based on its types. There are at least two types of social research methods based on their approach: quantitative and qualitative. However, in its development, a third approach emerged, namely a combination of the two ( mixed method ). Here, we will briefly discuss quantitative and qualitative social research methods. The difference between quantitative and qualitative social research methods can be identified through the treatment of the data, the process of data collection, and its variants or types.

Quantitative research methods

Quantitative social research methods use numerical data or in the form of numbers. Even though using open interviews, quantitative methods convert narratives into numbers through a process of quantification or coding.

The process in quantitative research begins with the creation of variables. For example, research on the effect of family monthly income on children’s education level. The family’s monthly income is a variable. Likewise, the level of education of children. The two variables are assumed to be related in the form of a hypothesis. For example, the hypothesis that the researcher has is, the higher the monthly family income, the higher the education level of the child. At this point, the researchers in addition to making variables also develop hypotheses.

In the process of collecting data, quantitative research methods use instruments outside the researcher, such as questionnaires, survey forms, polling tools, and so on that have been arranged neatly before going out into the field. During the data collection process, researchers focused on the content of the research instruments that had been prepared. That is, there is no need or very little need for an element of subjectivity. The data contained in the research instrument is objective data.

Research using quantitative methods emphasizes the element of objectivity. Respondents filled out forms or questionnaires distributed according to the instructions given. Some examples of quantitative research methods that are widely used for example, survey research, longitudinal research, cross-sectional research.

Qualitative research methods

Qualitative research methods use narrative data or words. The narratives obtained during the data collection process were interpreted by the researcher. However, data processing can also be done through coding. But not in the context of assessing, but looking at the pattern of the informants’ answers.

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In contrast to quantitative research, qualitative research begins by abandoning theoretical assumptions, although there are also qualitative studies that depart from theoretical assumptions. One obvious difference is that qualitative research does not require hypotheses in its research design. For example, research on the development of pop culture in Indonesia. Researchers do not need to write in their proposals a hypothesis, for example, the internet has become the main medium for shaping young people’s tastes for contemporary pop culture. Such assumptions may exist in the mind of the researcher, but not in the proposal

In the process of collecting data, the methods that are commonly used are observation and interviews. Media analysis content can also be used in discourse analysis research. Through observation and interviews, researchers collected narrative data in the form of a collection of stories given by informants and conditions in the field. In the process of collecting data, the subjective element plays an important role because the researcher interprets the stories obtained during data collection.

Qualitative research can use interview guides, diaries, or anything that can be used to record narratives in the field as research instruments. Another instrument owned by qualitative research is the researcher himself. The researcher doubles as an instrument, the narrative data collected will be interpreted by the researcher himself. Several kinds of research using qualitative methods, for example, case studies, ethnography, phenomenology.

In more detail, read the Qualitative Method. From the description above, it can be explained the difference between the two methods. What are the differences?

The difference between quantitative and qualitative methods:

Quantitative Qualitative
Numerical data Narrative data
Prioritizing Objectivity Focus on Subjectivity
Starting with a hypothesis No need for hypothesis
Research subjects are called respondents Research subjects are called informants
Researchers are not instruments Researchers as instruments
The instrument is called a questionnaire The instrument is called an interview guide

These differences are general differences. It should be noted that the differences are more accurately seen as trends. For example, in qualitative research, numerical data can also be used, but only as support. The tendency of qualitative research is the use of narrative data.