Basic Concepts in Research Methodology for Social Science

Research methodology is a systematic approach adopted by a researcher to collect data, analyze the data, and present useful insights from the analysis aimed at addressing a specific research question. Research methodology can be scientific when empirical findings are the goal. Empirical studies demand that research methodologies are not only systematic but scientific.

Research design

This is the style in which a researcher employs in collecting data for a study. There are lots of designs used for researches. The choice of a research design depends on the nature of the study carried out.

Research setting

This has to do with the environment of a particular study. Studies are limited to a specific location or case studies in order to give precision and most useful suggestions to a specific environmental phenomenon. Research settings also allow for further studies owing to its environmental limitation.

Sources of data

Research purpose data are grouped into primary source data and secondary source data. The primary source of data deals with data at face value. It obtains data directly from the source as raw material, with the intention of being processed to yield useful research output. A secondary source of data is defined as the act of obtaining already processed data. A researcher draws conclusions based on the amount of processed data he is able to source. Most time secondary data are drawn from works of literature and reviews of related articles.

Study Population

A study population is a group of elements or individuals as the case may be, who share similar characteristics. These similar features can include location, gender, age, sex, or specific interest. The emphasis on the study population is that it constitutes individuals or elements that are homogeneous in the description.

Sample size

A study sample is simply a systematically selected part of a population that infers its result on the population. In essence, it is that part of a whole that represents the whole and its members share characteristics in like similitude.


This refers to the apparatus or a specified tool developed by the researcher with the intent of employing this tool to elicit information necessary to arrive at a solution to a research problem. The questionnaire is an example of a research instrument. The interview is yet another one. These are mainly used for social science researches. Scientific studies would require some other forms of instruments in order to obtain useful information.

Validity and Reliability of Instrument

Any instrument chosen to be employed in a research work ought to be validated. This is to ensure that it meets the basic instrumental requirement and that its findings can be trusted. There is a scientific method of assessing the reliability of a research instrument. The Cronbach test is a measure of an instrument’s reliability. An instrument is valid when it is clear and can be understood by its users. It involves the elimination of vagueness and major errors.

Method of Data Analysis

This refers to the test statistic tool a researcher intends to employ to analyze the data obtained through either primary or secondary sources. Method of data analysis is usually employed to provide answers to research questions or test null hypotheses. In social science, there are several methods of data analysis. A few of them include t-test, F-test, correlation, regression, ANOVA, ANCOVA, chi-square, Relative Importance Index, frequency counts, and percentages. We will explore these test tools in the next article.


More by :  Dr. Prince Udoyen

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