Social Research Methods and Their Application


Social research plays a great role in investigating and analyzing various parameters of importance. As far as research is concerned, methods of social research are indispensable. This is primarily due to the effectiveness of these methods in extracting information and analyzing it so as to come up with meaningful understanding of knowledge. Under normal circumstances, research is done with the aim of obtaining a better understanding of particular aspects. In the recent past, social research has evolved to become an important part of the field of research. There are several methods of social research. These methods share a number of similarities in the manner in which they are conducted. However, there are certain differences between the methods as well. The major methods of social research include data mining, surveys. Interviews, ethnography, focus groups and document analysis. The paper will take an analytical look at the various methods of social research. Special focus will be given to data mining.

Social Research Methods

Data mining is a significant method of social research. The method involves the extracting of concealed knowledge from a given database. This is usually important since it helps the researcher to obtain hidden information that can be useful in the process of analyzing data. At the same time, through data mining different perspectives of a given concept can be identified. This is done through the focus on extra ordinary information (Benard 2000). Under normal circumstances most forms of research rely on conventional sources of information. As a result, given a database majority of the research methods will rely on the given information for analysis. However, data mining endeavors to get deep into the databases to identify unique aspects of a given source of information. As a result data mining involves the identification of uncommon information that is normally hidden from the ordinary researcher (Teevan, Bell & Bryman 2009). Through careful analysis of the hidden information, better understanding of the concept is revealed. This is done by the comparison of the available information with the concealed information. Data mining as a form of social research is of great importance due to its effectiveness.

Social research methods have lots of similarities. Most of them use the same techniques and practices in their processes. As a result, there are a lot of areas in which the methods are similar. For instance, a look at surveys and focus groups reveals a lot of similarities. Focus groups use almost the same methods of analysis and data collection as surveys (Walliman & Walliman 2006). The only difference is that surveys tend to be general in nature and don’t focus on a specific category. However, focus groups limit their study to a selected group of individuals. Essentially, the two methods use similar approaches of research. Another point of similarity is between network analysis and experimental groups. The two are similar in virtually all aspects. Network analysis works the same as experimental groups. This is due to the manner in which the two methods acquire and analyze information (Trochim 2001). Network analysis uses experiments to acquire and evaluate information. However, the methods of social research also have a lot of differences in the manner in which they approach the whole process of research.


The several methods of social research play an important role in the entire field of research. The effectiveness of social research is due to the methods that are used in the processes. As a result social research has evolved into a major field on its own.


Benard, H. (2000). Social research methods: qualitative and quantitative approaches. New York: SAGE.

Teevan, J. Bell, E. & Bryman, A. (2009). Social Research Methods. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Trochim, W. (2001). Research methods knowledge base. Washington: Atomic Dog Pub.

Walliman, S. & Walliman, N. (2006). Social research methods. New York: SAGE.

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