Social research is a method used by social scientists and researchers to get to know people and societies so that they can design products/services that meet people’s different needs. Different socio-economic groups in different parts of a country think differently.

Various aspects of human behavior need to be addressed in order to understand their thoughts and opinions about the social world, which can be done through social research. According to Parsons, Tony and Knight (2015), any topic can give rise to social research: a new feature, a new market trend or an improvement of old technology.

Definition of social research

Social research is an inquiry to identify, explore, describe, understand, explain, evaluate and predict social phenomena related to human behavior.

As implicit in the definition, social research involves the application of scientific methods through data collection, to understand, study and analyze social life in order to modify, correct or verify existing knowledge as a system.

The information contained in the data will benefit society, either by directly applying the results to the improvement of social ills or by using the results to test theoretical questions in the social sciences.

Types of social research

According to Abbott (2014), there are four main types of social research: qualitative and quantitative research, primary and secondary research.

Qualitative research

Qualitative research is defined as a method of collecting data through open and conversational discussions. There are five main methods of qualitative research: ethnographic research, focus groups, online individual interviews, content analysis, and case research. Typically, participants are not taken out of your ecosystem for qualitative data collection in order to gather information in real time, which helps build trust. Researchers rely on multiple methods to collect qualitative data on complex issues.

Quantitative investigation

Quantitative research is an extremely informative source of data collection that is carried out through means such as surveys, surveys and questionnaires. The data collected can be analyzed for numerical or statistical results. There are four distinct methods of quantitative research: survey research, correlational research, causal-comparative research, and experimental research. This research is carried out with a representative sample of the target market, usually with closed questions, and the data is presented in tables, tables, graphs, etc.

For example, a survey can be conducted to raise awareness of climate change among the general population. Such a survey will provide in-depth information on people’s perceptions of climate change and also on behaviours that have an impact on positive behaviour. Such a questionnaire will allow the researcher to understand what needs to be done to raise public awareness.

Primary research

Primary research is carried out by the researchers themselves. There is a list of questions that the researcher intends to ask and that should be customized based on the target market. These questions are sent to respondents through surveys, polls, or questionnaires to make their analysis comfortable for the researcher. As the data is collected first-hand, it is very accurate according to the requirements of the research.

For example: In the United States, there are tens of thousands of deaths and injuries related to gun violence. In the news we keep hearing about people with guns attacking the general public. There is a great deal of debate in American public opinion to understand whether gun ownership is the cause of this. Public health-related institutions or governmental organizations are conducting studies to find the cause.

Many policies are also influenced by the opinion of the general population and gun control policies are no different. Therefore, a questionnaire on gun control can be conducted to collect data to inform the public’s views on gun violence, gun control, factors and effects of firearms possession. Such a survey can help these institutions to carry out valid reforms on the basis of the data collected.

Secondary research

Secondary research is a method in which information has already been collected by research organizations or marketers. Newspapers, online communities, reports, audio-visual tests, etc. fall into the category of secondary data. After identifying the research topic and research sources, a researcher can collect existing information available from the sources identified. You can then combine all the information for comparison and analyze it to draw conclusions.

Methods of social research


A survey is conducted by sending a set of previously decided questions to a sample of individuals in a target market. In this way, information and opinions are collected from people of different backgrounds, ethnicities, age groups, etc. Surveys can be conducted through online and offline means. Due to the improvement of technological means and their reach, online media have flourished and there is an increase in the number of people who rely on online survey software to conduct regular surveys and polls.

There are several types of social research surveys: Longitudinal, cross-sectional and correlational research. Longitudinal and cross-sectional social research surveys are methods of observation, while correlational surveys are a non-experimental research method. Longitudinal social research surveys are conducted with the same sample over a period of time, while cross-sectional surveys are conducted with different samples.

Example 1

In recent times there has been an increase in the number of divorces or failed relationships. The number of couples visiting marriage counselors or psychiatrists is increasing. Sometimes it is difficult to understand what causes a relationship to fall apart. A detection process to understand an overview of the relationship can be an easy method. A marriage counselor can use a relationship survey to understand the chemistry in a relationship, the factors that influence the health of a relationship, the challenges a relationship faces, and the expectations in a relationship. Such a survey can be very useful in inferring several findings in a patient and treatment can be done accordingly.

Example 2

Another example of the use of surveys may be the collection of information on disaster awareness and disaster management programmes. Many institutions, such as the UN or the local disaster management team, try to keep their communities prepared for disasters. Having knowledge about it is crucial in disaster-prone areas and is a good kind of knowledge that can help everyone. In this case, a survey can allow these institutions to understand which areas can be promoted most and which regions need what kind of training. A disaster management survey can therefore be carried out to understand citizens’ knowledge of the impact of disasters on communities, as well as the measures they take to respond to disasters and how the risk can be reduced.


Researchers conduct experimental research to observe the change from one variable to another, that is, to establish the cause and effects of a variable. In experiments, there is a theory that must be proven or disproved by careful observation and analysis. An effective experiment will succeed in establishing a cause-and-effect relationship and proving, rejecting or refuting a theory. Los investigadores prefieren los experimentos de laboratorio y de campo.


The technique of gathering opinions and feedback by asking selected questions face-to-face, over the phone, or online is called interview research. There are formal and informal interviews: formal interviews are those organized by the researcher with structured and formatted open and closed questions, while informal interviews are those that are rather conversations with participants and are extremely flexible to collect as much information as possible.

Examples of interviews in social research are sociological studies that are conducted to understand what religious people are like. In this sense, a survey about the Church can be used by a parish priest or a priest to understand from the laity the reasons why they attend the Church and whether it meets their spiritual needs.


In observational research, the researcher is expected to engage in the daily lives of all participants to understand their routine, their decision-making ability, their ability to handle pressure, and their overall likes and dislikes. These factors are recorded and careful observations are made to decide factors such as whether a change in law will have an impact on your lifestyle or whether a new characteristic will be accepted by individuals.

Examples of social research

Below are some examples of social research:

Example 1

Although dowry claims are illegal under the Bangladesh Dowry Prohibition Act of 1980, the practice still persists as a custom, especially in rural Bangladesh.

As a result of non-payment of dowry, women are tortured by their husbands and in-laws, burned with acid or even killed.

Despite growing concern from government and civil society, dowry practice has not declined. In most cases, the attitude of men is unfavorable.

In this case, it makes sense to undertake a study to explore possible ways to eliminate discrimination against women and girls because of dowry.

Example #2

Empowerment and autonomy are essential to achieving sustainable development.

The full participation and partnership of both women and men in productive and reproductive life is required, including the sharing of responsibilities in the care and upbringing of children, as well as in the maintenance of the home.

In Bangladesh, women’s empowerment is high on the list of priorities for raising women’s social and economic well-being and empowerment.

At the individual level, education, employment and media exposure have a considerable influence on the development of women’s personalities and can help to strengthen their position at home and in society.

The three Demographic and Health Surveys (ESD) conducted in Bangladesh in the past investigated this issue to assess the extent to which Bangladeshi women lag behind men in terms of education, literacy, employment and media exposure.

Example #3

Azad and Wahid (2010: pp. 1-12) examined in their paper entitled “Role of Civil Society in Combating Corruption in Bangladesh” that corruption has become a common enemy of Bangladeshi society in recent years.

It has spread like an incurable disease that seems to spread from top to bottom. It has become ubiquitous and has occurred in all areas of the public sector.

The authors, in their article, explore the causes and consequences of corruption in Bangladesh. In addition, they examine the role of civil society in the fight against corruption in the public sectors of Bangladesh.

Example #4

Based on secondary data, Wahid, Kabir and Khan (2013: 87-98) assessed the dynamics and causes of trafficking in women and its impacts on a patriarchal society like Bangladesh in the era of globalization with a view to finding ways and means to eradicate this scourge.

The results of this study indicate that human trafficking has become a major problem and that its intensity is increasing day by day in Bangladesh.

Action Plan

Social research is carried out following a systematic action plan that includes qualitative and quantitative observation methods.

Qualitative methods are based on direct communication with the members of a market, observation and analysis of texts. The results of this method focus more on being precise than on generalizing the entire population.

Quantitative methods use statistical analysis techniques to evaluate data collected through surveys, surveys or questionnaires.

Social research contains elements of these two methods to analyze a number of social events, such as the investigation of historical places, the census of the country, the detailed analysis of the research conducted to understand the reasons for the increase in harassment complaints in the country, etc.

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You may also be interested in: Data Quality

Bibliographic References

Abbott, Andrew. Digital Paper: A Manual for Research and Writing with Library and Internet Materials. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2014.

A. K. Azad, Zeenat Huda Wahid. Role of Civil Society in Combating Corruption in Bangladesh. In: Social Science Review. Volume: 27, Issue: 2. Page: 1-12

A. K. Azad, Zeenat Huda Wahid. Globalization of Women Trafficking and Sex Tourism in Bangladesh: A Neglected Discourse. June 2013. In:

Hart, Chris. Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Research Imagination. 2nd edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2018.

Parsons, Tony, and Peter G. Knight. How to Do Your Dissertation in Geography and Related Disciplines. New York: Routledge, 2015.

Social Research

Social Research. Photo: Unsplash. Credits: Cristi Tohatan @cristi_tohatan

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