A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Social Research Paper

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Social Research

Have you ever wondered why people act the way they do, or why some are highly successful, and others are not?

You could speculate and make inferences, but without a well-grounded understanding that comes from the recent past and accurately evaluates the present, you are left with assumptions rather than reality.

In its broadest sense, social research is the study of society and how people behave and influence the world around us.

But there is an opportunity to test your hypotheses about human behavior and do so with rigorous research to back them up.

Social research is a production of scientific knowledge about the structure, transformations, and changes in social reality. This is achieved with the application of theoretical categories, strategies, and procedures.

The process of building scientific knowledge has the following characteristics:

  • It recognizes the antecedents, that is to say, that it does not start from nothing
  • Requires a base capital: theoretical and methodological.
  • Raises concerns and answers.
  • Acknowledges that there are no unique rules to apply to a problem.
  • Research is dynamic.
  • Social research moves from the abstract to the concrete and vice versa.
  • The process, as such, suggests steps.

Stages of Social Research

Statement of the problem: Object of study, objectives, and theoretical framework.

It is the definition of the situation to which you want to find an answer or solution. That is, to investigate is to solve problems. 

Steps for the problem statement:

  1. Identify, delimit, and specify the problem. What is the knowledge gap?
  2. Submit the problem to the analysis process: Ask about the circumstances in which it appears, the elements that compose it, the relationship between those elements, the explanations that have been given, and the conceptual model that can explain it. It is “breaking down the problem.”
  3. Formulate the problem: What are you trying to study? What are the key elements, characteristics, and variables?

For example, a student may decide to study the broad topic “Drug Abuse” and narrow his specific research to a particular segment such as:

  • The cause of drug abuse
  • Impact of drug abuse on the family
  • Psychological help for drug abuse patients
  • Degree of drug abuse in society

Review of Related Literature

After the research problem has been selected, the next step to take is to review relevant literature associated with the study. Relevant literature includes books, articles, journals, and thesis. The aim of reviewing the literature is:

  • To come to terms with all the aspects of the topic
  • To acquire knowledge on all the research that has been done on a particular field
  • To determine where there is an emptiness that needs to be filled
  • To give your research work a theoretical framework to build upon

Formulation of research objectives

The objectives constitute the purpose of work, that is, what is intended to be achieved by conducting the research. The objective follows the same idea as the question, written, however, as a direct affirmative sentence. If the research problem is the issue to be investigated, the objective is the result to be achieved. So, let’s say you choose the Impact of Drug Abuse on the Family as your research topic. The following questions can be raised:

  • What is the impact of drug abuse on adolescence?
  • How does drug abuse affect communication?
  • How does drug abuse influence behavior in society?

Depending on the magnitude of the research project, the objectives can be divided into general and specific. As the name says, the general objectives are those that are broader. Most of the time, the researcher’s first and greatest goal is to obtain a satisfactory answer to his research problem.

However, in order to fulfil the general objectives, it is necessary to define more specific actions, called specific objectives. It is these specific objectives that, together, will provide the achievement of the general objective.

Objectives are formulated – whether general or specific – using verbs in the infinitive: evaluate, test, describe, investigate, identify, etc. So, it becomes:

  • To investigate the impact of drug abuse on adolescent
  • To investigate how drug abuse affects communication
  • To investigate how drug abuse affects behaviour

Devising Hypothesis

A hypothesis is a provisional answer to the problem, with findings to be demonstrated later. The hypothesis is necessarily a statement, which consists of an answer to the question defined as a research problem that has not yet been tested.

This possible solution to the problem, the hypothesis, will be declared false or true after scientific research has been carried out. Much of the statistical tests are performed to assist in making decisions about whether to reject a hypothesis or not.

Example of hypothesis:

  • The higher the illiteracy rate, the higher the poverty
  • The higher the poverty, the higher the crime rate
  • The higher the crime rate, the higher the abuse of the drug

Methodological Design

Methodological design accounts for the following questions:

  • What information is required?
  • What concepts appear?
  • What kind of study to do?
  • Which instrument to use?
  • How to collect the information?
  • How will the information be systematized and analyzed?
  • What statistical data can be used?
  • How to analyze the information with the proposed theoretical framework?

Sampling Procedure

Sampling can be described as a means of defining the area of the population that will be studied. It is quite difficult to study a whole country due to many reasons, such as time, cost, and energy. As a result of this, a particular part will be focused on. The amount of people used for the research is known as the sampling size.

What then is the sampling procedure? It is the way respondents from a large pool are selected for research work and how their views reflect the larger population’s whole views.

It is worthy to point out that the sampling procedure is stated in the work’s methodological design.

Data Collection

The following stages must be followed:

  • Design or adapt a valid and reliable instrument for collecting information.
  • Define the target population (sample)
  • Carry out the fieldwork to apply the instruments
  • Validate, code and systematize data to analyze measurements

There are two major types of data, primary and secondary data. Primary data is the one just collected by the researcher from participants in research, whereas; secondary data is the information that has been gathered before in a book, publication, or article.

Analysis, reading, interpretation, explanation, and understanding of the data

To get appropriate results, the data collected will be analyzed correctly. There are four stages of data analysis which includes:

Data editing: a stage where information gathered is cross-checked for errors and corrected.

Data coding: a stage where information gathered is scaled to make it measurable.

Data measurement: in this stage, data is grouped based on importance to the research work. When grouped, data is presented in the form of a table, graph, or even text for the researcher to make use of.

Data interpretation: this is the stage where data analysis is carried out to find out the important information for the research work.

Hypothesis Testing

When data gathered has been analyzed, the hypothesis which the research work is premised upon is tested, whether it is correct or wrong. For example, take the statement that higher crime rates lead to an increase in drug abuse when the relationship between crime and drug abuse has been analyzed; it will lead to the rejection or acceptance of the hypothesis.

Derive findings, conclusion, and suggestions

When you are done with your research analysis, you get findings. When writing your research findings, be sure to only present conclusions. It may seem a little obvious, but this section is often misused to reaffirm the survey results merely. Do not waste the time of the reader: he has already read the results and the discussion. Now, in conclusion, your audience wants to understand the solution to the research problem clearly.

After drawing up the conclusions, criticize them, and try to overturn them. The conclusions you are unable to overturn will be the basis of your article. Limit yourself to conclusions based on the results you obtained and that answer the research questions that are following the objectives.

After this, you present a recommendation to the government, institution, or reader of the research work.

Report Writing

When you are done with your research, your research findings and processes are compiled into what is called a Research Report. The aim of doing this is for record purposes and to present an understandable format to your audience.

Your research report must include the following:

Preliminary stage: This stage includes, title page, abstract and table of content.

The main body of the work: This stage includes the five chapters of the research: Chapter 1: Introduction, Chapter 2: Literature Review, Chapter 3: Research Design, Chapter 4: Data Analysis and Interpretation; Chapter 5: Findings and Suggestions.

Closing Stage: This stage includes the references and bibliographies.

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