Research Methods in the Social Sciences

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There are various research methods which are applied by social scientists. These methods of research are applied in trying to understand the different approaches or designs that are used in social sciences. Some of the designs that have been applied in social sciences include qualitative and quantitative research designs. Whereby qualitative research design is meant to understand the social life of individuals through direct linkage and on the other hand qualitative design is whereby data is quantified in statistical form.

How Scientific Inquiry Tries to Avoid the Common Pitfalls that Produce Error in Nonscientific Inquiry

According to Gauch 2013, scientific inquiry is the process through which scientists tries to understand their natural world by looking for evidence to support their work. On the other hand scientific inquiry is whereby social scientists try to answer questions about the natural world but do not collect data or evidence of the same. This calls for scientific inquiry as a method of trying to avoid common mistakes that produce error in scientific inquiry. One of the ways in which scientific inquiry tries to avoid the pitfalls that produce error in non scientific inquiry is through collecting evidence that may boost the explanations in non-scientific inquiry. One of the characteristics of non-scientific inquiry is that they are theoretical in nature. This means that most of its facts have not yet been proven. Therefore, as a way of avoiding these pitfalls that produce error, scientific inquiry collects data to support the theories made through non scientific inquiry. This deals with the pitfall of illogical reasoning which is in non scientific inquiry, (Gauch, 2013).

Another way which scientific inquiry tries to avoid pitfalls which produce error in non-scientific inquiry is by giving explanations for the ideas outlined in non scientific inquiry. First of all scientific inquiry collects evidence about an idea then later on after gathering facts about the ideas outlined in non-scientific inquiry, it tries to give the explanations. This helps to avoid the challenge of biasness and use of too many assumptions in the work (Creswell, 2010).

Scientific inquiry also deals with the pitfall that provide errors in scientific observation through ensuring that observations made during a research are well observed and recorded. This deals with the pitfall of inaccurate observations that is always evident in nonscientific inquiry. This problem arises because too many assumptions are made and also because of the assumptions that things are the way they are imagined to be without confirmation (Gauch, 2013).

The Strengths and Weaknesses of Survey Research

According to Creswell (2010), survey research is a method used mostly by social scientist in trying to collect data about something. Surveys are usually short questions which are to be answered by a targeted group of people. It is mostly used in finding out the opinions of people in relation to a given issue. This method has been widely used in most research and it has various strengths and weaknesses.


One of the strengths of survey research is that accuracy is upheld. This is because the survey reaches a large number of people. Therefore, when compiling the information that is received from the surveys, the level of accuracy becomes very high (Creswell, 2010).

Data collection is much easier with survey research. This is because most surveys reach a large number of people. The methods of collecting data in surveys include surveys conducted through the internet or mobile phones, or direct contact. Most of these methods proof to be easy in collecting data especially in an environment where the targeted groups are in diverse regions (Gauch, 2013).


One of the weaknesses of survey research is that it is not flexible. This means that after a survey has been developed, it becomes hard to add more questions which may arise during the process of conducting a research. Therefore, its rigidity makes it become a weakness in that it is not accommodative (Creswell, 2010).

Another weakness of this method of data collection is that the sample choice of collecting data becomes a problem. For example when collecting data for an online survey it becomes difficult to reach the targeted group. Also there is an assumption that the person filling out the survey is the targeted audience but in most cases this fails to be so because any person may decide to do a survey for his or her own pleasure. This therefore leads to inaccuracy of the data collected (Gauch, 2013).

The Advantages and Disadvantages Associated with the Different Survey Methods

There are various methods which are used in surveys. These methods include interviews and questionnaires. Questionnaires are written questions which are supposed to be answered by targeted groups. Questionnaires may be open-ended or closed-ended. On the other hand interviews are questions which are directed to a person to find out information from the individual. Interviews are made directly where a person and a researcher are one on one. These methods of surveys have various advantages and disadvantages (Creswell, 2010).


One of the advantages of using the surveys to collect data is that different means of collecting data can be used. For example in open-ended questionnaires, the questionnaires may be posted online; the means may be through the mails and also direct contact. Therefore this implies that there is flexibility in terms of the method which the respondent decides to use (Gauch, 2013).

Another advantage of the surveys methods in data collection is that the methods are highly representative. This implies that the methods are able to reach a large number of people. In addition to that it implies that the data collected represents the greater overview of the larger population thus implying that very accurate information is collected (Creswell, 2010).


One of the disadvantages of the survey methods is that they are biased. Most of the questions answered in surveys may be given in terms of biasness whereby a respondent may give an opinion or answer that favor him or her rather than the real picture of the situation that is being investigated (Gauch, 2013).

The survey methods are time consuming. The different survey methods that are usually used tend to be time consuming. This is because the document of the questions that are to be asked must be prepared in prior. This applies especially in structured interviews, online surveys and also questionaires. This therefore implies that when collecting data with these methods, a lot of time will be consumed (Creswell, 2010).


In conclusion, it is important to assess the strengths and weaknesses of surveys before opting for it as a method of collecting data. In addition to that researchers should ensure that they apply both the use of scientific inquiry and non scientific inquiry so that they end up having enough facts.

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