Research methodology is necessary in sociology as it provides legitimacy and wider acceptance to the sociological work. Different methods are used for different purposes of research like Positivist research or Interpretivist research. Research methods used in sociology broadly belong to three categories.
As per the research requirement, different methods are used. Survey research can be used in large scale research involving large numbers of respondents and investigators. It is the most common example of a macro method that can be used in such a circumstance. On the other hand in the study of a particular group A micro method like participant observation can be used. A research design follows certain basic steps like choice of topics ,collection of facts ,representation of facts, hyper hypothesis making testing and validation and so on further research methodology or research design has following basic types. Exploratory research design is used in the initial stages of the research to acquire some preliminary information. The main objective is to find tune the broad problem into a specific problem statement and generate possible hypothesis. It is used to carry initial research to narrow down on the possible alternatives. The methods used in explore exploratory research are survey of existing literature survey of experienced individuals analysis of selected case studies.
Descriptive research design provide accurate description of variables relevant to the problem under consideration and generally used for preliminary and exploratory studies. The descriptive study is more formal and less flexible as it involves both qualitative and quantitative information and can be used for both positivist test and non-positivist test research. The commonly used techniques under this category are panel research design or longitudinal research. The panel design involves the continual or periodic information collection from a fixed panel or sample of respondents. The longitudinal analysis involves repeated measurement of the same variables to facilitate a variety of inferences to be drawn about the behaviour of the elements of the panel. Participant observation and field studies use such methods.
Cross sectional design is aimed are taking a one-time stock of the situation or the phenomena in which the decision maker is interested . Cross sectional designs give the picture of situation at a given point of time. Opinion polls and market service use such kind of methods.
Experimental Research Design is where the researcher actively tries to change inputs like the situation, circumstances or experience of participants which may lead to a change in behaviour or outcome for the participants of the study. It establish the causality between dependent and independent variable and test hypothesis. The participants are ideally randomly assigned to different conditions and variable of interest for measured. This is done to eliminate all extraneous variables. Hawthorne studies of Elton Mayo are class examples of such experimental design. This is a method which is most often associated with natural sciences in which we change variables in a controlled environment . This method is mostly used for positivity is to research or quantitative research as it aims to keep prejudices and biases away while doing the research. Experimental research attempts to determine how and why something happens. Experimental research test the way in which independent variable affect the dependent variable. Due to high objectivity data obtained through such methodology are more reliable.
Comparative method is used to compare the social phenomena to arrive at generalized conclusions. It is a method which is suggested as an alternative to the experimental research in sociology but is based on the similar sets of principles. According to Haralambos and Holborn in the Sociology: Themes and Perspectives, 2013, the comparative method is based on what has happened or is happening in society rather than upon situation artificially created by the researcher. It was more popular with the early sociologist. Durkheim was the first sociologist to discuss this method at length in his The rules of Sociological Method, 1895. He regarded it as a method of sociology to identify dependent and independent variables. The crime study of suicide is a classic example of use of this methodology. Ginsberg use this method in the study of primitive societies. If a particular social phenomenon is studied in different social contexts and the causes are found out then a cause and effect relationship can be established.