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Typically, the scientific method starts with these steps—1) ask a question, 2) research existing sources, 3) formulate a hypothesis—described below.

Ask a question

The first step of the scientific method is to ask a question, describe a problem, and identify the specific area of interest. The topic should be narrow enough to study within a geography and time frame. “Are societies capable of sustained happiness?” would be too vague. The question should also be broad enough to have universal merit. “What do personal hygiene habits reveal about the values of students at XYZ High School?” would be too narrow. That said, happiness and hygiene are worthy topics to study. Sociologists do not rule out any topic, but would strive to frame these questions in better research terms.

That is why sociologists are careful to define their terms. In a hygiene study, for instance, hygiene could be defined as “personal habits to maintain physical appearance (as opposed to health),” and a researcher might ask, “How do differing personal hygiene habits reflect the cultural value placed on appearance?” When forming these basic research questions, sociologists develop an operational definition , that is, they define the concept in terms of the physical or concrete steps it takes to objectively measure it. The operational definition identifies an observable condition of the concept. By operationalizing a variable of the concept, all researchers can collect data in a systematic or replicable manner.

The operational definition must be valid, appropriate, and meaningful. And it must be reliable, meaning that results will be close to uniform when tested on more than one person. For example, “good drivers” might be defined in many ways: those who use their turn signals, those who don’t speed, or those who courteously allow others to merge. But these driving behaviors could be interpreted differently by different researchers and could be difficult to measure. Alternatively, “a driver who has never received a traffic violation” is a specific description that will lead researchers to obtain the same information, so it is an effective operational definition.

Research existing sources

The next step researchers undertake is to conduct background research through a literature review    , which is a review of any existing similar or related studies. A visit to the library and a thorough online search will uncover existing research about the topic of study. This step helps researchers gain a broad understanding of work previously conducted on the topic at hand and enables them to position their own research to build on prior knowledge. Researchers—including student researchers—are responsible for correctly citing existing sources they use in a study or that inform their work. While it is fine to borrow previously published material (as long as it enhances a unique viewpoint), it must be referenced properly and never plagiarized.

To study hygiene and its value in a particular society, a researcher might sort through existing research and unearth studies about child-rearing, vanity, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, and cultural attitudes toward beauty. It’s important to sift through this information and determine what is relevant. Using existing sources educates researchers and helps refine and improve studies' designs.

Questions & Answers

Can anyone tell the form of family
Inoto Reply
wrire the function of family
Ahammad Reply
what is marriage
Ahammad Reply
Marriage ia a socialy and legaly rocognized social bond between two people for the procreation of offsprings and satisfaction of sexual desires. With the tie of marriage there generates right and duties on both partners to comply with.
Sadiq
types of marriage
Ahammad
Monogamy, Polygamy, Polygyny, Polyandry , Bigamy
Sadiq
function of marriage
Ahammad
it is explained in definition
Sadiq
what do you mean by Endogamy
Ahammad
who is the father of sociology
Ahammad Reply
ibne khaldoom
Sajan
what is sociology
Ahammad
study of people groups society and interactions.
Sajan
write the definition of "types of marriage "
Ahammad
important of social science research in our contemporary society
Sharif Reply
Social research is an important source of knowledge. It provides updated, proved, authentic and very useful information to the end users.
manisha
Structural Changes. Social research is responsible for bringing structural changes in a social life.
manisha
Social Prediction. Social research helps in making laws and the relation between social laws and their factors.
manisha
we apply social research to a society for bringing social order and control.
manisha
New Techniques. Social Research introduces new techniques and improves the old ones.
manisha
how positivism is used in social science
Sam Reply
Positivists believe that sociology can and should use the same methods and approaches to study the social world that “natural” sciences such as biology and physics use to investigate the physical world.
manisha
positivists use quantitative methods such as official statistics, structured questionnaires and social surveys. Statistical, numerical data is crucial to Positivist research. Positivists need to collect statistical information in order to make comparisons. And in order to uncover general social tren
manisha
auguste compte
Edouard
August Comte is known as the father of Sociology.
Moses
what is Darwin's theory?
Kashmiri
What are the e contribution of Auguste Compt to Sociology?
Muhammad
August comte
Rahein
difference between polygamy and polyandry
Arvina Reply
polygamy having more than 1wife ...and polyandry having more than 1husband
sai
explanation on human Development
Hamukwele Reply
Happy independence day to all indians. Let we live with peace love harmony and friendliness with each other without any discrimination on the basis of religion, caste, race, class, gender, power, economic, political, professional and status. Jai hind.
manisha Reply
Respect and peace.
Leonard
happy independence day to all....
Dr.
happy independent to Indians 🇮🇳
Favour
nice to hear from all of you. i know people are here from all around the world. first msg is definitely for indians as today is independence day for them. and other msg can be receive by others.. gratitude..
manisha
happy independence Day
Kashmiri
Happy Independence day to you all Indians.
Umar
happy independence Day from Occupied Kashmir.
rameez
thanks
manisha
what is sociology
Ali Reply
the study of social problem
Sanjib
Sociology is the systematic study of diverse human culture.
Jimmielyn
who is father of sociology
Surjeet Reply
seriously man. y ppl ask this ques again n again. august comte :)
manisha
Class and class structure
priyanka Reply
G S Gurye
Suraj
society is jenus headed is an animal and has two head discuss this in the lite of culture
Hajja Reply
i need the answer urgent
Hajja
where are you from
babar
i guess there is something missing in the question.. kindly write it again
hasan
What causes social stratification
Alexander
Assalamu alaikum Happy independence day to pakistani friends. Love from india..
manisha
jenus? is this an English word
Nwofor
the two head i believe is language and culture
Nwofor
culture is our beliefs....
Dr.
beliefs, values, behavior
Dr.
I am a student of MSc socialogy
Kashmiri
thanks ....manisha
Rehmat
Types of Societies?
Kashmiri
hunting and gathering
Rehmat
horticultural
Rehmat
pastoral
Rehmat
industrial
Rehmat
post industrial
Rehmat
bio genetic
Rehmat
how social reseach is an approach to confirm the observations and pattern of behaviours prevailing in the society
sitta Reply
any body with answer pleaz
sitta
what is meant by human ecology?
Akak Reply
can any one define the meaning of environmental shift
Akak

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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to sociology 2e. OpenStax CNX. Jan 20, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11762/1.6
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