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Research in the Social Sciences

A detailed guide on how to do research in the social sciences.

Introduction

In many of your classes, you'll have already used the Scientific Method for your research projects. 

  1.  Ask a question
  2. Come up with a hypothesis or theory
  3. Conduct research during scholarly articles
  4. Draw a conclusion
  5. Evaluate your conclusion

Research Questions

The first thing you'll do is come up with a research question. This can be as simple as Five Ws' of Journalism:

  • Who​
  • What​
  • When​
  • Where​
  • Why​
  • How​

Asking these questions get to the specifics of the topic.  These questions can be simple or complex with obvious or unknown answers. Often you'll try to solve a problem or come up with a new approach to something.

 

Hypothesis

From your questions, you will form a hypothesis, or working theory​. A hypothesis will state your research question as well as what you expect to find. You will need to be open-minded, being too attached to your theory will cause bias or tainted research. Your hypothesis may change based upon what you discover doing research.

 

Doing Research

The rest of this guide will introduce you to doing research and evaluating sources!

Conclusions

At the end of your research process, you'll draw a conclusion and evaluate it. This will become your paper or presentation. You'll use the skills you learned about thinking critically about sources in order to best analyze what you know.  Go back to your questions. See how they've changed, or not. See how your hypothesis has changed, or not.

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