3.7 Sociological research methods

In the context of the various social structures, social processes and social issues detailed in the specification, students should be able to:

  • identify, describe and explain various methods and methodological issues
  • identify and explain the advantages and disadvantages, strengths and weaknesses of a particular method for a specific area of research
  • demonstrate an understanding of the process of research design for a specific area of research, including practical difficulties and ethical issues
  • demonstrate an understanding of the relevance and usefulness of various primary and secondary sources for a specific area of research
  • demonstrate the ability to interpret data presented in a variety of forms.


Additional information

Research design

Describe and explain the processes involved in research design: the establishment of appropriate aims and relevant hypotheses, the use of pilot studies, the selection of appropriate sampling methods and the analysis of data.

Qualitative and quantitative methods

  • Describe and explain qualitative and quantitative methods (questionnaires, interviews, observations) and assess the value, application, and strengths and weaknesses of different methods.
  • Assess the usefulness of the mixed methods approach.

Different types of data

Assess the usefulness of different types of data, qualitative and quantitative data, and official and non-official statistics.

Primary and secondary sources

Describe and explain primary and secondary sources of data.

Interpretation of data

Demonstrate the ability to interpret graphs, diagrams, charts and tables to discern patterns and trends in statistical data.

Practical issues

Practical issues including time, cost and access.

Ethical issues

Ethical issues are consent, confidentiality and harm to participants and how the issues can be addressed.