Conclusion: A Diverse Methodological Toolkit
In this overview of some of the most common methods employed in socio - logical research, we have seen that the need to meet a diverse range of empirical challenges has inspired the development of a diverse set of methodological tools. When assessing the value of sociological research, it is necessary to evaluate the match between the method employed in the research and the nature of the research questions posed. In the end, we want to use the method that produces the kind of data and analysis that are most closely tailored to the specific research question. For this reason, it is important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each method. To help you see how these methods share some similarities and differences, the graphic shows
Research Methods: Key Traits This graphic provides a bird’s-eye view of research methods. As you can see from the top row of the graphic, coming up with a clear, defined research question is an important first step for many (if not most) sociological projects. Knowing your question helps you decide what sort of data (qualitative or quantitative) is most helpful to meaningfully answer the question. On the third row of the graphic, you will find a summary of key traits associated with qualitative and quantitative research. The bottom row lists the common methods discussed in this chapter. Note that methods listed in the middle of the bottom row can be seen as more likely to generate both qualitative and quantitative data. However, all methods
how these methods tend to be used. The graphic is not meant to suggest that these methods are starkly different in the traits they necessarily exemplify, but rather that researchers have a tendency to use them in these ways.