A specific type of sociological research is determined by the nature of the goal set, the tasks put forward, in accordance with which there are three main types of sociological research:
Intelligence research is the simplest type of applied sociological analysis; it solves problems that are very limited in content; as a rule, it covers small surveyed populations and is based on a simplified program and a compressed methodological toolkit – a package of tools specially developed for each study designed to collect primary information (blank interview, mass or expert questionnaire, sample designs, mathematical analysis of primary information etc.). This type of sociological research can be applied:
at the preliminary stage of deep and large-scale research to test the methodological tools and its correction;
to collect “rough” information about the object of study;
in a situation where the subject of sociological research has been little studied or not studied at all, in order to obtain additional information about the subject and object of the study, to clarify some of the tasks and hypotheses of the study, as well as its methodological tools.
In exploratory sociological research, such methods of collecting primary information as interviews or questionnaires, group interviews using the focus group method are usually used, which make it possible to conduct it in a short time.
Descriptive research is a more complex type of sociological analysis than exploratory research, since, in terms of its goals and objectives, it involves obtaining empirical information that gives a relatively holistic view of the object or phenomenon being studied. Conducting a descriptive type of research requires the development of a more complex and detailed research program using methodically proven tools, which ensures its greater reliability in the process of studying the most important elements of the object under study. This study is usually used when the object of study is a relatively large community of people with diverse characteristics (population of a city, district, region, region, etc.).
Analytical research is the most complex and deepest type of sociological analysis. Its purpose is not just to describe the structural elements of the phenomenon under study, but also to elucidate the cause-and-effect relationships underlying the prevalence, dynamics, stability/instability of this phenomenon. An analytical study considers a complex of factors that affect the object of study, highlighting among them the main and secondary, temporary and stable, explicit and latent (hidden), manageable and unmanaged. The program of such research is elaborated carefully and takes a lot of time, since it is often necessary to collect preliminary information about certain aspects of the phenomenon under study, referring to exploratory or descriptive research. In the course of analytical research, a complex of sociological methods is used that complement each other – various forms of survey, analysis of documents, observation.
A social experiment is a kind of analytical research. Its implementation involves the creation of a special experimental situation by changing the usual conditions for the functioning of the object under study.
6. The role of pilot studies in the preparation of a sociological study .
An exploratory or pilot study is a pilot study that precedes the main study and is intended to check the quality of its preparation. But it has a simplified program and a compressed toolkit. In the course of this study, the goals, hypotheses, and objectives of the study are clarified, the toolkit is “run-in”, i. methodological procedures and documents: observations, questionnaires, etc. The populations studied in this study are small (20 to 100 people). The purpose of this stage is the development, improvement of research tools, bringing it to the desired condition. The need for it arises because in the first (prototype) version of the tools designed during the development of a research program, errors are possible (and even inevitable), which must be eliminated.
The pilot phase of the study is required. It should be carried out even in cases where researchers are confident in the perfection of the first version of their instrument. Social life is dynamic. The less the phenomenon that has become the subject of research is known, the stronger the need for piloting the instrumentation.
The pilot study technology provides for the sequential execution of the following operations:
collective discussion by researchers of the first version of the instruments in order to fix doubtful moments in them, their possible modifications and transformations;
Reproduction of the first version of the toolkit;
selection of specialists capable of high-quality aerobatics of the instrumentation;
· identification of a few representative groups of the general population, the survey of which will improve the toolkit;
· approbation of tools in these groups;
Collective summarizing the results of aerobatics;
introduction of appropriate adjustments to the primary toolkit, processing of its final version;
Replication of final tools.
The pilot stage of the study is a responsible matter. If it is carried out with insufficient quality, then a decrease in the validity (substantiation and reliability) of the conclusions of sociologists is inevitable. Despite the importance of aerobatics, it cannot be too long. Otherwise, the time for subsequent stages of the study, which are more time-consuming and no less responsible, will be reduced. The duration and effectiveness of aerobatics is determined, first of all, by the qualifications of the researcher.