Research Method in Sociology and Anthropology

Course Objectives

The main aim of the course is to familiarize the students with basic sociological and anthropological research methods. The course focuses on the concepts, techniques and tools of research methods, data analysis and research writing.


  1. What is a social research?
  2. Why do we carry out social research?

· The initial research idea and topic and its justification

· Literature review, i.e. what have others said about this research topic?

· The research problem and its social and theoretical justification or significance; research objectives

· Clarification of concepts, indicators and operationalization (where necessary)

· Information or data collection techniques and their justification

· Collection of primary (‘field’) and secondary (‘documentary’) information: sources and rules of access

· Data analysis

· Presentation of finding, including the social and theoretical significance of findings

  1. Disciplinary, interdisciplinary and problem oriented social research
  2. Ethical issues in social science research
  3. Sociological/anthropological research trends in Nepal

II. Metatheory and Research

  1. Interrelationship between metatheory and research agenda
  2. Structural-functional, cultural-ecological, Marxist, symbolic interactionist, ethno methodological and feminist metatheories and corresponding research protocols
  3. Induction, deduction and generalization
  4. Interpretation

III. Research Designs

Fundamental features, strengths and limitations of exploratory, descriptive, explanatory, experimental and semi-experimental, cross-sectional, historical/longitudinal, and comparative research designs

IV. Measurements and Relationships

    1. Concepts: types and difficulties in defining concept.
    2. Variable: qualitative and quantitative; independent and dependent; indicators
    3. Measurement: postulates and levels of measurement (nominal, ordinal, interval and ratio) and corresponding modes of data analysis
    4. Reliability: test and improvement of reliability.
    5. Validity: content, construct and criterion validity and validation
    6. Relationship: symmetrical, asymmetrical and reciprocal relationship; correlation, causality and spurious interpretation
    7. Control: notion and significance; techniques for controlling variable(s)

V. Qualitative Data Generation Techniques

A. Field-site selection; Entry into the field: rapport building

B. Field work and ethnographic research

· Observation and participant observating

· Genealogical methods

· Case studies and life histories

· Interviews (formal, informal and key informant)

· Archival study

· PRA<>

· Limitations of qualitative research tools and techniques

VI. Qualitative Data Analysis

A. Paradigms in Qualitative Research

B. Qualitative data analysis: coding, transcribing, and interpretation

C. Traditions and Approaches:

· Ethnographic accounts

· Narrative analysis

· Content analysis

· Conversation analysis

· Discourse analysis

· Documentary research

VII. Quantitative Data Generation Techniques

A. The significance and utility of quantitative methods

B. Survey methods:

· Rational and features of survey research

· Preparation, planning phase, data collection phase, and data analysis and reporting phase

· Survey designs: self administered surveys, face to face interviews, telephone surveys, computer-assisted telephone interviews and internet surveys

· Survey Instruments: questionnaire, interview schedule and check list; reliability and validity of the instruments

· Problems and issues in executing survey research: location and accessing the respondents and field settings; implementation of data collection techniques; role of field investigators; interviewer bias

C. Sampling Methods: probability and non-probability designs; uses and limitations of specific sampling designs; sample size; sampling bias and error

D. Questionnaire and structured interview schedule : preparation, types, uses and limitations

E. Limitations of quantitative research tools and techniques

VIII. Quantitative data Analysis

A. Organizing and summarizing data: editing, coding, and processing

B. Displaying data: tables; graphs, histograms and pie-chart

C. Descriptive statistics: frequency distribution of grouped/ungrouped data; construction and reading of tables; ratio, proportion and rate; measures of central tendency; measures of dispersion

D. Measures of association between nominal or qualitative variables: assumptions, calculation and interpretation of chi-square statistic and test.

E. Measures of association between ordinal and interval/ratio variables: assumptions, calculation and interpretation of Spearman’s rank order and Pearson’s product moment correlation coefficient

IX. The QualQuan Approach

A. Combining qualitative and quantitative research tools and techniques

B. Combining qualitative and quantitative research analysis

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