Research in the social sciences is the systematic investigation into and study of various social phenomena. The typical way scientific research is conducted is to first propose a hypothesis based on a theoretical model of the particular phenomenon which is sought to be explained and then empirically testing the validity of the hypothesis. To elaborate, the following are the crucial steps of any research in the social sciences.


The very first step is to come up with the research question. Naturally, a research question has a background to it in the sense that it tries to improve upon the existing findings and explanations of a phenomenon. It is therefore incumbent on the researcher to locate her research question and her original contribution in the context of the existing body of academic work on the relevant subject. More

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Explaining any real-world situation or event is a complex exercise. For example, a simple question like “Why are house prices high in Vancouver?” can become intractable very soon if one does not limit oneself by a simplified and restricted view of a theoretical model. A model’s power stems from the elimination of irrelevant detail. Once a model is formed, it is used to generate empirically testable predictions. These are called hypotheses which are tested with statistical analysis of available data.

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The empirical analysis basically involves extracting patterns from available data that makes sense in the light of the theoretical model that is being used to explain the social phenomenon. The empirical analysis is usually carried out in two steps: first, the research question is empirically motivated by presenting basic patterns and trends in the data using different graphs and tables, and then formally testing the hypotheses of the theoretical model using statistical inference procedures. Click here for more 

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Once the proposed theory is tested in the light of the data, the researcher needs to summarize the findings, and inform the reader about how such findings enhance the current knowledge of the subject matter under study, and also what potential directions future research can take in that area.  (continued – How to write a paper) Click here for more

After the researcher has provided evidence for or against the testable hypotheses concerning the mechanisms at work behind a particular socio-economic phenomenon, all the theoretical and empirical findings are collected in the Conclusion section of the article. In particular, if the empirical results contradict the predictions of theoretical framework considered, then it is extremely important to discuss what could have been the plausible factors that led to such disagreement between the model and the data. In other words, is there any particular assumption of the model that is counterfactual, or is there reason to believe that the data generating process is different from that considered in the model, and similar issues need to be addressed. The Conclusion section is also the place to discuss in brief how the results added to the existing understanding of the phenomenon, and point towards directions of future research in the relevant subject area.

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