Research Methods - GCSE Sociology


Types of Research, with pros and cons


a written form of questions asked either to the general public or to a specific group of people you want to study, for example, students in sixth form at school. They can be done on the spot, like when the researcher asks people in the street to fill them out, or as a postal questionnaire.

Advantages: -With multiple choice questions, the results can be put on a graph and easily compared.

-They are cheap for the researcher and not time consuming for people to fill out.


-Illiterate people cannot take part in the research so not fully representative

-If someone doesn't understand the question, they might give an inaccurate answer or leave it blank

-Questions are mostly closed so people can't always get their full views across

-Postal questionnaires have low response rates due to the time it takes for people to post their answers back to the researcher.


Structured interviews consist of a fixed set of questions that the interviewers must ask each candidate, eg job interviews. Semi-structured interviews consist of some questions but the interviewers have every right to add in questions based on the responses they hear, like police interviews with suspects. Unstructured interviews are more like a conversation with a list of topics to be covered, eg Alan Carr Chatty Man.


-People who can't read and write can take part

-Interviewers can explain if a candidate doesn't understand a question

-Questions fit the research

-Respondent can clarify their answer to give a fuller opinion - more data.


-Interviewer effect, where the respondent says what they think the interviewer wants to hear eg. job interviews

-Interviewers' questions may be leading/biased.

-Time consuming and expensive, people not always willing to give their time to answer questions, and training an interview panel can take a long time and be costly.

-If you are interviewing people on the street, the demographic makeup (as in the ethnicity/class/age) of people in that area is usually the same so views not representative of society of a whole. Eg interviewing people outside a university will give you young students' views rather than society's as a whole.

Non-participant observation

Where a researcher watches a group of people without being part of the group, like a fly-on-the-wall.


-Allows the researcher to gain a judgement without emotional interference



Jacob Light


this helps alot but I kink of wanted what sociologists would of used and for what and how E.G marxist and functionalists