The role of research in human life is very important. The modern academics just cannot stand and meet the aspirations of a matured society, if it does not provide for research and investigation. “The obvious function of research is to add new knowledge to the existing store, but its power for cleansing our minds of clichés and removing the rubbish of inapplicable theory is equally notable.
Scientific research is a cumulative process it is also a rejective process, especially in the social sciences. Understanding can be (advanced) not only by gains in knowledge but also by discarding outworn assumptions says Hening.
Research is an important pre-requisite for a dynamic social order. The society has marched on to its present form with the help of constant research and investigation. As far as man’s inquisition has been able to go, so far has his society progressed? A long march from stone-age to computer age has been the result of research and as long as man’s inquisitive pursuits do not end, the onward march of human society to more advanced achievements will not stop.
The deepest ocean is the ocean of knowledge and the depth of which is unknown. Shall man reach this depth is a big question but that man has dived deeper and deeper is certainly a reality and the manifestation of his ingenuity, dexterity and determination and hence the optimism that man shall strive hard and continuously to reach the bottom of the ocean.
The shape of things and the order of the society shall continuously change. New innovations and inventions shall be received with greater excitement and applause and the process shall continue forever. The fittest shall adjust and the rest shall walk their way.
All research has a social bearing. Spread of knowledge has led to specialisation and that in turn has resulted into the emergence of distinct disciplines of learning. More precise discipline have been able to develop advanced methodology of research and succeeded in reaching greater depths of knowledge.
But social sciences are more complex and more mysterious and cannot be treated as precisely as other sciences. But even then social scientists have gone a long way to give as precise a scientific content to social research as possible within the existing frontiers of human knowledge.
Since all social sciences are intimate with varied sociological behaviour, a hundred per cent accuracy cannot be achieved in social research. However, thanks to human intelligence, the standards of accuracy in social research have almost gone as high as hundred per cent.
Research in social sciences is the direct outcome of man’s urge to understand his society, its nature and working. Social phenomena play a crucial role in the direction and depth of social research. Because of the inherent ambiguities and uniqueness of social phenomena, difficulties often arise as to the precise measure of social investigation. Human beings do not operate under controlled conditions;
On the contrary they are always under the diverse influences such as environmental, psychological and social and these influences freely interact with each other and seldom operate in isolation. This interplay of diverse influences makes social phenomena complex.
The complexity is further accentuated by the uniqueness of each individual’s behaviour. No two persons look alike in thinking, working and attitudes. In a huge societal laboratory it is hard to conduct precise experiments.
Social research has shown that even within social complexities, some set patterns are discernible. Societies and social groups exhibit their behaviour along expected trends and often tend to follow a distinct path.
Confusion often inhibits growth and that societies have grown shows that social phenomena are not chaotic. A distinct pattern of social interactions has enabled the social scientists to introduce behavioural models into social research with the help of which better analysis of social data are made possible.
Social phenomena shall, however, continue to be complex but the degree of complexity shall keep on varying. With the advancement in social research, social behaviour can be viewed with clearer vision.
Social scientists may not be as precise as physical scientists in making predictions because they deal with human behaviour but the spread of education and the means of communication have helped in correcting the erratic and irregular behaviour of human beings and this enables a social researcher to make better predictions.
Individually human beings may be unpredictable but collectively they tend to be reasonably accurately predictable. Advancement in social research methods has increased the accuracy of predictions considerably.
Research methods such as anthropometric and Sociometry measures have facilitated the jobs of a researcher to compile, analyse and predict social events.
As mentioned earlier, social science research cannot be as precise as research in physical sciences owing to greater heterogeneity of social data. Again the problem of heterogeneity is sought to be solved by proper stratification and classification of social phenomena.
Within each situation, greater homogeneity is ensured. Even though research under controlled conditions is not possible, greater homogeneity at micro-level has improved the quality of social research significantly.
That social research can be subjected to quantitative treatment on hundred per cent basis is not possible but the scope of using quantitative techniques in social investigation has considerably widened.
Research in physical sciences is older than that in social sciences and has, therefore, attained greater maturity. If the current rate of progress in social research continues, things will certainly improve further. Though man can never perform as a machine but skillfulness will certainly enable him to work with, a more advanced machinery to the benefit of entire human community.
Research has to have human aspects as well. All research must be done in the service of society. Every such effort must aim at the improvement of quality of life. With more research, better social analysis shall become possible and man’s requirements shall be better understood.
Researchers shall have an obligation to investigate into the possibilities of supplying better amenities to man in keeping with his growing and varied requirements.
Research in social sciences as in other disciplines is of immense value to mankind. New knowledge, new methods and new inventions become known and illuminate the path of man’s ambiguities and enhance comprehension of social interactions. Value, superstitions and dogmatic ideas are replaced by objective and scientific reasoning. Distortions are corrected and interplay of social variables is given logical interpretations.