This section provides an overview of the major issues in research and in evaluation. This is probably the best place for you to begin learning about research.

We have to begin somewhere. (Although, if you think about it, the whole idea of hyperlinked text sort of runs contrary to the notion that there is a single place to begin – you can begin anywhere, go anywhere, and leave anytime. Unfortunately, you can only be in one place at a time and, even less fortunately for you, you happen to be right here right now, so we may as well consider this a place to begin.) And what better place to begin than an introduction? Here’s where we take care of all the stuff you think you already know, and probably should already know, but most likely don’t know as well as you think you do.

  • The first thing we have to get straight is the language of research. If we don’t, we’re going to have a hard time discussing research.
  • With the basic terminology under our belts, we can look a little more deeply at some of the underlying philosophical issues that drive the research endeavor.
  • We also need to recognize that social research always occurs in a social context. It is a human endeavor. Therefore, it’s important to consider the critical ethical issues that affect the researcher, research participants, and the research effort generally.
  • Where do research problems come from? How do we develop a research question? We consider these issues under conceptualization.
  • Finally, we look at a specific, and very applied, type of social research known as evaluation research.

That ought to be enough to get you started. At least it ought to be enough to get you thoroughly confused. But don’t worry, there’s stuff that’s far more confusing than this yet to come.