Doing Social Research is your guide to understanding how to do social research the way your professor wants you to do it (at least if your professor is me, Dr. Phyllis Rippey). There are many ways of approaching social research, none of which is ultimately the best or only way of doing it, but the recommendations on this site offer a basic framework to help get you started.

I know first hand from teaching research methods courses that there’s never enough time to cover everything one needs to know to actually do research. This means that most scholars learn to do research by just getting in there and doing it, through a supervised thesis or as a research assistant on a professor’s project. Sometimes students get a lot of guidance and editing from their supervisors, other times, not so much. I tend to give my students A LOT of feedback (probably more than they want!). However, even with all of my feedback, I have noticed that most of my students are making the same common errors or are just a bit lost as to how to organize their writing and fine tune their research projects. The students I work with are smart, highly accomplished people, who have a general sense of what they want to research but struggle to turn that general sense into a coherent research question with a plan for answering it.

My job as a university professor is to help guide students in this journey, but there’s only so much I can do one on one and only so many students I can take on. I created this website to help all of my students, and any other students out there, know what it is that I’m looking for when I’m grading their work or editing their research proposals. I figured that better than correcting everything with the same comments over and over, I could just direct students to a free online guide for doing and writing research. My personal goal is to give students clear direction for their first drafts, so that our meetings and discussions can focus on the much more fun process of trying to take a good research question into an innovative and amazing one.

Please be aware that I do not promise perfection here. I could get something off or not quite right. There are probably typos or awkward sentences and I’m happy to get feedback to improve it. However, my bigger goal for my current and future students is that they begin to take what they see and critically evaluate it, not simply for the sake of critique but to make their own work better. Good social research is not a competition for greatness, but a collective project to help us all better understand the world around us.

I hope that you find this site helpful and I wish you all the best in your research endeavors.