Sociologists concentrate on universe discovery. In most instances, before setting the necessary mechanisms for investigating a problem or an interesting theme. In the analysis, sociologists concentrate on the use of different methods of research to design the experiment. The use of positive, quantitative, ethnographic, or qualitative research methods is for sociologists, for example, to carry out research and collect relevant data in accordance with the investigated phénomene. However, sociologists are faced with numerous problems during the selection of the most suitable research process. In this paper, the focus is on the illustration of theoretical factors, practical factors, ethical factors, and nature of the topic as major problems sociologists have to deal with when selecting a research method.

Problems Assessment

Nature of the Topic

One of the critical issues sociologists deal with when choosing a research method is the nature of the topic to undergo assessment. The research process tends to vary in agreement with the topic or phenomenon to explore. The nature of the question is a problem to the sociologists based on the complexities involved. For instance, in certain cases, topics might appear natural for the integration of survey-based research. On the other hand, there are research questions, which glean feelings of the subjects concerning new or innovative products (Bryman 2015). It is an obligation of the sociologist to determine the most effective research design for the administration of the study based on the nature of the topic.

There are topics, which are sensitive in nature, which require sociologists to engage in the clarification or definition of specific terms and concepts for effective determination of the research design. For example, when a sociologist needs to determine the experiences of people as targets or victims of crime on a structured interview, the sensitivity of the topic will make it complex on how to structure the instrument for data collection (Berg and Lune 2004). This problem also relates to the aim of the sociologist. Under certain conditions, social researchers have the tendency to try to twist the data with the objective of confirming their hypotheses. In such cases, sociologists will deal with the challenge of choosing the most effective research design to offer the desired results.

Ethical Problems/Factors

Other than the nature of the topic issue, sociologists have to deal with ethical problems in the selection of the research method for social research. In every research, ethical behavior plays a critical role in the protection of the subjects and communities while aiming at the improvement of the living conditions within the societal context. This highlights why sociologists focus on designing their problems around issues such as exclusion or marginalization, the cause of poverty, and involvement of people in the criminal activities (Babbie 2015). The objective of these social research practices is to enable sociologists to figure out the root causes of the phenomenon, thus, the platform for the improvement of the well-being of the communities and individuals.

Nonetheless, the research process tends to interfere with the lifestyles of the communities. In some cases, such social research might be harmful to the research participants or subjects. It is an obligation of the sociologist to minimize potential harm in the research process, thus the need to make accurate decisions on the most appropriate mechanism as the research design. This proves to be a challenge to the sociologists, who must inculcate ethical practices in choosing or selecting the research design. Some of the ethical problems in selecting the research design for sociologists include informed consent from respondents, protection of the confidentiality regarding information by respondents, lack of involvement in law-breaking practices, zero harm to the respondents, and adding value rather than harm to the society. From this perspective, sociologists have to deal with these ethical considerations, which might be challenging in the selection of the research design for the social research (Lampard and Pole 2015). These ethical issues determine the structure of the research as well as data collection mechanisms; hence, it is important to the sociologists when making appropriate decisions on what design to use in the exploration of the social research.

Practical Challenges/Factors

Sociologists tend to organize and execute social studies, which take place within practical limitations of the real society. It is obligatory for the social researchers to engage in planning, collection, analysis, and publication of valuable data within the specific budgets. The research demands financial resources from other sources to finance the research effectively and efficiently. Notably, practical constraints are challenges for the sociologists in the selection of the research design.

For instance, sociologists have the need to incorporate time and financial resources in selecting ideal research design. Logically, in-depth research method proves to be time-consuming. On the other hand, execution of the primary research proves to be time-consuming in comparison to the use of secondary sources. Alternatively, in-depth study design demands more financial resources. In securing funding, sociologists have an obligation of assessing various avenues, which might need to evaluate the research design to determine what to invest in the achievement of the goals and targets. Practical issues might also include access to the respondents and skills of the research depending on the situation. These problems have enormous implications on the decision concerning the selection of a research design.

Theoretical Factors

In the research process, sociologists have the tendency to deal with challenges concerning theoretical elements such as validity, reliability, positivism, representativeness, and interpretivism. In the evaluation of the effectiveness and efficiency of the research design, sociologists focus on the utilization of three aspects: reliability, validity, and representativeness. For instance, validity ensures that social researchers choose appropriate research design with the ability to depict a true picture of the phenomenon under investigation (Creswell 2013). Similarly, the study design must also be reliable to the extent that it is possible to repeat the same experiment with the exact population to generate the same result. Moreover, representativeness ensures that the research design incorporates appropriate sample reflecting characteristics of the wider population under investigation. These attributes become issues because of affecting the decision-making by the sociologists on the research design for the social research.


Conclusively, this essay sought to highlight theoretical factors, practical factors, ethical factors, and the nature of the topic as major problems sociologists have to deal with when selecting a research method. In the theoretical problems, the paper did document issues concerning reliability, validity, and representativeness in the selection of the most appropriate research design. Alternatively, in the ethical perspective, sociologists face challenges on issues such as informed consent and protection of confidentiality of the information from the research respondents. Moreover, the paper highlighted problems such as time constraint, financial limitations, and interaction with the participants as well as the nature of the research or experiment as key issues in the determination of the research design.


Babbie, E. R. (2015). The Practice of Social Research. Nelson Education

Berg, B. L., and Lune, H. (2004). Qualitative Research Methods for the Social Sciences. (Vol. 5), Boston, MA: Pearson.

Bryman, A. (2015). Social Research Methods. Oxford University Press.

Creswell, J. W. (2013). Research design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches. Sage publications.

Lampard, R., and Pole, C. (2015). Practical Social Investigation: Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Social Research. Routledge.

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