About This Book

Welcome to Research Methods for the Social Sciences, a BCcampus funded resource created with several goals in mind: accessibility, affordability, customization, and student engagement—all while encouraging learners toward high levels of learning. Instructors and students alike will find that this textbook offers a strong foundation in sociology. It is available for free online and in low-cost print and e-book editions.

To broaden access and encourage community curation, Research Methods for the Social Sciences is “open source” licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license. Everyone is invited to submit examples, emerging research, and other feedback to enhance and strengthen the material and keep it current and relevant for today’s students.


The following chapters have been adapted from Principles of Sociological Inquiry, which was adapted by the Saylor Academy without attribution to the original authors or publisher, as requested by the licensor, is licensed under a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 License.


  • Research Paradigms in Social Science
  • Inductive Approaches to Research
  • Deductive Approaches to Research


  • Research on Human Participants: An Historical Look
  • Institutional Research Review Boards (IRBs)
  • A Final Word about the Protection of Research Participants
  • Summary


  • Exploration, Description, Explanation

To the Student

This book is written for you and is based on the teaching and research experience of numerous researchers in sociology. In today’s global socially networked world, the topic of Sociology is more relevant than ever before. We hope that through this book, you will learn how simple, everyday human actions and interactions can change the world. In this book, you will find applications of Sociology concepts that are relevant, current, and balanced and underpins the work of public safety officers.

To the Instructor

This text is intended for a one-semester introductory course. Since current events influence our social perspectives and the field of Sociology in general, we encourage instructors to keep this book fresh by sending in your up-to-date examples to BCcampus so that students and instructors around the country can relate and engage in fruitful discussions.

General Approach

Research Methods for the Social Sciences adheres to the scope and sequence of a typical introductory research methods course. In addition to comprehensive coverage of core concepts, foundational scholars, and emerging theories, we have incorporated section reviews with engaging questions, discussions that help students apply their imagination, and features that draw learners into the discipline in meaningful ways. Although this text can be modified and reorganized to suit your needs, the standard version is organized so that topics are introduced conceptually, with relevant, everyday experiences.

Features of Research Methods for the Social Sciences

The following briefly describes the special features of this text.


This textbook is organized as a collection of chapters that can be rearranged and modified to suit the needs of a particular faculty or class. That being said, chapters often contain references to content in other chapters, as most topics in sociology and social science cannot be discussed in isolation.


Learning Objectives

Every chapter begins with a set of clear and concise learning objectives. These objectives are designed to help the instructor decide what content to include or assign, and to guide the student with respect to what he or she can expect to learn. After completing the chapter students should be able to demonstrate mastery of the learning objectives.

Key Takeaways

The following features show students the dynamic nature of research:

  • Highlights specific current and relevant research studies;
  • Ties chapter content to student life and discusses every day and real issues;
  • Features present sociological and public safety concepts at a local, national or international level, including:
    • Describes real-life people whose experiences relate to chapter content.
    • Discusses political and social issues that relate to chapter content and the impact of research on social policy


Section summaries distill the information in each section for both students and instructors down to key, concise points addressed in the section.

Key Terms

Key terms are bold and are followed by a definition in context. Definitions of key terms are also listed in the Key Terms, which appears at the end of the chapter online and at the end of the chapter in print.

JIBC Faculty Reviewers

Ron Bowles, Interim Dean, Office of Applied Research & Graduate Studies

Florence Daddey, Program Manager, Program and Curriculum Development

Essya Nabbali – JIBC

Kim Polowek,  Instructor


All photos and images were licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license at the time they were placed into this book. The CC-BY license does not cover any trademarks or logos in the photos. If you have questions regarding photos or images, please contact us at info@openstaxcollege.org.


From the adapting author, Dr. Valerie Sheppard, JIBC Instructor

We would like to thank the team at JIBC Centre for Teaching Learning and Innovations, Centre for Liberal and Graduate Studies, JIBC Library and BCcampus, including: Project Manager, Florence Daddey; Program Manager, Tracie Gavriel; Technical Advisor,  Krista Lambert; and Instructional Designer, Naz Maghsoudi.

We would also like to thank those who have contributed their time and energy in reviewing and providing feedback on the Research Methods for the Social Sciences textbook. Their input has been critical in maintaining the pedagogical integrity and accuracy of the text.

Preface by BCcampus is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.


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