Over the last year, the COVID-19 environment forced traditional social science research methods to adapt in new ways. Researchers who typically met with study participants face to face were no longer able to as people stayed home for safety reasons. However, Dr. Mansureh Kebritchi, a member of the social science faculty at University of Phoenix, maintains that these challenges are actually opportunities for social science researchers to learn new ways to connect with people and to choose topics that are more relevant to the unique pandemic situation. She offers a number of helpful tips for researchers about how to collect data, how to design a study, and how to choose a research topic in 2021.
On choosing a research topic
Kebritchi points out that several sectors of the working world, such as education, health care, and small businesses, have been particularly impacted by the pandemic. Many schools are still meeting in a virtual format. Healthcare facilities continue to be overwhelmed with patients. Thousands of small businesses have either been forced to shutter or are on the brink of making such a decision. In addition, as the majority of people around the globe are forced to stay home, isolation, loneliness, and depression are becoming larger issues. Social science researchers can gain new insights into the impact of the pandemic on all of these areas.
On designing a research study during a pandemic
Researchers should keep the pandemic’s challenges in mind when designing a research study in this COVID-19 environment, advises Kebritchi. She encourages researchers to incorporate data collection methods such as Google Hangouts and evaluating social media posts. Researchers may also consider using archived data if collecting in-person data is not possible.
On collecting data
Lastly, Kebritchi offers tips for how researchers can collect data from study participants without compromising the health of anyone involved. She suggests researchers embrace digital tools like Zoom, Google Hangouts, social media groups, online discussion boards, and survey tools like SurveyMonkey.
While Kebritchi is quick to acknowledge that the pandemic presented unique challenges to social science researchers. She encourages University of Phoenix students and other researchers to use the COVID-19 era as an opportunity to gain new insights into human behavior and to find new ways to connect with people even when face-to-face interactions are not an option.
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