In a broad sense, sociological research is a specific kind of systematic cognitive activity focused on studying social objects, relationships and processes with the aim of obtaining new information and revealing the laws of social life on the basis of the theories, methods and procedures adopted in sociology.
In the strict sense, sociological research is a system of logically consistent methodological, organizational and technical procedures that are subordinated to a single goal: to obtain accurate and objective data about the social object, the phenomenon or process being studied.
The methodology of sociological research is a tactics of research that is a system of operations, procedures, methods of establishing social facts, their systematization and analysis tools.
A certain order of actions aimed at fulfilling the tasks of a specific stage of sociological research can be called the procedure of sociological research. These tasks can be: preparation for research, primary sociological information accumulation, preparation of information for processing, processing itself and analysis.
The program of sociological research is the presentation of theoretical and methodological suppositions in accordance with the main goals of the undertaken action and hypotheses of the study, with indicating the rules of procedure, as well as the logical sequence of operations for testing hypotheses.
In other words, sociological research is a specific kind of social research (its’"core"), which regards society as an integral socio-cultural system and is based on special methods and techniques for collecting, processing and analyzing primary information that are accepted in sociology.
However, any sociological study involves several stages.
The first one, or the preparation stage, represents consideration the goals, drawing up the program and plan, determining the means and terms of the study, as well as in choosing methods for analyzing and processing sociological information.
The second stage involves the collection of primary sociological information- collected nongeneric information in various forms (research records, extracts from documents, individual respondents’ results, etc.).
The third stage is the preparation of collected during a sociological survey information (questionnaire survey, interview, observation, content analysis and other methods) for processing, compiling a processing program and actually processing the information received on a computer.
The fourth or final stage is the analysis of the processed information, the preparation of a scientific report on the results of the study, as well as the formulation of conclusions and the development of recommendations and proposals to the customer or other entity that initiated the conduct of the sociological survey.
Sociological research is subdivided on many criteria, and therefore various typologies and classifications can be distinguished. Thus, according to the nature of the sociological knowledge that is extracted, theoretical and empirical (specific) researches are distinguished. For theoretical sociological research, a profound generalization of the accumulated factual material in the field of social life is crucial. At the center of empirical research are the accumulation and collection of factual material in this area (based on direct observation, interviewing, document analysis, statistical data and other methods of obtaining information) and its initial processing, including the initial level of generalization.
Depending on whether they are conducted once or repeatedly, sociological researches are divided into disposable and recurrent. The first allows you to get an idea of the state, position, statics of a social object, phenomenon or process at a given moment. The latter is used to identify the dynamics, changes in their development.