You might think that sociological research plays a very small role in our day-to-day lives, but once you know what to look for, you will soon discover that it is more a part of our everyday lives than you might have imagined. This is even truer now that you have taken a class in sociological research methods. Having some background in and understanding of the scientific method means that you are now better equipped to understand, question, and critique all kinds of scientific research as many of the basic tenets of good research are similar across disciplines that employ the scientific method. Those tenets include having a well-designed and carefully planned study, having some theoretical grounding and understanding of research that has come before one’s own work, and engaging in peer review, to name just a few. In this chapter, we’ll consider how to responsibly read research findings and examine areas of everyday life where sociological research may be present, even if it is not immediately visible.
As you read this chapter and Chapter 15 "Research Methods in the Real World", you may recall several of the topics and points made in other chapters of this text. The aim in these final chapters is to remind you of the relevance of sociological research and why one might care to know something about it. These chapters are also designed to encourage you to think critically about how sociology does and can shape your everyday life, both in ways you might choose and in ways you might not be aware of.