Research in the social sciences, at its core, is the practice of using scientific ideas and principles applied to individuals and groups of people. Students interested in conducting research in the social sciences will find themselves trying to solve problems that affect many facets of our society, such as how to alleviate poverty and inequality, how to help those suffering from mental health issues, or how to utilize the political process to effect change. Students may also find themselves studying the intricacies of an ancient language or the implications of racial diversity in different cultures. For students conducting research in the social sciences, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Social science research at Vanderbilt is extremely interdisciplinary. Students conducting research in the social sciences routinely work in the Vanderbilt Medical Center or Peabody College of Education and Human Development on cross-disciplinary research.
- Research in the social sciences is still science. Understanding the quantitative and qualitative methods and theories that inform practice are paramount to being a successful researcher. This may mean that substantial coursework is required for certain research endeavors in the social sciences.
- Research within the social sciences are highly varied. For example, students in anthropology may be conducting interviews for field research while students in economics may be building complex computer models of human behavior and decision making. In fact, anthropology students could be building complex computer models of human behavior and decision making while students in economics may be conducting interviews for field research. Students wishing to pursue research in the social sciences should explore, in addition to what field he or she wants to conduct research, what kind of research to conduct.
Students interested in conducting research in the social sciences should consult the research resources page of Vanderbilt’s College of Arts and Science.