Five questions to ask of social research

  1. Why should I care about this sample? Is the sample itself of interest, whether 1 person (e.g., a biography-like case study) or 1,000?
  2. If generalisation to a broader population is intended or implied,
    (a) How is the case made that the findings in the sample transfer to other people?
    (b) Why should I care about the target population?
  3. To what extent do findings depend on participants being able to articulate the reasons why they acted the way they did?
  4. Do the researchers state or imply that X caused Y or contributed to Y? If so, what evidence is provided that if X hadn’t been the case, then Y would have been different.
  5. What political agendas do (a) the researchers and (b) their institutions have? Related, what constraints are they under, e.g., due to who funds them?