Social Research

Fourth edition

by Sotirios Sarantakos

Chapter 14 - Applied Research

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Educational objectives
After completing this chapter, you will:
  1. have developed a clear understanding of the nature and varieties of applied research
  2. have gained an appreciation of the popular designs of evaluation research
  3. have become familiar with the basics of needs analysis and action research
  4. have developed skills in the area of applied research that would facilitate the conduct of applied research
  5. have adopted a critical understanding of the methodological status and validity of applied research.


  1. Evaluation research
  2. Needs assessment
  3. Action research: research in action

Points to remember

The following are the major points introduced in this chapter. Ensure that you are very confident with their meaning, content, context and significance.
  1. Applied research is primarily interested in identifying problem areas and in searching for relevant solutions, and produces direct answers.
  2. There are many types of applied research. Epidemiological research, feasibility research and evaluation research are the most common.
  3. Epidemiological research focuses on health and is employed to ascertain the extent to which certain population attributes occur
  4. Feasibility research is commonly used to estimate whether the expected costs and benefits of a proposed program justify its introduction.
  5. Evaluation research is a type of inquiry employed to assess the merit, worth or value of programs, policies, services or interventions.
  6. Evaluation research has the purpose of assessing the quality, effectiveness and suitability of program plans and programs.
  7. There are many types of evaluation research, for example, feasibility studies, process analysis and impact analysis.
  8. The overall design of evaluation research resembles that of the standard research model introduced in this book.
  9. Action research is defined as 'the application of fact finding to practical problem solving in a social situation with a view to improving the quality of action within it, involving the collaboration and cooperation of researchers, practitioners and laymen'.
  10. Action research differs from the mainstream type of research in the extent to which researchers and subjects are involved in the research process and in the political nature of the research.
  11. The types of applied research discussed in this chapter are very popular among feminist researchers.

Short-answer questions

Answer each question carefully (there is no need to write down the answer). Consult your Social Research text when your memory fails you or when you are in doubt about the accuracy of your responses.
  1. What is applied research and what distinguishes it from basic research?
  2. What are the main types of applied research?
  3. How would you describe epidemiological research?
  4. What are the distinguishing characteristics of feasibility research?
  5. What are the main goals of evaluation research?
  6. How different from other research models is the research model that is employed in evaluation research?
  7. What are the main criteria of action research?
  8. Does action research comply with the objectivity requirements that are required in social research?
  9. How valid are the findings produced by means of action research?
  10. How different is the research model applied by action researchers from that of other investigators?
  11. What are the main characteristics of epidemiological research?

Fill-in questions

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True/false questions

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Multiple choice questions

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Practical exercises

  1. Review a journal article that employs action research to address a gender issue. Focus on the following points:

    a) How is action research evident in the study?
    b) To what extent are non-researchers employed in the research?
    c) Where can the applied nature of the research design be evident?
    d) To what extent is ethics adhered to in the study?
    e) Was the contribution to the research by 'outsiders' important, and if so, in what way?
    f) Is the overall research design different from that employed by other researchers? If so in which areas?
    g) What did you find most interesting in this action-research study?