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, how is the case made that the findings do generalise?
  3. To what extent do findings depend on participants being able to explain why they acted the way they did? People sometimes tell more than they can know.
  4. If the researchers state that X caused or contributed to Y, what evidence is provided that if X hadn’t been the case, then Y would have been different?
  5. What political agendas do the researchers and their institutions have, e.g., as influenced by who funds them?