Social researchers undertake research projects to investigate a number of social issues and then report their findings. A social researcher will use a variety of methods to gather their information; this can include questionnaires, focus groups and interviews. Their survey findings can be used to change social policies or to test the effectiveness of a current one.
Key responsibilities of the job include:
- preparing tenders for research contracts
- receiving instructions and project briefs from clients
- outlining objectives
- directing and undertaking pilot studies and fieldwork
- collecting, analysing and interpreting qualitative and/or quantitative data
- writing reports
- identifying and advising about possible strategies
- controlling budgets
- managing staff.
Local, national and occasionally international travel may be required.
Personal Qualities and Skills
Key skills for social researchers
- Excellent organisational skills
- Presentation skills
- Communication skills
- Numerical skills
- IT skills
- Analytical techniques
Pay And Opportunities
Typical employers of social researchers
- Local authorities
- Central government
- Higher education establishments
- Health authorities
- Commercial market research organisations
- Independent research institutes
Jobs are advertised online, in national newspapers and on the Social Research Associations' website. The social sciences section of Current Research in Britain provides information about higher education and independent research projects.
Qualifications and training required
There are routes into social research for both university graduates and school leavers.
A good degree in any subject is acceptable for entry into the profession, although employers often require relevant qualifications in social research, business studies, mathematics or statistics. A postgraduate qualification and/or specialist knowledge may also be necessary for some positions.
Relevant practical experience, particularly research experience, is advantageous.