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Question- Write a report on the following topic:Compare and Contrast Social Research Methods to Program Evaluation Research?



I would thank my supervisor to have provided me the opportunity to work on the research study that is based on the “Compare & Contrast Social Research Methods to Program Evaluation Research Method”? I would like to thank my friends & co-workers, who have helped me while conducting the research.

I would like to thank to Mr. ------------------------------------------------ to guide me in each step of my research study.

Last but not the least; I would like to thank my parents for their moral support.  Without the constant help of my parents, it would have been impossible for me to complete the research in an appropriate manner.


Thanking you,

Yours Sincerely,















Social research methods are a methodical procedure of conceptualizing, dissecting furthermore investigating the human life in order to check & develop the information of social life & conduct of the human. This system tries to find different phenomena that are both clarified & unexplained. This system serves to clear up misconstrued reality of social life. Program evaluation research strategies are single individual orderly studies headed irregularly on the other h& on an unrehearsed reason to overview how well frameworks are working. They are oftentimes guided by masters external to the system, either inside or outside the association, furthermore by task executives. This system customarily examines achievement of venture ends of the line in the setting of distinctive parts of task execution or in the setting in which it happens. This report highlights the similarities & differences between the two concepts. The report starts with a brief overview of the two concepts & tries to determine the characteristics of social & program evaluation research. Then the paper discusses the similarities between the two & finds that both the concepts are similar in their main objective, result & research methodology. Similarly, differences are also discussed. Before concluding the paper a brief description about how the research conducted in for completing this study is provided. The paper is concluded by giving a summary of the whole work. 



From many years, debate is going on to understand the similarities & differences between social research methods & program evaluation methods. For instance, in the year 1999, Michael Lipsey, Howard Freeman & Peter Rossi demonstrated that the program evaluation is the function of social research method to assess the implementation & design of the program. However, Michael Patton in the year 1997 argued that program evaluation is not the function of social research; it is a systematic approach of guiding the decision makers to make effective decisions that they cannot meet using the social research methods.

The study discusses the similarities & differences between the social research methods & program evaluation & will also discuss the various characteristics of the methods.


Social research methods are a systematic process of conceptualizing, analyzing & also exploring the human life so as to verify & extend the knowledge of social life & behavior of the human. This method seeks to discover various phenomena that are both explained & unexplained. This method helps to clarify misconceived reality of social life (Dooley, 2001). Social research methods include application of various scientific methods for analyzing & understanding the social life with the present knowledge system. The key idea behind this methodology is to find out latest facts, latest knowledge & latest relations linking with the old ones. Since the behavior of the human beings involves laws & values. The key principle of this research method is to find out the proper laws that would effectively guide to analyze & study the human behavior & contact (Lewis-Beck, Bryman & Liao, 2013).

P.V Young says that social research is a systematic method of finding out various old & new facts. He further says that the sequences of this method are interlinked; there exist causal explanations & also various laws that are used to govern them. The social research methods must satisfy the following attributes:

  • Parsimony: It is way of accepting the easiest logic for making an economic explanation of the research. This prevents the research from achieving complexities & also relationships that demonstrates everything but specifically does not explain anything in particular (, n.d.).
  • Falsifiability: Theory in the social research should be demonstrated in such a way that it can be disproven later on. The theories should be specified so that some other researcher can measure & test the concepts applied (Jupp, 2006).
  • Precision: The concepts applied in the theory are sometimes difficult to measure, thus should be defined with accuracy, so that other researchers or readers can utilize those defined terms to evaluate the concepts & also test & validate the theory used (Babbie, 2012).
  • Replicability: This attributes is all about repeating or replicating independently the same study may be with different results (Friedhoff et al., 2013).


Program evaluation methods are single person methodical studies led intermittently alternately on an impromptu premise to survey how well a system are working. They are frequently directed by specialists outer to the program, either inside or outside the organization, & also by project directors (Thomas, 2012). This method ordinarily analyzes accomplishment of project destinations in the setting of different parts of project execution or in the setting in which it happens. Four principle sorts can be distinguished, all of which utilize measures of project execution, alongside other data, to take in the profits of a system or how to enhance it. Program Evaluation may be directed at a few stages amid a program's lifetime. Each of these stages brings up distinctive issues to be replied by the evaluator, & correspondingly diverse Program Evaluation methodologies are required. Rossi, Lipsey & Freeman (2004) propose the accompanying sorts of appraisal, which may be proper at these distinctive stages:

  • Evaluation of the requirement for the project
  • Evaluation of project outline & rationale/hypothesis
  • Appraisal of how the system is, no doubt executed
  • Appraisal of the program's result or effect
  • Evaluation of the program's expense & proficiency.

As indicated by Rossi et al. (2004, p. 222), 'a measure that is inadequately picked or misguided can totally undermine the value of an effect evaluation by delivering deceiving evaluations. Just if conclusion measures are substantial, dependable & fittingly delicate can affect appraisals be viewed as sound'.

  • Reliability- The unwavering quality of an estimation instrument is the 'degree to which the measure delivers the same results when utilized more than once to measure the same thing' (Rossi et al., 2004, p. 218). The more dependable a measure is, the more noteworthy its factual force & the more believable its discoveries. On the off chance that a measuring instrument is untrustworthy, it may weaken & dark the true impacts of a project, & the system will 'give off an impression of being less compelling than it really is' (Rossi et al., 2004, p. 219). Hence, it is paramount to guarantee the Program Evaluation is as dependable as could be expected under the circumstances.
  • Validity- The legitimacy of an estimation instrument is 'the degree to which it measures what it is proposed to measure' (Rossi et al., 2004, p. 219). This idea can be hard to precisely measure: as a rule use in Program Evaluations, an instrument may be esteemed substantial if acknowledged as legitimate by the (stakeholders may incorporate, for instance, funders, program directors, & whatnot).
  • Sensitivity- The essential motivation behind the Program Evaluation procedure is to measure whether the project has an impact on the social issue it looks to review; consequently, the estimation instrument must be delicate enough to recognize these potential progressions (Rossi et al., 2004). An estimation instrument may be uncaring in the event that it contains things measuring conclusions which the system couldn't in any way, shape or form impact, or if the instrument was initially created for applications to people (for instance institutionalized mental measures) as opposed to a gathering setting (Rossi et al., 2004). These variables may bring about "clamor" which may darken any impact the system may have had.




Various characteristics of social research can be drawn from the above discussed overview (Kumar, 2002):

  • Social research method is mainly associated with the social phenomenon. This method is utilized to study the human beings behavior as they are the members of the society. This helps them to understand the attitudes, response & feelings under various situations (Bailey, 2008). This method encompasses the various aspects of human life like administrative, social, political, economic & social.
  • The main objective of this method is to find out new facts. This technique is generally applied in finding out the real relationship & reasoning related behavior of the human beings.
  • Social research method is a scientific process that uses systematized & logical techniques. This method also creates various scientific concepts & tools which provide valid & reliable study of behavior of human being.
  • Social research method helps in understanding the development of latest theories. Each research that is conducted sets up few truths, highlight key principles, analyzes their causal explanation, sequences & also interrelationships. The results of this method helps in improving the human life understandings, exp& the knowledge & also evolve latest theories.
  • Social research method generally emphasizes on minute investigation & also deep knowledge of a concerned topic.
  • There must always be some objective of the social research. Thus the researcher should not show any personal biasness while conducting the result because this would negate the universality criteria of a scientific function (Gray, 2004).  
  • As the social research method is based on the human behavior or the social phenomenon, thus experimentation cannot be conducted in the social sciences. But there are cases where the social sciences take the protection of controlled experimentation.
  • It is important that there should be inter-relationship among the variables while conducting the social research. Apart from this, the social research variables are immeasurable, only some estimation can be made about the variables.
  • Social research method is dynamic in its nature. Thus it is not necessary that the present & past variables are same & the results of past may not be similar to the present ones.
  • It is not possible to determine if the compartments of the research is purely sociological, economic & political researches there is interrelationship among the various variables in social research.
  • According to Social research characteristics all the social events that are conducted are mainly governed by various rules & regulations.
  • Various researches have found that the social researches are complimentary to physical research. Both the branches are interrelated to each other. In this context according to Good & Scates “The qualitative life makes request on all fields of science. The issues of creating a decent life are to a limited extent sociological & mental, partially physical & to some degree organic. Man recognizes his needs that are dispersed through all the information territories & he in like manner discovers his fulfillment emerging from the helping in all zones. Continued studies are exploration programs must, in this way be kept up over a wide scope of investment”.




The following is the characteristics of program evaluation:

  • The program evaluation is one of the latest conventional ways of research- According to Potter (1999, pp. 209-210), this research method is one of the important parts of creating social programmes. This method is necessary for all the social programs that receive some public funding. This method acts as a prerequisite for the social program that can be implemented & formulated.
  • The program evaluation method is a part of social research- According to Brook (1997, pp. 113), program research method provides information to the decision makers who are responsible for collecting fund, designing & implementing program. Mark (1996, pp. 231) supports the statement by saying that for the above reasons this method, typically utilize quasi-experimental or pre-experimental designs that are estimates to the test plans. This research is the scientific process that uses the advanced methodologies of social researches that are intended to give information regarding the failure or achievement of specific social programmes & policies which focuses on improving the quality of life of the society.
  • The program evaluation is a research methodology that can be practical in nature- Mark (1996, pp.230) says that the program evaluation research mainly emphasizes on serving the people in the society. Therefore this method can be functional in the real world programme as the outcome of this method can improve & develop the social programs.
  • The program evaluation research methodology is similar to auditing but is more than the audit process that is specially made by the policy makers. As per the opinion of Pollit & Summa (1997), this research method is various responsibilities unlike auditing, it mainly focuses on the theory & explains the “why” questions & reformulates the challenges to persuade the key stakeholders to distinguish the issues in diverse perspectives where as auditing is to mainly apply the fixed criteria to establish accounts & also compare the results to find the right audiences. Thus program research is something more than auditing.
  • The program evaluation develops the quality of life- Pawson & Tilley (1997) says that social programs are unexceptionally, unequivocally & undeniably social systems & they are tranquil as in social systems of the relationship of institution & individual of structure & agency of macro & micro social processes. The program evaluation mainly investigates the service delivery of the social programmes in improving the quality of life.
  • The program evaluation research consists of political elements- It is concerned with those social programmes that are evaluated, implemented & formulated by the bureaucrats & politicians with the effective governance.
  • The program evaluation acts as stakeholder’s guide- Royse, Thyer & Padgett, (2010) says that the objective of the program research is to give information that can be utilized to improve the social life. Thus it primarily addresses the issues & helps in making decisions & also takes effective actions based on the results (Rossi,, pp.26)
  • The program evaluation method is a program planning process- It helps in identifying the best strategies that can be utilized to address the social issues & improve the quality of life of the community.
  • This research is in relation to accountability- Robson (1993, pp.171) states that the accountability is a framework that drives the business towards profit making. Similarly, program evaluation


The similarities between social research & program evaluation are to build effective knowledge base of a specific topic. Social research & program evaluation forms both include the accumulation of data through beforehand & distributed articles, meetings, composed reviews & individual observation. Social research & program evaluation both uncover qualities & shortcomings identified with the point being surveyed. The information prompts upgrades & the advancement of objectives (McCaig & Dahlberg, 2010). Both the social research & the program evaluation involve constructing effective theories, then designing the research methodology & also collecting data & analyzing the data. Both the researches define reliability & validity that accounts towards good research. This makes sure that the sampling procedures to target the right audiences for the research are adequate & also effectively used collect the data. In both the cases, the research method & collection & analysis of data include learning from the sample drawn, collect, measure & analyze the gathered information. Social research & program evaluation involves various stakeholders to make sure that the relevant research questions are asked to meet the objective of the research (Harwell, n.d.). Both the social research & the program evaluation use (Glass & Worthen, 1971):

  • Same systems, same abilities- Analysts & evaluators utilize the same strategies for social science request & require the same sorts of abilities, qualities & standards in the specialists directing a request.
  • Have same domain- Evaluation is a piece of the space of instructive research & is not disengaged from general advancements & issues in instructive research, its technique & hypothetical issues.
  • Balanced re-development versus reality: an imparted test- Both program evaluation & exploration face comparative difficulties in picking in the middle of prescription & description reporting their discoveries. Reports are frequently sound re-developments of the substances of the research procedure, introduced to fit standards of "perfect" practice instead of records of the substances themselves.
  • Increasing impact of governments & patrons brings joining- Assets for instructive exploration & expansive scale program evaluations are progressively dictated by the requests of governments or funders who look for answers for midway characterized points or inquiries which are issue situated & arrangement related. One aftereffect of this may be to make scrutinize more like program evaluation in having concentrate on pragmatic conclusions & particular issues.




Social science research does not go for or accomplish evaluative conclusions. It is confined to observational (instead of evaluative) research, & builds its decisions just with respect to authentic comes about that is, watched, measured, or ascertained information. Social science research does not make models or qualities & afterward incorporate them with true comes about to reach evaluative conclusions (Sarantakos, 2005). Truth be told, the prevailing social science teaching for a long time prided itself on being esteem free. So for the minute, social science research rejects evaluation. The intent of social research is explanation, description & exploration that are to explain various things, describe events & situations & also familiarize with the specific topic (, 2009).

Program Evaluation decides the legitimacy, worth or estimation of things. The Program Evaluation methodology distinguishes pertinent values or models that apply to what is, no doubt assessed, performs experimental research utilizing strategies from the social sciences, & afterward coordinates conclusions with the guidelines into a general Program Evaluation or set of Program Evaluations (Scriven, 1991). The intent of program evaluation is to figure out if the system is productive regarding utilizing assets shrewdly to perform the required work, compelling by execution measures or destinations set, & actualized as expressed. The proficiency & viability of a system can help decide, fix responsibility issues, & support in arranging (, n.d.).

Research plans to create new information inside a field. In a perfect world, analysts outline studies to have the capacity to sum up discoveries to the entire population–every single individual inside the gathering being examined. Program Evaluation just concentrates on the specific project close by. Program Evaluations may face included asset & time obligations .Daniel L. Stufflebeam, Ph.d., a remarkable evaluator, caught it briefly:  "The motivation behind Program Evaluation is to enhance, not prove." at the end of the day, research strives to secure that a specific element brought about a specific impact.

An alternate noticeable evaluator, Michael J. Scriven, Ph.d., notes that Program Evaluation relegates quality to a system while research looks to be esteem free (Coffman, 2003). Researchers gather information, present results & after that make determinations that explicitly connection to the exact information. Evaluators include additional steps. They gather information, inspect how the information lines up with formerly decided norms (otherwise called criteria or benchmarks) & focus the value of the system. So while evaluators likewise make conclusions that must reliably reflect the exact information, they make the additional strides of contrasting the project information with execution benchmarks & judging the estimation of the system. While this may appear to cast evaluators in the part of judge we must recall that Program Evaluations focus the estimation of projects so they can help enhance them (Armstrong-Ward & others, 2011).


This present research is fully based on the secondary data using scholarly journals, literature review articles & reference books. This method has helped to find information related to social research & also program evaluation research. The use of secondary has helped to carry the analysis between the social research & program evaluation research more quickly. This has helped to save both money & time in collecting the primary data & also avoid effort duplication. There are numerous data available in the internet which has helped in completing this research & make effective comparison & contrast between two research methods.


In conclusion, both the social research & program evaluation are interlinked to each other. From the research it can stated that program evaluation is the subset of social research. The expressions "social research” & “program evaluation” are as often as possible utilized conversely to depict the same activity; notwithstanding they each one have a different definition. Program evaluation characterizes the procedure of gaining data or information while social research alludes to the understanding or evaluation of the data collected. Despite the fact that they have separate definitions, there are additionally shared characteristics in the middle of social research & program evaluation.



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Babbie, E. (2012). The practice of social research (13th ed., p. 148). Belmont, Calif.: Cengage Learning.

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Coffman, J. (2003). Michael Scriven on the Differences Between Evaluation and Social Science Research / Reflecting on the Past and Future of Evaluation / Issue Archive / The Evaluation Exchange / Evaluation / HFRP - Harvard Family Research Project. Retrieved 8 October 2014

Dooley, K. (2001). Social research methods.

Friedhoff, S., Meier zu Verl, C., Pietsch, C., Meyer, C., Vompras, J., & Liebig, S. (2013). Replicability and Comprehensibility of Social Research and its Technical Implementation. Ratswd_WP_.

Glass, G., & Worthen, B. (1971). Educational evaluation and research: Similarities and differences. Curriculum Theory Network, 149--165.

Gray, D. (2004). Doing research in the real world (1st ed.). London: Sage Publications.

Harwell, M. Research Design in Qualitative/Quantitative/ Mixed Methods. Retrieved 8 October 2014.

Kumar, A. (2002). Research Methodology in Social Science (1st ed., pp. 7-8). Sarup & Sons.

Lewis-Beck, M., Bryman, A., & Liao, T. (2013). Encyclopedia of Social Science Research Methods. SAGE Publications, Inc. 

Lipsey, M. (1996). Key issues in intervention research: A program evaluation perspective. American Journal Of Industrial Medicine, 29(4), 298--302.

McCaig, C., & Dahlberg, L. (2010). Practical research and evaluation (1st ed.). London: SAGE.

Patton, M. (1997). Utilization-focused evaluation: The new century tex (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Pawson, R., & Tilley, N. (1997). An introduction to scientific realist evaluation. Sage Publications, Inc.

Pollitt, C., & Summa, H. (1997). Reflexive watchdogs? How supreme audit institutions account for themselves. Public Administration, 75(2), 313--336.

Potter, C. (1999). Programme Evaluation. In M. Terre Blanche & K. Durrheim (Eds.), Research in Practice: applied methods for the social sciences (1st ed.). Cape Town: University of Cape Town Press.

Robson, C. (1993). Real World Research: A  Resource for Social Scientists and  Practitioner-Researchers (1st ed., p. 171). Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers.

Robson, C. (1993). Real World Research: A  Resource for Social Scientists and  Practitioner-Researchers (1st ed., p. 171). Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers.

Rossi, P., Lipsey, M., & Freeman, H. (1999). Evaluation (1st ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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Royse, D., Thyer, B., & Padgett, D. (2010). Program Evaluation: An Introduction (5th ed.). CA: Cengage Learning.,. (2009). Purposes of Social Work Research. Retrieved 8 October 2014, 

Sarantakos, S. (2005). Social research (1st ed.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

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Young, P. (1960). Scientific Social Surveys and Research (1st ed.). New York: Prentice Hall Publications.



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