The applied research track in sociology focuses on the research methods used by social scientists to learn about the social work. By research methods we mean the systematic strategies for investigating social behavior and interpreting the patterns we discover. Systematic strategies include field studies, experiments, surveys and the use of secondary sources - all the strange and wonderful information stored in libraries ans data banks around the country. The ultimate take of the scientific endeavor is interpretation. Data cannot speak for itself, hence the need to create meaningful interpretations within the theoretical framework of the sociological or perspective.
The most important personality trait for applied research is curiosity; a need to know who, what, where, when, why, how much, how many. In many ways, sociology combines the traits of a historian and a journalist - the careful analysis of the historian and the immediacy of current events that concern a journalist. Like the historian and journalist, a sociologist pays careful attention to detail and places a high premium on accuracy. The techniques of applied research involve technical skills such as logical thinking, familiarity with computers, understanding if statistics and the ability to communicate well. In applied research, a sociologists creates both written and oral reports for clients, must periodically negotiate contracts and deal with people from a variety of different walks of life. People skills and strong sense of ethics are very important to the successful applied researcher (sometimes you must tell people things they do not care to hear).
Logical thinking, the ability to write and speak well, familiarity with data processing equipment, and statistical skill are constantly in demand in government, business and education. In addition, skills in interviewing and familiarity with the use of secondary data sources is often valuable to agencies and organizations.
Sociology students majoring in Applied Research Methods are prepared for a wide range of occupations such as in research design, data collection, and data analysis in both the public and private sector. Applied research methods students have landed jobs working with the Census Bureau, The Florida Citrus Association, and IBM.
The applied research methods track is a strong preparation for graduate school where research skills are highly emphasized.