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Generalization in Scientific Research

The generalization of research findings is one of the tenets of social research studies that most often than not motivate researchers in the first place to undertake a research study in the area of interest, and as controversial as this might be, most study designs in social sciences are designed with this concept in mind. In this case, generalization has two meanings: the “theoretical inference from data to develop concepts and theory, and the empirical application of the data to a wider population.” Both of these types of generalizations are important in the field of social research. In the second type of generalization stated above, the nature of generalization is described as empirical because it is used to mean the extent to which the findings of a research study can be replicated elsewhere in study populations with similar characteristics, which should also be consistent with the theories postulated by such a research study.

What this means is that the findings of a research study that, for instance, investigated the cause and prevalence of domestic abuse in a given community in a country such as Peru should ideally hold true when the same study is undertaken at least in another part of that country or better still in another country in Africa for instance despite the difference in cultural orientation between the two countries. The ability to arrive at such a generalization is, however, dependent on the nature of the research study design that is used in investigating the phenomena, for this reason, this type of generalization is easy to achieve where the research study design is quantitative and very challenging when the research study is qualitative.

To answer one part of this question, I would say that the choice of study design significantly influences the ability and degree to which such a generalization can be made. Besides, there is another reason why generalization in social research is a pertinent issue that researchers must strive to achieve irrespective of the study design involved; this has to do with the validity of the research study. In a research study, “validity determines whether the research truly measures that which it was intended to measure or how truthful the research results are.” Because the validity of results findings in a new study is measured by way of evaluating the extent to which the generated concepts and theories are consistent with the pre-existing knowledge in the same area of study, then any research study needs to generate findings that are consistent with current literature review. This condition can only be met if the research study findings can be generalized elsewhere with very few exceptions.

The other type of generalization is what would be described as “theoretical inference” of the research data that cannot again be avoided as this is an inherent feature of all research studies. There are very few studies that are designed in a way that exempts this condition, and even then, additional checks are put in place to ensure that the sample being investigated somehow reflects the real characteristics of the larger study population. In this type of generalization, the idea is to ensure that the characteristics of the study sample that are being investigated reflect those of the study population at large for obvious reasons. These reasons have to do with financial and time limitations; one, because of resource limitations, it is impossible to undertake a research study that involves all the study populations, but there is an exception to this condition where the study population involved is not large enough. But to ensure that there is a generalization of the research as far as study sample and methodology is concerned, it is essential that the sampling procedure used in the selection of cases during the research study be carefully designed.

This is because the type of sampling used in selecting a sample from the larger population has great implications on the uniformity of the selected cases compared with the larger population cases. This is one of the most effective methods used by researchers to achieve generalization of the study where a large sample population is involved; suffice it to say that the most widely used sampling technique that is most effective in ensuring this is the random sampling method. Another way that generalization of a research study can be achieved is through the use of large enough samples proportional to the size of the study population that is being investigated. Finally, the researcher’s skills and integrity are essential components necessary for promoting the generalization of the research study in both respects.

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"Generalization in Scientific Research." OctoStudy, 13 Feb. 2023, octostudy.com/generalization-in-scientific-research/.

1. OctoStudy. "Generalization in Scientific Research." February 13, 2023. https://octostudy.com/generalization-in-scientific-research/.


OctoStudy. "Generalization in Scientific Research." February 13, 2023. https://octostudy.com/generalization-in-scientific-research/.


OctoStudy. 2023. "Generalization in Scientific Research." February 13, 2023. https://octostudy.com/generalization-in-scientific-research/.


OctoStudy. (2023) 'Generalization in Scientific Research'. 13 February.

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