The Scientific Method

Conducting Research: The
Scientific Methods
Hyde, A. (2007). Adapted from Henlsin, J. (2005) Sociology:
A Down to Earth Approach 7/e. New York: Allyn & Bacon and
by Ozan Akkus, Ph.D., Fordham University, August 2005
Definitions of Science
► The
observation, identification, description,
experimental investigation, and theoretical
explanation of phenomena.
► The systematic and organized inquiry into
the natural world and its phenomena.
► The systematic observation of natural
events and conditions in order to discover
facts about them and to formulate laws and
principles based on these facts.
The Goals of Science
Understand (philosophical inquiry;
social and natural sciences)
Predict (social and natural sciences)
Control (social and natural sciences)
The Natural Sciences & The Social Sciences
The Natural Sciences—Explain and Predict Events in Natural
The Social Sciences—Examine Human Relationships
 Political Science—Studies How People Govern Themselves/Use Power
 Economics—Studies the Production and Distribution of Goods and Services
 Anthropology—The Study of Culture
 Psychology—The Study of Processes Within Individuals
 Sociology – The Study of Groups, Individuals and Environments
What Makes a Method Scientific?
scientific method is any process by which
researchers, collectively and over time,
endeavor to construct an accurate (that is,
reliable, consistent and non-arbitrary)
representation of some phenomenon.
► The
Scientific Method usually refers to of
the testing of an hypothesis via
experimental design to generate
quantifiable data.
The Scientific Method: Scope
 Can be applied to anything within the
range of our experiences
 Can offer useful explanations and
predictions (technological advances;
medical cures)
 Aims to falsify more than to prove
 Does not aim to give an ultimate answer.
iterative and recursive nature  always
 Does not establish GOODNESS, BEAUTY,
Levels of Analysis & Types of Research
Macro—Broad Matters
 Micro—Individualistic Matters
Basic-Constructing Theory
Applied-Implementing Solutions
Steps in the Research Process
Selecting a Topic
Choosing a Research Method
Defining a Problem
Collecting Data
Reviewing the Literature
Analyzing Results
Formulating a
Sharing Results
Steps in the Research Process
Source: Modification of Fig. 2.2 of Schaefer 1989
Deciding Which Method to Use
Available Resources
Access to Subjects
Purpose of Research
Researcher’s Background and Training
Deciding Which Method to Use
Quantitative Research Methods
Emphasis on Precise Measurement
Uses Statistics and Numbers
Qualitative Research Methods
Emphasis on Observing, Describing, and
Interpreting Behavior
Ethics in Social Research
Openness, Honesty, and Truthfulness
Forbids Falsifying Results
Condemns Plagiarism
Informed Consent
Subjects’ Anonymity
Subjects: The Brajuha Research
Misleading Subjects: The Humphreys Research
Research Methods: Survey
Choose Population
Select a Sample
 Random Sample
 Stratified Random Sample
Choose Neutral Questions
Two Types of Surveys
Allow the Largest
Low Cost
Loss of Researcher
 More Researcher Control
 Time Consuming
 Interviewer Bias
 Structured Interviews
 Open-Ended Questions
 Establish Rapport
Research Methods: Participant Observation
Researcher Participates
Exploratory Work or Ethnography
Generates Hypotheses
Problems with Generalizability
Research Methods: Secondary Analysis
 Analyze Data Collected by Others
Researcher Cannot Be Sure of Data Quality
Research Methods: Document Analysis
 Examine
Books, Newspapers, Diaries, etc.
 Limited
 Cannot
Study Topic Unless Access is Granted
Research Methods: Unobtrusive Measures
 Observe
 Question
People Without Them Knowing
of Ethics
Research Methods: Experiments
Experimental Group – Random Assignment
Control Group – Random Assignment
Dependent Variables
Independent Variables
Control of Outside Variables
Dependent vs. Independent
► Dependent
Variable = what you are
measuring (Test Scores)
► Independent Variable = what are in control
of or what you manipulate (Big Bird)
► Measure the Dependent Variable Twice
(Pre- and Post – Test)
► How does the Independent Variable affect
the Dependent Variable?
Figure 5.2 The Experiment
Scientific Theory Building/Testing