In broader terms, the purpose of science is to gather scientific knowledge. A common question about its purpose is how scientists gather particular scientific knowledge. The scientific knowledge is gathered by passing a topic of interest from the body of laws or theories to explain a phenomenon. Furthermore, the scientific knowledge gathering requires a well-defined process commonly known as scientific methods.
Therefore, the scientific method is a standardized group of techniques that aid scientists in gathering scientific knowledge. Hence, in this article, we will first discuss the generalized objectives of scientific methods. Secondly, we will talk about the importance of scientific methods in research. In the end, we will discuss how to implement the scientific method in research.
Objectives Of Scientific Research Methodology
As described earlier, scientific method is a set of techniques typically used for gathering scientific knowledge. It provides ways to make valid observations, helps in the interpretation of data, and suggests ways to generalization of results.
In other words, it allows researchers to independently evaluate the pre-existing theories and create an open debate for modification and enhancement. In the current research, the scientific methods are the plans that suggest the tools and techniques for data analysis, interpretation and finding a solution to a particular scientific method. For further understanding, following are the five main objectives of scientific research methodology:
- Provides better insights into a topic
- Suggests better structuring guidelines
- Works for improving the quality of the research
- Finds the best possible solution to all scientific problems in a systematic way
- It helps researchers in better decision making
- Improves critical and logical thinking abilities
In boarder terms, all these objectives help researchers in logically and systematically conducting a research.
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Why is it important to use research methods
Observation, prediction and replication are necessities of research in sciences. Observation helps researchers notice all necessary information about a topic, while prediction helps generalize the results. In particular, scientific method deals with a small sample to unveil the facts, but for the well-being of the society, the generalization of results is an important aspect of research.
Prediction leads to this generalization of facts. Still, replication helps find potential flaws and bugs in the method and techniques someone used to solve a similar scientific problem. As a big picture, the research method covers all these aspects of scientific research.
It suggests tools or techniques that strengthen the observation step of research. It suggests a variety of statistical or non-statistical tools/techniques for inference and predictions about a data set. Moreover, it is also really important for those who want to replicate someone’s experiment/ research for further research. Therefore, the scientific methods are extremely helpful in targeting three fundamental aspects of research in science.
How is a scientific method implemented in research?
The implementation of scientific method in research demands researchers to follow six simple research steps. The following steps will provide insight into the essentials for the implementation of the scientific method in research:
Step # 1: Ask questions
The first step in the implementation of a scientific method in research includes asking questions. In simple words, the implementation starts when the researcher asks logical questions (Who, when, how, then, what, which, why and where) about the problem under study.
Step # 2: Do background research.
Secondly, the researcher should explore all the background information about the topic of interest. Gathering all necessary information does not mean starting from scratch. Rather, one should become prudent enough to use the internet or library sources to pick the background information relevant to the target research.
Step # 3: Establish a relationship between the variables in the form of hypotheses
Reading tons of scholarly articles suggests researcher to establish the best possible relationship between the variables. Moreover, the educated guess about the possible relationship between the variables forms hypotheses. The hypotheses help researchers accomplish a fundamental part of the research that is, the prediction.
Step # 4: Test the relationships/ hypotheses through experiments/ surveys/ interviews
Hypothesis testing is the fourth most important step in the implementation of a scientific method. Depending upon the nature of the research, hypothesis testing can be done in a variety of ways. Experiments, surveys, interviews and case studies are among a few popular ways to test the tentative relationships between the variables of a study. So it is exactly the nature of the research that suggests researcher which method of testing hypotheses will be more appropriate to achieve the research objectives.
Step # 5: Analyse and interpret the data in order to draw conclusions
Experiments, case studies, surveys, and interviews end up on the collection of data in qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods’ form. In all cases, the scientific method demands using analysis tools or techniques to wrap up the research. Qualitative data analysis requires a different set of techniques from quantitative data analysis. In the end, the data analysis provides results in the form of graphs, tables and charts.
Step # 6: Communicate the results
The graphs, charts and tables are the easiest forms of data representation to understand the scientific knowledge gathered in research. This is true for all who have a basic understanding of different scientific terminologies. But for those who are new to research, the last part of the scientific method-results, which are discussed in the discussion and conclusion sections of a research,is of paramount importance.
In general, the scientific method aims to justify four characteristics of the research process namely replication, precision, feasibility, and parsimony. Replication ensures someone else from a similar scientific community can replicate the research. Precision demands theoretical concepts related to research are defined in such a way that others can also use those definitions to test the theory.
Feasibility requires a researcher to state the theory in such a way that it can be rejected/ disproven in further studies. Those scientific theories which are not precisely defined/measured cannot be tested, hence, not considered as scientific. Parsimony in scientific methods prevents scientists from using overly-complex theories. So, to justify this aspect of research, researchers should use the simplest and most logical explanation of a fact. Consequently, all the above implementation steps must be complete under the roof of these four aims of a scientific method.