Research Methods Revision Notes (ALL SECTIONS)
The Features of Science:
· The term “science” is used to refer to a system of obtaining knowledge. The general truths, principles and laws are found and tested using the “scientific method” which is a systematic process designed to obtain objective information to test theories.
· The concept of “Objectivity” is central to science. It is the key feature that distinguishes scientific knowledge from other sources of information. Objective knowledge is information that can be verified by measurements and is based on “Empiricism” (the view which suggests that experience is central to the development and formation of knowledge, which is therefore central to the scientific method.)
· Objective knowledge is available to be checked and verified by other scientists due to its empiricism. This is another key feature of science – “Replicability” Scientific information is available to public scrutiny and others should be able to repeat any study and get the same information.
· Another feature of science is that it is “rational” meaning based on reason
Science and Non-science:
Characteristics that characterise scientific and non-scientific approaches:
Science is empirically based
Non-science is frequently intuitive (instinctive)
Process of collecting scientific information is systematic and controlled.
Non-scientific information is usually gathered in random and uncontrolled fashion.
Reporting of scientific information is unbiased and objective.
Can be biased and subjective in non-science.
Ideas and hypotheses can be tested
They cannot be tested in non-science.
The Scientific Process:
There are 6 stages of the scientific method which every research would have to follow in order for it to be structured and systematic. Popper developed this model which is both a model of how science should be done and a theory of how science progresses.
1. Identify a problem/or have your own theory about something that you want to prove: this can come from observations, previous research in the area or even a desire to question current theories or assumptions.
2. Develop a hypothesis – this should be predictive and crucially testable. One-tailed/two-tailed? Think about null hypothesis. This hypothesis will be dependent on your theoretical approach.
3. Devise a study to test the hypothesis – meaning decide on your sample and also research designs (Independent groups, repeated, matched pairs etc)
4. Analyse and evaluate results - this is to determine whether or not they support the hypothesis or not. Prefers date to be quantitative and empirical data.
5. Modify and repeat the process if needed.
6. Form conclusions/theories – have they proven their hypothesis?
Popper (1959) pointed out that it is easy to find evidence for a theory and it is possible to devise a test after tests which all support it. However no amount of evidence can ever “prove” the theory is right. In contrast it only takes one piece of evidence to disprove a theory. This is Popper’s key idea behind an alternatives to the traditional…