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Research Methods for Science

Michael P. Marder
Cambridge University Press, 27 Jan 2011
A unique introduction to the design, analysis, and presentation of scientific projects,
this is an essential textbook for undergraduate majors in science and mathematics.
The textbook gives an overview of the main methods used in scientific research,
including hypothesis testing, the measurement of functional relationships, and
observational research. It describes important features of experimental design, such
as the control of errors, instrument calibration, data analysis, laboratory safety, and
the treatment of human subjects. Important concepts in statistics are discussed,
focusing on standard error, the meaning of p values, and use of elementary
statistical tests. The textbook introduces some of the main ideas in mathematical
modeling, including order-of-magnitude analysis, function fitting, Fourier transforms,
recursion relations, and difference approximations to differential equations. It also
provides guidelines on accessing scientific literature, and preparing scientific papers
and presentations. An extensive instructor's manual containing sample lessons and
student papers is available at


Rather.There are many types of research methods. they follow the scientific method closely. The process begins with a basic observation and description of a phenomenon. These methods are particularly useful for 2 . qualitative methods are not based on a prediction between two variables. Research methods in science are based on what is known as the scientific method. Researchers then put forth a hypothesis. Researchers then conduct specific types of experiments meant to prove or disprove this prediction. researchers can reduce mistakes based on their own biases or prejudices. of what will happen or what the outcome of certain phenomena will be. Quantitative methods are concerned with conducting experiments in the interest of investigating a specific hypothesis. The scientific method is the basic process that all researchers follow when exploring a specific topic. Qualitative Methods Unlike quantitative methods. Quantitative Methods Quantitative research methods vary. which states how two things are related. The Scientific Method All research methods are based on the scientific method. By using these specific methods. These methods are important since an individual's beliefs can influence how she interprets certain phenomena. Observations lead researchers to have questions about why certain phenomena occur. A hypothesis is a prediction about a phenomenon. however. Experiments look at the relationships between these variables with the goal of discovering what the cause of the phenomena is. qualitative methods are used to openly explore a specific topic. Different methods are used depending on the type of research being pursued. These are referred to as the independent and dependent variables. The scientific method has four primary components. or prediction.

such as running an experiment with more exploratory methods. for instance.looking at topics about which not much is known and for understanding subjective information.html Read more : http://www. These types of designs use both a traditional scientific Although these designs can be costly and burdensome to the researcher. Considerations  Although many studies use just one method of investigation. such as a case study. 3 . there are many ways to combine methods. participant observation. the experiences of individuals. a mixed methods design is a way to combine qualitative and quantitative research methods to understand a phenomenon more thoroughly. For survey research and interviews are all methods of qualitative research.html Read more : http://www. Read more : http://www. Case studies.ehow.ehow. they also can create a solid study by incorporating the strengths in both Introduction to the Scientific Method Overview of the Scientific Method The scientific method is a set of techniques used by the scientific community to investigate natural phenomena by providing an objective framework in which to make scientific inquiry and analyze the data to reach a conclusion about that inquiry.

then ask a specific question to focus your inquiry. 2. 4. The scientific method is not a recipe. Key Elements of the Scientific Method The goal of the scientific method is to get results that accurately represent the physical processes taking place in the phenomenon. it must be rejected or modified and re-tested. and creativity. but the following are a good general guideline for how the scientific method is often applied. there is a collection of strategies that have proven effective in answering our questions about how things in nature really work. Analyze the data – use proper mathematical analysis to see if the results of the experiment support or refute the hypothesis. As expressed by Shawn Lawrence Otto in Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America : There is no one "scientific method". It is also common for the results of the experiment to provide an opportunity for more questions about the same phenomenon or related phenomena. Test the hypothesis – plan and carry out a procedure for testing the hypothesis (an experiment) by gathering data. the results of the experiment are compiled in the form of a lab report (for typical classroom work) or a paper (in the case of publishable academic research). Depending on the source. including by studying the previous studies of others in the area. or be repeated as the experiment is refined. Frequently. formulate a hypothesis about a cause or effect of the phenomenon. the exact steps will be described somewhat differently. although the exact number and nature of the steps varies depending upon the source. Research the topic – this step involves learning as much about the phenomenon as you can. rather. but this is the most general and intuitive sequence. If the data does not support the hypothesis. which begins the process of inquiry over again with a new question. Ask a question – determine a natural phenomenon (or group of phenomena) that you are curious about and would like to explain or learn more about. but rather an ongoing cycle that is meant to be applied with intelligence. Frequently. in a different order. imagination. but the method itself is not necessarily formalized among all branches of science. 1. 5. It is most generally expressed as a series of discrete steps.Steps of the Scientific Method The goals of the scientific method are uniform. it emphasizes a number of traits to insure that the results it gets are valid to the natural world. Formulate a hypothesis – using the knowledge you have gained. 4 . To that end. some of these steps will take place simultaneously. or the relationship of the phenomenon to some other phenomenon. 3.

 falsifiable – the hypothesis should be something which can be proven incorrect by observable data within the experiment. even in rare cases where the hypothesis is that one of the broader laws is incorrect or incomplete. When doing your own work in physics. the hypothesis should be composed to challenge only one such law at a time.)  reproducible – the test should be able to be reproduced by other observers with trials that extend indefinitely into the future. currently known scientific laws. as stated in Occam's Razor. objective – the scientific method intends to remove personal and cultural biases by focusing on objective testing procedures. it is useful to reflect regularly on the ways in which that work exemplifies the principles of the scientific method. (This aspect was most prominently illuminated by the philosopher of science Karl Popper.  consistent – the laws of reasoning should be used to make hypotheses that are consistent with broader. Conclusion Hopefully this introduction to the scientific method has provided you with an idea of the significant effort that scientists go to in order to make sure their work is free from bias. and unnecessary complications. 5 . or else the experiment is not useful in supporting the hypothesis.  observable – the hypothesis presented should allow for experiments with observable and measurable results.  pertinent – all steps of the process should be focused on describing and explaining observed phenomena. It is useful to keep these traits in mind when developing a hypothesis and testing procedure .  parsimonious – only a limited number of assumptions and hypothetical entities should be proposed in a given theory. inconsistencies. as well as the paramount feat of creating a theoretical structure that accurately describes the natural world.