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What is research?

Thinking like a researcher

What is a research?
Your answers:
To understand natural and social
reality is through:
Experience: through observation
Reasoning: deductive, inductive, inductive-
deductive thinking
Research: systematic & controlled, empirical
(using experience for validation) and self-
Cohen et al. (2007, pp.5-7)
Ary et al. (2010) Chapter 1.
How are natural and social reality
Natural Social

Experience Precise, accurate, less accurate, or

Given out there unambiguous
Created by ones own
Reasoning Deductive, inductive, Mostly inductive

Research Scientific & positivist Naturalistic, interpretive,

methodologies phenomenological,
ethnographic, critical
A scientific research
(1) contributes to a body of science,
(2) follows the scientific method
(Bhattacherjee, 2012, p.5)
The goal of scientific research is to discover laws
and postulate theories that can explain natural
or social phenomena, or in other words, build
scientific knowledge. It is important to
understand that this knowledge may be
imperfect or sometimes quite far from the
truth. Sometimes, there may not be a single
universal truth, but rather an equilibrium of
multiple truths.
(Bhattacherjee, 2012, p.6)
Ary et al. (2010, p.8)
The scientific approach is generally described as a
method of acquiring knowledge in which
investigators move inductively from their
observations to hypotheses and then deductively
from the hypotheses to the logical implications of
the hypotheses. They deduce the consequences that
would follow if a hypothesized relationship were
valid. If the deduced implications are compatible
with the organized body of accepted knowledge,
researchers then further test them by gathering
empirical data. On the basis of the evidence, they
accept or reject the hypotheses.
Scientific knowledge : a generalized body
of laws and theories to explain a
phenomenon or behavior of interest that
are acquired using the scientific
Laws: observed patterns of phenomena
or behaviors
Theories: systematic explanations of the
underlying phenomenon or behavior.
(Bhattacherjee, 2012, p.6)
For instance, in physics, the Newtonian Laws of
Motion describe what may happen if an object is
in a state of rest or motion (Newtons First Law),
what force is needed to move a stationary object
or stop a moving object (Newtons Second Law),
and what may happen when two objects collide
(Newtons Third Law). Collectively, the three
laws constitute the basis of classical
mechanics a theory of moving objects.
(Bhattacherjee, 2012, p.6)
Theories in social sciences:
cognitive dissonance theory in psychology
explains how people may react when their
observations of an event is inconsistent with
their previous perceptions of that event,
general deterrence theory explains why some
people engage in improper or criminal
behaviors, such as downloading music from
illegal web sites or committing software piracy,
the theory of planned behavior explains how
people make conscious reasoned choices in their
everyday lives. (Bhattacherjee, 2012, p.6)
We arrive at scientific laws or theories through a
process of logic and evidence.
Logic (theory) and evidence (observations):
two pillars of scientific knowledge.
Theories and observations are interrelated
and cannot exist without each other.
Theories provide meaning and significance to
what we observe, and observations help
validate or refine existing theory or construct
new theory.
(Bhattacherjee, 2012, p.6)
How will you start your research?
Consider your:
Ontology: the essence of natural/social reality
Epistemology: nature and forms of knowledge
Methodology: human nature and, in particular,
the relationship between human beings and
their environment
Further reading
Bhattacherjee, A. (2012). Social science research:
Principles, methods, and practice, Open Access
Textbooks, Book 3. Florida: University of South
Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2007).
Research methods in education (6th eds). London:
Mackenzie, N., & Knipe, S. (2006). Research
dilemmas: Paradigms, methods and methodology.
Issues In Educational Research, 16.