Research and the Scientific Method
For a clear perception of the term research, one should know the meaning of scientific method. The two terms, research and scientific method, are closely related. Research, as we have already stated, can be termed as “an inquiry into the nature of, the reasons for, and the consequences of any particular set of circumstances, whether these circumstances are experimentally controlled or recorded just as they occur.
Further, research implies the researcher is interested in more than particular results; he is interested in the repeatability of the results and in their extension to more complicated and general situations.” On the other hand, the philosophy common to all research methods and techniques, although they may vary considerably from one science to another, is usually given the name of scientific method.
Karl Pearson writes, “The scientific method is one and same in the branches (of science) and that method is the method of all logically trained minds … the unity of all sciences consists alone in its methods, not its material; the man who classifies facts of any kind whatever, who sees their mutual relation and describes their sequences, is applying the Scientific Method and is a man of science.” Scientific method is the pursuit of truth as determined by logical considerations.
The ideal of science is to achieve a systematic interrelation of facts. Scientific method attempts to achieve “this ideal by experimentation, observation, logical arguments from accepted postulates and a combination of these three in varying proportions.” In scientific method, logic aid sin formulating propositions explicitly and accurately so that their possible alternatives become clear .Further, logic develops the consequences of such alternatives, and when these are compared with observable phenomena, it becomes possible for the researcher or the scientist to state which alternatives most in harmony with the observed facts. All this is done through experimentation and survey investigations which constitute the integral parts of scientific method.
Experimentation is done to test hypotheses and to discover new relationships. If any, among variables. But the conclusions drawn on the basis of experimental data are generally criticized for either faulty assumptions, poorly designed experiments, badly executed experiments or faulty interpretations. As such the researcher must pay all possible attention while developing the experimental design and must state only probable inferences. The purpose of survey investigations may also be to provide scientifically gathered information to work as a basis for the researchers for their conclusions.
Basic Postulates of Scientific Method
The scientific method is, thus, based on certain basic postulates which can be stated as under:
(i) It relies on empirical evidence;
(ii) It utilizes relevant concepts;
(iii) It is committed to only objective considerations;
(iv) It presupposes ethical neutrality, i.e., it aims at nothing but making only adequate and correct statements about population objects;
(v) It results into probabilistic predictions;
(vi) Its methodology is made known to all concerned for critical scrutiny are for use in testing the conclusions through replication;
(vii) It aims at formulating most general axioms or what can be termed as scientific theories.
Thus, “the scientific method encourages a rigorous, impersonal mode of procedure dictated by the demands of logic and objective procedure.” Accordingly, scientific method implies an objective, logical and systematic method, i.e., a method free from personal bias or prejudice, a method to ascertain demonstrable qualities of a phenomenon capable of being verified, a method wherein the researcher is guided by the rules of logical reasoning, a method wherein the investigation proceeds inane orderly manner and a method that implies internal consistency.