THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD OF INVESTIGATION
The scientific method (some would prefer to say scientific methods) includes a great deal. The scientist must accumulate considerable background information on the problem. Then he or she formulates a hypothesis. This is a carefully considered theoretical statement which seeks to relate all the know facts to one another in a logical manner. The hypothesis is then tested by scientific research. For example, the hypothesis that cancer is a virus disease is based upon a great deal of observation it relates known facts in a logical manner, and is now being tested through many research projects. Eventually a hypothesis is confirmed, rejected, or revised, and in this manner a science grows. There are several steps in scientific research. They are easy to list but not always easy to follow:
1 Define the problem We need a problem which is worth study and which can be studied through the methods of science.
2 Review tile literature. It would be a waste of time to repeat the errors of other research scholars. A survey of whatever research has been done on this problem is in order.
,3 Formulate the hypotheses. Develop one, or more formal propositions which can be tested.
4 Plan tire dearest design, outlining just what is to be studied, what data will be sought, an~ where’ and how they will be collected, processed, and analyzed
5 Collect till! data in accordance with the research design. Often it will be necessary to change the design to meet some unforeseen
6 Analyze the dative Classify, tabulate, and compare the data, making whatever tests and computations are necessary to help find the result
7 Draw conclusions. Was the original hypothesis confirmed or rejected? Or were the results inconclusive? What has th(s research added to our knowledge? What implications has it for sociological theory? What new questions and suggestions for further research have arisen from this investigation?
8 Rl!plicate till! study. The seven steps above complete a single research study, but research findings are confirmed by replication. When another scholar repeats the study, using a different sample, the original findings may or may’ not be confirmed. Only after several confirmations, and no dis confirmations, can a research conclusion be accepted as generally true