Presentation on theme: "INTRODUCTION 1.1 Scientific Method Scientific method refers to the ideas, rules, techniques, and approaches that the scientific community uses. Research."— Presentation transcript:
INTRODUCTION 1.1 Scientific Method Scientific method refers to the ideas, rules, techniques, and approaches that the scientific community uses. Research methodology is what makes social science scientific. Scientific methods are broadly similar- weather in natural or social science. Until the early 1800s, only philosophers and religious scholars wrote about human behavior. The classical social theories argued that the rigorous, systematic observations of the social world, combined with careful, logical thinking could provide a new and valuable type of knowledge about human relations.
In modern times, the scientific method has become the accepted way to gain knowledge of the social world. e.g. high divorce rate- why? This needs a study using scientific methods. There are three basic components of scientific method (SM):- a)Use of empirical evidence The goal of SM is to facilitate independent verification of scientific observation or use empirical evidence Empirical evidence can be verified and determined reliable – repeatable under same circumstances Empirical evidence contrasted with -Heresy evidence (unorthodox view) - Hearsay evidence is what someone says they heard another say; it is not reliable because you cannot check its source.
-Testimonial evidence -Better is testimonial evidence, which, unlike hearsay evidence, is allowed in courts of law. But even testimonial evidence is notoriously unreliable, as numerous studies have shown. Courts also allow circumstantial evidence (e.g., means, motive, and opportunity), but this is obviously not reliable. -Revelatory evidence (supernatural) - Revelatory evidence or revelation is what someone says was revealed to them by some deity or supernatural power; it is not reliable because it cannot be checked by others and is not repeatable
-The most common alternative to empirical evidence, authoritarian evidence, is what authorities (people, books, billboards, television commercials, etc.) tell you to believe. Sometimes, if the authority is reliable, authoritarian evidence is reliable evidence, but many authorities are not reliable, so you must check the reliability of each authority before you accept its evidence. In the end, you must be your own authority and rely on your own powers of critical thinking to know if what you believe is reliably true.
b)Logical reasoning (Critical thinking) Logical reasoning allows determination of truth through steps different from emotional and hopeful thinking Scientists and critical thinkers always use logical reasoning. Logic allows us to reason correctly, but it is a complex topic and not easily learned; many books are devoted to explaining how to reason correctly, and we can not go into the details here. However, it must be pointed out that most individuals do not reason logically, because they have never learned how to do so. Logic is not an ability that humans are born with or one that will gradually develop and improve on its own, but is a skill or discipline that must be learned within a formal educational environment. Emotional thinking, hopeful thinking, and wishful thinking are much more common than logical thinking, because they are far easier and more congenial to human nature. Most individuals would rather believe something is true because they feel it is true, hope it is true, or wish it were true, rather than deny their emotions and accept that their beliefs are false.
Often the use of logical reasoning requires a struggle with the will, because logic sometimes forces one to deny one's emotions and face reality, and this is often painful. But remember this: emotions are not evidence, feelings are not facts, and subjective beliefs are not substantive beliefs. Every successful scientist and critical thinker spent years learning how to think logically, almost always in a formal educational context. Some people can learn logical thinking by trial and error, but this method wastes time, is inefficient, is sometimes unsuccessful, and is often painful.
The best way to learn to think logically is to study logic and reasoning in a philosophy class, take mathematics and science courses that force you to use logic, read great literature and study history, and write frequently. Reading, writing, and math are the traditional methods that young people learned to think logically (i.e. correctly), but today science is a fourth method. Perhaps the best way is to do a lot of writing that is then reviewed by someone who has critical thinking skills. Most people never learn to think logically; many illogical arguments and statements are accepted and unchallenged in modern society--often leading to results that are counterproductive to the good of society or even tragic--because so many people don't recognize them for what they are.
c)Skepticism: Possessing a Skeptical Attitude The final key idea in science and critical thinking is skepticism, the constant questioning of your beliefs and conclusions. Good scientists and critical thinkers constantly examine the evidence, arguments, and reasons for their beliefs. Scientific attitude refers to the way of looking at the world. It is an attitude that values creativity, high quality standards and hard work. Scientific attitude (SA) implies skeptical attitude: -Helps avoid self-deception and deception by others -Scientists must repeatedly examine the truth and reliability of knowledge claims by others -Test required to determine if current beliefs match objective reality as measured by empirical evidence -A skeptic holds beliefs tentatively, and is open to new evidence and rational argument
Self-deception and deception of yourself by others are two of the most common human failings. Self-deception often goes unrecognized because most people deceive themselves. The only way to escape both deception by others and the far more common trait of self-deception is to repeatedly and rigorously examine your basis for holding your beliefs. You must question the truth and reliability of both the knowledge claims of others and the knowledge you already possess. One way to do this is to test your beliefs against objective reality by predicting the consequences or logical outcomes of your beliefs and the actions that follow from your beliefs. If the logical consequences of your beliefs match objective reality--as measured by empirical evidence--you can conclude that your beliefs are reliable knowledge (that is, your beliefs have a high probability of being true).
Many people believe that skeptics are closed- minded and, once possessing reliable knowledge, resist changing their minds--but just the opposite is true. A skeptic holds beliefs tentatively, and is open to new evidence and rational arguments about those beliefs. Skeptics are undogmatic, i.e., they are willing to change their minds, but only in the face of new reliable evidence or sound reasons that compel one to do so. Skeptics have open minds, but not so open that their brains fall out: they resist believing something in the first place without adequate evidence or reason, and this attribute is worthy of emulation.
Science treats new ideas with the same skepticism: extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence to justify one's credulity. We are faced every day with fantastic, bizarre, and outrageous claims about the natural world; if we don't wish to believe every pseudoscientific allegation or claim of the paranormal, we must have some method of deciding what to believe or not, and that method is the scientific method which uses critical thinking.
To sum up, the scientific method has proven to be the most reliable and successful method of thinking in human history, and it is quite possible to use scientific thinking in other human endeavors. For this reason, critical thinking--the application of scientific thinking to all areas of study and topics of investigation--is being taught in schools throughout the United States and others, and its teaching is being encouraged as a universal ideal. You may perhaps have been exposed to critical thinking skills and exercises earlier in your education.
The important point is this: critical thinking is perhaps the most important skill a student can learn in school and college, since if you master its skills, you know how to think successfully and reach reliable conclusions, and such ability will prove valuable in any human endeavor, including the humanities, social sciences, commerce, law, journalism, and government, as well as in scholarly and scientific pursuits. Since critical thinking and scientific thinking are the same thing, only applied for different purposes, it is therefore reasonable to believe that if one learns scientific thinking in a science class, one learns, at the same time, the most important skill a student can possess--critical thinking. This is perhaps the foremost reason for college students to study science, no matter what one's eventual major, interest, or profession.
1.2 Scientific communications When the scientific community creates new knowledge, it appears in academic books or scholarly journals articles – scientific communication. -Scholarly journal articles are the means by which scientists formally communicate with one another and disseminate the results of scientific research. -Each discipline or field plenty of journals, each of which publishes many articles every year. The process of publishing a journal article often involves the following. -First a researcher completes s study -He/she writes a description of the study and the results as s research report or a paper in a special format – with abstract, introduction, literature review, methodology, results and discussion, and conclusion.
-He/she often gives an oral presentation of the paper at a meeting of a professional association (e.g. EEA) -He/she may also send a copy of the paper to a few scientists for their comments and suggestions. -Next the researcher sends revised and improved versions to editor of a scholarly journal such as the journal of American Economic Review, or the Journal of Applied of Economics, or locally EJDR, EJE, EJAE. The editor, a respected researcher, removes the name of the author and sends the paper to several referees for a blind review – do not know the author - aimed at removing bias. -The referees are scientists who have conducted research in the same area. -They evaluate the paper on the basis of its clarity, originality, and standards of good research and contribution to knowledge. -usually two outcomes: accept or reject.
1.3 Theory and Research Social theory is a system of interconnected abstraction or ideas that condenses and organizes knowledge about the social world. People are always creating new theories about how the world works. Theory encounters data in research. a) Social theory versus ideology Both theory and ideology explain many events in the world. E.g. why crime occurs? Why some people are poor? etc Social scientific theory and ideology both contain assumptions about the nature of the social world. However there are major differences between theory and ideology. An ideology is a type of quasi-theory that lacks critical features required of a scientific theory.
An ideology has fixed, strong and unquestioned assumptions. It is full of unquestioned absolutes and normative categories – What is right/wrong, normal, good/bad. The assumption may be founded in faith or rooted in particular circumstances. Ideologies are closed beliefs and value systems that change very little. Ideologies selectively present and interpret empirical evidence. It is difficult to test ideological principle or confront them with opposing evidence. On the other hand, theories are logically consistent. If a contradiction occurs researchers try to resolve it. Theories are open-ended, always growing or developing to higher levels. If theories fail to develop, they often get replaced by competing theories.
Theories often contain areas of uncertainty or incomplete knowledge and only offer partial or tentative answers. Researches constantly test theories and are skeptical toward them. b)Concept and theory Concepts are the building blocks of theory. A concept is an idea expressed as a symbol or in words. Natural science concepts are often expressed in symbolic forms or formulas. E.g. λ or s = d/t Where s = speed d= distance t= time
In social science, most concepts are expressed in words. Many concepts are created from personal experiences, creative thoughts or observations Social science concepts form a specialized language or jargon. Each discipline uses its own jargon to refer to the ideas and objectives with which it works. E.g. in economics, concepts such as utility, demand elasticity, production possibility curve, etc. are widely used. Theories contain many concepts, their definitions and assumptions. More specifically, theories specify how concepts relate to one another. Theories tell us whether or not concepts are related and if they are, how they relate to each other.
c) Theoretical frameworks Theoretical frameworks or paradigms are orientations or sweeping ways of looking at the social world. They provide collections of assumptions, concepts, and forms of explanation. Frameworks include many formal and substantive theories (e.g. consumer theory, production theory). Some frameworks are oriented more to the micro level, others focus on more macro-level phenomenon.
1.4 Types of research Basic and applied research Within the social sciences a distinction is made between pure or basic research and applied or policy- oriented research. Pure research can be described as being discipline-oriented. The aim is to develop a body of general knowledge for the understanding of human social behavior by means of a combination of empirical enquiry and the application of theory. Constructing, testing and refining theory is what basic or fundamental research is all about. In contrast, applied research is usually defined in practical and instrumental terms. It is not so much concerned with theory-building, as with providing knowledge and information that can be used to illuminate social policy by providing an insight into contemporary social issues.
The difference between basic and applied research are such that the two types are sometimes viewed as representing two separate social research paradigms. However, despite these differences, basic and applied research can never be totally separated as there exists much resemblance in research design, theory, methodology and methods and therefore there is much mutual influence. Both adhere to the fundamental principles of social scientific investigation, but differ when it comes to what may be termed the ‘ artful aspects’ of their working practices. Whereas the basic researcher is primarily concerned with developing and testing hypotheses as part of a process of constructing a body of theoretical knowledge, the applied researcher concentrates on the application of theoretical knowledge in conducting empirical research to address specific problems.
In essence then, pure or theoretical and applied research should not be seen as incompatible: they can be distinguished in terms of purpose. Basic research is primarily concerned with advancing knowledge through the formulation of testing of theory, whereas applied research is more instrumentally oriented, as displayed by its concerns with producing knowledge to inform and direct social change. Applied social research Three broad types of applied research are generally identified: descriptive, analytical and evaluation. Descriptive applied research makes extensive use of sample surveys and performs an important ‘intelligence and monitoring’ function. Social surveys provide policy- makers with a wealth of descriptive data covering demographic characteristics, economic factors and social trends. Continuous surveys provide information for those engaged in making policy decisions.
Analytical studies go beyond simple description in their attempt to model empirically the social phenomena under investigation. In this respect, these studies resemble basic research. However, the difference lies in the kinds of variable on which the analysis focuses. Applied research is defined in terms of intention and not outcome. If the intention is to provide knowledge that policy-makers will find useful, then the variables chosen for analysis will reflect the practical interests of policy-makers and not the theoretical interests of the researcher. Analytical research is problem-oriented and as a form of strategic applied research is ‘considerably wider- ranging than intelligence and monitoring. Its purpose is to illuminate a problem in such a way as to permit action to be taken to change the situation revealed.?
Evaluation research as a type of applied research is characterized by its focus on collecting data to ascertain the effects of some form of planned change. Any policy initiative or social programme is open to evaluation. The primary aim of evaluation research is to determine if a particular policy or intervention is working. The focus of study can be anything from a national policy initiative to a small-scale local programme. Quantitative and qualitative approaches There are two approaches to data collection: the qualitative and the quantitative. This may also be referred to as positivistic and interpretative.
According to the positivist tradition, there is an objective, external world that exists independently of human perception, which is amenable to quantitative measurement. The researcher acquires knowledge of this world through following a scientific mode of enquiry similar to that found in the natural process. Ultimately the aim is to develop valid and reliable ways of collecting ‘facts’ about society, which can then be statistically analyzed in order to produce explanations about how the social world operates. Qualitative research within the interpretative tradition is based on a different set of philosophical assumptions concerning the nature of reality and the role of the researcher. First, the positivist notion that there exists a single, objective reality or ‘truth’, which can be discovered by scientific investigation, is roundly rejected. According to the interpretative framework, ‘truth’ is a much more elusive concept. Individuals and groups construct their own version of reality. In short, the social world consists of multiple, subjective realities.
When the positivist and interpretative traditions are described in their pure forms they appear incompatible. The underlying philosophical assumptions are not only different, they are also mutually exclusive. However, care needs to be taken to separate the debate over two clearly distinct and opposing philosophical stances from the debate about the merits and demerits of quantitative and qualitative research methods and methodologies. Social research is essentially pluralistic: researchers often combine quantitative and qualitative research methods within the same study. Mixed-method research strategies are particularly effective in policy-oriented research and the contribution that qualitative research can make to policy evaluation is increasingly being recognized. For example, the information provided by qualitative case studies can be used to illustrate, explain and add depth to the findings of quantitative research.
Quantitative and qualitative research procedures are often viewed as providing ‘macro’ and ‘micro’ level perspectives on the social world respectively. Quantitative investigation entails adopting a numerical approach to the collection and analysis of data. In contrast, qualitative research provides a micro-level perspective based on case studies or data collected from individual and groups.
1.5 Research and policy making Social sciences make an important contribution to our understanding of a wide variety of social issues. Many of the topics investigated by social researchers are defined by policy-makers as social problems. However, just because social research has the potential to produce socially useful knowledge, and applied research is often sponsored by powerful social groups who are in a position to shape policy and bring about change, it should not be assumed that the influence of research on policy is necessarily immediate and direct. The relationship between research and policy is much more complex. Models of research utilization On a general level, a distinction can be made between two broad types of research utilization: instrumental and conceptual. The former applies when there is evidence of policy-makers acting on the findings of specific research studies when amending existing policies and launching new policy initiatives. Conceptual utilization is said to take place when research influences how policy-makers interpret a social issue or problem. In other words, research can offer an alternative way of viewing a problem and stimulate thinking about possible policy solutions. Thus, it can effectively challenge policy-makers’ taken-for-granted assumptions and provide new insights.
A number of different types of models have been advanced to try to explain the utilization of social research. The four main models worth mentioning are: the knowledge-driven model, the decision- driven or problem-solving model, the political model and the enlightenment model. The classical knowledge-driven model of research use is derived from the natural sciences. It envisages a liner progression from basic research to applied research which, given time, leads to development and, ultimately, application. The underlying assumption is that research produces knowledge that impels action. However, it is often argued that social science knowledge does not readily lend itself to conversion into replicable technologies, either material or social.
The decision-driven or problem-solving model can also be described as a liner model. However, in this case it is not the knowledge that is produced by research that promotes practical action, but it is the need to make a policy decision that drives the application of research findings. The process begins when policy-makers identify a problem about which they feel something needs to be done. Before they can decide what action to take they need to be fully informed about the nature and extent of the problem. Social research supplies the empirical evidence on which policy-makers can base their decisions. The researcher is seen as a ‘social engineer’ or socio- technician, using his technical expertise in order to generate conclusive knowledge that will inform those who are in a position to make policy choices.
The political model of research utilization does not subscribe to the problem-solving view that social research provides policy-makers with objective information that ultimately enables them to make rational decisions on a wide range of policy issues. Some policy-makers may be so committed to a policy strategy for political or ideological reasons that they are unlikely to respond to research findings that challenge their firmly entrenched beliefs. However, this does not mean that research is not used, but that it is used in a particular way. Research becomes ‘political ammunition’ for the side that finds its conclusions support a predetermined policy agenda. In other words, policy-makers may seek out and quote only those research findings that strengthen their position and challenge the counter-arguments put forward by their opponents.
According to the enlightenment model, the situation is not simply one in which the findings gleaned from either a single research study or collection of related studies have an immediate and direct effect on specific policies. Rather, the research input to policy is best described as indirect and diffuse. Thus while policy- makers’ decisions are not determined by specific research conclusions, the conceptualizations and generalizations emanating from social science can influence the way in which policy problems are defined and solutions identified. This process is referred to as one of ‘research trickle’, whereby new conceptualizations of a problem or issue ‘percolate through to both policy-makers and the general public, challenging taken-for- granted assumptions, and creating an ‘agenda for concern’. Models of policy-making The key distinction to be made here is between the rationalist and incrementalist models of policy-making. There are five key stages in the rational approach to policy formulation.
The sequence begins with the identification of a problem about which it is felt something needs to be done. Those responsible for constructing a policy response outline the goals and objectives that require attention. At the second stage, the different ways of achieving these goals are outlined and the various policy options delineated. The third phase involves estimating the likely outcome of each policy. Following this, the next stage entails comparing the predicted consequences of each strategy to the goals and objectives outlined at stage two. Finally, a decision is made about which is the best policy to solve the problem. According to this rationalist framework, the decision-making process is a linear one and social science knowledge is particularly useful at the second and third stages.
The knowledge-driven and problem-solving models of research utilization sit fairly easily within the rationalist conception of policy-making. However, the rational model has come in for a great deal of criticism. It is considered to present an unrealistic picture of how policy actually evolves. The incrementalist explanation of research input to policy firmly rejects the idea that policy decision-making follows a neat linear progression, starting with the identification of a problem and ending with its ultimate solution. Instead, it is argued that policy-making, farm from being a rational process, is characterized by a ‘disjointed incrementalism’. In this context, the input of research to policy is best described as diffused, not linear. Knowledge and insight provided by the social sciences do have an influence on policy, but in order to gauge the real nature and extent of this impact it is necessary to appreciate the fact that ‘policy is a bargained outcome of conflicts between competing groups, proceeding generally in a disjointed incremental manner from one step to another.
Policy-making does not follow a series of discrete, ordered stages; it is a cumulative, long drawn out process involving interaction between different interest groups each with their own agenda. The image of the policy-making process as diffuse and incrementalist fits with the enlightenment model of research utilization, which, as described above, emphasizes the gradual infiltration of social science concepts and research findings. Compared to the rationalist model, the incrementalist model, by acknowledging the political nature of the situation, offers a more convincing account of how policy is made. The process is interpreted as ‘interactive’, in so far as various interest groups exert power in order to influence the decision-making process in their favor. The policy that emerges from this political interaction is arrived at by a process of ‘partisan mutual adjustment.
Individual and groups use social science knowledge in a partisan fashion, in an effort to promote specific policy options that represent their primary interests. An agreed policy emerges following a process of negotiation and bargaining between the various groups. There is no deep and detailed analysis of all the major policy options, as suggested by the rational approach. The changes that are introduced tend to be relatively small-scale adjustments to previous efforts. See the paper by Robert Bates for the application to agricultural policy decisions.
1.6The ethics of social research Data collection Ethics is a matter of principled sensitivity to the rights of others. Being ethical limits the choices we can make in the pursuit of truth. Ethics say that while truth is good, respect for human dignity is better, even if, in the extreme case, the respect of human dignity leaves one ignorant of human nature. Such ethical considerations impinge upon all scientific research, but they impinge particularly sharply upon research in the human sciences, where people are studying other people.
Ethical principles governing social research (data collection) include: informed consent, respect for privacy and safeguarding the confidentiality of data. Informed consent implies that persons who are invited to participate in social research activities should be free to choose the take part or refuse, having been given the fullest information concerning the nature and purpose of the research, including any risks to which they personally would be exposed, the arrangements for maintaining the confidentiality of the data, and so on. Social researchers are not allowed to intrude into areas which are believed to be private (e.g. ownership of wealth). In modern industrial society, information is a commodity, and given the multiple social ties in which people are involved, keeping control of information about oneself and deciding what to release and to whom is often a key means by which one’s privacy is protected, and control is maintained over what others can learn about you.
A continuing concern in social research has been not just with the conditions under which data are collected, but with how they are stored and disseminated. Assurances are commonly given to those providing responses to questionnaires or interview questions that these data are needed for purposes of statistical aggregation and the individual will not be identifiable in the resulting analysis.
Integrity of Data Fabrication and falsification of research results are serious forms of misconduct. It is a primary responsibility of a researcher to avoid either a false statement or an omission that distorts the truth. In order to preserve accurate documentation of observed facts with which later reports or conclusions can be compared, every researcher has an obligation to maintain a clear and complete record of data acquired. As stated in the University of Pittsburgh 's Guidelines on Data Retention and Access, "records should include sufficient detail to permit examination for the purpose of replicating the research, responding to questions that may result from unintentional error or misinterpretation, establishing authenticity of the records, and confirming the validity of the conclusions."Guidelines on Data Retention and Access
Writing a Research Paper Plagiarism Plagiarism is the unauthorized use of someone else's thoughts or wording either by incorrect documentation, failing to cite your sources altogether, or simply by relying way too heavily on external resources. Plagiarizing does not give due credit to the party who really came up with the language and/or idea, but also fails to inform the reader that the information originated from an outside source which they might have had the option of consulting had adequate acknowledgments been provided. Plagiarizing undermines your academic integrity. It betrays your own responsibilities as a student writer, your audience, and the very research community you were entering by deciding to write a research paper in the first place.
Whether intentional or, as is more often the case, inadvertent, the result is that some or all of another author's ideas become represented as your own. It's like lip-synching to someone else's voice and accepting the applause and rewards for yourself. “It's like lip-synching to someone else's voice and accepting the applause and rewards for yourself”
Incidentally, plagiarism also includes informal published material such as the re-use of the same paper for more than one course or "buying" a paper from another student. If it feels like cheating or an easy way-out, and the moral and intellectual consequences don't sound alarm bells, stop and think of the serious punitive repercussions you could incur. Because it is intellectual theft, plagiarism is considered by all post-secondary institutions as an academic crime with punishment anywhere from an F on that particular paper to dismissal from the course to expulsion from the college or university. If that scares you, it shouldn't, because there is no reason it has to happen to you.
Use and Misuse of Data Researchers should acquaint themselves with the current relevant quantitative methods for processing data, including graphical and tabular methods of presentation, error analysis, and tests for internal consistency. Research integrity requires not only that reported conclusions are based on accurately recorded data or observations but that all relevant observations are reported. It is considered a breach of research integrity to fail to report data that contradict or merely fail to support the conclusions, including the purposeful withholding of information about confounding factors. If some data should be disregarded for a stated reason, including an approved statistical test for neglecting outliers, the reason should be stated in the published accounts. A large background of negative results must be reported. Any reckless disregard for the truth in reporting observations may be considered to be an act of research misconduct.