What is Science?
Science refers to
difficult high school or college-level courses such as physics, chemistry, and
biology meant only for the brightest students. To others, science is a craft
practiced by scientists in white coats using specialized equipment in their
laboratories. In fact, the word “science” is derived
from the Latin word "scientia" which means knowledge. To be more specefic, science refers to a systematic and organised
body of knowledge in any area of inquiry that is acquired using “the scientific
method”. Science can be grouped into two broad categories:
natural science and social science. Natural science is the science of naturally occurring
objects or phenomena, such as light, objects, matter, earth, human body. It can be further classified into physical
sciences, earth sciences, life sciences, and others.
In contrast, social science is the science of people
or collections of people, such as groups, firms, societies, or economies, and
their individual or collective behaviours. Social sciences can be classified
into disciplines such as psychology (the science of human behaviours),
sociology (the science of social groups), and economics (the science of firms,
markets, and economies).
The natural sciences are different from the social
sciences in several respects. Let me clarify that point. The natural sciences
are very precise, accurate, deterministic, and independent of the person making
the scientific observations. For instance, a scientific experiment in physics,
such as measuring the speed of sound through a certain media, should always yield the exact same results, irrespective of the
time or place of the experiment, or the person conducting the experiment. As an illustration, if we have two students undertaking
the same physics experiment obtain two different values of these physical
properties, and then it generally means that one or both of those students must
be in error. However, the same cannot be said for the social sciences, which
tend to be less accurate, deterministic, or unambiguous.
Look at the following
example: if you measure a person’s happiness using a hypothetical instrument,
you may find that the same person is more happy or less happy (or sad) on
different days and sometimes, at different times on the same day. One’s
happiness may vary depending on the news that person received that day or on
the events that happened earlier during that day.
In conclusion, in the social
sciences there is a high degree of measurement error and there is considerable
uncertainty and little agreement on social science policy decisions. As an
example, you will not find many disagreements among natural scientists on the speed of light or the speed of the earth around the sun, but you will find
numerous disagreements among social scientists on how to solve a social problem
such as reduce global terrorism or rescue an economy from a recession.
2. Exploring Research
The Oxford English Dictionary (2002) defines research
as, the systematic study of materials and sources in order to establish facts
and reach new conclusions. Now this may sound straightforward (and is often
presented that way), but in practice research is often an open-ended process
that is likely to generate as many questions as it does answers.
In fact, the methods of research, particularly in the
social and applied sciences, have evolved to become highly complex and diverse,
and having some basic knowledge is certainly a necessity.
This knowledge, however, is not in itself sufficient
to begin designing and carrying out a study. Without a doubt, you must, as
students, creatively and strategically ‘think’ your way through the process.
Research needs to be considered both a ‘thinking game’ and a ‘whole-brain’
Contrary to many research methods texts that offer
‘recipes’ for research, it is not believed that the competent researcher can
rely on any defined set of rules for selecting, designing, and carrying out
Good research is about a thinking person’s
It is a creative and strategic process that involves
constantly assessing, reassessing, and making decisions about the best possible
means for obtaining trustworthy information, carrying out appropriate analysis,
and drawing credible conclusions.
As a budding researcher, it is of crucial importance
to remember that particular research strategies are good or bad to the exact
degree that they fit with your problem statement.
The perspectives you will adopt and the methods you
will use need to be as fluid, flexible, and eclectic as is necessary to answer
the questions posed.
these are terms we tend to associate with research, while ‘Well-organised’,‘well-disciplined’,
and even ‘pedantic’ are words we associate with researchers.
Broadly speaking, it is thought thqt the best researchers
are those who manage to be creative in thinking, yet logical in structure. They
innovative, and imaginative ; or they know where they want to go,
2.Think outside the box… yet stay squarely on
3. Use their intuition … but they are able to share the logic of that intuition,
4. Be fluid and flexible … yet deliberate and
.Be inspired, imaginative,
and ingenious … in the development of methods that are realistic, practical,