How to Write a Scientific Methodology
Anyone who is a student already knows the subjects “scientific research” and “scientific methodology” are always present in the curriculum of educational institutions. So, it’s very difficult for you to escape them. But unlike what most people think or spread around, they are not (and need not be) a seven-headed beast. Do you know why? Because it is possible to optimize “scientific doing” by creating and, above all, understanding concepts and processes. But a lot of people skip this step!
Of course, producing scientific articles, final year projects and preparing a master’s thesis are not tasks to be performed overnight. But once you understand the structure, that is, what will form the skeleton of your scientific research, we guarantee that it will be much easier to develop. Our commitment today is to reassure you and make scientific production more pleasurable for you. Therefore, in this article, we will teach you the basis of everything you need to know to write the methodology of scientific work.
What is Science and Scientific Knowledge?
For you to easily understand the concept of science, notice the following evolution that human intelligence has undergone. In prehistory, men could not explain the phenomena of nature and, therefore, were afraid of everything that happened around them. Over time, they began to explain these phenomena based on the beliefs and superstitions of the context in which they lived. This reflects a lot on the knowledge of “common sense” (which is marked by tradition) that continues to this day. That is, that classic grandmother’s advice to put an X plant in the belly to relieve pain, for example.
Science, on the other hand, refers to knowledge produced by man in a more rational way. Science happens from the moment man seeks to explain phenomena through ways that can be tested, verified, and proven. So, always keep in mind: for knowledge to be scientific, it needs to be tested and verified. And to be tested and verified, it is natural that scientific knowledge must go through a series of processes, right? After all, how do you know if the tests worked? It’s like taking a college or high school test. Your answers must meet certain criteria established by the teacher to be judged as correct.
What is scientific research?
In the academic world, these processes that research goes through are known as scientific methods or scientific methodologies. But take it easy… First, do you know what scientific research is?
Within science, scientific research is the set of actions taken when the objective is to find a solution to a problem. These actions are based on operational and systematic procedures. That’s why it’s so common for you to hear your professors saying that all research starts with a problem. Precisely because you need to come up with a solution for him. But this solution cannot be based on guesswork. It must be, as we talk about scientific knowledge and science… tested and proven!
Therefore, ways of analyzing scientific research emerged. You can look at it in three ways: the nature (or focus) of the research, the approach to the problem (or methodology) and the objectives.
How to theoretically classify your scientific research?
We can make both a theoretical and a practical classification of scientific research. Regarding the theoretical part, scientific research can be classified into:
1. For nature
The nature of research concerns the purpose, the contribution it will bring to science. As for nature, research can be classified as basic or applied.
It is also known as fundamental – it is the one that aims to generate knowledge for science without having a foreseen practical application. In other words, the purpose of basic research is not immediate. Basic research usually involves universal truths and values.
Applied research, on the other hand, aims to generate knowledge of practical application for specific problems. It involves local truths and interests.
2. For the objectives
Here you will rate, for example, the degree of familiarity you already have with the topic and how much depth you will go into it.
It can be exploratory, descriptive, or explanatory.
In scientific study, exploratory research is that which is in its preliminary phase and aims to gain greater familiarity with the problem.
It is developed when there is not so many data and information available on a topic, but it could be the target of future research.
Exploratory research is usually associated with bibliographic research and case study, which is the one in which the researcher collects data about specific individuals or communities. Because it is at such an early stage and there is not so much information available on the subject, exploratory research tends to require a greater effort from the researcher.
Descriptive research is one that describes a phenomenon or object of study (population, company, government, problem-situation) and establishes relationships between its variables.
In other words, it surveys and registers the characteristics of a given phenomenon, such as: the distribution by sex and age of a given group, or even electoral polls and the population’s political party preferences.
In explanatory research, standardized data collection instruments are used, such as questionnaires and systematic observation.
Explanatory research, in turn, requires a greater degree of complexity. Therefore, it is common to see it in master’s dissertations and doctoral theses.
They are centrally concerned with identifying the factors that determine or contribute to the occurrence of phenomena. It is the type of research that deepens the knowledge of reality because it explains the reason, the reason for things.
Most explanatory research is classified as experimental and ex-post facto. Obviously explanatory research is based on previous studies, such as descriptive and exploratory research.
3. Regarding the approach to the problem
It is the most suitable way to study your object. It may have quantitative, qualitative or both characteristics.
Quantitative research consists of quantifying the data collected.
Graphs, tables, arithmetic means, and percentages translated into numbers are used to analyze opinions and information obtained during the research. In other words, it is the most suitable for ascertaining the explicit opinions of the interviewees, since they use standardized instruments, such as questionnaires.
It is mostly used by the Pure Sciences.
Qualitative research, in turn, interprets and analyzes phenomena, assigning them meanings, which cannot be analyzed quantitatively. In other words, it is exploratory and subjective research, which encourages the interviewee to think and speak freely about a topic.
It requires a direct analysis between the researcher and the object of study. It is widely used in the Human Sciences.
Mixed or Quali-quantitative surveys
There is also mixed research, which make use of both quantitative and qualitative research elements.
Generally, the study is divided into two parts. At first, there is a quantitative analysis of the data and then a more subjective analysis, which would be qualitative.
How to classify your scientific research based on the technical procedures used?
In the previous section, you learned that scientific research can be classified by nature (basic or applied), objectives (exploratory, descriptive, and explanatory), and method or approach (qualitative, quantitative, or mixed).
Now, you will learn to classify it from a practical standpoint. That is, based on the technical procedures you use throughout the research lifecycle.
10 technical procedures you can use in your research
Technical procedures are classified into two groups.
In the first are those whose information comes from “paper” sources. It includes bibliographic research and documentary research.
The second group consists of data provided by people. It includes experimental research, ex-post facto, cohort study, survey, field study and case study.
In the latter, action research and participant research can also be included.
The bibliographic research is based on materials already prepared, especially books and scientific articles. Its main advantage is that it allows the investigator a wide coverage of the phenomena.
Documentary research differs from bibliographical research due to the nature of the sources. Documents are the basis of document research. These can be, for example, letters, diaries, official letters, regulations, personal correspondence, etc.
Experimental research takes place when there is a delimitation of an object of study, the selection of variables that would be able to influence it and the definition of the forms of control and observation that the variable produces in the object.
Laboratory tests are often the result of experimental research, as the researcher is in control of the entire situation.
He can simulate situations, analyze them, compare them and draw conclusions about them.
Ex-Post Fact Search
Ex-post facto means “from the past fact”. The experiment, therefore, takes place after the facts and aims to verify the existence of relationships between the variables.
In simpler words, ex-post facto research aims to understand how a past event impacts a group in the present or will impact in the future.
Unlike experimental research, however, the researcher has no control over the situation as it has already occurred.
The cohort study refers to a group of people with common characteristics that will be analyzed for a while to understand what happens between them.
This group will then constitute a sample, that is, a part of a whole.
The object – the sample – under study can be a group of people with common characteristics (example: group exposed to a certain risk factor versus group not exposed to risk factor X).
The survey has as its main feature the direct questioning with people relevant to the research.
After collecting the information, a quantitative analysis of the obtained data is carried out.
From the survey carried out with all members of a surveyed universe, a census is obtained. Surveys are widely used in descriptive research.
Although like the survey, the field study provides the researcher with a deeper analysis of the collected data.
While the survey reaches a greater number of people, the field study offers a deeper and more detailed analysis of the researched universe.
The researcher also carries out most of the research in person, in the place where the researched phenomenon takes place. Consequently, it is a procedure that requires more time.
The exploratory research modality uses the case study method a lot. It consists of a deep and exhaustive study of one or a few objects, with the following purposes:
- Explore real-life situations not yet defined.
- Preserve the unitary character of the studied object.
- Describe the situation of the context in which the investigation is being carried out.
- Formulate hypotheses and/or develop theories.
- Explain the causal variables of the phenomenon in complex situations.
In action research, researchers actively engage with the group of people with the problem to be studied and solved. This involvement takes place in a cooperative or participatory way.
Participatory research is one in which the researcher’s object of study (for example, a community) is involved in the analysis of its own reality.
It has a character of social participation and seeks to promote a social transformation for that audience.
Scientific Methods: Do you already know which one to use in your research?
Yes, research and scientific methodology are subjects full of details and information. But remember you won’t use them all in your search!
This article is a guide for you to learn how to choose the right methods and classifications to assemble the scientific methodology of your work. Let’s go to the scientific methods you can use in building your research.
What is the scientific method?
Scientific method is any strategy controlled and applied during an investigative process to reach a certain result. In other words, it is a systematic path (which must follow rules and standards) to reach a conclusion. It is an investigative technique.
Types of scientific methods
Learn about some of the scientific methods:
It is one that is based on experience. From a particular data, general conclusions are drawn about a subject. That is, part of the specific to the general.
Example: voting intention survey – based on a sample of the population, the general result is assumed.
It is the one that, from general data, conclusions about specific cases are inferred. That is, one starts from a general situation to a specific one.
It focuses on investigating past events, processes, institutions, and actions to understand their influence in the present.
The comparative method is the one that tries to analyze the similarities and differences between individuals, classes, phenomena, and facts.
The researcher creates, in the typological method, models or ideal types to study and understand complex social phenomena.