The chapter covering the topics of Science and Scientific Research by Anol Bhattacherjee, begin with the question of “What is research?”, Bhattacherjee breaks the chapter into hierarchical topics starting with a basic understanding and definition of science to begin answering that question. He further goes into more depth covering fundamental aspects of scientific knowledge, scientific research, scientific method, the types of scientific research, and the history of scientific thought. In review of Bhattacherjee’s work, he thoroughly explained each section while providing relevant subject matter that related the topic to more easily understood concepts and not just in technical terms. This review will summarize the most relevant basic concepts that Bhattacherjee explained throughout the chapter.
Bhattacherjee begins by defining science into two broad categories, natural science and social science, with natural science being the science of naturally occurring objects or phenomena, and social science being the science of people or collections of people and their individual collective behavior. Natural science can be described in more defined categories like, physical sciences like physics or chemistry, earth sciences like geology, and life sciences like biology. Social science involves “the science of people or collections… of people and their individual or collective behavior.” These can be defined into sub-classes such as psychology, sociology and economics.
These two sciences differ in multiple aspects, with natural sciences being independent of the person conducting the study by utilizing precise, accurate and deterministic means of measurement. Experiments in fields concerning natural sciences are expected to have repeatable, exact results regardless of who is conducting the experiment. Social sciences on the other hand are more loosely measured as the means of measurement can be ambiguous, this can often lead to varying results based upon the researcher and their bias or measurement methods in an experiment.
Bhattacherjee also states that “Sciences can also be classified based on their purpose.” with pure sciences or basic sciences covering “most basic objects and forces, relationships between them, and laws governing them.” These would often cover subjects such as mathematics, biology and physics. Sciences that apply scientific knowledge from basic sciences in a physical environment are called practical sciences or applied sciences. The laws of physics and chemistry can be seen in the applied science of engineering and the laws of biology can be seen in the applied science of medicine. Applied sciences rely on basic sciences to progress, and while not self-supportive, universities study both applied and basic sciences, and the industry tends to focus on applied sciences due to their practicality. As Bhattacherjee states, “both applied and basic sciences are required for human development.”
Scientific Knowledge Bhattacherjee explains that scientific knowledge is created by science, and that scientific knowledge is a collection of laws, which are “observed patterns of phenomena or behaviors”, and theories, the” systematic explanations of the underlying phenomenon or behavior.” Bhattacherjee gives an example of laws of physics, the Newtonian Laws of Motion, “what may happen if an object is in a state of rest or motion (Newton’s First Law), what force is needed to move a stationary object or stop a moving object (Newton’s Second Law), and what may happen when two objects collide (Newton’s Third Law). Combined these three laws are the base of “classical mechanics – a theory of moving objects.” Scientific knowledge is built upon two principles that of logic (theory) and evidence (observations) and through the processing of logic and evidence scientific laws are developed.
Scientific Research Scientific research operates at a theoretical level and an empirical level.