The scientific method is a systematic, organized series of steps that ensures maximum objectivity and consistency in researching a problem.
Step 1 – Define the problem:
Clearly state what you hope to investigate. Develop an operational definition, which is an explanation of an abstract concept that is specific enough to allow a researcher to assess the concept.
Step 2 – Review the literature:
Researchers refine the problem under study, clarify possible techniques to be used in collecting data and eliminate or reduce avoidable mistakes.
Step 3 – Formulate a testable hypothesis:
After reviewing the research and drawing on the contributions of sociological theorists, the researchers may then formulate the hypothesis. A hypothesis is a speculative statement between two or more factors known as variables. A variable is a measurable trait or characteristic that is subject to change under different conditions. One variable is called the independent variable. The other is called the dependent variable. Identifying independent and dependent variables is a critical step in clarifying cause-and-effect relationships. Casual logic involves the relationship between a condition or variable and a particular consequence, with one event leading to the other. A correlation exists when a change in one variable coincides with a change in the other. Correlations are an indication that causality may be present; they do not necessarily indicate causation.
Step 4 – Select a research design:
To determine if a hypothesis is supported or refuted, you need to collect information by using a research design. The research design guides the researcher in collecting and analyzing data. In most studies, social scientists must carefully select a sample. The one social scientists use most is the random sample.