Scientific Method: The term Scientific Method can be understood from the two words "Science" and "Method". The term Science has been used as an accumulation of systematic knowledge, where knowledge refers to the goal of science and systematic refers to the method that is used in reaching that goal.
a) Definition: According to Karl Pearson, scientific method is the pursuit of truth as determined by logical consideration. The idea of science is to achieve a systematic interaction of facts. Scientific methods attempts to achieve this idea by experimentation, observation, logical arguments from accepted postulates and a combination of these three in varying proportion.
A scientific method is the way in which one can test opinion, impression or guess by examining the available evidence both for and against them. It is simply pursuit of truth which is determined by logical consideration.
To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.
b) Role of Scientific Method in Research: The Scientific Method plays the following role in the conduct of organized research
i) Verifiability: The conclusion drawn in research through a scientific method is subject to verification at any time. Verifiability presupposes that the phenomenon must be capable of being observed and measured. This will bring greater accuracy to the conclusion being reached in research
ii) Generality: Scientific laws are universal in their application. So, the conclusion drawn from scientific methods should be universal i.e. it should be applicable to the whole group.
iii) Predictability: The role of scientific method is that the results to be determined in research can be predicted with sufficient accuracy. Thus predictability depends on one hand upon the phenomenon observed in the given research and on the other hand upon the application of various scientific methods.
iv) Objectivity: Objectivity is fundamental to all research as the very purpose of research is to arrive at the truth. The results of scientific method should not be affected by observer’s own views i.e. it should be unbiased by personal feelings. The main criterion of objectivity is that all people should arrive at the same conclusion about the phenomena. Eg. Coal is black but not like sentences like coal is the most useful material, as because for some other person there may be some other material which are most useful.
v) System: The scientific mode of investigation should be followed from the first step to the last step of scientific investigation, because the results arrived at by haphazard method even if true cannot be called scientific because their accuracy is purely accidental. Scientific Method helps a researcher to do his research in a systematic manner. It saves the researcher from going to non-directional path in course of his research.
According to Cohen and Manion (1994) there are five major assumptions underlying scientific method.
i) Order: There is some kind of order in the universe. So the researcher has to make an idea to determine it.
ii) External Reality
iii) Reliability: Human perceptions and intellect can be reliable despite the many ways in which it can be tricked.
iv) Parsimony: Phenomena should be explained in an economic manner.
v) Generality: There can be valid relationships between what is achieved and general situation in the world.
c) Benefits from Scientific Method: Scientific method in research ensures systematic investigation of subject. It makes possible an orderly process of investigation, the exercise of analytical thinking and a critical approach to the study and development of a subject. So it can be said that the Scientific Method helps in the systematic and orderly conduct of research. It helps to arrive at truth without any kind of fallacy in the process of deduction of truth while conducting the research.
d) Limitation of Scientific Methods in Research: Scientific method is never complete. At every stage there are some basic principles which remain unexplained. Further, scientific method involves abstraction. Again, science has a limited scope. Each science is concerned with a particular area and is based on certain assumptions.