The scientific method of acquiring information is a process that involves experimentation in order to investigate observations and answer certain questions that are of interest to the researcher. Scientific method is normally used by scientists to identify causal relationships in the natural world. The difference between the Scientific method and other methods of acquiring information is that the scientific method involves well defined steps. The first step is asking a question then conducting a background research. The researcher can then construct a null and alternate hypothesis. The hypothesis constructed is tested by performing an experiment. The researcher analyses data obtained from the experiment and then draws conclusions based on the experiment. The last step is communicating the results.
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There are three ways of determining if a method is scientific. That is; control, replication and operationalism. Control refers to eliminating the effect of extraneous variables or holding them constant in order to determine causal relationship. The researcher performs an experiment in a controlled environment and performs the same experiment in an uncontrolled environment then determines if there is a significant difference between the results obtained. If the difference is significant, then there is a causal relationship.
Operationalism implies that each concept used in research must be defined by the operations used in measuring them. In other words, there should be empirical referents that define a given set of operations. Science method, unlike other methods of acquiring knowledge, must be precise and specific. Lastly, replication refers to the ability to reproduce results of a given study in any other studies that may be conducted in the future. Inability to replicate results means previous results were a mere chance or the relationship being tested varies across context. Ability to replicate a study results ensures consistency in the development of knowledge over time which is important in science.
Christensen, L. B., Johnson, R. B., & Turner, L. (2011). Research Methods, Design, and Analysis. New Jersey: Prentice Hall .