The Scientific Method and its Applications


The “scientific method refers to a standardized set of techniques for building scientific knowledge, such as how to make valid observations, how to interpret results and to generalize results. [It] allows researchers to independently and impartially test preexisting theories and prior findings” (Bhattacherjee, 2012, p.5). It has the same objectives with research, which investigates and studies different materials and sources in the pursuit of advancing knowledge. A researcher tests his or her hypothesis by subjecting it to careful scrutiny and debate and finally comes up with a conclusion that either validates or disproves the hypothesis.

In the field of social science, research is an indispensable tool in addressing social issues and problems. Through research, a social scientist can try to find answers to questions like: What is poverty? Who are the poor? Why does poverty exist in society? How can society best address or solve the problem of poverty?

In pursuing research, the use of scientific method is required. The steps in the scientific method (Rajasekharan, 2013) are as follows:

  1. Defining the problem
  2. Reviewing the literature
  3. Forming hypothesis
  4. Collecting and analyzing data
  5. Drawing conclusions

The application of the scientific method to social science research simply involves the use of its steps or procedures to specific research interests. The stages of the research process (Garg, 2012) below can serve as a guide in pursuing research.

Stages of the Research Process 

Key Questions 

Define the research problem

  • What are the variables or the units of analysis being studied?
  • What is the time frame or period of the study?

Review the related literature 

  • What has already been written about the topic?
  • What are the research gaps?

Formulate hypothesis 

  • What are the specific parameters of the research problem?
  • What are the means of manipulating the variable and/or measuring the result of the study? 

Prepare the research design

  • Is the research going to be descriptive, exploratory, or experimental?
  • How should the sample be selected from the population? 

Collect data 

  • Will the interviews be done personally or over the phone? 
  • Who are the target participants of the survey?

Analyze data

  • What do the data reveal about the relationships of the variables being studied?
  • How do the data answer the research problem?

Interpret the results and write the report

  • What are the social implications and significance of the findings?
  • Are the sources, both primary and secondary, properly cited in the study?