Unit 1 – 1/27/2014
The Scientific Method
Six Steps of Scientific Method:
Step 1: Choose a topic for investigation/decide on your research question
Ex: What are college student views on binge drinking? Why are women more
likely than men to be in poverty in the United States?
In developing a research question/topic, the researcher must decide on the appropriate
Population refers to the large collection of people, households, or individuals that a
researcher intends to study.
A sample is a subset or portion of the target population that a researcher focuses on for
the duration of the study.
Ex: Binge drinking on college campuses in the U.S.
In order to study your target population, we must obtain a sample that is both random
Random meaning that every person has an equal chance in being a part of the sample.
Representative meaning that those in the sample have the same distribution of
characteristics (age, sex, ethnicity, etc.) as your target population.
Ex: How many MU undergraduates participate in recreational drug use?
Target Population: 27,000 MU undergrads
Sample: 400 undergrads (100 from each grade level)
Ex: How do single mothers and fathers manage childrearing and work?
Target Population: U.S. single mothers and fathers
Sample: 15 single mothers and 15 single fathers
Step 2: Review relevant literature/literature review.
Check for books and scholarly articles written on the topic/relevant to the research
Main reasons for reviewing literature:
In order to obtain knowledge on the subject/topic
To make sure you are not repeating what has already been said and that you have
something to add to the discussion and literature.
Step 3: Choose a research design/research method.
Your design/method will vary depending on:
Your research question and target population
Data availability 2
Step 4: Collect Data
Gather any and all information that may be useful in answering your research question
or addressing your research topic.
Data can take various forms (Newspapers, Blogs, TV or Radio Programs, Church
Bulletins, Diaries, Interviews, Sports Logos, Legislation, Cityscapes, Magazine Covers,
Step 5: Analyze Data
Look for patterns and trends in your data, along with any meaningful links between the,
organizing the data so that comparisons and conclusions can be made.
When analyzing qualitative data (interviews, observations, etc.) researchers employ the
technique of coding.
When coding data, resear