The Scientific Method in the Social Sciences
All sciences, including the natural, physical and social sciences, employ the scientific method to test hypotheses and prove theories. The method's basic technique is called scientific observation, which is a precise systematic collection of data under controlled conditions by trained observers (Perry & Perry, 2003, p. 4). Scientific observation is intended to collect data under rigorously controlled conditions so scientists can determine the specific causes of specific results. Often in the social sciences researchers have trouble completely controlling the conditions in which any given experiment is conducted merely because it is hard to control people, especially if the experiment is conducted over a long period of time (Perry & Perry, 2003, p. 4). Nonetheless, the scientific method provides a means for all scientific researchers to follow similar protocols to ensure the uniformity of research processes and, therefore, some equivalence in the results.
Researchers using the scientific method begin by first selecting and defining the topic of research (Perry & Perry, 2003, p. 6). The researcher usually poses the topic in the form of a question and states whether she suspects any particular causal relationships to be revealed in the research. It is important for the researcher to state her suspicions so she can explain why she chose to include certain questions and/or variables i