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Fundamentals of Research
October 31, 2011
Fundamentals of Research
Research plays a vital role in the human services field. Utilizing research methods (such as the scientific method) assists human services professionals in making numerous informed decisions daily. This paper will provide a detailed description of the scientific method and the fundamentals of research by first defining the term ‘scientific method’ as well as by providing an explanation of how it relates to human services research. ...view middle of the document...
The scientific method consists of the following steps: the formulation of a problem/issue, making a proposed prediction (hypothesis) intended to resolve the problem/issue, conducting observations experiments to gather relevant data, hypothesis testing that interprets and analyzes the data collected to determine if the prediction made was supported, and the formulation of a conclusion(s) (Creswell 2008). In the human services field research is consistently needed to evaluate the effectiveness of the services and programs provided. The scientific method can prove to be an invaluable tool for conducting human services-related research.
An example of the manner in which the scientific method can be used in the human services field is as follows: An agency that provides free meals to the homeless is no longer able to meet the demand of food needed because of an increase in the areas homeless population. The initial step is to determine the problem, which in this example is the agency’s inability to provide food to the rising number of homeless clients. The hypothesis developed by the agency to resolve the problem is to reduce the large portion size provided to each homeless client so more food will be available to feed the additional clients. After configuring the hypothesis the human services agency then conducts observations and experiments (e.g. slightly reducing portion sizes on a daily basis and then determining how many more clients were able to be served, etc.), collects data accordingly, tests the hypothesis, and lastly formulates a conclusion about whether or not the decreased portion size assisted in meeting the increased client demand.
The Steps Associated with Scientific Inquiry
There are numerous steps associated with the scientific inquiry process. These steps include the following: defining a problem/issue, generating questions, conducting background research on the problem/issue, specifying the reason for the research (developing a hypothesis), data collection, analyze the data collected, reflect on the findings obtained, and the communication of the results obtained (Creswell 2008). Each step of the scientific inquiry process (also known as a process of discovery) must be included to support the scientific method (Creswell 2008). If each step is not followed correctly, it can result in inaccurate results. Likewise, following each step reduces the possibility of errors and bias on behalf of the individual conducting the research (Creswell 2008).
A human services research example of the scientific method that identifies each of the steps involved in the process of scientific inquiry is as follows: A human services organization is seeking a way to reduce the number of crimes being committed by juveniles in a community where gangs and crime are prominent. Step one – How to reduce the number of crimes being committed by juveniles. Step two – Background research in relation to the number of crimes committed by...