Health Services Research Methods 3rd Edition by Leiyu Shi – Answer Key
- What are the major characteristics of scientific inquiry?
The primary purpose of scientific inquiry is to create knowledge that clarifies a particular aspect of the world. The key assumption of scientific inquiry is that reality is not completely random or chaotic, but, rather, demonstrates logical patterns of regularity. This assumption, called positivism, helped build the two pillars of scientific inquiry: scientific theory and empiricism. A scientific theory is a framework for understanding and explaining patterns of regularity in the real world, and empiricism is the approach used in scientific inquiry to discover these patterns. It also requires that data be observable under specifiable conditions. Since empirical evidence may be influenced by researchers’ perspectives, researchers must maintain objectivity in their observations, free from the bias of personal feelings, conjectures, or preferences. Researchers should also uphold ethical standards in research.
- What is the purpose of scientific theory?
Scientific theories are used to derive research hypotheses, plan research, make observations, and explain generalizations and patterns of regularity. They provide a systematic explanation and make predictions for a particular phenomenon.
- What is the relationship between theory and research?
Theory provides guidance for research. Research, in turn, verifies, modifies, or reconstructs theory. This interactive process between theory and research contributes to the enrichment and development of scientific theories.
- Can research be free of values? Why or why not?
Scientific inquiry cannot settle debates on values, but it can be influenced by them. Personal values and beliefs frequently influence the process of research. The challenge for scientists, particularly in the social sciences, is to maintain objectivity and openness as much as possible in their scientific inquiry.
In research, personal values may compromise the validity of the research inquiry and make the findings biased. The problem with value judgments in research is that not only are they essentially untestable, they may also make a researcher prejudiced in undertaking research. Although it can be difficult, researchers should strive to set aside personal values and conduct value-free or value-neutral research in order to minimize bias in their findings.
Even though researchers must hold back their personal values while conducting research, they are likely to be influenced by their scientific disciplines or paradigms. Different paradigms tend to espouse different values. They affect the types and scope of problems to be studied, the methods used, and the approaches to interpreting the findings. Biases may influence which problems are selected for study and which research strategies are preferred. Since it is difficult to think beyond one’s established paradigm and to suppress one’s professional values, it is important that researchers state their professional values explicitly, so that their audience may consider the scope and limitations of the research in the context of other paradigms.