The researcher’s essential tools were explained to include the scientific method and its “influence” on the conduct of research. The scientific method is a system for originating and developing knowledge and makes a practical and valuable contribution to science. The theme was that the “doing” of scientific research is not a series of steps; it is a way of thinking about the study of phenomena from diverse perspectives. The method of science is a process of inquiry.
The scientific method is more than a recipe—it is a mindset. Whereas method implies an algorithm for answering questions, a trained mind possesses a talent for asking them. Curiosity and suspicion characterize this scientific mindset.
Four types of argument for reasoning to sound conclusions are deduction, induction, abduction, and Toulmin’s Model of Argumentation.
Deduction is a form of reasoning that purports to be conclusive—the conclusions must necessarily follow from the reasons (premises) given. The conclusion is contained in the truth of the premises and represents a proof if the premises are true and the form of reasoning is valid (i.e., premises must be arranged in a proper form).
Induction draws a conclusion from one or more particulars (particular facts or pieces of evidence). The premises are intended to be strong enough that if they were true, it would be improbable that you would produce a false conclusion. The conclusion explains the facts and the facts support the conclusion.
Abduction is a form of logical inference in which one chooses the hypothesis that would best explain the relevant evidence if that evidence were true. Abductive reasoning begins with a set of accepted facts and infers the simplest, most probable, or best explanation. Whereas true premises and a valid form guarantee a true conclusion in deduction, inductive and abductive premises do not.
The Toulmin Model of Argumentation and reasoning was proposed as being especially useful to students of research methods because it is highly versatile in structuring the arguments in a study’s report. It involves six components that evaluate the pros and cons of an argument and the effectiveness of rebuttals. The first three follow the practice of making a claim, supporting that claim with data, and backing the data or evidence with a warrant—all are present in every argument. Three additional elements of Toulmin’s model include a backing (for the warrant), rebuttals, and qualifier(s) that may be added as necessary.
I defined, explained, and provided examples of the terms (and their variations) that researchers use every day: concepts, constructs, definitions, variables, hypotheses, and theory.