Basic Concepts in the Methodology of the Social Sciences by Johann Mouton, H. C. Marais

By Johann Mouton, H. C. Marais

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Our primary aim in the chapters in which we discuss issues of research design, is to indicate what is meant by rational decision making in the research process. In accordance with the epistemological position adopted in this book (see Chapter 1), this aim is to indicate how the researcher, by employing procedures of rational decision making, may increase the likelihood of generating valid research findings. One of our central presuppositions is that, because scientific research is a human endeavour, it is necessarily fallible.

Za Because the choice of a research topic is, by definition, not in the hands of the researchers in the case of contract research, they have a greater responsibility to ensure that the formulation of the problem is as objective and critical as possible. It is entirely unacceptable that contract research should be regarded as implying that the organization requesting the research determines the direction thereof, and the manner in which data are collected and analyzed at the stage of entering into the contract.

Both of them have articulated models of scientific research in which the social nature of science is taken as point of departure. Both Kuhn and Radnitzky, for instance, emphasize that scientists always do their research within larger networks or communities of scientists which affect the nature of research in various ways. Kuhn’s views are discussed in detail in Chapter 6, while many of the central notions of Radnitzky’s model are incorporated in the model which is outlined in this section. However, because both Kuhn and Radnitzki developed their models primarily for the natural sciences, it will be necessary to modify them somewhat to make them applicable to the social sciences Following Radnitzky, the model can be described as a systems theoretical model.

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