Discussion on social science research

Discussion Question 1: This Thing Called Science

Getting Started

Part of the difficulties in social science research is that there has been a good deal of debate over what even constitutes good research methodology let alone what does that research tell us.  Although the academy has largely adopted a broad perspective on what constitutes valid research, you as a researcher need to understand all the methodologies so you understand the underlying assumptions and paradigms that may exist in any researcher’s report you may read.

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Upon successful completion of the course material, you will be able to:

· Distinguish the important aspects of the three research methodologies.



· Arbnor and Bjerke: Methodology for Creating Business Knowledge 3rd Edition 


Background Information

As you begin your journey into doctoral-level research, it is important to understand your preferred research style.  This style will likely be the easiest for you to do; however, different problems require different approaches.  You can learn other approaches, but it is best to master your preferred style before you begin on other styles.

Arbnor and Bjerke discuss three methodological approaches to research and align each of these with at least two social science paradigms, for a total of six.  These six paradigms are:

· Analytic

· Reality as concrete and conformable to law, a structure that is independent of the observer

· Reality as a concrete determining process

· Systems

· Reality as mutually dependent fields of information

· Reality as a world of symbolic discourse

· Actor’s

· Reality as a social construction

· Reality as a manifestation of human intentionality



1. Review the rubric to make sure you understand the criteria for earning your grade.

2. Prepare a discussion posting of at least 500 words that answers the following questions:

a. Which of the six social science paradigms most closely matches your preferred research “style?”

b. Does your research approach “bleed” into more than one? What makes you think so?

c. Which business research methodology presented by Arbnor and Bjerke most closely matches your preferred research approach?

d. Do your research background assumptions and beliefs overlap more than one? Explain.


Discussion Question 2: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Getting Started

No matter how careful you are in your research, you will eventually discover some data that does not fit your understanding of the situation.  What do you do with it?  Thomas Kuhn tells the story of some great leaps in science that were made when some researchers were convinced that certain data errors were not errors after all.

Upon successful completion of the course material, you will be able to:

· Evaluate the historical knowledge creation process as it regards to the scientific revolution.



· Thomas Kuhn:  The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 4th edition (2012)


Background Information

The claim that the science on a particular topic is settled has been made many times in the past; scientists trained in a particular paradigm look at data and see one picture.  Data that does not fit that picture must, therefore, be data errors.

Thomas Kuhn presents a very interesting explanation of why some of the greatest leaps in science come from young scientists who see these “data errors” as the results of flaws in our theories.  The Microbe nature of disease, Theory of Relativity, and semiconductors all resulted from rejecting what science had settled and seeking answers to all the data, not just the data that fit into conventional wisdom.  As you begin to conduct your own research, Kuhn’s work can be helpful in keeping you from writing off data as erroneous and perhaps coming to new understandings of the world in which we live.



1. Review the rubric to make sure you understand the criteria for earning your grade.

2. Prepare a discussion posting of at least 500 words that answers the following questions:

a. Evaluate Kuhn’s perspective on scientific revolutions in terms of how it connects with Arbnor and Bjerke’s delineation of the research models.

b. Are the paradigms identified by Arbnor and Bjerke consistent with Kuhn’s discussion of paradigmatic advancement of knowledge?

c. Are there any issues with Kuhn’s key points in how knowledge advances?

d. What are the advantages of a “paradigmatic approach?” What are the disadvantages?

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