There has long been an ongoing argument: Is social science scientific? Which approach is better in conducting natural sciences and social sciences? It is believed that 'hypothetico-deductive' approach may be applicable to the natural sciences while it does not relate well to the social sciences. By analyzing research from different levels, this essay presents a judgment that social sciences are sciences. First of all, the concept of research and science are given. Secondly, by accepting that social sciences are different from natural sciences, the features that identify social sciences from natural sciences are summarized. There are many choices of approaches to conduct research. In the level of philosophy, research approaches could go to inductive approach and deductive approach. Qualitative research and quantitative research distinguish each other methodologically. In this essay, the different approaches are compared and contrasted after a concise interpretation of these concepts. And finally, the question better approach to research in natural sciences and social sciences is considered.
Research is defined by Join and Keith as seeking through methodical process to add one's knowledge and, hopefully to others by the discovery of nontrivial and insight (Join and Keith, 1996). Williams defined science as the ensemble of knowledge and practices that best reflect and operationalize a critical attitude to the discovery of the world at that moment in time (Williams, 2000 p.26). Basically, sciences can be divided into social sciences and natural sciences. Social sciences study human being and their behavior, while natural sciences study physical world.
The presupposition that natural science is the benchmark of research, in some degree, accounts for why most people associate the word 'research' with activities that are substantially removed from daily life and which usually take place in a laboratory. And accordingly arises the doubt whether social science is science.
A good deal of overlap and unavoidable duplication will be encountered if any attempt is made to review social sciences and natural sciences systematically (McErlean, 2000). Yet there are still some typical features in which social sciences are different from nature sciences. Historically and perhaps intuitively, the "natural" and the "social" sciences have been identified by distinct subject matters: Natural science is a branch of science which deals with the physical world (Pearsall, 1999 P.950), while social science is the scientific study of human society and social relationships (Pearsall, 1999 p.1362). Invariability of observations is different in two kinds of sciences. The difference lies probably in the number of relevant factors that must be taken into account for explaining or predicting events in the real world(McErlean, 2000). It is agreed that verification is not easy to come by in the social sciences, while it is the chief business in the natural sciences. Measurability of phenomena, whereas physics is clearly ahead of all other disciplines. Natural sciences have got constancy of numerical relationship which social sciences has not got. The social sciences deal so close to a man's own everyday experience that they do not accord the respect as natural sciences. The field of natural sciences needs higher standards of admission and requirements than the social sciences. On this score, the natural sciences are better than the social sciences (McErlean, 2000). Since social sciences differ from natural sciences in many ways, should different approaches be chosen when conducing social science research and natural sciences? This is another baffling question. Now we will turn to the discussion of deduction and induction.
Philosophically the approaches are focused on the consideration of induction and deduction, as well as the relationship between approaches and sciences. Deduction entails the development of a conceptual...