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Environmental Science: Quantitative Research

Conducting Research

Even if you have written papers for English and/or communication, research for science projects is different:


  1. Primary literature has a different meaning in the sciences. Scientists refer to published articles that describe actual research as primary literature. This means that what humanities scholars call secondary sources is primary literature in the sciences.

  2. Newer is better. Most scientific information is time sensitive and always changing as knowledge grows. This means that for many fields (Geology, mathematics, and history of science are exceptions), the most current articles are the most accurate and useful.

  3. Open access means that some scholarly science journals, mainly in medical biology and in physics, are freely available on the web. Open access occurs when there is strong competition between publishers and/or government intervention.

  4. Copyright effects access. If journal articles are not freely available due to open access, they are locked down due to copyright. This means you can only find them through full text databases such as those on EBSCO SmartSearch or at libraries that have print or electronic subscriptions.
  5. Quantitative research, also called "empirical research," refers to any research based on something that can be accurately and precisely measured.  Hint: Think "Quantity = amount"

Quantitative Research Is ...

  • Considered hard science

  • Objective

  • Deductive reasoning used to synthesize data

  • Focused—concise and narrow

  • Tests theory

  • Basis of knowing—cause and effect relationships

  • Basic element of analysis—numbers and statistical analysis

  • Single reality that can be measured and generalized

Why is Research so Important?