The purpose of scientific research is to understand the causes of things within the world; we want to know what is happening in the world around us. That understanding should mean that we have sufficient knowledge about something to be able to predict what's going to happen or determine whether or not something will happen given a certain situation or time.
In other words, the goal of science is prediction. We want to be able to understand whatever we are researching well enough that we can predict whether or not certain things will occur--typically, so that we are able to help people or change things.
EXAMPLEFor example, you might want to know when an animal might attack or if somebody will get sick, so that you can prevent it in the future.
So, research always starts with a prediction, and that prediction of what might happen as a result of the research is what is called a hypothesis, or an educated guess, about what will or will not occur within a given situation and with given variables.
However, it's important to note that there are multiple influences on things within scientific research. Nothing is actually as simple as it might seem in the world itself. Anything that can change or be measured or can affect research is what we call a variable. In scientific research, it is required that these variables are controlled, and that certain variables are kept the same so that they can be examined in more detail, because we don't want to examine everything. We want to focus on specific things so we can understand them better; hence, control of variables allows only the selected effect to be tested.
Within a scientific experiment, for instance, often there will be people that are placed in different groups, called a control group and an experimental group. A control group is a group of people that receive all of the conditions of an experiment except the variable that's being tested; in other words, they don't get the experimental factor that's being studied. The experimental group, on the other hand, would be the people that receive all of the conditions of the experiment, including the experimental condition or the variable that's being studied.
Notice the importance of controlling all of the other conditions in the experiment to make sure nothing else is causing the effects that you measure. You make sure the rooms are the same and that both groups are being given water. The only thing that you change is the pill that you want to study.
This control is done as best as possible; obviously, not everything can be controlled. However, scientific research requires us to try to do the best we can so that we can make sure that we understand the effects of that one variable.
Now, sometimes within a scientific experiment or other scientific research, it's not necessarily the variables that need to be controlled. Sometimes, it's the researcher themselves that also needs to be controlled. Researcher bias refers to when a scientist doing the research affects the research and the results, either intentionally or unintentionally.
Researcher bias can come from many sources:
Researcher bias is why certain scientific methods are reported to other scientists, and examined and repeated before they can become a theory that is widely accepted by others. It is also why it's important that scientific research is what we call repeatable; it needs to be done over and over before we accept the results as being true.
Source: THIS WORK IS ADAPTED FROM SOPHIA AUTHOR ERICK TAGGART.