Scientific Research

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Scientific Research


the process of developing new scientific knowledge, one of the types of cognitive activity. Scientific research is characterized by objectivity, reproducibility, de-monstrability, and exactness (the latter being understood in different ways in different fields of science). There are two interrelated levels of scientific research: empirical and theoretical. On the first level, new facts of science are established and empirical laws are formulated by generalizing on these facts. On the second level, laws general for the particular field are formulated to permit explanation of previously discovered facts and empirical patterns and also to predict future events and facts.

The main components of scientific research are the statement of the problem; preliminary analysis of available information, conditions, and methods for solving problems of the given class; formulation of a working hypothesis; theoretical analysis of the hypothesis; planning and organization of an experiment; conduct of the experiment; analysis and generalization of results obtained; checking of the working hypothesis on the basis of the facts obtained; final formulation of new facts and laws; and development of explanations or scientific predictions. A further stage is added for applied science: introduction of the knowledge gained into production. The structure of scientific research is determined by various combinations of the stages listed, which may be carried out in various orders and with certain repetitions and modifications. In a number of cases, various stages may be absent (for example, when experimentally verifying previously advanced hypotheses).

Inasmuch as the results of scientific research should not repeat previously discovered facts and laws, the process of scientific research should be viewed as a function of the goal and the time available. Of two research processes relating to the same set of objects and solving the same task, that process is more effective which, other conditions being equal, leads to the intended goal in the shorter time.

Scientific research can be classified according to various principles. Among the most widespread is the division of scientific research into fundamental and applied research, quantitative and qualitative research, and unique and complex research. The reciprocal superposition and further segmentation of these classifications provide a multistep classificational hierarchy of scientific research.

In all the developed countries of the world, modern scientific research absorbs a considerable part of the gross national product (about 3 percent in the USA and USSR). Scientific research has a profound effect on all aspects of public life, including economic and technical progress and the management of public institutions. For this reason, the problem of financing, planning, and organizing scientific research and ensuring its effectiveness is a central problem of government policy; research has begun on the organization, economics, and methodology of scientific research. The methods and practices of scientific research are used widely beyond the boundaries of science to solve many economic and social problems.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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