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Research and Inquiry – one and the same

Research and inquiry each begin with a question for which one seeks a reasonable and verifiable answer. Following the formulation of a concise question, one then obtains as much available information related to that question. The term “research” is often conflated with the “scientific method” leading some to conclude that certain disciplines do not conduct “research” in the scientifically valid sense.

The Office of Undergraduate Research and Inquiry acknowledges all forms of research from all disciplines from natural and health sciences to social sciences and, of course, the humanities. While the methods used in these disciplines might differ to the point where terms such as “hard” or “soft” science are used to describe these differences, the purposes and outcomes of inquiries remain the same – a question is posed, methods are employed and answers are obtained.

Consider the following distinction between the utilization of the scientific method and inquiries not utilizing these methods, noting the words in italics, which express the similarities across methodologies:

Scientific Method

Hypothesis regarding possible outcomes to a problem or question → Test the hypothesis by collecting data using methods appropriate for that discipline and apply appropriate computation for the analysis→ Draw conclusion about (reject or fail to reject) hypothesis based on statistics.

Research Inquiries Not Utilizing the Scientific Method

Identifying a problem or question to be solved and the possible outcomes → assessment of problem or question using methods, skills and/or techniques appropriate for that discipline → Draw conclusion about the problem based on interpretations of assessments.

There are a range of disparate disciplines extant at The University of Tampa and, therefore, all contributions of these discipline to inquiry-based experiential learning must be acknowledged.