When you think of scientific research, you might think of labs filled with microscopes or computer screens running mathematical formulas. Social science research is different in some ways, but some things are the same. For example, the major aspects of the overall scientific enterprise remain the same: research, theory, data collection, and data analysis. The difference is that social scientists apply these aspects to social research, like aiming to find aggregate patterns in social life. It is important, however, not to think of social science as less scientific than other forms of scientific research. For example, social science is based on evidence-based theory, and social scientists conduct complex experimental studies. While this sounds definitive, scholars are divided on what social science research should contain and what it should not. Some scholars believe social science research should be more conservative, adhering to traditional scientific principles used in chemical or biological studies. Others believe social science should be more liberal, utilizing new, nontraditional, and innovative forms of research to advance research findings and aid human and social services practices.

In this Discussion, you consider your own definition of social science research, supported by this weeks readings, scholarly literature, and your own research. Then, you explain how social science research is used in human and social services.

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