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A Guide to Understanding Social Science Research for Natural Scientists

A Guide to Understanding Social Science Research for Natural Scientists Natural scientists are increasingly interested in social research because they recognize that conservation problems are commonly social problems. Interpreting social research, however, requires at least a basic understanding of the philosophical principles and theoretical assumptions of the discipline, which are embedded in the design of social research. Natural scientists who engage in social science but are unfamiliar with these principles and assumptions can misinterpret their results. We developed a guide to assist natural scientists in understanding the philosophical basis of social science to support the meaningful interpretation of social research outcomes. The 3 fundamental elements of research are ontology, what exists in the human world that researchers can acquire knowledge about; epistemology, how knowledge is created; and philosophical perspective, the philosophical orientation of the researcher that guides her or his action. Many elements of the guide also apply to the natural sciences. Natural scientists can use the guide to assist them in interpreting social science research to determine how the ontological position of the researcher can influence the nature of the research; how the epistemological position can be used to support the legitimacy of different types of knowledge; and how philosophical perspective can shape the researcher's choice of methods and affect interpretation, communication, and application of results. The use of this guide can also support and promote the effective integration of the natural and social sciences to generate more insightful and relevant conservation research outcomes. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Conservation Biology Wiley

A Guide to Understanding Social Science Research for Natural Scientists

Conservation Biology , Volume 28 (5) – Oct 1, 2014

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References (88)

Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
"© 2014, Society for Conservation Biology"
ISSN
0888-8892
eISSN
1523-1739
DOI
10.1111/cobi.12326
pmid
24962114
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Natural scientists are increasingly interested in social research because they recognize that conservation problems are commonly social problems. Interpreting social research, however, requires at least a basic understanding of the philosophical principles and theoretical assumptions of the discipline, which are embedded in the design of social research. Natural scientists who engage in social science but are unfamiliar with these principles and assumptions can misinterpret their results. We developed a guide to assist natural scientists in understanding the philosophical basis of social science to support the meaningful interpretation of social research outcomes. The 3 fundamental elements of research are ontology, what exists in the human world that researchers can acquire knowledge about; epistemology, how knowledge is created; and philosophical perspective, the philosophical orientation of the researcher that guides her or his action. Many elements of the guide also apply to the natural sciences. Natural scientists can use the guide to assist them in interpreting social science research to determine how the ontological position of the researcher can influence the nature of the research; how the epistemological position can be used to support the legitimacy of different types of knowledge; and how philosophical perspective can shape the researcher's choice of methods and affect interpretation, communication, and application of results. The use of this guide can also support and promote the effective integration of the natural and social sciences to generate more insightful and relevant conservation research outcomes.

Journal

Conservation BiologyWiley

Published: Oct 1, 2014

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