Scientific Method Matrix

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Scientific Method Matrix

Research is a primary component of sociology. Valid and relevant sociological research is dependent upon a commitment to applying the scientific method in a systematic and organized way in order to ensure maximum objectivity and consistency in research. Complete the following matrix based on a social problem of your choice. The matrix will serve as a guide for creating a preliminary plan for the basic steps of the scientific method.

Scientific Method Matrix

Social problem

Identify a social problem of your choice.

Problem definition

A problem statement is often written as a research question. Limit the problem statement to one sentence. 

Example: Is going to college worth the time and money?

Operational definition

Develop operational definitions for two abstract concepts in the problem statement that you believe are measurable and subject to change under different conditions. Create the operational definitions so another researcher can understand and assess your definition of the abstract concepts. Limit your definitions to one sentence each.

Example: For purposes of this study, schooling is defined as the ­­­­number of completed grade levels in public education institutions. For purposes of this study, pay off is defined as an increase in incomelevel.

Literature review

Conduct a short literature review of one peer-reviewed article pertaining to the chosen social problem. Include an APA citation of the article.

Speculative hypothesis

Formulate a speculative hypothesis statement about the relationship between the operationally defined variables. Suggest how one variable is expected to influence the other. The hypothesis must clearly identify which variable you believe will predict or cause a change in the other—this is the independent variable—and which variable’s actions or change will be dependent on change in the other—this is the dependent variable.

Independent variable

Identify the independent variable (IV), which is the variable that you hypothesize will cause or influence the other variable.

Dependent variable

Identify the dependent variable (DV), which is the variable that you hypothesize will change due to the influence or presence of the independent variable.


Write the hypothesis in the form of an if–then statement.

Example: If the grade level of schooling is related to the level of income, then a change in the grade levels of schooling (IV) will affect a change in the level of income (DV).

Major research design

Identify the major research design—including the interview survey, questionnaire survey, observation, experiment, and existing sources—you would use to collect and analyze your research data and information. Explain why you believe this is the best research design for your research problem.


Suggest a preliminary conclusion to the problem based on the author or researcher’s information or results in the one literature review article. Limit the conclusion to one paragraph.

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