Doctoral Seminar "The Logic of Scientific Inquiry"

The Logic of Scientific Inquiry

Type: Seminar

Seminar Learning Goals:

Use the logic of scientific method to:

  • Discover and describe phenomena
  • Develop models to predict and explain phenomena
  • Test the degree to which the predictions of the models are consistent with reality
  • Use the models to increase the likelihood that people will survive and thrive

Target group:

  • Doctoral students who seek to integrate the research methods they learn into a coherent understanding of science
  • Faculty interested in discovering useful relationships among the research methods they know well and use effectively
  • Scholars from any discipline where causal understandings of phenomena would be useful.  A phenomenon is the value of a property of an entity in the physical universe whose values are observed to vary across time and conditions.   Most examples in the seminar will relate to Information Systems, but the logic is as useful to researchers in any of the physical and social sciences.   
  • The seminar is also useful to researchers in technology domains, such as computer science and engineering.  It is valuable, for example for discovering and describing important classes of unsolved problems, deriving generalizable requirements for generalizable solutions, informing design choices and design methodologies, testing the efficacy of generalizable solutions, and addressing the myriad operational feasibility issues associated with adoption, diffusion, and use of technology solutions.  It is complementary to other modes of inquiry common to technological research domains, such as the formal logic and mathematics at the core of theoretical computer science.  

ECTS points: 2.5

When and where

September 11th - September 15th, 2017

Sessions from 9am - 12am plus homework (on a voluntary basis)

ACE-Lab (1.D.06)

Seminar description

The human mind has an astonishing ability to draw inferences from tiny clues.  It has an abysmal ability, however, to distinguish valid from invalid positions without some help. To minimize the likelihood that we would draw, then act on invalid inferences, philosophers conceived scientific method.  The logic of scientific inquiry may be discovered piece-by-piece in papers by the giants of philosophy who conceived them.  That literature, however, is fragmented, and it is couched in language that can be all but impenetrable by non-philosophers.  It is difficult to find an end-to-end explanation of its core logic.   

This seminar breaks down the logic of scientific inquiry into a sequence of pragmatic disciplines – straightfoward mental practices that researchers can use to structure their thinking in ways reveal the flaws in indefensible positions, inspired counter-intuitive insights, speed up research cycles, and improved the quality of research.

In this seminar, we organize these pragmatic disciplines around the four modes of research that compose scientific method: Exploratory research, Theoretical research, Experimental Research, and Applied Science/Engineering research (AS/E).  Each of of the four modes has different goals.  Therefore each is based on different logic.  Each has different research deliverables, and each has different standards of rigor for evaluating research quality. 

These disciplines make it easier apply research methods in ways that yield sound results, and they make it easier to write scholarly papers while improving their clarity, substance, and impact.

Useful Advance Readings

  1. Stebbins 2001 – Exploratory research (60 pages)
  2. Bacharach 1989 – Theory
  3. Briggs & Schwabe 2011 – Expanding the scope of Design Science Research