Positivists concur with empiricists that information regarding different social aspects can be gathered and categorized in ways making sense. Scientific knowledge regarding societies can be collected, as well as appreciated, to enhance human society and how it is run. In researches, including criminology-related researches, there is a need for a polished understanding of the research theories, variables as well as hypotheses (SOAS University of London, 2015). Theories are explanations of the workings of reality using substantial supporting evidence (Beaver & Walsh, 2011; Woodside, 2010). Theories are only accepted widely following particular experimental tests and multiple observations. There are diverse forms of research theories.
Differences between Research Theories
In the world of logic, references are commonly made to two reasoning methods: the deductive approach and the inductive approach. When researches are hinged on deductive reasoning, researchers work towards the specifics from the general thoughts (Hoque, 2006). That means that the research approach based on deductive theories is top-down in nature. The researchers might think up particular theories regarding particular topics. Then, the researchers narrow the theories down into particular hypotheses, which are testable (Cohen & Waite-Stupiansky, 2012). They narrow the hypotheses further when they gather data, or observations, in efforts towards addressing the hypotheses. That ultimately leads the researchers to being capable of testing the particular hypotheses based on given data sets, confirming their initial theories.
When researches are hinged on inductive reasoning, researchers move towards more extensive theories, as well as generalizations, from particular observations (Trochi, 2006). That means that the research approach based on inductive theories is bottom-up in nature. The researches commence with particular measures and observations; begin detecting regularities, as well as patterns; develop tentative hypotheses; and finally develop extensive theories, as well as generalizations. The researchers ensure that the hypotheses can be explored (Beaver & Walsh, 2011; Woodside, 2010).
Notably, inductive reasoning on one hand and deductive reasoning on the other have rather dissimilar feels towards them during the execution of researches. Inductive reasoning along with theories is more exploratory, as well as open-ended, than deductive theories and reasoning. Deductive theories are narrower in the scope of the researches they support than inductive theories (Cohen & Waite-Stupiansky, 2012). The former focuses on hypothesis confirmation or testing. Although specific studies may come off as exclusively deductive, the majority of social researches entail deductive and inductive processes concurrently. Indeed, even in highly limited experiments, one may notice data patterns that may guide them to formulate novel theories.
Grounded theories have their origins in the researches executed by Strauss along with Glaser on how dying persons interact with caregivers (Cohen & Crabtree, 2006; Glaser & Strauss, 1967). Researches that are hinged on the theories lead to the production of additional, or new, knowledge that is employed in the formulation of new theories regarding particular phenomena. That means that the researches are hinged in the gathering, as well as appraisal, of sets of data on the particular phenomena. The knowledge derived from the researches helps people appreciate the phenomena better and better.
In the researches, sets of data may be gathered through different ways to formulate grounded theories. They ways include appraising extant literature, observations, analysis of available documents, interviews as well as observations. Notably, these data gathering approaches are as well used in researches based on the other theories. The patterns made out in the appraisal of the sets are used in formulating hypotheses, which are consequently tested to give way to the formation of specific constructs (Beaver & Walsh, 2011; Woodside, 2010). The constructs give rise to new concepts and understandings, meaning that the theories are founded, or grounded, in the sets of data.
In researches based on axiomatic theories, particular axioms are used in deriving theorems logically. Notably, mathematical theories comprise of the theorems derived from axiomatic systems and the systems. Theories that are deemed formal are characteristically axiomatic systems, for instance developed in the framework of the model theory. Axiomatic system models are highly characterized sets that allocate meaning to any uncharacterized term existing in the systems (Cohen & Waite-Stupiansky, 2012). The models assign the meaning in accordance with the links characterized in the systems. When concrete models’ existence is established in given researches, their consistency is affirmed in the light of the systems. Research models are deemed concrete when the allocated meanings are actual relations and objects.
If the research theories described above are applied in dissimilar settings, then one cannot claim or establish that any of them has more validity than the rest. The validity of each of the theories is dependent on the extant settings. For instance, in research, deductive theories are deemed to have higher validity levels than inductive approaches when the sources from which data is gathered are abundant (Hoque, 2006). In research, deductive theories are deemed to have higher validity levels than inductive approaches when the research is to be concluded in a rather short duration. Besides, in research, deductive theories are deemed to have higher validity levels than inductive approaches when risk is not accepted and in cases where theories may come up in any way.
Theory versus Hypothesis
Hypotheses are the foremost steps in the formulation of specific theories. Hypotheses are informed, or educated, guesses regarding the workings of reality, often based on interesting observations or experimental outcomes (University of Waikato, 2015). All valid scientific hypotheses are testable; they are tested experimentally for their truths (Cohen & Waite-Stupiansky, 2012). Experiments are designed to establish whether particular hypothesized phenomena actually happen. In accordance with specific criteria, hypotheses are tested through experiments. Where many observations, as well as experiments, agree with particular hypotheses, the hypotheses may ultimately be deemed to be theories, showing that they are consistent with all accessible evidence and thus are extensively accepted. Theories have been recurrently tested via diverse experiments and their validity established consistently in the experiments (Beaver & Walsh, 2011; Woodside, 2010).
Theories are dissimilar to laws as well as facts. One observes facts. That means that facts are indisputably true even when they provide no explanations of themselves or anything else. Laws are detailed descriptions of the workings of reality but they do not describe why reality works the ways it does. Theories explain why reality works, or operates, the way it does. As well, theories support the explanations they offer with tested evidence. In some cases, extensively accepted theories are disproved when new observations or experimental outcomes prove inconsistencies in them. In such cases, the theories are discarded. New explanations or theories take up their places.
Scientific experiments are geared towards establishing the relationships between particular effects and their causes, or triggers according to Hoque (2006). The experiments are designed to ensure that changes to given items or objects causes changes in others in ways that are predictable. Variables are the changing quantities in the experiments (Cohen & Waite-Stupiansky, 2012). Variables are specific conditions, traits, or factors that are capable of existing in varying types or amounts. As well, they may be time periods, feelings, ideas, objects, or events measured by researchers and that are capable of existing in varying types or amounts.
Variables are essential elements of theoretical schemes owing to varied reasons. First, they direct researchers to pursue given researchers with marked curiosity as they seek to unravel the links between them (Beaver & Walsh, 2011; Woodside, 2010). Variables help give researches focus. Second, they establish cause, as well as effects, in particular researches. Even though some variables are not causal-oriented, the notion of the links between effects and their causes may assist in clarifying the idea of autonomy in variables that are independent along with the notion of dependence in relation to dependent variables.
Theories are explanations of the workings of reality using substantial supporting evidence. Inductive reasoning along with theories is more exploratory, as well as open-ended, than deductive theories and reasoning. Deductive theories are narrower in the scope of the researches they support than inductive theories. Grounded theory researches lead to the production of additional, or new, knowledge that is employed in the formulation of new theories regarding particular phenomena. In researches based on axiomatic theories, particular axioms are used in deriving theorems logically. Hypotheses are the foremost steps in the formulation of specific theories. Hypotheses are informed, or educated, guesses regarding the workings of reality, often based on interesting observations or experimental outcomes. Theories explain why reality works, or operates, the way it does. As well, theories support the explanations they offer with tested evidence. Variables are the changing quantities in scientific experiments. They exist in varying types or amounts.