Scientific work | Guide & examples

Scientific work for a term paper, bachelor thesis as well as master thesis and dissertation. This article is intended to serve as an orientation guide that lists and explains the most important foundations of scientific work in the bachelor thesis or master’s thesis. There are certain requirements in science that make creative work a scientific activity first. Conventions that belong to the basic craft and which you simply have to adhere to. They form the framework within which the creative performance, which just as necessarily belongs, can be provided. You should know them and keep them in mind while working.

Scientific work: Objectivity is a must

Perhaps the most obvious principle of scholarly work in the bachelor thesis or master’s thesis is objectivity. We make statements based on observations, measurements, and logical inferences, rather than on one’s own opinion, or on ideological and dogmatic assumptions.

In recent times, however, especially in the humanities, the realization has prevailed that one hundred percent objectivity can not be achieved. This is because one must always assume that prior knowledge, assumptions and character of the researcher unconsciously always influence their scientific work.

Nevertheless, or for that very reason, it is important that one consciously strives for objectivity in order to approach it as much as possible. For more extensive work, this also includes being aware of one’s own person, someone who works scientifically and deliberately exposes one’s own background.

Transparency and traceability through scientific work

Disclosure and transparency is the next important principle of scientific work. The work steps and conclusions of a work must be recognizable and comprehensible to outsiders. A key word here is a common thread. If you have language problems, for example, a copy of a bachelor thesis or master’s thesis helps.

This begins with the independent and precise formulation of a topic, continues with the explanation of the methods used and does not stop with the discussion of their own findings and the juxtaposition of alternative explanations. Of course this requires a good knowledge of the methods usually used in one’s own discipline!

One should avoid, however, that assumptions or insights flow into a scientific work whose origin and justification exist only in the mind of the author, but are not recognizable to the reader.

Only what can be occupied may be included in the knowledge canon of a discipline

Anyone who makes a statement must also be able to substantiate this statement. And in a way that is verifiable for others. Usually this is done by citing correctly. If you violate the rules of citation, flies by a plagiarism quickly. Incidentally, if you want to incorporate unprovable statements into your work, you should clearly declare them as such. But it is better to give it up altogether.

It should also be noted that the proviso is always valid. This means that no knowledge is considered absolutely certain, but can be extended, refuted or replaced by later findings. Lamprecht et al. describe this with reference to Karl Popper’s theoretical work “Logic of Research” as a quest for the greatest possible truthfulness, since absolute truth could not be attained.

When working on a scientific paper in the bachelor thesis or master’s thesis, one should avoid putting something down as absolute fact that can not be doubted. Instead of saying, “Lead turns into gold when you politely ask.” It’s better to say, “Based on the observations, we assume that lead turns into gold if you politely ask for it.”

In addition, it is advisable to formulate theories that emerge from scientific work so that others can continue to work on it and make predictions. This considerably increases the value of the theory, as well as its provability, if the predictions made with it prove to be true.

Scientific work means separation of observation and interpretation

The separation of observation and interpretation is as fundamental to science theory as the separation of state and church for modern democracy. What is meant is that, for example, observations made in a test setup are logged in one step, thus recording the results. Only in a different step one interprets the observations and results on the basis of existing theories or their own hypotheses and evaluates them.

However, the process of observation should be kept free from any valuation. This is so important because interpretations can always be falsifiable (falsifiability principle). If the interpretation proves wrong, there is still the observation of scientific value. It is also possible for others to use this observation to come to different conclusions.

Correlation and causality in bachelor and master theses

Two observed events, always occurring together or consecutively, suggest that one is the cause of the other. But beware! That may be so, but not necessarily. It is also possible that both events are the result of a third, yet unknown cause. In this case one speaks of correlation.

Definition of all technical terms

Every technical term used in a work must be clearly defined beforehand. Even if one can legitimately assume that especially professionals of the same discipline read scientific papers. Therefore one can not assume that everyone has the same understanding of a concept. Especially in the interdisciplinary field, it is even more important to define clearly for each term how it is used “in this work”.

For example, the term culture can be used to refer to a bacterial strain, or a system of social customs and habits related to art, politics, economics, and everyday life. While it is still very unlikely in these definitions of terms that they are confused, the case looks etiquely and ethically, for example, quite different. The former is not a spelling mistake. In various social sciences (among others in ethnology), Etisch describes the perspective of an outsider.

The opposite, emisch, denotes the perspective of an “insider”. Ethically, as we know, meaningful moral action or behavior means. It is common practice to put the definition of the important terms used in the work before the actual work.

Scientific conventions regarding form and procedures

The last basic rule for scientific work in the bachelor thesis or master thesis listed here is that one adheres to the usual forms of design and certain conventions. This concerns the construction of a work, depending on whether it is a student work, a dissertation, a contribution to a journal or a publication. It also and especially the correct citation. There are different systems here. Which one one uses depends mostly on the discipline, the faculty and the individual institutes.

It is important that you decide on a system and apply it consistently. It should be self-evident that any non-independent, thought-out, and formulated phrase from each other’s work should be cited. But it also has to be done right.

Even a complete bibliography is part of the scientific tools. Of course, only a preliminary, thorough literature search is necessary for this. There are also conventions and common practices.

If you would like to find out more about scientific work and philosophy of science after this short article, then you should first look around the websites of various universities. At the beginning, the best of your own. Otherwise, the guide of the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main is recommended. The Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz also provides its students with a very helpful brochure online. If that is not enough, please refer to the relevant literature. Anyone who really adheres to the most important rules of scientific work will be able to better understand and research not only their own subject. He also understands the world better.