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By Johann Mouton, H. C. Marais

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The likelihood that research findings may have limited or contextual validity is accepted, while bearing in mind that subsequent research may reveal that it is invalid. It is, therefore, accepted that the epistemic ideal ought rather to be the generation of research findings which approximate, as closely as possible, the true state of affairs. Bearing in mind that it is impossible to know when the truth has been attained, it necessarily becomes essential to strive constantly for the elimination of falsity, inaccuracy, and error in research.

Because the logic of the decision-making stages that are incorporated in the research design is discussed in detail in the next four chapters, we shall present only brief notes at this stage. za First, we regard it as necessary to emphasize the intrinsic interwovenness of (i) the determinants of research decisions, and (ii) the steps of the decisionmaking process in a research project, a topic to which we alluded in the previous section. The researcher’s specific beliefs regarding the domain phenomena and the best interpretation(s) of a particular phenomenon, and assumptions about what constitutes good research, will all play a determining role in the manner in which the research problem will be formulated, the choice of techniques by means of which the central concepts of the theory are to be operationalized, and the manner in which data about phenomena or events are to be collected.

Chalmers (1982) is probably the best introductory text on the philosophy of science currently available. Somewhat more advanced is the text by Koningsveld (1980), while Newton-Smith (1981) is regarded as the most balanced introductory text on the contemporary state of the art of the philosophy of science, although it is probably more suitable for the advanced student. For the real connoisseur, one can hardly do better than to read Asquith and Kyburg (1979) which is generally regarded as the standard reference source.

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