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Requirements of scientific rigour

According to the National Encyclopaedia (NE, 2008) academic activity or research is “a systematic and methodical acquisition of knowledge within a particular area” which can be conducted by “collecting and classifying data, making observations and conducting experiments or interpreting and analysing available material (e.g. documents, objects) in order to then be able to draw general conclusions and formulate results.”

One definition of scientific rigour that may be more fitting for our subjects is: “the development of new knowledge and innovation using a methodology that ensures the reliability and relevance of results”.

Scientific methodology is applied during research. However, the boundary between investigation, development and research is not sharply defined. Certain requirements of scientific rigour are nevertheless imposed on a degree project.

  • Assertions that are not obvious must be substantiated. This can be done by presenting a line of reasoning that is so thorough that the conclusions can be easily understood. You must therefore justify and argue. You can also refer to another source.
  • Facts obtained from any source must be referenced. This also applies if you do not directly reference the source but only summarise what someone has written.
  • Try to relate what you are doing to the literature and scientific knowledge or standpoints.
  • You must carefully distinguish between your own data and that of others.
  • You must carefully distinguish between facts and interpretations of facts.
  • You must also clearly specify what you have done yourself and what others have done, e.g., employees of the principal.
  • In the report, you must describe not only the conclusions you havereached, but also how you have reached them. It is important that you present the methodology, the results and the discussion of the results separately.

You will find ethical rules and guidelines for research on the Codex website (http://www.codex.vr.se/en/). Research ethics has developed, among other things, as a reaction to disrespectful research and people and to fraudulence in research (fabricated, falsified or plagiarised data/results). Students engaged in, for example, user studies should read the ethics rules of Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga forskningsrådet (The Swedish Council for Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences - HSFR) http://www.stingerfonden.org/documents/hsetikregler.pdf