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Fields of Study Overview

This guide explains the four areas of academia: humanities, sciences, social sciences and the professions, including the focus and methods used by these different approaches.

What are the Sciences?

The sciences are a variety of academic fields focused observing and understanding the natural world. These scholars are interested in observing and measuring the mechanisms of nature.

At UCM, the following are traditional sciences oriented fields:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry & Biochemistry
  • Earth Science
  • Environmental Science
  • Forensic Anthropology
  • Kinesiology
  • Mathematics
  • Nutrition
  • Physics
  • Psychology*

* - Crosses disciplinary categories

Focus & Methods of Sciences

Scientific fields focus on direct observations that produce measurable evidence of natural phenomenon. These fields emphasize explanation of the observation/experiment methodology undertaken by the researcher(s) and explanation of the findings derived from the research.

The methodology is carefully explained in detail by scientists so that other researchers may try the same approach to determine if the findings are reproducible. If findings are confirmed through replication, then the discoveries are more likely to be accepted by other scientists.

The methods used by scientists often include directly observing phenomenon in a controlled setting like a laboratory, or in the environment within which the phenomenon naturally occurs, which is called fieldwork. A key aspect of observation and experimentation in the sciences is to document the methods and outcomes discovered.

Scientists tend to cite other researchers in specific sections of their writings - typically the introduction and conclusion sections. Scientists usually cite prior discoveries of the particular phenomenon being currently studied. These invocations of previous work usually focus on the findings or the methods used.

Bibliography

Gauch, Jr., H.G. (2012). Scientific Method in Brief. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Gould, C.C. & Pierce, K. (1991). Information Needs in the Sciences: An Assessment. Mountain View, CA: The Research Libraries Group.