The terms science and research are often used together, sometimes even interchangeably. It is not uncommon to read about a science project or research project, with each referring to the same undertaking. But they are really not the same; in fact, one is actually part of the other.
Science comes from the Latin word “scientia,” which simply means knowledge. Modern definitions are more complex, and refer to the step-by-step acquisition of knowledge.
Research refers to the actual gathering of information. This can be by observation, and can mean even gathering information on the Internet. But when used in a scientific context, the rules are more rigid.
The Scientific Method
The scientific method involves a process and starts with a question. A systematic approach then answers the question through several steps and ends with a conclusion. The science—or knowledge—is then established.
Research is a Step
Research is but a step in the knowledge quest, and it is the first one. Once the question is asked, research follows, and it is focused solely on the question or “hypothesis.” Facts are gathered to either prove or disprove the hypothesis in the next step, which is experimentation.
While “research” is used today to mean anything from researching (reading) a book and writing a review to locating the best deal on a car, when used in the context of science it refers to one step in the scientific method.