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Can we consider an online research as scientific research ?
I have read that research is a scientific process.It follows a systematic way which leads me to the question that: can we consider the online research as scientific research?
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No. Online research, even when done properly, is nothing more than just gathering, reading, and summarizing information using the Internet. That is not scientific research. Instead, these tasks just make up what is called a "literature review",  an integral, but small part of scientific research.

Online research is not scientific research. Why? Because scientific research is more than just gathering information about a topic, instead for research to be considered scientific, it must satisfy two criteria: first, that the research must contribute to our knowledge of science; and second, that it must follow the scientific method. 

First, when we conduct research using the Internet, we are not  contributing to our knowledge of science. Instead, all we are really doing is gathering information about a topic and rewriting that information to present a case or support an argument. Sure, we may find a "novel" way of presenting a problem, or proposing a solution. But that in itself is not new knowledge. Instead, it just presents the possibility of new knowledge, a gap in our understanding that might merit some investigation. This is not scientific research. However, it makes up an essential part of scientific research--the literature review.

So, what is a literature review? A literature review is a survey of the current body of knowledge surrounding the subject of a research. When we google a topic to learn more or when we compare two articles to make annotations and critiques, we are conducting a literature review. And assuming that the articles, websites, and other materials that you gathered to conduct the literature review is reliable, valid and peer-reviewed, then the literature review becomes an integral part of the research. 

Why? Because the results of the literature review will determine whether our research has merit, what kind of research methods is most applicable to our research, and what kind of data or input we need to conduct the research. The literature review basically "serves as the foundation upon which the study is built." So, it's not enough to use just any website or blog when conducting a literature review. Instead, we have to make sure that our online sources has authority, is neutral, reliable, and as mush as possible, recent. This means opinion blogs are out. In fact, most Internet resources probably won't cut it. What's left? It's the "Invisible Web". These are the government websites, peer-reviewed journals, scientific content, and other scholarly and academic websites that are usually behind a paywall. 

And this brings us to the next point. That scientific research must follow the scientific method. Once again, online research does not really follow the scientific method. When we speak of the scientific method, we are referring to a structured process that follows "the systematic collection, interpretation and evaluation of data...in a planned manner". What this means is that the scientific method follows a specific set of techniques when it comes to gathering data, interpreting data, and making conclusions from the data. 

Unfortunately, online research is not really a good source of raw data. Instead, most information in the Internet are secondary information, which has no value in scientific research, other than as part of the literature review. Sure, you can conduct an online survey to produce raw data. But, unfortunately, the raw data you gather is likely questionable since it will be difficult to ensure the reliability of your sample size. After all, your sample population is online, so it will be difficult to control for biases. And as a consequence, it is therefore unnecessary to subject online research to the falsifiability, replicability, and precision requirements of scientific research because there is nothing to test--no new knowledge that challenges or proposes a hypothesis resulted from online research.  

Thus, let's not confuse online research with scientific research. The reality is, scientific research is so much more than just gathering data, while online research is just limited to that. In fact, online research is so limited that at best, it could be the basis of a literature review, which really is just the beginnings of a scientific research. 

Hope this helps.

Sources:

  1. What is Scientific Research and How Can it be Done? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5019873/
  2. Science and Scientific Research. https://courses.lumenlearning.com/suny-hccc-research-methods/chapter/chapter-1-science-and-scientific-research/
  3. Research Using the Internet. http://advice.writing.utoronto.ca/researching/research-using-internet/
  4. Original Research or Literature Review? https://people.uwec.edu/piercech/ResearchMethods/Differences%20between%20original%20research%20and/differences%20between%20original%20research%20and%20literature%20surveys%20index.htm
  5. Towards a Guide for Novice Researchers on Research Methodology. http://iisit.org/Vol6/IISITv6p323-337Ellis663.pdf
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Anything that is considered to be the disproof or proof of hypothesis, through organized, structured means of research is scientific in nature. 

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My answer is no. We have to make a difference between a scientific research and an online research.

A scientific research means testing in laboratory or on humans for example.

An online research is basically researching other people's work.

The two things are different.

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