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Unread 12-28-2010, 11:11 PM
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waybread waybread is offline
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research guidelines?

A big thanks to Tim for setting up this board.

Until researchers have something to post, I thought it might be interesting to discuss some possible shared assumptions about research--for you to confirm, refute, supplement, or replace. Please note that this thread is not a place for generalized anti-research put-downs. It is a place for people to think through what decent astrology research might look like; and to help members fine-tune and correct preliminary research designs. And "one size does not fit all!"

1. Science is not the only legitimate type of research into astrology, but it has been a very powerful form of research in many other fields. "Science" is a moving target, because it constantly changes and develops: the science of past centuries is of interest, but cannot strictly be considered consistent with the scientific method today. The scientific method of today, in skeletal form, involves: (a) a review of relevant studies, (b) a hypothesis, (c) a method by which the hypothesis can actually be tested, (d) data collection, (e) data analysis, (f) presentation of results, and (g) discussion of their meaning, implications for the hypothesis, and conclusions.

Science is divided into different fields. Usually scientists restrict science proper to the physical and natural sciences. Some of the methods of the social and behavioural sciences (such as anthropology and psychology) are probably more suited to astrology than are physical and natural sciences like astronomy or zoology. Mathematics, statistics, and engineering are slightly different: math is a large part of the reasoning in some disciplines, statistics is often part of the data analysis, and engineering has been nicknamed "science applied."

2. Other non-scientific fields with different standards for research that are also empirical in nature include history, philosophy, and qualitative studies within the social sciences. These fields also have specific procedures and standards of evidence.

3. One hallmark of research is its duplicability or replicability. Obviously some researchers are more talented or collect more data than others, but in principle, if a research design is sound, other researchers should be able to use it in a similar study, with similar results.

4. If astrologers can make a case for astrological research that does not follow models from the standard academic disciplines, it might be helpful if they nevertheless follow a sketch of the scientific method outlined above. If this is not possible or suitable, hopefully they can clearly outline their procedures and data, step-by-step, and cite the sources that informed their work. This way, others can see whether the conclusions drawn are supported by the methods used and information gathered.

5. All research is freighted with problems, such as: (a) over-generalizing, assuming that results from too small a sample can be generalized to a larger propulation. (b) Having a skewed sample that is biased in a particular direction. An example here might be an astrologer citing his client files, when the clients themselves come from a particular cultural group whose mores are not widely shared by the larger population; yet the astrologer extrapolates as though they were. (c) Not recognizing that the results of a particular study (for example, a correlation between Neptune placements and artists) are equally if not more the case in the general population.

6. It is fine for our purposes to post preliminary results, or results that are suggestive but not conclusive. This might be something like a small pilot study.

7. It should also be fine for researchers to solicit advice in developing a research design, or to solicit examples or data from other members.

8. This should not be a board for chatty threads like, "How do you recognize Capricorn rising?" followed with anecdotes about people who look like goats. Astrology is loaded with anecdotal evidence! The question is, how to get beyond the anecdotes into something more methodologically sound.

9. We are all advised to keep current with research posted on other astrology sites and print media.

If you are serious about astrological research, what do you think about the above recommendations?
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