Research Methods for Supporting Engineering Systems Design

December 12, 2021

Engineering systems, with their technical and social, cyber, and physical components interacting, are best understood when studied from multiple methodological lenses simultaneously. However, since different methodological paradigms have grown up in different disciplinary traditions, it is often challenging for researchers to draw on insights across them. In this chapter, we review four methodological paradigms of research done on engineering systems:

  1. Quantitative observational research, including inferential statistics and machine learning
  2. Qualitative observational research, which infer causal mechanisms based on deep contextual understanding
  3. In vivo experiments and quasi-experiments, which manipulate theoretically motivated variables in more or less controlled settings to establish causality
  4. In silico experiments, which deductively explore the consequences of a mathematical representation of reality

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