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from Wikipedia:

Software engineering (SE) is the application of a systematic, disciplined, quantifiable approach to the development, operation, and maintenance of software, and the study of these approaches.

I was wondering if there is something similar for research, something that we could call Research engineering. I imagine it to be a research field on its own, with students "researching on how to do research". I believe software development has benefited a lot from research in SE. Maybe research could also benefit from Research engineering.

The questions are:

  • is there some institute or some university department in the world where they work on Research Engineering?
  • in which faculty you would position such department/institute?

Edited: After getting a couple of good answers, I am still not completely satisfied, so I would like to clarify my question. What I am really interested in is indeed a "software engineering" approach. I am not interested in philosophical or sociological research. In fact, the question I had originally in mind was whether it's possible or not to apply actual software development methodologies to research. In more concrete terms, I am wondering whether anyone has studied the application in research of models similar to the waterfall, or the spiral model, or things like extreme programming, Scrum, etc... (Note: these are just examples, please don't comment to each of them one by one).

1 Answer 1

I've never heard of a field dedicated to the study of research methods. There are journals dedicated to advances in methodology (e.g., [1], [2]), but the closest concept I've encountered to a field dedicated to researching research is Thomas Kuhn's classic work The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and other similar philosophical works, which discuss how science, as a field, progresses and evolves.

I would guess that the reason for the lack of such a field is such research is part and parcel of the actual work done in the field. In order to study biochemistry, one must understand how to study biochemistry; in order to study mathematics, one must know the types of questions and the methods used to find answers in mathematics. Each field is unique, and each field will find specific methods that will optimally serve the needs of that specific field. While there may be broadly-applicable research techniques, each field will solve the problem of "how to do research" differently, in the way that best suits that field.