Description and Explanation

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary


Scientific description is a systematic effort to selectively represent a complex reality in order to highlight patterns and specific phenomena that can be subjected to scientific explanation. Specific representations enable different kinds of explanations. An explanation consists of a demonstration that a set of conditions is present for which there is a rule predicting that the explained phenomenon should follow, and a theoretical account that elucidates why these conditions are sufficient. The conditions and rules sustaining the explanation can themselves be described and explained, resulting in substantial overlap between description and explanation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe International Encyclopedia of Communication Research Methods
EditorsJörg Matthes
ISBN (Print) 978-1-118-90176-2
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2017


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