Fanelli D. "Positive" results increase down the hierarchy of the sciences. PLos ONE 2010;5(4):e10068
The hypothesis of a Hierarchy of the Sciences with physical sciences at the top, social sciences at the bottom, and biological sciences in-between is nearly 200 years old. Whether disciplines really differ in hardness and can be ranked accordingly, however, is still controversial. Does a Hierarchy of Sciences exist? This study compared 2,434 scientific papers published in all disciplines and that stated to have tested a hypothesis and adopted the hypotetico-deductive method of scientific inquiry. Results support, on one hand, the existence of a Hierarchy , in which scientific rigour and objectivity are roughly inversely proportional to the complexity of the subject matter. On the other hand, results also support the scientific status of the social sciences: when they adopt a scientific approach to discovery, they differ from the natural sciences only by a matter of degree.