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Research methods

Experimental Research Methods

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The results generated are analyzable and are used to test hypotheses , with statistics giving a clear and unambiguous picture. This research method is one of the most difficult, requiring rigorous design and a great deal of expense, especially for larger experiments.

The other problem, where real life organisms are used, is that taking something out of its natural environment can seriously affect its behavior. It is also the biggest drain on time and resources, and is often impossible to perform for some fields, because of ethical considerations.

The Tuskegee Syphilis Study was a prime example of experimental research that was fixated on results, and failed to take into account moral considerations.

In other fields of study, which do not always have the luxury of definable and quantifiable variables - you need to use different research methods. These should attempt to fit all of the definitions of repeatability or falsifiability , although this is not always feasible. Opinion based research methods generally involve designing an experiment and collecting quantitative data.

For this type of research, the measurements are usually arbitrary, following the ordinal or interval type. Questionnaires are an effective way of quantifying data from a sample group, and testing emotions or preferences. This method is very cheap and easy, where budget is a problem, and gives an element of scale to opinion and emotion. These figures are arbitrary, but at least give a directional method of measuring intensity.

By definition, this experiment method must be used where emotions or behaviors are measured, as there is no other way of defining the variables. Whilst not as robust as experimental research , the methods can be replicated and the results falsified. Observational research is a group of different research methods where researchers try to observe a phenomenon without interfering too much.

Observational research methods, such as the case study , are probably the furthest removed from the established scientific method. Observational research tends to use nominal or ordinal scales of measurement. Observational research often has no clearly defined research problem , and questions may arise during the course of the study. Observation is heavily used in social sciences, behavioral studies and anthropology, as a way of studying a group without affecting their behavior.

Whilst the experiment cannot be replicated or falsified , it still offers unique insights, and will advance human knowledge. Case studies are often used as a pre-cursor to more rigorous methods, and avoid the problem of the experiment environment affecting the behavior of an organism.

Observational research methods are useful when ethics are a problem. In an ideal world, experimental research methods would be used for every type of research, fulfilling all of the requirements of falsifiability and generalization. However, ethics , time and budget are major factors, so any experimental design must make compromises.

As long as a researcher recognizes and evaluates flaws in the design when choosing from different research methods, any of the scientific research methods are valid contributors to scientific knowledge.

Check out our quiz-page with tests about:. Martyn Shuttleworth Jun 19, Retrieved Sep 13, from Explorable. The text in this article is licensed under the Creative Commons-License Attribution 4. You can use it freely with some kind of link , and we're also okay with people reprinting in publications like books, blogs, newsletters, course-material, papers, wikipedia and presentations with clear attribution. This may help you better understand research findings, whether reported in the mainstream media, or when reading a research study on your own.

With the observational method sometimes referred to as field observation animal and human behavior is closely observed. There are two main categories of the observational method — naturalistic observation and laboratory observation. The biggest advantage of the naturalistic method of research is that researchers view participants in their natural environments.

This leads to greater ecological validity than laboratory observation, proponents say. Proponents of laboratory observation often suggest that due to more control in the laboratory, the results found when using laboratory observation are more meaningful than those obtained with naturalistic observation.

Laboratory observations are usually less time-consuming and cheaper than naturalistic observations. Of course, both naturalistic and laboratory observation are important in regard to the advancement of scientific knowledge.

Case study research involves an in-depth study of an individual or group of indviduals. Case studies often lead to testable hypotheses and allow us to study rare phenomena.

Case studies should not be used to determine cause and effect, and they have limited use for making accurate predictions. There are two serious problems with case studies — expectancy effects and atypical individuals. Describing atypical individuals may lead to poor generalizations and detract from external validity. In survey method research, participants answer questions administered through interviews or questionnaires.

After participants answer the questions, researchers describe the responses given. In order for the survey to be both reliable and valid it is important that the questions are constructed properly. Questions should be written so they are clear and easy to comprehend. Another consideration when designing questions is whether to include open-ended, closed-ended, partially open-ended, or rating-scale questions for a detailed discussion refer to Jackson, Advantages and disadvantages can be found with each type:.

Open-ended questions allow for a greater variety of responses from participants but are difficult to analyze statistically because the data must be coded or reduced in some manner. Closed-ended questions are easy to analyze statistically, but they seriously limit the responses that participants can give. In addition to the methods listed above some individuals also include qualitative as a distinct method and archival methods when discussing descriptive research methods.

It is important to emphasize that descriptive research methods can only describe a set of observations or the data collected.


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Opinion based research methods generally involve designing an experiment and collecting quantitative data. For this type of research, the measurements are usually arbitrary, following the .

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Types of research Experiments People who take part in research involving experiments might be asked to complete various tests to measure their cognitive abilities (e.g. word recall, attention, concentration, reasoning ability etc.) usually verbally, on paper or by computer.

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Qualitative research is much more subjective and uses very different methods of collecting information,mainly individual, in-depth interviews and focus groups. The nature of this type of research is exploratory and open ended. Descriptive research methods are pretty much as they sound -- they describe situations. They do not make accurate predictions, and they do not determine cause and effect. There are three main types of descriptive methods: observational methods, case-study methods and survey methods.

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Types of Research Methods According to Nature of the Study. Types of the research methods according to the nature of research can be divided into two groups: descriptive and analytical. Descriptive research usually involves surveys and studies that aim to identify the facts. Types of Research Methods Adapted from Edvantia SBR Rating for Technical Assistance Programs and Services form () and Carter McNamara Overview of Methods .