Evaluating Research Methods in Psychology: A Case Study Approach

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As a consequence, the overall validity of the study will be undermined. The length and complexity of describing research designs in your paper can vary considerably, but any well-developed design will achieve the following :.

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The research design is usually incorporated into the introduction and varies in length depending on the type of design you are using. However, you can get a sense of what to do by reviewing the literature of studies that have utilized the same research design. The Research Methods Online database contains links to more than , pages of SAGE publisher's book, journal, and reference content on quantitative, qualitative, and mixed research methodologies.

Also included is a collection of case studies of social research projects that can be used to help you better understand abstract or complex methodological concepts. The Research Methods Videos database contains hours of tutorials, interviews, video case studies, and mini-documentaries covering the entire research process.

Creswell, John W. David Creswell. Practical Research: Planning and Design. Tenth edition. Paul, Dianna C. Gardner, and Lynne M. When to Use What Research Design. New York: Guilford, Definition and Purpose. The essentials of action research design follow a characteristic cycle whereby initially an exploratory stance is adopted, where an understanding of a problem is developed and plans are made for some form of interventionary strategy.

Then the intervention is carried out [the "action" in action research] during which time, pertinent observations are collected in various forms. The new interventional strategies are carried out, and this cyclic process repeats, continuing until a sufficient understanding of [or a valid implementation solution for] the problem is achieved. The protocol is iterative or cyclical in nature and is intended to foster deeper understanding of a given situation, starting with conceptualizing and particularizing the problem and moving through several interventions and evaluations.

What do these studies tell you?

Qualitative research

What these studies don't tell you? Coghlan, David and Mary Brydon-Miller. The Sage Encyclopedia of Action Research. New York: Guilford, ; Gall, Meredith. Educational Research: An Introduction. Chapter 18, Action Research. Norman Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln, eds. Writing and Doing Action Research. A case study is an in-depth study of a particular research problem rather than a sweeping statistical survey or comprehesive comparative inquiry. It is often used to narrow down a very broad field of research into one or a few easily researchable examples.

The case study research design is also useful for testing whether a specific theory and model actually applies to phenomena in the real world. It is a useful design when not much is known about an issue or phenomenon. Case Studies. Writing CSU. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research. The Art of Case Study Research. Case Study Research: Design and Theory. Applied Social Research Methods Series, no. Most social scientists seek causal explanations that reflect tests of hypotheses. Causal effect nomothetic perspective occurs when variation in one phenomenon, an independent variable, leads to or results, on average, in variation in another phenomenon, the dependent variable.

Conditions necessary for determining causality:. Beach, Derek and Rasmus Brun Pedersen. Chapter 5, Causation and Research Designs. Neil J. Salkind, editor. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, , pp.

Chapter 11, Nonexperimental Research: Correlational Designs. Often used in the medical sciences, but also found in the applied social sciences, a cohort study generally refers to a study conducted over a period of time involving members of a population which the subject or representative member comes from, and who are united by some commonality or similarity.

Using a quantitative framework, a cohort study makes note of statistical occurrence within a specialized subgroup, united by same or similar characteristics that are relevant to the research problem being investigated, r ather than studying statistical occurrence within the general population.

Using a qualitative framework, cohort studies generally gather data using methods of observation. Cohorts can be either "open" or "closed. Healy P, Devane D. Cohort Analysis. Evidence-Based Dentistry 7 : 51—52; Payne, Geoff.

Victor Jupp, editor. Himmelfarb Health Sciences Library. Cross-sectional research designs have three distinctive features: no time dimension; a reliance on existing differences rather than change following intervention; and, groups are selected based on existing differences rather than random allocation. The cross-sectional design can only measure differences between or from among a variety of people, subjects, or phenomena rather than a process of change. As such, researchers using this design can only employ a relatively passive approach to making causal inferences based on findings.

Bethlehem, Jelke. London, England: Sage, , pp. Michael S. Thousand Oaks, CA: , pp. Paul J. Lavrakas, ed. Healthknowledge, Cross-Sectional Study. Descriptive research designs help provide answers to the questions of who, what, when, where, and how associated with a particular research problem; a descriptive study cannot conclusively ascertain answers to why.

Descriptive research is used to obtain information concerning the current status of the phenomena and to describe "what exists" with respect to variables or conditions in a situation. Anastas, Jeane W. Chapter 5, Flexible Methods: Descriptive Research. Salkind and Kristin Rasmussen, editors. Descriptive Research Methodologies. Powerpoint Presentation; Shuttleworth, Martyn. Descriptive Research Design , September 26, A blueprint of the procedure that enables the researcher to maintain control over all factors that may affect the result of an experiment.

In doing this, the researcher attempts to determine or predict what may occur. Experimental research is often used where there is time priority in a causal relationship cause precedes effect , there is consistency in a causal relationship a cause will always lead to the same effect , and the magnitude of the correlation is great.

The classic experimental design specifies an experimental group and a control group. The independent variable is administered to the experimental group and not to the control group, and both groups are measured on the same dependent variable. Subsequent experimental designs have used more groups and more measurements over longer periods.

True experiments must have control, randomization, and manipulation. Chapter 7, Flexible Methods: Experimental Research. Nicholas Walliman, editor. London, England: Sage, , pp, ; Experimental Research. Research Methods by Dummies. Department of Psychology. Experimental Design: Procedures for the Behavioral Sciences.

Experimental Design. Experimental Research. Slideshare presentation. An exploratory design is conducted about a research problem when there are few or no earlier studies to refer to or rely upon to predict an outcome. The focus is on gaining insights and familiarity for later investigation or undertaken when research problems are in a preliminary stage of investigation.

Exploratory designs are often used to establish an understanding of how best to proceed in studying an issue or what methodology would effectively apply to gathering information about the issue. The goals of exploratory research are intended to produce the following possible insights:. Cuthill, Michael. Albert J. Mills, Gabrielle Durepos and Eiden Wiebe, editors.

Catalano, and D. The purpose of a historical research design is to collect, verify, and synthesize evidence from the past to establish facts that defend or refute a hypothesis. It uses secondary sources and a variety of primary documentary evidence, such as, diaries, official records, reports, archives, and non-textual information [maps, pictures, audio and visual recordings].

The limitation is that the sources must be both authentic and valid. Howell, Martha C. Lisa M. Given, editor. A Short Guide to Writing about History. Chapter 16, Historical Research. A longitudinal study follows the same sample over time and makes repeated observations. For example, with longitudinal surveys, the same group of people is interviewed at regular intervals, enabling researchers to track changes over time and to relate them to variables that might explain why the changes occur.

Longitudinal research designs describe patterns of change and help establish the direction and magnitude of causal relationships. Measurements are taken on each variable over two or more distinct time periods. This allows the researcher to measure change in variables over time. It is a type of observational study sometimes referred to as a panel study.

Longitudinal Research. Meta-analysis is an analytical methodology designed to systematically evaluate and summarize the results from a number of individual studies, thereby, increasing the overall sample size and the ability of the researcher to study effects of interest. The purpose is to not simply summarize existing knowledge, but to develop a new understanding of a research problem using synoptic reasoning.

The main objectives of meta-analysis include analyzing differences in the results among studies and increasing the precision by which effects are estimated. A well-designed meta-analysis depends upon strict adherence to the criteria used for selecting studies and the availability of information in each study to properly analyze their findings. Lack of information can severely limit the type of analyzes and conclusions that can be reached. In addition, the more dissimilarity there is in the results among individual studies [heterogeneity], the more difficult it is to justify interpretations that govern a valid synopsis of results.

A meta-analysis needs to fulfill the following requirements to ensure the validity of your findings:. Beck, Lewis W. Hedges, and Jeffrey C. Valentine, eds. Jackson and Raymond A. Practical Meta-Analysis. Uwe Flick, editor. Los Angeles, CA: Sage, , pp. Hernandez, and Micheal W. Burch, Patricia and Carolyn J. Mixed Methods Social Networks Research. This type of research design draws a conclusion by comparing subjects against a control group, in cases where the researcher has no control over the experiment. There are two general types of observational designs. In direct observations, people know that you are watching them.

Unobtrusive measures involve any method for studying behavior where individuals do not know they are being observed. An observational study allows a useful insight into a phenomenon and avoids the ethical and practical difficulties of setting up a large and cumbersome research project. Atkinson, Paul and Martyn Hammersley. Norman K. Denzin and Yvonna S. Qualitiative Research and Evaluation Methods. Chapter 6, Fieldwork Strategies and Observational Methods. Design of Observational Studies. New York: Springer, ;Williams, J. Understood more as an broad approach to examining a research problem than a methodological design, philosophical analysis and argumentation is intended to challenge deeply embedded, often intractable, assumptions underpinning an area of study.

This approach uses the tools of argumentation derived from philosophical traditions, concepts, models, and theories to critically explore and challenge, for example, the relevance of logic and evidence in academic debates, to analyze arguments about fundamental issues, or to discuss the root of existing discourse about a research problem.

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These overarching tools of analysis can be framed in three ways:. Burton, Dawn. Betensky, Rebecca.

Qualitative research - Wikipedia

Et al. Abbas Tashakkori and Charles Teddle, eds. Salkind, ed. Denyer, David and David Tranfield. David A. Buchanan and Alan Bryman, editors. Jewell, editors. Introduction to Systematic Reviews. Systematic Reviews. New York: Continuum, Contact us. Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper: Types of Research Designs This guide provides advice on how to develop and organize a research paper in the social and behavioral sciences.

The Conclusion Toggle Dropdown Appendices Introduction Before beginning your paper, you need to decide how you plan to design the study. General Structure and Writing Style The function of a research design is to ensure that the evidence obtained enables you to effectively address the research problem logically and as unambiguously as possible. The length and complexity of describing research designs in your paper can vary considerably, but any well-developed design will achieve the following : Identify the research problem clearly and justify its selection, particularly in relation to any valid alternative designs that could have been used, Review and synthesize previously published literature associated with the research problem, Clearly and explicitly specify hypotheses [i.

Action Research Design Definition and Purpose The essentials of action research design follow a characteristic cycle whereby initially an exploratory stance is adopted, where an understanding of a problem is developed and plans are made for some form of interventionary strategy. This is a collaborative and adaptive research design that lends itself to use in work or community situations. Design focuses on pragmatic and solution-driven research outcomes rather than testing theories.

When practitioners use action research, it has the potential to increase the amount they learn consciously from their experience; the action research cycle can be regarded as a learning cycle. Action research studies often have direct and obvious relevance to improving practice and advocating for change. There are no hidden controls or preemption of direction by the researcher.

It is harder to do than conducting conventional research because the researcher takes on responsibilities of advocating for change as well as for researching the topic. Action research is much harder to write up because it is less likely that you can use a standard format to report your findings effectively [i. Personal over-involvement of the researcher may bias research results. The cyclic nature of action research to achieve its twin outcomes of action [e. Advocating for change usually requires buy-in from study participants. Case Study Design Definition and Purpose A case study is an in-depth study of a particular research problem rather than a sweeping statistical survey or comprehesive comparative inquiry.

The method of data collection also varies, with self-report on one end of the spectrum, and naturalistic observation on the other. The Studies that do not test specific relationships between variables are called descriptive studies. In this research method, general or specific behaviors or attributes are observed and measured, without respect to each other. These studies are generally the design of choice for breaking into new areas, as the vast but often inconclusive amount of information collected can be drawn upon for future hypotheses.

An example of such a study would be a researcher inquiring into the quality of mental health institutions. This would be done by observation or measurements of various criteria, as opposed to relationships between variables. Alternatively, the study could be conducted without any specific criteria in mind. This method of statistical analysis shows the relationship between two variables. For example, research has shown that alcohol dependence correlates with depression.

That is to say, the more alcohol people consume, the more depressed they become. On the other hand, it could be the other way around as well: the more depressed people become, the more likely they are to consume alcohol. The attributes of correlations include strength and direction.

The direction may be positive both variables both increase or decrease together , negative one variable increases while the other decreases or unrelated a random relationship between variables. This is so because a third variable could be shown to cause the occurrence of one of the variables. Furthermore, only experiments can prove causation. Experiments are generally the studies that are the most precise and have the most weight to them due to their conclusive power. They are particularly effective in proving hypotheses about cause and effect relationships between variables.

4.2.1 Approaches in Psychology

A hypothesis is a prediction of how one variable relates to another. There are two types of hypotheses, null and directional. The null is a prediction that there will not be any change in the dependent variable when the researcher changes the independent variable. The directional hypothesis states that the change in the independent variable will induce a change in the dependent variable.

In a true experiment, all variables are held constant except for the independent variable, which is manipulated. Thus, any changes in the experimental groups can be solely attributed to the action of the independent variable. This is called being objective. For instance, in an experiment to test whether music improves people's memories, we would have a sheet of paper with ten unrelated words on it for people to memorize.

The control group would have no music playing in the background while the experimental group would have some music in the background. Because as researchers we have adhered to the scientific method and held all variables as constant as possible, if the experimental group does report better recollection of words, then we could assume that the music had an effect on memory. However, we must be certain to do our best to ensure that any controllable differences between the two groups are eliminated in order to ensure that no confounding variable interferes with the experiment.

There are two main ways to pick, or sample the subjects in an experiment, random and stratified. In a random sampling each person has an equal chance at being picked. If the researcher wanted all religions represented equally he would employ stratified sampling. For instance, the experiment could be performed only on women, or on mixed groups with equal numbers of each sex in them, to eliminate the possibility of biased results from one gender having better average memory than the other.

Steps must be taken to make sure that there is no experimenter bias. Two common forms of bias are demand characteristics and expectancy effects. If a researcher expects certain results from an experiment and influences the subjects response this is called demand characteristics. If the experimenter inadvertently interprets the information to be as expected in his hypothesis it is called expectancy effect. To counteract experimenter bias the subjects can be kept uninformed on the intentions of the experiment, which is called single blind.

If the people collecting the information and the subjects giving it are kept uninformed then it is called a double blind experiment. The experiment should also be reported so that other researchers can repeat it. If an experiment isn't repeatable it will not hold much weight in the scientific community.

To help an experiment be repeatable the researcher should have the variables be measureable, this is called being empirical. Whether researching humans or animals the experiment should be ethical. When humans are the subjects they should be informed of what the study is, consent to being in it, be debriefed afterwards, and their information should also be kept confidential. Researchers study organisms in their natural environments or habitats without trying to manipulate or control anything.

In this method, the researcher observes the behavior under study in its natural setting while attempting to avoid influencing or controlling it. The observations are done in a naturalistic setting without any preparation or participation of the researcher. Therefore, the behavior is observed in public places, streets, homes, and schools.

Observing people from other cultures response in the same setting is a way to provide information for cross-cultural research. This method includes tests , questionnaires , and interviews. All of which do the same thing, give the subject a stimuli, i. The advantage of using these is the ability to inexpensively and rapidly collect vast amounts of data. This allows a psychologist to compare one person, or a group of peoples results to thousands of others. The disadvantage is that they are not always telling what the subject's response is but what the subject says is the response.

Once the information is gathered it has to be put into some kind of form, usually numerical. Statistics deals with the collection, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of numerical data. The goal of statistics is to summarize the data and let descriptions or inferences be made. Inferences are used when making predictions of the relationships of variables.

Descriptions are concise displays, using statistical symbols ,of the information in frequency distributions, measures of central tendency , or measures of variability.



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