Researchers commonly perform experiments and publish them in scholarly journals. There are many research designs that academic researchers can choose from that have various designs suitable for different subjects. For example, journals focused on literature often want analytical essays, while scientific journals more often want empirically backed studies with sound methodologies.
Quantitative and Qualitative Research
Researchers can choose between quantitative and qualitative research. Quantitative research only focuses on research that scientists can measure and convert into numbers or information. Qualitative research focuses on verbal data, such as opinions and impressions.
Researchers use case studies to find a hypothesis, in-depth information on specific people or unusual situations that they could not otherwise ethically study. In some situations, researchers want to understand the effects that something harmful has on people, but they actually can't subject people to harmful stimuli. So instead, they rely on cases where people inadvertently were subjected to the harmful stimuli. With case studies, important information is occasionally missing, making the case unclear. People reporting on the case study sometimes have inaccurate memories. In addition, the case study might be unusual and not representative of a typical situation.
Researchers sometimes use naturalistic observation early in the study. However, researchers do not have full control over the observation and may report information in a biased way. In addition, researchers cannot always find cause-and-effect relationships in naturalistic studies. Laboratory observations give researchers more control and allow researchers to use advanced technology to collect data. However, the behavior of the test subject may vary between the laboratory environment and the natural environment.
Under experimental conditions, researchers have full control over the situation and can use techniques to distinguish the placebo from treatment effects. However, the situation is artificial and may not represent real life. Researchers can study whether two or more variables are related, allowing for broad predictions. However, researchers cannot find the cause-and-effect.
Researchers give subjects tests or surveys. In both, designers may fail to design them reliably. The selected sample might not represent the entire population and respondents can give false information. However, surveys carry many benefits, such as their inexpensiveness, compared with experiments. Researchers can administer surveys to remote locations, thanks to email and the telephone. By using standardized questions, researchers can objectively measure characteristics in a population. Researchers also can compare data between two different groups. For the survey to be accurate, researchers need a large sample of the population.
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images