What is research? That’s a good question! Most people associate research with studies that have to do with medicine or psychology, but it goes much deeper than that.
Research can be studying any topic, anywhere in the world, at any time. It’s exploring what exists out there in the universe and figuring out how things work.
It’s investigating why something works (or doesn’t) so you can apply that knowledge to make sure similar things work for other people.
And it’s creating ideas and concepts about anything from planets to internal organs to help people learn more about themselves and the outside world.
That last one sounds crazy, I know. But science has helped us understand our own bodies tremendously over the past few centuries. Now we’re learning how to use technology to improve mental health and wellness.
In this article, we’ll talk about some of the ways scientists actually conduct their research. We’ll also look at some examples and strategies used to evaluate new theories.
The scientific method
This article will talk about how scientists conduct research. Before we get into specifics, let’s take a look at the scientific method in general.
The term “scientific method” was coined by Thomas Hobbes back in 1654.
In science, there are different ways to test hypotheses or theories. These testing strategies are referred to as research techniques, or experiments if you will. Some of these experiment types include:
Observation studies – looking at how people behave in real life situations to see what effects, if any, something has on them
– looking at how people behave in real life situations to see what effects, if any, something has on them Controlled tests – doing an intervention (testing factor) under strict conditions to see the effect
– doing an intervention (testing factor) under strict conditions to see the effect Field trials – conducting an experiment in the natural environment setting-untreated samples are used as controls
– conducting an experiment in the natural environment setting-untreated samples as controls Clinical trial -conducting a treatment on humans for its effectiveness under proper regulation and supervision
These experimental approaches can be applied both quantitatively, where we use numbers to determine changes due to an experiment, and qualitatively, which is determining whether there is a change in the behavior of the participants due to the experiment.
Both quantitative and qualitative experiments have their place when it comes to scientific experimentation. It is important to know when to apply each one! Too often, researchers choose the wrong approach and need to start over. That is why having a good understanding of all aspects of experimentation is so crucial.
Sample research projects
What is research, really? It’s studying how to make things work better! That sounds pretty straightforward, but it can be tricky to know where to start when designing new studies.
That’s why most scientific researchers have what are called sample research projects. A sample project is an example of a study that has been done before (hence the term “sample”). After deciding which topic you will focus your experiment on, you can then look at examples of other studies on that same topic to see how they were conducted- or what methods they used.
You may also want to check out some past experiments in the area to see if there was anything interesting about them. For instance, one time scientists studied whether eating chocolate makes your skin tone lighter. They found that although chocolate does contain ingredients that lighten your skin color, the amount needed for this effect is very high — too much even could hurt your skin instead.
By looking into these types of examples, you will learn how to design your own studies effectively.
Review scientific methods
Recent graduates may be overwhelmed by all of the different ways scientists conduct research. It can feel like there are never clear starting points or final conclusions, which is what makes it interesting!
That’s why it is important to understand how researchers go about their work. There are certain steps that everyone seems to agree upon, but not for very long!
For example, most people know that before you start looking at real data, you have to create an experimental situation or setting to test your theory. This is called establishing a basis state.
After this, you need to collect data points either systematically (researching online frequently is one way to do this) or randomly (asking every person in the street if they want to participate in your experiment is another!).
Once these two things are done, then you can analyze the data and draw conclusions from it.
How to conduct research
Doing social science research is not easy. It takes time, energy, and resources. The more of these you have, the higher your chance of having successful research studies!
As mentioned before, doing qualitative research can be quite difficult. This is because there are no hard and fast rules for how to approach questions or what should be included in an interview.
There are some basic guidelines, though. For example, most people like to talk about themselves so asking open-ended questions is helpful in generating content. Ask enough questions and you’ll get lots of answers!
When conducting quantitative research, it is important to use reliable equipment to gather accurate data. Make sure to check out all of the settings and test conditions on the device beforehand to make sure it functions properly.
Measuring heart rate variability (HRV) is one such way to assess mental health.
As with any research, you must have consent to perform experiments or studies on human subjects. This is especially true for research that involves paying participants or collecting sensitive information such as health records or financial documents.
Most academic institutions require researchers to get approval from an Institutional Review Board (IRB) before they can conduct investigations. An IRB reviews the ethicality of your experiment and gives their “ethical clearances” by confirming that it is safe for humans and environmentally sustainable.
They also check if the participant needs to be compensated or informed about the study in advance, how long the study will last, and whether people can be identified through results.
Some universities even ask if anyone participating in the experiment is able to review the final report! This way, everyone knows what happens to the data and who gets access to it.
Scientists should always publish only findings which are relevant, accurate, and honest- not just because it benefits them, but because it helps ensure trust in science.
Determining your topic
The second step in conducting any research is determining your topic or question you want to study. This can be done through brainstorming, doing surveys, talking with people, or by creating your own article or investigation!
Most good researchers make several attempts to find their research topic before they settle on one that seems interesting and relevant. It can be difficult to know when you have chosen the right topic, but once you do it will feel great!
After deciding what area of research you are interested in, the next thing is choosing your methodology. This means figuring out how you will conduct your studies (surveys, interviews, experiments) and what tools or materials you will use to collect data.
Designing your study
The design of a research experiment is an important part of conducting meaningful scientific experiments. A good experimental design will contribute to the success of your studies, but only if you pay close attention to detail!
What makes up an adequate experimental design? There are several key components that make up an effective design. Some examples of component parts of an experiment include:
A control group – This is one where there is no treatment or intervention given, so we can’t say whether the effect being observed is due to the treatment or something else.
This is one where there is no treatment or intervention given, so we can’t say whether the effect being observed is due to the treatment or something else. An appropriate sample size – If our study has too small a participant pool, then we may not be able to get enough data to determine whether the effects we observe in the test groups are because of the treatments or simply because they were different.
If our study has too small a participant pool, then we may not be able to get enough data to determine whether the effects we see in the test groups are because of the treatments or simply because they were different. Statistical significance – Only significant results matter, so what kind of statistics you use and how you interpret them depends on the nature of your experiment.
Only significant results matter, so what kind of stats you use and how you interpret them depend on the nature of your experiment.