Doing scientific research involves more than just having an idea and going to the library to look up information about that idea. There are many other steps involved, some of which can be tricky. These include defining your topic, gathering needed materials or tools, organizing what you have into appropriate categories, designing adequate experiments, executing the experiment, analyzing results, and interpreting findings.
As with any skill, this one is learned through practice. The more you do it, the better you get at it! And like anything else, if you want to improve your skills, you must constantly expose yourself to new challenges in doing so. This article will go over several basic concepts for aspiring researchers.
These concepts will include how to conduct systematic reviews, qualitative studies, quantitative studies, randomized controlled trials (RCTs), non-randomized controlled trials (NRCTs) and observational studies. Systematic review, qualitative study, and quantitative study types will be discussed in greater detail later in this article, but first we should talk about why conducting scientific research is important and the different levels of science.
Create a study plan
Creating a research agenda is not an easy process. It takes time, energy, and effort to know what areas are important to focus on and how best to approach them.
That’s why it’s so crucial that you spend time planning out your studies!
Before you get too excited about diving into some new area or developing your skills in something, make sure you have planned out the next steps first.
You don’t want to start studying health benefits of broccoli until you have done preliminary work like determining if there are any physiological differences between people who eat lots of vegetables and those who do not.
Likewise with exercise, you can’t really assess the effectiveness of different types unless you have studied the basics first.
Choose your research location
A common mistake new researchers make is choosing to do their research at facilities that offer the most funding or have connections. This can be very costly, if not impossible!
As a researcher, you will need to test and evaluate different products and services. This means going into places where those products are either being used or sold.
It’s important to determine whether or not the staff working there represent the company that sells the product, however. For example, does this person use the product themselves? If so, how much money did they save using it?
These types of questions must be considered when evaluating the potential success of a business venture. These factors play an integral part in determining the success of a product.
If these things don’t seem like they would matter to someone, then chances are good that they won’t invest his/her time in marketing the product to them.
The more people that know about your product and for whom it works, the greater chance it has of succeeding.
Pick your study participants
One of the most important steps in any scientific research is choosing your participant group or population. Who you include in your study will determine what information you get!
The more representative your sample, the better your results will be. Make sure to match as many variables as possible between groups to draw meaningful conclusions.
There are several ways to do this. For example, you can choose different types of people, with or without a condition, at one time or across times, etc.
It’s very common to want to test whether doing something works so that you can recommend it for use. But if there is no baseline before trying the intervention, then we cannot talk about how much of an effect it had.
You have to make comparisons against something! This makes sense because we already know some interventions work (e.g., exercise helps us feel happier).
By studying why certain treatments seem to help and fail, we can learn more about how to improve them and possibly create new ones that are even more effective.
Talk to your participants
As mentioned before, research involves having people participate in the experiment or study. This is how most studies are conducted – by asking individuals to come into a room and be interviewed or asked to do something. If you’re conducting an observational study, such as watching someone perform an action or talking with them about their habits, then it’s also important to ensure that participant confidentiality is respected at all times.
As researchers, we have to make sure that our participants can feel safe telling us things we ask of them without being judged or harassed for their actions. This protection of privacy is very important because if there is anyone who might get hurt or offended due to what they say, then we cannot use that information.
For example, if a person tells you that their workplace has a policy against dress codes that require men to wear dresses, then that could potentially expose them to harassment or even discrimination from colleagues.
Get ethics approval
Before you actually conduct your research, you must first get ethical clearance to do so! This means getting permission from either a formal body or an informal group of people that have given their consent for you to carry out this study.
Formal bodies that need to be consulted before conducting any research are referred to as Institutional Review Boards (IRBs). These oversee the general research integrity of studies conducted at specific institutions, such as universities.
At each institution, there is usually one person in charge of IRB activities who ensures that appropriate regulations are followed when doing research. They make sure that all relevant laws and regulations concerning human subjects’ rights, confidentiality, and safety are met.
While it may sound like a lot of hassle, having an IRB review and approve your study is a very important part of scientific research. It helps to ensure that no harm will come to participants and that adequate protections against risk have been put in place.
When researching external resources, check whether these resources have been approved by an IRB. There can also be legal repercussions if researchers violate the rules set up to protect individuals involved in their studies.
Write your study proposal
Now that you have determined what area of research to focus on, it is time to write a very important document called an “study proposal.” This document will be used to ask for funding to carry out your proposed experiment or investigation.
In order to obtain research funds, you will need to show how this money would help others in the same position as yourself. Therefore, your study proposal should include evidence that your project will actually work and that it can be conducted with no too much expense.
You do not want to submit a vague document full of talk about doing good but without any proof. Potential funders will likely give up if they cannot find anything concrete.
Instead, make sure your proposal includes details such as the goal of the experiment, who will conduct the experiment, and what tools or equipment will be needed to complete the task. Make sure to also describe past experiments of yours and why their methodology worked.
Find a sponsor
Finding your research focus is not as easy as just picking any field you want to explore and going for it, unless you are very gifted with numbers and mathematics.
Most people do not have access to funds to pursue their dreams of becoming an expert in business or economics, for instance. They may not even be given the opportunity to try because of company policies that only allow so many hours per week being spent studying.
If you are passionate about something and believe in yourself then you can still achieve your goal, but you will need to look at other opportunities to gain knowledge and experience.
By doing this you will also have to make changes to how much money you spend depending on if and where you find someone willing to fund you!
There are several ways to conduct scientific research. The best way depends on what kind of research you want to perform and who can help pay for it.
Register your study with a research organization
Before you can conduct scientific research, you have to register your study with an appropriate body that reviews the content of the survey or experiment. This is called registering your study!
Most good research organizations require you to fill out a very basic registration form first, which includes things like the name of the study, how many people will be involved in it, and what data and materials you will use while conducting the study.
After this, they ask some more specific questions about the study, such as what area of the study you are working on, and whether there are any ethical issues that may arise.
The questionnaire also asks if you are registered with an institutional review board (IRB), which is similar to a human subjects committee but for studies involving humans.