Doing scientific research involves more than just having an idea and going through an elaborate process of testing and analyzing your hypothesis. There are many other steps that must be done properly for it to be considered qualitative research. These include designing appropriate questionnaires, gathering adequate data, organizing findings, presenting results, drawing conclusions, etc.
As you can see, some very important components of doing science experimentally involve using proper scientific practices or procedures. This includes defining terms, developing theories, establishing causal relationships, and ensuring accuracy in measurements and observations. All of these things make up what we refer to as empirical (or experimental) studies- those that rely on observation and measurable phenomena to prove hypotheses.
When conducting quantitative experiments, such as asking questions about participants’ opinions, no formalized protocols exist. However, there is one tool that helps ensure accurate results: a questionnaire!
It is extremely important to clearly define the topic of your survey before writing any questions. Make sure to use clear terminology that people will understand without too much confusion. Using jargon non-scientifically may lead to inaccurate results.
Surveys should also be short and simple to complete. Too long could potentially distract respondents from giving honest answers. People might feel tired after completing a survey, making them forget small details or omit key points.
After collecting all the responses, try to organize them according to similar concepts and categories.
Write your outline
Now that you have done some preliminary research, it is time to start writing! Before you get too excited though, you will need to make an important decision: how to conduct your scientific research. There are two main types of academic research: qualitative or quantitative.
The most common type of research is called qualitative research. This is when you ask questions and explore concepts through discussion or observation. For example, a researcher might interview someone about their experiences with a product or question people in a grocery store about whether they use products before buying them.
Another option for qualitative research is focus groups. In a focus group, individuals discuss topics while being gathered together. The individual conversations are then combined into one longer conversation to create insights to the topic.
A less practiced form of qualitative research is phenomenology. With this style of inquiry, researchers study observations of phenomena (things that happen) and determine what makes up that phenomenon. For example, they would look at what it means to be seated and conclude that sitting was part of the definition.
Develop your team
As mentioned earlier, being able to recruit and manage a research team is an integral part of conducting scientific research. This can be tricky because not all people are intuitively drawn towards doing science.
As such, it is important to identify which qualities in individuals you need to look for when recruiting collaborators or researchers that have done similar work before. These qualities should be ones that are strong fundamentals of good laboratory practices (GLP) as well as personal qualities like teamwork and communication skills.
Individuals with these qualities will feel comfortable working in close proximity with other scientists and colleagues. They will also put in the effort needed to do quality work and meet deadlines.
It may take some time to find this balance of individual’s strengths and weaknesses, but don’t give up! Once you have found them they will prove themselves over and over again.
Fund your project
Before you actually start conducting your research, you will need to fund your project! This can be done in several ways depending on what type of research you are doing.
If your research is general (Does exercise help people lose weight?), then you do not have to secure funding from outside sources. You can either use an online source or ask your professor for some extra money to cover the costs of materials.
For more detailed studies, like studying how nutrition affects health and disease, there are many ways to finance this. Most universities offer at least partial funding through academic resources that can be accessed via student accounts.
You may also find private companies offering scholarship funds for students seeking education-related opportunities.
Pick your location
Choosing where you do your research is an important first step. You want to make sure that the setting is conducive for you and those around you, as well as the people you will be interviewing or doing experiments with.
Research settings vary greatly depending on whether it’s in person, via chat apps like Skype, phone calls, or video chats, and if they are done at night or during the day.
It also depends on what kind of answers you are looking for. If you are asking about how many vegetables someone eats per week, there is no need to pose as a doctor when conducting their interview.
If however you are asking them about symptoms of cancer, then “checking into a hospital” may not work so well.
Prepare your lab
Before you begin any scientific research, you have to make sure that you have enough supplies to keep up with what will be asked of you. This includes things like chemicals, reagents, and equipment needed to conduct the experiment you planned on doing!
You do not want to run out before completing all steps of the experiment, this would waste time and materials! Also, some labs require special precautions or safety procedures that you should be aware of.
Making sure you are prepared is very important as it saves lots of money and time in the long run! Luckily, we can easily manage our labs and stay informed about how to conduct experiments via the internet and YouTube.
Obtain approval to conduct your research
Before you can begin any scientific experimentation, you must first obtain permission to do so! This is one of the most important things to remember when conducting research as there are many regulations that govern what kind of experiments are allowed.
For example, if you were doing an experiment to see how fast water comes out of a hose, you would have to get proper permits or licenses for this. You would also need to make sure that the area being experimented in is approved by the appropriate authorities before starting the experiment.
These permissions usually come from either yourself, your school, or the government, but it is best to look up whether experimenting with water is permitted prior to actually doing so. There may even be legal restrictions on how much water you can use, how old you must be, etc.
Choose your topic
Choosing a research topic is one of the most important steps in conducting scientific research. You do not want to pick something that you are passionate about because then you will be biased when doing experiments and data collection.
If your passion for the topic wanes, it can hard to put effort into the project. Also, if you choose a too broad or complex area as a study, you may loose interest at the early stages.
It is best to pick an area that you have some background knowledge in but that also seems interesting. An easy way to test this is by thinking about things that you have learned before and seeing what areas they relate to. For example, thinking about how plants use photosynthesis reminds you of biology!
Making sure your topic is rigorous enough to get good results takes time. It is okay to start with something simple and see how well you learn from that. But soon after, you must find a new topic!
Some people seem to enjoy vegetables more than others, which makes sense since everyone is different. What works for one person might not work for another.
Conduct your research
A lot of times, people get stuck in this process because they do not know how to begin their scientific research. This is totally understandable as conducting a scientific experiment can be tricky.
Usually, before you actually perform an experiment, you have to conduct some preliminary studies or investigations. These are usually done via observation and/or discussion with other individuals or experiments that have been conducted before.
By doing these things, you will learn what factors influence the outcome of the experiment and which ones don’t.