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Research Design Overview
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  1. Research Design Overview Heather M. Gray, Ph.D. January 26, 2010 Research Methods for the Social Sciences: An Introductory Course

  2. Today’s Plan • Lecture: The 5 basic types of research approaches in the social sciences • Interactive exercise #1: Does watching too much TV kill you? • Interactive exercise #2: Name that Method (time permitting)

  3. Primary Sources • Rosenthal, R. & Rosnow, R. L. (1991). Essentials of Behavioral Research: Methods and Data Analysis • Research Methods: The Laboratory http://www.mcli.dist.maricopa.edu/proj/res_meth/login.html

  4. Experiments Everything Else Correlation Naturalistic Observation Survey Case Study 5 Basic Approaches

  5. Experiments • Description: • Manipulating a variable to see if it changes a second variable • Independent variable • Dependent variable X Y

  6. Experiments • Strengths: Cause-and-effect relationships, IF: • Statistical conclusion validity • Construct validity • Internal validity • External validity

  7. Rigor Relevance Experiments • Limitations: • Necessary trade-offs • “Truth accrues, error cancels out” (attributed to Robert Rosenthal)

  8. Experiments • Limitations: • Not always practical • Not always ethical

  9. Experiments Everything Else Correlation Naturalistic Observation Survey Case Study 5 Basic Approaches

  10. Correlation • Description: • No manipulation • Designed to determine degree and direction of relationship between two variables X Y

  11. Correlation • Strength: • No manipulation • Useful for prediction

  12. Correlation • Limitations: • Correlation cannot prove causation

  13. Experiments Everything Else Correlation Naturalistic Observation Survey Case Study 5 Basic Approaches

  14. Naturalistic Observation • Description: • Careful observation and recording of some behavior or phenomenon • Over a prolonged time • In its natural setting • Without interference

  15. Naturalistic Observation • Strengths: • Observation of behavior as it occurs naturally • Limited opportunity for experimenter effects • Can yield hypotheses for future experimental investigation

  16. Naturalistic Observation • Limitations: • Descriptive method, not explanatory • Time intensive • Difficulty of observing behavior without disrupting it • Coding issues

  17. Experiments Everything Else Correlation Naturalistic Observation Survey Case Study 5 Basic Approaches

  18. Survey • Description: • Descriptive study • Inferences drawn from interviews or questionnaires • Different types of questions • Forced-choice • Open-ended

  19. Survey • Strength: • When constructs are difficult to observe directly • Standardization • Cost-effective • Relatively quick

  20. Survey • Limitations: • No cause-and-effect conclusions • Reliance on self-reports • Deception • Poor memory • Misunderstanding of question • Lack of insight • Predicting behavior?

  21. Experiments Everything Else Correlation Naturalistic Observation Survey Case Study 5 Basic Approaches

  22. Case Study • Description: • In-depth descriptive record of an individual or small group of individuals • Biographical data, medical records, family history, observations, interviews, psychological tests

  23. Case Study • Strengths: • Provide detailed, contextual view • If long term, helpful in understanding developmental issues • Helpful in generating hypotheses for future testing

  24. Case Study • Limitations: • Not explanatory; no cause-and-effect relationships • Behavior can be observed but not explained • Lack of generalizability • Issues re: retrospective data

  25. Take-home point #1 • On choosing your own research method • Don’t be limited to just one approach • Use combination of approaches to help correct for inherent weaknesses

  26. Take-home point #2 • On being an educated consumer of research • Are conclusions warranted by the study design? • Example…

  27. Interactive Exercise #1 • How else could we have addressed this question? • Naturalistic observation • Survey • Case study • Experiment?

  28. Interactive Exercise #2 • Name that Method