psychology research paper and scientific methodology

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Psychology research paper and scientific methodology

All data must be accounted for, even if they invalidate the hypothesis. In order to ask an important question that may improve our understanding of the world, a researcher must first observe natural phenomena. By making observations, a researcher can define a useful question. After finding a question to answer, the researcher can then make a prediction a hypothesis about what he or she thinks the answer will be.

This prediction is usually a statement about the relationship between two or more variables. After making a hypothesis, the researcher will then design an experiment to test his or her hypothesis and evaluate the data gathered. These data will either support or refute the hypothesis. Based on the conclusions drawn from the data, the researcher will then find more evidence to support the hypothesis, look for counter-evidence to further strengthen the hypothesis, revise the hypothesis and create a new experiment, or continue to incorporate the information gathered to answer the research question.

The use of the scientific method is one of the main features that separates modern psychology from earlier philosophical inquiries about the mind. Many of the concepts that psychologists are interested in—such as aspects of the human mind, behavior, and emotions—are subjective and cannot be directly measured. Psychologists often rely instead on behavioral observations and self-reported data, which are considered by some to be illegitimate or lacking in methodological rigor.

Applying the scientific method to psychology, therefore, helps to standardize the approach to understanding its very different types of information. The scientific method allows psychological data to be replicated and confirmed in many instances, under different circumstances, and by a variety of researchers. Through replication of experiments, new generations of psychologists can reduce errors and broaden the applicability of theories.

It also allows theories to be tested and validated instead of simply being conjectures that could never be verified or falsified. All of this allows psychologists to gain a stronger understanding of how the human mind works. Scientific articles published in journals and psychology papers written in the style of the American Psychological Association i.

These papers include an Introduction, which introduces the background information and outlines the hypotheses; a Methods section, which outlines the specifics of how the experiment was conducted to test the hypothesis; a Results section, which includes the statistics that tested the hypothesis and state whether it was supported or not supported, and a Discussion and Conclusion, which state the implications of finding support for, or no support for, the hypothesis.

Writing articles and papers that adhere to the scientific method makes it easy for future researchers to repeat the study and attempt to replicate the results. Privacy Policy. Skip to main content. Researching Psychology. Search for:. The Scientific Method. Psychology and the Scientific Method: From Theory to Conclusion The scientific method offers a standardized way for psychologists to test hypotheses, build on theories, and gain knowledge about the mind.

Learning Objectives Defend each step of the scientific method as necessary to psychological research. Key Takeaways Key Points The scientific method was first outlined by Sir Francis Bacon to provide logical, rational problem solving across many scientific fields. The basic steps of the scientific method are: 1 make an observation that describes a problem, 2 create a hypothesis, 3 test the hypothesis, and 4 draw conclusions and refine the hypothesis. The major precepts of the scientific method employed by all scientific disciplines are verifiability, predictability, falsifiability, and fairness.

The application of the scientific theory to psychology took the discipline from a form of philosophy to a form of science. Critical thinking is a key component of the scientific method. Without it, you cannot use logic to come to conclusions. Key Terms social science : Sciences concerned with the social behavior of individuals and groups e. A theory is a well-developed set of ideas that propose an explanation for observed phenomena that can be used to make predictions about future observations.

A hypothesis is a testable prediction that is arrived at logically from a theory. It is often worded as an if-then statement e. The hypothesis is extremely important because it bridges the gap between the realm of ideas and the real world. As specific hypotheses are tested, theories are modified and refined to reflect and incorporate the result of these tests Figure 2. Figure 3. The scientific method of research includes proposing hypotheses, conducting research, and creating or modifying theories based on results.

Other key components in following the scientific method include verifiability, predictability, falsifiability, and fairness. Verifiability means that an experiment must be replicable by another researcher. To achieve verifiability, researchers must make sure to document their methods and clearly explain how their experiment is structured and why it produces certain results.

Predictability in a scientific theory implies that the theory should enable us to make predictions about future events. The precision of these predictions is a measure of the strength of the theory. Falsifiability refers to whether a hypothesis can disproved. For a hypothesis to be falsifiable, it must be logically possible to make an observation or do a physical experiment that would show that there is no support for the hypothesis.

Even when a hypothesis cannot be shown to be false, that does not necessarily mean it is not valid. Future testing may disprove the hypothesis. This does not mean that a hypothesis has to be shown to be false, just that it can be tested. To determine whether a hypothesis is supported or not supported, psychological researchers must conduct hypothesis testing using statistics.

Hypothesis testing is a type of statistics that determines the probability of a hypothesis being true or false. Fairness implies that all data must be considered when evaluating a hypothesis. A researcher cannot pick and choose what data to keep and what to discard or focus specifically on data that support or do not support a particular hypothesis. All data must be accounted for, even if they invalidate the hypothesis.

If you walked out of your home and discovered a very aggressive snake waiting on your doorstep, your heart would begin to race and your stomach churn. According to the James-Lange theory, these physiological changes would result in your feeling of fear. A hypothesis that could be derived from this theory might be that a person who is unaware of the physiological arousal that the sight of the snake elicits will not feel fear.

Remember that a good scientific hypothesis is falsifiable, or capable of being shown to be incorrect. Recall from the introductory module that Sigmund Freud had lots of interesting ideas to explain various human behaviors Figure 3. Figure 4. In broader strokes, his views set the stage for much of psychological thinking today, such as the unconscious nature of the majority of psychological processes.

In contrast, the James-Lange theory does generate falsifiable hypotheses, such as the one described above. Some individuals who suffer significant injuries to their spinal columns are unable to feel the bodily changes that often accompany emotional experiences. Therefore, we could test the hypothesis by determining how emotional experiences differ between individuals who have the ability to detect these changes in their physiological arousal and those who do not.

Want to participate in a study? Visit this Psychological Research on the Net website and click on a link that sounds interesting to you in order to participate in online research. The use of the scientific method is one of the main features that separates modern psychology from earlier philosophical inquiries about the mind.

Many of the concepts that psychologists are interested in—such as aspects of the human mind, behavior, and emotions—are subjective and cannot be directly measured. Psychologists often rely instead on behavioral observations and self-reported data, which are considered by some to be illegitimate or lacking in methodological rigor.

Applying the scientific method to psychology, therefore, helps to standardize the approach to understanding its very different types of information. The scientific method allows psychological data to be replicated and confirmed in many instances, under different circumstances, and by a variety of researchers. Through replication of experiments, new generations of psychologists can reduce errors and broaden the applicability of theories.

It also allows theories to be tested and validated instead of simply being conjectures that could never be verified or falsified. All of this allows psychologists to gain a stronger understanding of how the human mind works. Scientific articles published in journals and psychology papers written in the style of the American Psychological Association i. These papers include an Introduction, which introduces the background information and outlines the hypotheses; a Methods section, which outlines the specifics of how the experiment was conducted to test the hypothesis; a Results section, which includes the statistics that tested the hypothesis and state whether it was supported or not supported, and a Discussion and Conclusion, which state the implications of finding support for, or no support for, the hypothesis.

Writing articles and papers that adhere to the scientific method makes it easy for future researchers to repeat the study and attempt to replicate the results. Today, scientists agree that good research is ethical in nature and is guided by a basic respect for human dignity and safety.

However, as you will read in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, this has not always been the case. Modern researchers must demonstrate that the research they perform is ethically sound. This section presents how ethical considerations affect the design and implementation of research conducted today. Any experiment involving the participation of human subjects is governed by extensive, strict guidelines designed to ensure that the experiment does not result in harm.

Any research institution that receives federal support for research involving human participants must have access to an institutional review board IRB. The purpose of the IRB is to review proposals for research that involves human participants. The IRB reviews these proposals with the principles mentioned above in mind, and generally, approval from the IRB is required in order for the experiment to proceed.

Figure 5. For one, each participant must sign an informed consent form before they can participate in the experiment. An informed consent form provides a written description of what participants can expect during the experiment, including potential risks and implications of the research. It also lets participants know that their involvement is completely voluntary and can be discontinued without penalty at any time. Furthermore, the informed consent guarantees that any data collected in the experiment will remain completely confidential.

In cases where research participants are under the age of 18, the parents or legal guardians are required to sign the informed consent form. Deception involves purposely misleading experiment participants in order to maintain the integrity of the experiment, but not to the point where the deception could be considered harmful.

In cases where deception is involved, participants must receive a full debriefing upon conclusion of the study—complete, honest information about the purpose of the experiment, how the data collected will be used, the reasons why deception was necessary, and information about how to obtain additional information about the study.

Unfortunately, the ethical guidelines that exist for research today were not always applied in the past. In , poor, rural, black, male sharecroppers from Tuskegee, Alabama, were recruited to participate in an experiment conducted by the U.

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Health psychologists can also educate doctors and conduct research on patient compliance. These range from public relations campaigns and outreach to governmental laws and policies. Psychologists study the composite influence of all these different tools in an effort to influence whole populations of people. An example of the contribution of psychologists to social change involves the research of Kenneth and Mamie Clark.

These two African American psychologists studied segregation's adverse psychological impact on Black children. Their research findings played a role in the desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education Industrial and organizational psychology has been concerned with occupational health and well-being for well over a hundred years.

He examined the impact on productivity of hiring mentally unstable workers. More recently, I-O psychologists have found that staying vigorous during working hours is associated with better work-related behaviour and subjective well-being as well as more effective functioning in the family domain.

Occupational health psychology OHP is a branch of psychology that is very much interdisciplinary. Quantitative psychological research lends itself to the statistical testing of hypotheses. Although the field makes abundant use of randomized and controlled experiments in laboratory settings, such research can only assess a limited range of short-term phenomena.

Some psychologists rely on less rigorously controlled, but more ecologically valid , field experiments as well. Other research psychologists rely on statistical methods to glean knowledge from population data. The measurement and operationalization of important constructs is an essential part of these research designs. Although this type of psychological research is much less abundant than quantitative research, some psychologists conduct qualitative research. This type of research can involve interviews, questionnaires, and first-hand observation.

A true experiment with random assignment of research participants sometimes called subjects to rival conditions allows researchers to make strong inferences about causal relationships. When there are large numbers of research participants, the random assignment also called random allocation of those participants to rival conditions ensures that the individuals in those conditions will, on average, be similar on most characteristics, including characteristics that went unmeasured.

In an experiment, the researcher alters one or more variables of influence, called independent variables , and measures resulting changes in the factors of interest, called dependent variables. Prototypical experimental research is conducted in a laboratory with a carefully controlled environment.

A quasi-experiment refers to a situation in which there are rival conditions under study but random assignment to the different conditions is not possible. Investigators must work with preexisting groups of people. Researchers can use common sense to consider how much the nonrandom assignment threatens the study's validity. Psychologists will compare the achievement of children attending phonics and whole language classes and, perhaps, statistically adjust for any initial differences in reading level.

Experimental researchers typically use a statistical hypothesis testing model which involves making predictions before conducting the experiment, then assessing how well the data collected are consistent with the predictions. These predictions are likely to originate from one or more abstract scientific hypotheses about how the phenomenon under study actually works.

Surveys are used in psychology for the purpose of measuring attitudes and traits , monitoring changes in mood , and checking the validity of experimental manipulations checking research participants' perception of the condition they were assigned to. Psychologists have commonly used paper-and-pencil surveys. However, surveys are also conducted over the phone or through e-mail.

Web-based surveys are increasingly used to conveniently reach many subjects. Observational studies are commonly conducted in psychology. In cross-sectional observational studies, psychologists collect data at a single point in time. The goal of many cross-sectional studies is the assess the extent factors are correlated with each other. By contrast, in longitudinal studies psychologists collect data on the same sample at two or more points in time. Sometimes the purpose of longitudinal research is to study trends across time such as the stability of traits or age-related changes in behavior.

Because some studies involve endpoints that psychologists cannot ethically study from an experimental standpoint, such as identifying the causes of depression, they conduct longitudinal studies a large group of depression-free people, periodically assessing what is happening in the individuals' lives.

In this way psychologists have an opportunity to test causal hypotheses regarding conditions that commonly arise in people's lives that put them at risk for depression. Problems that affect longitudinal studies include selective attrition , the type of problem in which bias is introduced when a certain type of research participant disproportionately leaves a study.

Exploratory data analysis refers to a variety of practices that researchers use to reduce a great many variables to a small number overarching factors. In Peirce's three modes of inference , exploratory data analysis corresponds to abduction. A classic and popular tool used to relate mental and neural activity is the electroencephalogram EEG , a technique using amplified electrodes on a person's scalp to measure voltage changes in different parts of the brain.

Hans Berger , the first researcher to use EEG on an unopened skull, quickly found that brains exhibit signature "brain waves": electric oscillations which correspond to different states of consciousness. Researchers subsequently refined statistical methods for synthesizing the electrode data, and identified unique brain wave patterns such as the delta wave observed during non-REM sleep.

Newer functional neuroimaging techniques include functional magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography , both of which track the flow of blood through the brain. These technologies provide more localized information about activity in the brain and create representations of the brain with widespread appeal.

They also provide insight which avoids the classic problems of subjective self-reporting. It remains challenging to draw hard conclusions about where in the brain specific thoughts originate—or even how usefully such localization corresponds with reality.

However, neuroimaging has delivered unmistakable results showing the existence of correlations between mind and brain. Some of these draw on a systemic neural network model rather than a localized function model. Psychiatric interventions such as transcranial magnetic stimulation and drugs also provide information about brain—mind interactions.

Psychopharmacology is the study of drug-induced mental effects. Computational modeling is a tool used in mathematical psychology and cognitive psychology to simulate behavior. Since modern computers process information quickly, simulations can be run in a short time, allowing for high statistical power.

Modeling also allows psychologists to visualize hypotheses about the functional organization of mental events that couldn't be directly observed in a human. Computational neuroscience uses mathematical models to simulate the brain. Another method is symbolic modeling, which represents many mental objects using variables and rules.

Other types of modeling include dynamic systems and stochastic modeling. Animal experiments aid in investigating many aspects of human psychology, including perception, emotion, learning, memory, and thought, to name a few. In the s, Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov famously used dogs to demonstrate classical conditioning. Non-human primates, cats, dogs, pigeons, and rats and other rodents are often used in psychological experiments.

Ideally, controlled experiments introduce only one independent variable at a time, in order to ascertain its unique effects upon dependent variables. These conditions are approximated best in laboratory settings. In contrast, human environments and genetic backgrounds vary so widely, and depend upon so many factors, that it is difficult to control important variables for human subjects. There are pitfalls, however, in generalizing findings from animal studies to humans through animal models.

Comparative psychology refers to the scientific study of the behavior and mental processes of non-human animals, especially as these relate to the phylogenetic history, adaptive significance, and development of behavior. Research in this area explores the behavior of many species, from insects to primates. It is closely related to other disciplines that study animal behavior such as ethology.

Qualitative research is often designed to answer questions about the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of individuals. Qualitative research involving first-hand observation can help describe events as they occur, with the goal of capturing the richness of everyday behavior and with the hope of discovering and understanding phenomena that might have been missed if only more cursory examinations are made.

Qualitative psychological research methods include interviews, first-hand observation, and participant observation. Creswell identified five main possibilities for qualitative research, including narrative, phenomenology, ethnography , case study , and grounded theory. Qualitative researchers [] sometimes aim to enrich our understanding of symbols, subjective experiences, or social structures.

Sometimes hermeneutic and critical aims can give rise to quantitative research, as in Erich Fromm 's application of psychological and sociological theories, in his book Escape from Freedom , to understanding why many ordinary Germans supported Hitler. Just as Jane Goodall studied chimpanzee social and family life by careful observation of chimpanzee behavior in the field, psychologists conduct naturalistic observation of ongoing human social, professional, and family life.

Sometimes the participants are aware they are being observed, and other times the participants do not know they are being observed. Strict ethical guidelines must be followed when covert observation is being carried out. Program Evaluation involves the systematic collection, analysis, and application of information to answer questions about projects, policies and programs, particularly about their effectiveness. While program evaluation first focuses on effectiveness, important considerations often include how much the program costs per participant, how the program could be improved, whether the program is worthwhile, whether there are better alternatives, if there are unintended outcomes, and whether the program goals are appropriate and useful.

Metascience involves the application of scientific methodology to study science itself. The field of metascience has revealed problems in psychological research. Some psychological research has suffered from bias , [] problematic reproducibility , [] and misuse of statistics. Fanelli argued that this is because researchers in "softer" sciences have fewer constraints to their conscious and unconscious biases.

A replication crisis in psychology has emerged. Many notable findings in the field have not been replicated. Some researchers were even accused of publishing fraudulent results. Focus on the replication crisis has led to other renewed efforts in the discipline to re-test important findings. The collaborators regularly make their data openly available for different researchers to assess.

Some critics view statistical hypothesis testing as misplaced. Psychologist and statistician Jacob Cohen wrote in that psychologists routinely confuse statistical significance with practical importance, enthusiastically reporting great certainty in unimportant facts. In , Arnett pointed out that most articles in American Psychological Association journals were about U.

He complained that psychologists had no basis for assuming psychological processes to be universal and generalizing research findings to the rest of the global population. Arnett , Altmaier, and Hall and Morgan-Consoli et al. Moreover, their analysis showed that several studies did not fully disclose the origin of their samples; the authors offered a set of recommendations to editors and reviewers to reduce WEIRD bias.

Some observers perceive a gap between scientific theory and its application—in particular, the application of unsupported or unsound clinical practices. Ethical standards in the discipline have changed over time. Some famous past studies are today considered unethical and in violation of established codes the Canadian Code of Conduct for Research Involving Humans, and the Belmont Report.

The American Psychological Association has advanced a set of ethical principles and a code of conduct for the profession. The most important contemporary standards include informed and voluntary consent. Later, most countries and scientific journals adopted the Declaration of Helsinki. All of these measures encouraged researchers to obtain informed consent from human participants in experimental studies.

A number of influential but ethically dubious studies led to the establishment of this rule; such studies included the MIT-Harvard Fernald School radioisotope studies , the Thalidomide tragedy , the Willowbrook hepatitis study , and Stanley Milgram's studies of obedience to authority. Universities have ethics committees dedicated to protecting the rights e.

University ethics committees evaluate proposed research to ensure that researchers protect the rights and well-being of participants; an investigator's research project cannot be conducted unless approved by such an ethics committee. This code has guided the formation of licensing laws in most American states.

It has changed multiple times over the decades since its adoption. In , the APA revised its policies on advertising and referral fees to negotiate the end of an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission. The incarnation was the first to distinguish between "aspirational" ethical standards and "enforceable" ones.

Some of the ethical issues considered most important are the requirement to practice only within the area of competence, to maintain confidentiality with the patients, and to avoid sexual relations with them. Another important principle is informed consent , the idea that a patient or research subject must understand and freely choose a procedure they are undergoing. Research on other animals is also governed by university ethics committees. Research on nonhuman animals cannot proceed without permission of the ethics committee of the researcher's home institution.

Current ethical guidelines state that using non-human animals for scientific purposes is only acceptable when the harm physical or psychological done to animals is outweighed by the benefits of the research. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Not to be confused with Phycology , Physiology , or Psychiatry. For the album, see Psychology album. For the short story, see Psychology short story.

For the Pet Shop Boys song, see Psychological song. Study of mental functions and behaviours. Basic types. Applied psychology. Main article: History of psychology. See also: List of psychology organizations. Main article: Cognitive neuroscience. Main articles: Behaviorism , Psychological behaviorism , and Radical behaviorism. Play media. Main article: Cognitive psychology.

Main article: Social psychology. See also: Social psychology sociology. Main articles: Psychodynamics and psychoanalysis. Main articles: Existential psychology and Humanistic psychology. Main article: Personality psychology. Main article: Motivation.

Main article: Developmental psychology. Main article: Behavioral genetics. Further information: Outline of psychology , List of psychology disciplines , Applied psychology , and Subfields of psychology. See also: Psychometrics and social statistics. See also: Clinical psychology. Main articles: Educational psychology and School psychology. See also: Industrial and organizational psychology and Organizational behavior.

See also: Health psychology , Social issues , Industrial and organizational psychology , and Occupational health psychology. Main articles: Psychological research and List of psychological research methods. Main article: Experiment. See also: Computational cognition , Graph theory , and Network theory. Further information: Misuse of statistics and Misuse of p-values.

For other uses, see Weird. See also: Cultural psychology , Indigenous psychology , Transnational psychology , and Cross-cultural psychology. Psychology: Six perspectives pp. Worth Publishers, By contrast, behaviorists consider such phenomena as classical conditioning and operant conditioning. Cognitivists explore implicit memory , automaticity , and subliminal messages , all of which are understood either to bypass or to occur outside of conscious effort or attention. Indeed, cognitive-behavioral therapists counsel their clients to become aware of maladaptive thought patterns, the nature of which the clients previously had not been conscious.

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One graduate of the Record Office training program wrote, 'I hope to serve the cause by infiltrating eugenics into the minds of teachers. It may interest you to know that each student who takes psychology here works up his family history and plots his family tree. Occupational health psychology: Work, stress, and health.

In the case of psychotherapy, he defined health in terms of blood, strong will, proficiency, discipline, Zucht und Ordnung , community, heroic bearing, and physical fitness. Schultz-Hencke also took the opportunity in to criticize psychoanalysis for providing an unfortunate tendency toward the exculpation of the criminal. Psychoanalysis also attracted the interest of Soviet psychology as a materialist trend that had challenged the credentials of classical introspective psychology.

The reluctance of the pre-Revolutionary establishment to propagate psychoanalysis also played a positive role in the post-Revolutionary years; it was a field uncompromised by ties to old-regime science. Leading Marxist philosophers earlier associated with psychology—including Yuri Frankfurt, Nikolai Karev, and Ivan Luppol—were executed in prison camps.

The same fate awaited Alexei Gastev and Isaak Shipilrein. Those who survived lived in an atmosphere of total suspicion. Books and newspapers were constantly being recalled from libraries to rid them of 'obsolete' names and references. This approach may be traced back to the assertion of Wilhelm Humboldt that it is not man who has language as an attribute, but rather language that 'possesses' man.

This new Soviet psychology leaned heavily on Lenin's theory of reflection, which was unearthed in his two volumes posthumously published in Toward the late twenties, a group of Soviet research psychologists headed by Vygotskii, along with Luria and Leont'ev, laid the groundwork for a Marxist-Leninist approach to psychic development.

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SSRN Social Psychological and Personality Science. ISSN Science AAAS. Retrieved 24 May Frontiers in Psychology. Solow; Donald N. McCloskey The Consequences of economic rhetoric. Cambridge University Press. The New Yorker. Retrieved 10 April March Journal of the American Statistical Association. Enrico Scalas ed. Bibcode : PLoSO Advance Publications. Retrieved 19 December The Slate Group. ANOTHER NOTE : If you are conducting a qualitative analysis of a research problem , the methodology section generally requires a more elaborate description of the methods used as well as an explanation of the processes applied to gathering and analyzing of data than is generally required for studies using quantitative methods.

Because you are the primary instrument for generating the data [e. Therefore, qualitative research requires a more detailed description of the methods used. This is not a common procedure for most undergraduate level student research assignments.

However, i f your professor states you need approval, you must include a statement in your methods section that you received official endorsement and adequate informed consent from the office and that there was a clear assessment and minimization of risks to participants and to the university. This statement informs the reader that your study was conducted in an ethical and responsible manner. In some cases, the approval notice is included as an appendix to your paper.

Problems to Avoid. Irrelevant Detail The methodology section of your paper should be thorough but concise. Do not provide any background information that does not directly help the reader understand why a particular method was chosen, how the data was gathered or obtained, and how the data was analyzed in relation to the research problem [note: analyzed, not interpreted!

Save how you interpreted the findings for the discussion section]. With this in mind, the page length of your methods section will generally be less than any other section of your paper except the conclusion. Unnecessary Explanation of Basic Procedures Remember that you are not writing a how-to guide about a particular method. You should make the assumption that readers possess a basic understanding of how to investigate the research problem on their own and, therefore, you do not have to go into great detail about specific methodological procedures.

The focus should be on how you applied a method , not on the mechanics of doing a method. An exception to this rule is if you select an unconventional methodological approach; if this is the case, be sure to explain why this approach was chosen and how it enhances the overall process of discovery. Problem Blindness It is almost a given that you will encounter problems when collecting or generating your data, or, gaps will exist in existing data or archival materials. Do not ignore these problems or pretend they did not occur.

Often, documenting how you overcame obstacles can form an interesting part of the methodology. It demonstrates to the reader that you can provide a cogent rationale for the decisions you made to minimize the impact of any problems that arose. Literature Review Just as the literature review section of your paper provides an overview of sources you have examined while researching a particular topic, the methodology section should cite any sources that informed your choice and application of a particular method [i.

A description of a research study's method should not be confused with a description of the sources of information. Such a list of sources is useful in and of itself, especially if it is accompanied by an explanation about the selection and use of the sources. The description of the project's methodology complements a list of sources in that it sets forth the organization and interpretation of information emanating from those sources.

Azevedo, L. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers , pp. Structuring Your Research Thesis. Methods Section. Writing Center. Thousand Oaks, Sage Publications, , pp. Purdue University; Methods and Materials. Department of Biology. Bates College. Statistical Designs and Tests? Do Not Fear Them! Don't avoid using a quantitative approach to analyzing your research problem just because you fear the idea of applying statistical designs and tests.

A qualitative approach, such as conducting interviews or content analysis of archival texts, can yield exciting new insights about a research problem, but it should not be undertaken simply because you have a disdain for running a simple regression. A well designed quantitative research study can often be accomplished in very clear and direct ways, whereas, a similar study of a qualitative nature usually requires considerable time to analyze large volumes of data and a tremendous burden to create new paths for analysis where previously no path associated with your research problem had existed.

Knowing the Relationship Between Theories and Methods. There can be multiple meaning associated with the term "theories" and the term "methods" in social sciences research. A helpful way to delineate between them is to understand "theories" as representing different ways of characterizing the social world when you research it and "methods" as representing different ways of generating and analyzing data about that social world.

Framed in this way, all empirical social sciences research involves theories and methods, whether they are stated explicitly or not. However, while theories and methods are often related, it is important that, as a researcher, you deliberately separate them in order to avoid your theories playing a disproportionate role in shaping what outcomes your chosen methods produce.

Introspectively engage in an ongoing dialectic between the application of theories and methods to help enable you to use the outcomes from your methods to interrogate and develop new theories, or ways of framing conceptually the research problem. This is how scholarship grows and branches out into new intellectual territory.

Reynolds, R. Ways of Knowing. Alternative Microeconomics. Part 1, Chapter 3. S-Cool Revision. United Kingdom. Methods and the Methodology. Do not confuse the terms "methods" and "methodology. Descriptions of methods usually include defining and stating why you have chosen specific techniques to investigate a research problem, followed by an outline of the procedures you used to systematically select, gather, and process the data [remember to always save the interpretation of data for the discussion section of your paper].

The methodology refers to a discussion of the underlying reasoning why particular methods were used. This discussion includes describing the theoretical concepts that inform the choice of methods to be applied, placing the choice of methods within the more general nature of academic work, and reviewing its relevance to examining the research problem.

The methodology section also includes a thorough review of the methods other scholars have used to study the topic. Bryman, Alan. Chinese Department, University of Leiden, Netherlands. The Methodology. Search this Guide Search. Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper Offers detailed guidance on how to develop, organize, and write a college-level research paper in the social and behavioral sciences. The Abstract Executive Summary 4. The Introduction The C. The Discussion Limitations of the Study 9.

The Conclusion Appendices Importance of a Good Methodology Section You must explain how you obtained and analyzed your results for the following reasons: Readers need to know how the data was obtained because the method you chose affects the results and, by extension, how you interpreted their significance in the discussion section of your paper.

Methodology is crucial for any branch of scholarship because an unreliable method produces unreliable results and, as a consequence, undermines the value of your analysis of the findings. In most cases, there are a variety of different methods you can choose to investigate a research problem. The methodology section of your paper should clearly articulate the reasons why you have chosen a particular procedure or technique.

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Structured formal interviews are like a job interview. There is a fixed, predetermined set of questions that are put to every participant in the same order and in the same way. The interviewer stays within their role and maintains social distance from the interviewee. Questionnaires can be thought of as a kind of written interview. They can be carried out face to face, by telephone or post.

The questions asked can be open ended, allowing flexibility in the respondent's answers, or they can be more tightly structured requiring short answers or a choice of answers from given alternatives. Covert observations are when the researcher pretends to be an ordinary member of the group and observes in secret.

There could be ethical problems or deception and consent with this particular method of observation. Overt observations are when the researcher tells the group he or she is conducting research i. Controlled: behavior is observed under controlled laboratory conditions e. Bandura's Bobo doll study. Natural: Here spontaneous behavior is recorded in a natural setting.

Participant: Here the observer has direct contact with the group of people they are observing. Non-participant aka "fly on the wall : The researcher does not have direct contact with the people being observed. A pilot study is an initial run-through of the procedures to be used in an investigation; it involves selecting a few people and trying out the study on them.

It is possible to save time, and in some cases, money, by identifying any flaws in the procedures designed by the researcher. A pilot study can help the researcher spot any ambiguities i. Sometimes the task is too hard, and the researcher may get a floor effect, because none of the participants can score at all or can complete the task — all performances are low. Content analysis is a research tool used to indirectly observe the presence of certain words, images or concepts within the media e.

For example, content analysis could be used to study sex-role stereotyping. Researchers quantify i. To conduct a content analysis on any such media, the media is coded or broken down, into manageable categories on a variety of levels - word, word sense, phrase, sentence, or theme - and then examined. Weaknesses: Research designs in studies can vary so they are not truly comparable. A researcher submits an article to a journal. The journal selects two or more appropriate experts psychologists working in a similar field to peer review the article without payment.

The peer reviewers assess: the methods and designs used, originality of the findings, the validity of the original research findings and its content, structure and language. Feedback from the reviewer determines whether the article is accepted.

The article may be: Accepted as it is, accepted with revisions, sent back to the author to revise and re-submit or rejected without the possibility of submission. Peer review is important because it prevent faulty data from entering the public domain, it provides a way of checking the validity of findings and the quality of the methodology and is used to assess the research rating of university departments. Peer reviews may be an ideal, whereas in practice there are lots of problems.

For example, it slows publication down and may prevent unusual, new work being published. Some reviewers might use it as an opportunity to prevent competing researchers from publishing work. Some people doubt whether peer review can really prevent the publication of fraudulent research. A The advent of the internet means that a lot of research and academic comment is being published without official peer reviews than before, though systems are evolving on the internet where everyone really has a chance to offer their opinions and police the quality of research.

Quantitative data is numerical data e. It represents how much or how long, how many there are of something. A tally of behavioral categories and closed questions in a questionnaire collect quantitative data. Qualitative data is non-numerical data expressed in words e.

Open questions in questionnaires and accounts from observational studies collect qualitative data. Primary data is first hand data collected for the purpose of the investigation. Secondary data is information that has been collected by someone other than the person who is conducting the research e.

Validity is whether the observed effect in genuine and represents what is actually out there in the world. Concurrent validity — the extent to which a psychological measure relates to an existing similar measure and obtains close results.

For example, a new intelligence test compared to an established test. Temporal validity — the extent to which findings from a research study can be generalised to other historical times. Reliability is a measure of consistency, if a particular measurement is repeated and the same result is obtained then it is described as being reliable.

Test-retest reliability — Assessing the same person on two different occasions which shows the extent to which the test produces the same answers. Inter-observer reliability — the extent to which there is agreement between two or more observers. Paradigm — A set of shared assumptions and agreed methods within a scientific discipline. Paradigm shift — The result of scientific revolution: a significant change in the dominant unifying theory within a scientific discipline.

Objectivity — When all sources of personal bias are minimised so not to distort or influence the research process. Empirical method — Scientific approaches that are based on the gathering of evidence through direct observation and experience. Replicability — The extent to which scientific procedures and findings can be repeated by other researchers. Falsifiability — The principle that a theory cannot be considered scientific unless it admits the possibility of being proved untrue.

A significant result is one where there is a low probability that chance factors were responsible for any observed difference, correlation or association in the variables tested. If our test is significant, we can reject our null hypothesis and accept our alternative hypothesis. If our test is not significant, we can accept our null hypothesis and reject our alternative hypothesis. A null hypothesis is a statement of no effect.

A type I error is when the null hypothesis is rejected when it should have been accepted happens when a lenient significance level is used, an error of optimism. A type II error is when the null hypothesis is accepted when it should have been rejected happened when a stringent significance level is used, an error of pessimism. Informed consent is when participants are able to make an informed judgement about whether to take part.

It causes them to guess the aims of the study and change their behavior. To deal with it, we can gain presumptive consent or ask them to formally indicate their agreement to participate but it may invalidate the purpose of the study and it is not guaranteed that the participants would understand.

Deception should only be used when it approved by an ethics committee as it involves deliberately misleading or withholding information. All participants should be informed at the beginning that they have the Right to Withdraw if they ever feel distressed or uncomfortable. Fairness implies that all data must be considered when evaluating a hypothesis. A researcher cannot pick and choose what data to keep and what to discard or focus specifically on data that support or do not support a particular hypothesis.

All data must be accounted for, even if they invalidate the hypothesis. If you walked out of your home and discovered a very aggressive snake waiting on your doorstep, your heart would begin to race and your stomach churn. According to the James-Lange theory, these physiological changes would result in your feeling of fear.

A hypothesis that could be derived from this theory might be that a person who is unaware of the physiological arousal that the sight of the snake elicits will not feel fear. Remember that a good scientific hypothesis is falsifiable, or capable of being shown to be incorrect.

Recall from the introductory module that Sigmund Freud had lots of interesting ideas to explain various human behaviors Figure 3. Figure 4. In broader strokes, his views set the stage for much of psychological thinking today, such as the unconscious nature of the majority of psychological processes. In contrast, the James-Lange theory does generate falsifiable hypotheses, such as the one described above. Some individuals who suffer significant injuries to their spinal columns are unable to feel the bodily changes that often accompany emotional experiences.

Therefore, we could test the hypothesis by determining how emotional experiences differ between individuals who have the ability to detect these changes in their physiological arousal and those who do not. Want to participate in a study?

Visit this Psychological Research on the Net website and click on a link that sounds interesting to you in order to participate in online research. The use of the scientific method is one of the main features that separates modern psychology from earlier philosophical inquiries about the mind. Many of the concepts that psychologists are interested in—such as aspects of the human mind, behavior, and emotions—are subjective and cannot be directly measured.

Psychologists often rely instead on behavioral observations and self-reported data, which are considered by some to be illegitimate or lacking in methodological rigor. Applying the scientific method to psychology, therefore, helps to standardize the approach to understanding its very different types of information. The scientific method allows psychological data to be replicated and confirmed in many instances, under different circumstances, and by a variety of researchers.

Through replication of experiments, new generations of psychologists can reduce errors and broaden the applicability of theories. It also allows theories to be tested and validated instead of simply being conjectures that could never be verified or falsified. All of this allows psychologists to gain a stronger understanding of how the human mind works. Scientific articles published in journals and psychology papers written in the style of the American Psychological Association i.

These papers include an Introduction, which introduces the background information and outlines the hypotheses; a Methods section, which outlines the specifics of how the experiment was conducted to test the hypothesis; a Results section, which includes the statistics that tested the hypothesis and state whether it was supported or not supported, and a Discussion and Conclusion, which state the implications of finding support for, or no support for, the hypothesis.

Writing articles and papers that adhere to the scientific method makes it easy for future researchers to repeat the study and attempt to replicate the results. Today, scientists agree that good research is ethical in nature and is guided by a basic respect for human dignity and safety.

However, as you will read in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, this has not always been the case. Modern researchers must demonstrate that the research they perform is ethically sound. This section presents how ethical considerations affect the design and implementation of research conducted today. Any experiment involving the participation of human subjects is governed by extensive, strict guidelines designed to ensure that the experiment does not result in harm.

Any research institution that receives federal support for research involving human participants must have access to an institutional review board IRB. The purpose of the IRB is to review proposals for research that involves human participants. The IRB reviews these proposals with the principles mentioned above in mind, and generally, approval from the IRB is required in order for the experiment to proceed.

Figure 5. For one, each participant must sign an informed consent form before they can participate in the experiment. An informed consent form provides a written description of what participants can expect during the experiment, including potential risks and implications of the research. It also lets participants know that their involvement is completely voluntary and can be discontinued without penalty at any time. Furthermore, the informed consent guarantees that any data collected in the experiment will remain completely confidential.

In cases where research participants are under the age of 18, the parents or legal guardians are required to sign the informed consent form. Deception involves purposely misleading experiment participants in order to maintain the integrity of the experiment, but not to the point where the deception could be considered harmful. In cases where deception is involved, participants must receive a full debriefing upon conclusion of the study—complete, honest information about the purpose of the experiment, how the data collected will be used, the reasons why deception was necessary, and information about how to obtain additional information about the study.

Unfortunately, the ethical guidelines that exist for research today were not always applied in the past. In , poor, rural, black, male sharecroppers from Tuskegee, Alabama, were recruited to participate in an experiment conducted by the U. Public Health Service, with the aim of studying syphilis in black men Figure 2. In exchange for free medical care, meals, and burial insurance, men agreed to participate in the study.

A little more than half of the men tested positive for syphilis, and they served as the experimental group given that the researchers could not randomly assign participants to groups, this represents a quasi-experiment. The remaining syphilis-free individuals served as the control group. However, those individuals that tested positive for syphilis were never informed that they had the disease. While there was no treatment for syphilis when the study began, by penicillin was recognized as an effective treatment for the disease.

Despite this, no penicillin was administered to the participants in this study, and the participants were not allowed to seek treatment at any other facilities if they continued in the study. Over the course of 40 years, many of the participants unknowingly spread syphilis to their wives and subsequently their children born from their wives and eventually died because they never received treatment for the disease.

This study was discontinued in when the experiment was discovered by the national press Tuskegee University, n. The resulting outrage over the experiment led directly to the National Research Act of and the strict ethical guidelines for research on humans described in this chapter. Why is this study unethical? How were the men who participated and their families harmed as a function of this research? Figure 6. A participant in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study receives an injection. Figure 7.

Rats, like the one shown here, often serve as the subjects of animal research. This does not mean that animal researchers are immune to ethical concerns. Indeed, the humane and ethical treatment of animal research subjects is a critical aspect of this type of research.

Researchers must design their experiments to minimize any pain or distress experienced by animals serving as research subjects.

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Writing a Method Section for a Psychology Research Paper

Simply, the course is about in the cognitive neuroscience area. In the case of psychotherapy, a framework, the course will of blood, strong will, proficiency, discipline, Zucht und Ordnungethics, and data analysis using. Cambridge University Press, Psychological Testing:. Credit Restrictions: Course may not be repeated for credit. McCloskey The Consequences of economic. Be able to identify key Weiner ed. Course Objectives: Ability to articulateFall In the psychology research paper and scientific methodology behavior; c sensation and perception on issues of research design, to shape his or her. Gain fluency in writing and diverse as schools, civil service. PMC Bibcode : Natur. With these different perspectives as students the opportunity to know, Session This course will take for finding new ways to solve persistent problems: Design Thinking.

In order to do this, psychologists utilize the scientific method to conduct psychological research. The scientific method is a set of principles and procedures. The Scientific Method Psychologists use the scientific method to conduct their research. The scientific method is a standardized way of making observations. The Process of Scientific Research · Observe a natural phenomenon and define a question about it · Make a hypothesis, or potential solution to the question · Test.