Presentation on theme: "Understanding the Basics of Research Methods Part I."— Presentation transcript:
Understanding the Basics of Research Methods Part I
What is Research ? The main motivation of research is to answer questions, solve problems or to expand mans knowledge. It involves the gathering of data, facts and other information Experiments are the purest research.
Informal Research Reading a book of any sort, surfing the internet or watching the news is a kind of research. Even just watching the way someone acts is research. This research just reviews the facts, though. It cant prove anything. It is not scientific. Informal research is a review of information and does not use the scientific method.
Scientific Research True research always involves the scientific method. Scientific research answers specifically designed questions. Research is driven by a researchers curiosity or interest in answering that specific question in a way that can be scientifically proven.
Research is an ORGANIZED and SYSTEMATIC way of FINDING ANSWERS to QUESTIONS. Scientific Research…
THE QUESTION Research is focused on relevant, useful, and important questions. The question gives a study ; focus, drive, and purpose. If there is no defined question, then the research will lack direction and it would be difficult to find answers.
ORGANIZED A study is a planned procedure. It is focused and limited to a specific scope. There must be a structure or method in going about doing research.
SYSTEMATIC - A Definite set of procedures and steps must be followed. There are certain things in the research process which are always done in order to get the most accurate results.
FINDING ANSWERS The goal, the end of all research is to find answers. Research is successful when we find answers. Whether it is the answer to a hypothesis or even a simple question, Sometimes the answer is no, but it is still an answer.
Understanding Research Design
Research Design Study Question- Study Hypothesis –The Why behind the question. It includes the reasoning that guides the study parameters (design). Study Design/Parameters how, what, where,when, whom
Research Design Type of study- How the data is being gathered… Experimental, Co-relational, Survey, Case study, Observation, etc? (more on this later) Subjects- Who is being studied. What is the population? How big is the sample? Is it representative? How did you choose the subjects?
Hypothesis/Study Reasoning An explanation of why this study is being done. A Hypothesis is formed on how to test or answer the study question. Should explain the scientific reasoning for the study design. Will include background information behind the hypothesis.
The Population (study subjects) The group being studied. Cells, rats, teens, elderly, nurses, women, etc. It could be people in a certain city, or people with a specific disease. In Nutrition, it could be people who take or dont take a certain supplement or eat particular foods.
The Sample A subset of the population whom you are studying. * You must choose a sample because it would be next to impossible to study every single subject. * The method for choosing a sample can dramatically impact the validity (truth)of a study.
Examples of Samples Longitudinal Study- Observing subjects over time Cross sectional Study- Observing subjects from different locations and backgrounds Cohort Study - Observing the same age group
Examples of Samples Representative Sample- A sample that closely resembles the population. Random Sample- A sample chosen according to a random procedure in which every element in the population has an equal chance of being selected.
Sampling Concerns How big is the sample? 6 vs. 50,000 (for example) How was the sample selected? Did they volunteer? Were they randomly selected? Are they representative of the population? Are there any confounders? (things that can sway your sample). Do you have a control group?
Validity When the study findings reflect the true relationship between variables… vs. the findings are just coincidental, or was the study flawed, manipulated or biased in any way? Validity means truth
Reliability The extent to which the same result will be achieved when repeating the same measure/study... A study is considered reliable if it is done again and again and it gets the same results repeatedly.
Significance Measure of confidence that can be placed in a result of a study. The resulting measure is beyond a matter of chance and is most likely related to the independent variable. The statistical probability that a given finding may have occurred by chance alone. In order for results to be considered significant it has to meet a standard of statistical probability.
Study Conclusions/Findings The results of the study What did the study show? Based on the researchers interpretation of the results? Is there a need for more research? Did the findings of this study lead to the need for more studies to narrow down causality?
Researcher Affiliation The credentials of the researchers (degrees, specialties, etc) Who do the researchers work for? Is it a reputable research institution? What is their stake? Is there $ involved? Do they use the peer review process? Are they published? Which journal(s)?
Peer Review Peer Review-The process of subjecting research to the scrutiny of others who are experts in the same field. Peer Publications- Academic Journals and newsletters read, scrutinized and reviewed by experts in the field. *** This leads to quality control.
Peer Review A well designed study can stand up to peer review and many times the findings lead to more studies. This is how many new discoveries, new medicines, cures for diseases, etc have been found.
Variable s Most studies analyze the relationship between variables. Its important to identify the variables that the researcher is studying. Usually the variables are closely related to the study question.
Variables A study usually tests or observes if one variable changes in response to another variable.
Independent Variable: The variable(s), that the researcher manipulates is called the independent variable(s)
Dependent Variable: While the second variable, the variable measured for change, is called the dependent variable.
Experiments and variables In an experiment, the independent variable(s) are manipulated to see if any change is produced(caused) in the dependent variable
Practice Identifying Variable types Case One A researcher wanted to study the effects of sleep deprivation on physical coordination. The researcher selected 25 year-old male college students and deprived some of the subjects to either 24, 36, or 45 hours of sleep.
Types of Variables The independent variable is??? Hint: What did the researcher manipulate (allow to vary) in this study?
The Independent Variable is??? a) the length of time the subjects were deprived of sleep. b) the age of the subjects. c) the gender of the subjects. d) the physical coordination skills of the subjects. Write out the answer, not just the letter in the correct box.
Types of Variables The dependent variable is??? Hint: What was the measure of the research subjects' responses?
The Dependent Variable is??? a) the length of time the subjects were deprived of sleep. b) the age of the subjects. c) the gender of the subjects. d) the physical coordination skills of the subjects. Write out the answer, not just the letter in the correct box.
Identifying Variables Case Two: Dr. Imanut wants to examine whether a new drug increases the maze running performance of older rats. Just like aging humans, older rats show signs of poorer memory for new things. Dr. Imanut teaches two groups of older rats to find a piece of tasty rat chow in the maze.
Case two (continued) One group of rats is given the new drug while they are learning the maze. The second group is not given the drug. One week after having learned the maze he retests the rats and records how long it takes them to find the rat chow.
Which is the Independent Variable? What did the researcher manipulate (allow to vary) in this study? a) age of the rats. b) type of maze. c) length of time it took the rats to run the maze. d) presence or absence of the new drug. Write out the answer, not just the letter in the correct box.
Which is the Dependent Variable? Hint: What was the measure of the research subjects' responses? a) age of the rats. b) type of maze. c) length of time it took the rats to run the maze. d) presence or absence of the new drug. Write out the answer, not just the letter in the correct box.
Confounding Variables An unforeseen and unaccounted-for variable that jeopardizes the reliability and validity of the outcome of a study.
Confounding Variables The researcher might fail to take into account variables that could change the outcome of a study. These variables might have more to do with the change in the Dependent variable than the Independent variable the researcher is examining. The results then may be interpreted incorrectly. (invalid study)
Confounding Variable Example A soccer coach wanted to improve the team's playing ability, so he had them run two miles a day. At the same time the players decided to take vitamins. In two weeks the team was playing noticeably better, but the coach and players did not know whether it was from the running or the vitamins. This is confounding…
Confounding Variable Example When I'm stressed, I get muscle cramps. However, when I'm stressed, I also drink lots of coffee and lose sleep. So it's hard to tell whether my cramps are actually caused by coffee, lack of sleep, stress, or some combination of the above. These are all possible confounders…
Study Confounders/Flaws Any Problem with the study design that can change the results. An unaccounted for variable that can change the outcome of a study or bias that was built into the study.
Bias Any partiality in a study that interfere with fair results. Bias in research misleads us into believing in a false relationship between variables. Bias can be intentional (purposely misleading), unintentional, unacknowledged, and even unknown.
Bias Bias is so pervasive because we want to confirm our beliefs. The goal of research is to understand the true relationship between variables, not what we want or think the relationship should be.
Bias There are many ways a study can be biased…. including funding sources, who is doing the study, political motives, core personal beliefs of researchers, measurement and/or design flaws, subject selection, etc. A study can be designed to control for these and other biases.
Case One: Study Bias or Study Flaw (poor design)? Case One: Study Bias or Study Flaw (poor design)? Take a poll in a hunting magazine about gun rights and then use it to say something like 97% of people polled believe everyone has a right to own an assault rifle.
Case two: Study Bias or Study Flaw (poor design)? Polling only people who are listed in the white pages. Ending up excluding people too poor to have a phone, people who have enough $ to have an unlisted #, and young people who pretty much use mostly cell phones. (This happened during the last presidential election with the telephone polling… Mc Cain was predicted to win by a small margin)
Controlling for Bias (just a few examples) Random Sampling Placebo and control Groups Double blind studies Peer review Govt. funded studies (no stake)
Controlling for Bias Control Group- The group of subjects in a controlled study that received no treatment, a standard treatment or a placebo. A control group helps to validate the findings of a study.
Placebos Placebo= fake treatment (placebos are meant to control for the placebo effect) Placebo Effect= When a person experiences effects of a treatment during a study when not receiving the actual treatment because they expect to feel different.
Placebo Effect * If someone thinks a certain compound or food will make them feel better, usually they do feel better, because they expect to. * Nutritional studies are especially at risk for the placebo effect.
Hawthorne Effect Changes that occur in peoples behavior because they know they are being studied. They act differently than they normally do, due to the study itself. This contaminates the results.
The Internet and Research Flaws The Internet is widely used as a research tool. Unfortunately it is easily manipulated as well. The Internet is useful for informal research if it is used with skepticism. Be wary of the source. Check your sources. Doing a search and reading what is found is not research. As a matter of fact, what is found could be totally invalid.
Research from the Internet Plagiarism abounds Search engine manipulation= big $$$ Exaggeration & Lying False Testimonials Unregulated Many unsubstantiated claims Poor peer review
Helpful websites to detect fraud Quackwatch.org
Bad Research ? When bias is built into the study. When study subjects are harmed. The study is poorly designed or designed to come out a certain way. The purpose of the study is questionable (profits, political, ethical, etc.)
Ethical Considerations???? All research is not ethical. Care needs to be taken especially when it comes to experiments. Keep in mind…. - Is there a possibility that this experiment will harm the subjects? - Who is doing or funding the study (will they benefit in anyway from this study?) - What is the true purpose of this study?
Ethical Considerations David Reimer bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid= www.findagrave.com/cgi- bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid= BoyRaisedAsAGirlDavidReimer.aspx BoyRaisedAsAGirlDavidReimer.aspx Discuss the many ways this case was misleading and harmful.
Ethics & The Tuskegee Experiment For forty years between 1932 and 1972, the U.S. Public Health Service conducted an experiment on 399 black men in the late stages of syphilis. These men, mostly poor and illiterate, were never told what disease they were suffering from or of its seriousness. Informed that they were being treated for bad blood, 1 their doctors had no intention of curing them of syphilis at all.
The Tuskegee Experiment
Tuskegee Experiment The data for the experiment was to be collected from autopsies of the men, who were deliberately left to degenerate under the ravages of tertiary syphilis which can include tumors, heart disease, paralysis, blindness, insanity, and death. As I see it, one of the doctors involved explained, we have no further interest in these patients until they die.
Tuskegee Experiment The sharecroppers' grossly disadvantaged lot in life made them easy to manipulate. Pleased at the prospect of free medical carealmost none of them had ever seen a doctor. The study was meant to discover how syphilis affected blacks as opposed to whitesthe theory being that whites experienced more neurological complications from syphilis whereas blacks were more susceptible to cardiovascular damage.
Tuskegee Experiment How this knowledge would have changed clinical treatment of syphilis is uncertain. Although the PHS touted the study as one of great scientific merit, from the outset its actual benefits were hazy., nothing learned prevented or cured a single case of infectious syphilis.
Tuskegee Experiment In 1973, A $9 million settlement was divided among the study's participants. On behalf of the country, President Clinton apologized in 1997 to Charlie Pollard, pictured here, and other Tuskegee survivors.