Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 4

Research Methods

The methods section of any proposal must address several fundamental design components.
It helps to begin with a respecification of the research hypotheses. Then the research methods must
(a) outline the design and present a timeline, (b) describe participant selection and recruitment, (c)
explain the procedures for assignment to condition and methods for experimental control, (d) describe
the independent variable, the intervention, (e) present the dependent variables or measures, (f)
discuss data collection and management procedures, (g) provide the data analysis strategy, including
a power analysis, if appropriate, and (h) address attrition and missing data.
Design and Timeline
The research design should include a general overview of the project. Consider this section as an
abstract of the methods portion of the proposal, with a few additions. This section often include a
figure that helps document when key events take place. These events may include recruitment,
assignment to condition, intervention activities, assessments, and any other key features of the
design that will help reviewers understand the research plan.
Often designs falls into a standard category, and it helps to explain such designs in standard
terminology. Potential research designs include randomized controlled trials, nonequivalent groups
designs, single-condition designs, clustered trials, regression discontinuity designs, single-subject
trials, and so on. The details will vary substantially by design type. For example, a randomized trial
can range from a post-only design to a longitudinal model with multiple assessments before, during,
and after the intervention. Similarly, single-subject research covers a wide range of designs. This
overview of the research design and all following sections must accommodate the specific research
design type chosen for the project.
The choice of a design can be complicated. It often requires an iterative process comparing the
advantages and disadvantages of each design in terms of participant selection and recruitment, the
independent and dependent variables, analysis methods, and the budget. Because all these factors
influence the overall design of the project, the decision process will benefit from experts in (a) the
theory of the intervention and processes under study, (b) the pragmatic details of recruitment,
intervention, and assessments, and (c) research methods, including design and statistics.
Participant Selection and Recruitment
Participant selection often begins with the identification of the population of interest. This section must
then describe how project staff will select a sample and recruit participants.
The sample selection methods depend on the overall goal of the research project. For example, if the
results must generalize to all similar people in the population, random sampling from the population
will achieve that goal. On the other hand, the choice of a convenience sample would allow for the
direct comparison of a specific intervention with a control group, and such a sample might involve
reduced costs and simpler procedures. This section, however, should clearly describe the sample
selection procedures and the number of students included in the sample.
This section must also include a clear description of the recruitment procedures. This includes
information about how contacts are made, the type of consent process, if any, and related information
that allows reviewers to judge the value of the final set of participants. Not all people identified as part
of the sample will agree to participate, so this process should identify the number of participants
expected to take part. This defines the initial sample. Finally, if the design calls for multiple
assessments across time, this section should describe the expected rates of attrition. Although the
analysis section will describe the details of the analysis in light of attrition, allusion to those methods
here can provide the reader with a useful preview.

Assignment to Condition
For studies with more than one condition, assignment becomes an important feature of the research
methods. In a randomized trial, research staff must place students into conditions randomly, and this
section must state exactly how that will happen. There are many acceptable options, such as
assignment via coin flip, a random number table, the use of a statistical program, the roll of dice, and
so on. Nonrandomized comparison studies, such as the quasi-experimental nonequivalent groups
design, also require assignment. Some researchers will order participants on a key variable of
interest, and then randomly assign pairs, assuming two conditions, to treatment or control, working
their way down the list. This is useful in small randomized trials or nonrandomized trials to ensure that
the two groups are somewhat similar at the beginning of the project. Regression discontinuity designs
also require assignment to condition. In this case, participants below (or above) a certain cut point on
a predictor will receive treatment. Assignment to condition must be carefully specified and tied to the
chosen design.
Experimental Control
Any experimental trial should attempt to control all influences on outcome measures. In a twocondition study, researchers should attempt to control for all differences between members of each
condition other than those specified by the independent variable, the intervention. Randomization, for
example, controls for the preexisting differences among participants in each condition. It allows for the
theoretical assumption that participants in each condition do not differ at the onset of the study. It
does not, however, control for differences during the study. If participants in the treatment condition,
for example, receive instruction from two teachers and a computer and a single teacher provides
instruction to the participants in the control condition, then the project has not established
experimental control.
Controls other than assignment, then, can be very important. Participants in each condition should
receive nearly identical treatment before and during the study, except for those differences associated
with the independent variable. This includes demand characteristics of each condition, the format and
structure of materials, the handling of participants by project staff, and so on. Methods for
experimental control will differ substantially by the type of research design.
Independent Variable
The independent variable (IV) defines the intervention conditions. A condition represents a set of
participants who receive one type of treatment. In a typical randomized controlled trial with two
conditions, one condition, the treatment group, will receive an intervention or treatment. The other
condition, the control group, would receive usual care or possibly a placebo to control for demand
expectancy. The description of the intervention should be thorough. It should include every way that
the experimenter manipulates the participants. The control group must also be clearly described.
Does the study call for a placebo or a less rigorous comparison treatment? And how does the control
group differ from the treatment group?
Thus, the section about the intervention or independent variable should include a discussion of the
intervention condition, a clear description of the control condition, and an explanation of how they
differ. Again, these vary by the research design, but most designs must include some control
condition, also called the counterfactual, and an intervention of some kind. In a single-subject ABAB
design, the period of time in the A condition is considered the control phase, where only observations
take place. The B condition represents the phase where the treatment is applied. A description of the
independent variable, then, would describe the A and B phases as well as how the investigator would
transition a single participant between the two.

Dependent Variables and Other Measures


Proposals often include dependent variables (DVs), or outcome measures, as well as all other
assessments in a single measures section. Measures may be standardized measures, custom tests,
study-specific measures, end-of-chapter tests, time to complete tasks or subtasks, observations, and
so on. Depending on the design type, measures should include (a) the dependent variables, the
outcomes that the research project should change, (b) moderators, often preexisting conditions for
which the intervention might work differentially, (c) covariates, such as pretest measures or
demographic variables, (d) blocking variables, which are usually moderators, (e) matching variables,
used to match participants before assignment to condition, and (f) mediators, variables that intervene
between condition and outcomes.
Moderators generally include demographic characteristics or preexisting conditions within levels of
which the intervention may work differently. For example, some interventions might work differently for
students with a reading disability than students without. Thus, an the presence of an IEP for a reading
disability would represent one moderating variable. Although not often ideal, gender might moderate
the intervention effect if, for example, incentives in the intervention condition appeal better to girls
than boys.
The measures section should also include mediators. Mediators are intervening variables, and
treatment fidelity and dosage represent two common mediators. Mediators are often those variables
that an intervention is expected to directly impact. In a study testing an intervention intended to
provide additional instructional supports, the number of instructional supports used by a student could
be one mediating variable. Students who received the intervention should clearly use more
instructional supports, but those in the control condition might still have access to some. Nonetheless,
condition should clearly predict the differential use of instructional supports. If the study hypothesizes
that instructional supports should lead to improved reading, then we would expect instructional
supports to predict improved reading. If instructional supports truly mediates the relationship between
condition and reading, however, we would then expect instructional supports, as a predictor of
reading, to supplant condition as a predictor.
For all measures, investigators should describe them and provide reliability and validity statistics.
These can come from either previously published research, as with standardized measures, or pilot
work, which might be demonstrated within the proposal. Some measures will not have reliability and
validity data, such custom, study-specific tests and measures. This section should then provide a
detailed description of the development procedures and psychometric criteria for establishing
reliability and validity.
Data Collection and Management
Many investigators describe, often briefly, their data collection and data management procedures. For
example, how will research staff track participants across time, maintain data integrity and security,
manage demographic information, organize the data, and so on? Participant may be tracking with
identification numbers, with data organized into a set of spreadsheets or a database. Often
identification numbers are stored separately from participant data, as are consents. This section
allows the team of investigators to establish that they know how to work with data and keep it secure.
Analysis Methods
Data analysis methods vary considerably from and even within the types of research designs. Some
methods, such as single-subject designs, do not necessarily need a statistical analysis to convey
experimental control over the dependent variables. Most quantitative designs, such as randomized
trials and many quasi-experimental designs, require a statistical analysis. Quantitative designs can
vary from one or two assessments in time to longitudinal data collection with numerous assessments

across several years. They might assign individual participants to condition or intact clusters of
participants, such as classrooms or schools. The analyses may need to compare two or more
conditions or pretest assessments to posttest assessments.
In general, the statistical analysis must answer the research questions or address the research
hypotheses in a manner that accounts for the overall design of the study. Thus, an analysis section
should (a) state or paraphrase the research questions or hypotheses, (b) review key features of the
design, (c) describe the analytical approach in detail, (d) address the number and type of tests and
study-wide Type I error rate, (e) report a power analysis and describe all assumptions, (f) express
how the analysis will account for attrition and other missing data, and (g) list the software that the
analysts expects to use for the analyses

What do you mean by Research Design? Discuss the role of research


design in business research.
A research design is a systematic plan to study a scientific problem. The design of a study
defines the study type (descriptive, correlational, semi-experimental, experimental, review, metaanalytic)
and
sub-type
(e.g.,
descriptive-longitudinal case
study), research
question, hypotheses, independent and dependent variables, experimental design, and, if
applicable, data collection methods and a statistical analysis plan. Research design is the
framework that has been created to seek answers to research questions
A detailed outline of how an investigation will take place. A research design will typically include how data is to be
collected, what instruments will be employed, how the instruments will be used and the intended means for analyzing
data collected

Research design is the description of the overall structure of the intended research
identifying the various element or components of research, the type of each element,
and how these elements relate to each other. The purpose of research design is to
select and define the overall structure and methods of intended research that will enable
us to answer the initial research question effectively and efficiently