Research methods defintions

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A statement of what the researchers intend to find out in a research study.
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Bar chart
A graph used to represent the frequency of data; the categories on the x-axis have no fixed order and there is no true zero.
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Behaviour categories
Dividing a target behaviour into a subset of specific and operationalised behaviours.
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A systematic distortion.
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Calculated value
The value of a test statistic calculated for a particular data set.
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Case study
A research investigation that involves a detailed study of a single individual, institution or event.
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Closed questions
Questions that have a predetermined range of answers from which respondents select one.
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An individual in a study who is not a real participant and has been instructed how to behave by the investigator.
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Concerns the communication of personal information from one person to another.
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Confounding variable
A variable under study that is not the IV but which varies systematically with the IV. Changes in the DV may be due to the confounding variable rather than the IV.
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Content analysis
A kind of observational study in which behaviour is observed indirectly in written or verbal material.
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Continuous variable
A variable that can take on any value within a certain range.
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Refers to the extent to which any variable is held constant or regulated by a researcher.
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Controlled observation
A form of investigation in which behaviour is observed but under conditions where certain variables have been organised by the researcher.
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Determining the extent of an association between two variables.
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Correlation coefficient
A number between -1 and +1 that tells us how closely the co-variables in a correlational analysis are associated.
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Cost-benefit analysis
A systematic approach to estimating the negatives and positives of any research.
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An experimental technique used to overcome order effects when using a repeated measures design.
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The two measured variables in a correlational analysis. The variables must be continuous.
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Covert observation
Observing people without their knowledge.
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Critical value
In an inferential test the value of the test statistic that must be reached to show significance.
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Curvilinear correlation
A non linear relationship between co-variables.
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A post-research interview designed to inform participants of the true nature of the study and to restore them to the state they were in an the start of the study.
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A participant is not told the true aims of the study.
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Demand characteristics
A cue that makes participants unconciously aware of the aims of a study or helps participants work out what the researcher expects to find.
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Dependent variable (DV)
A measurable outcome of the action of the independent variable in an experiment.
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Directional hypothesis
States the direction of the predicted difference between two conditions or two groups of participants.
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Ecological validity
A form of external validity, concerning the ability to generalise a research effect beyond the particular setting in which it is demonstrated, to other settings.
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Effect size
A measure of the strength of the relationship between two variables.
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Ethical guidelines (code of conduct)
A set of principles designed to help professionals behave honestly and with integrity.
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Ethical issues
Concern questions of right and wrong.
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Ethics committee
A group of people within a research institution that must approve a study before it begins.
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Event sampling
An observational technique in which a count is kept of the number of times a certain behaviour or event occurs.
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A research method where casual conclusions can be drawn because an independent variable has been deliberately manipulated to observe the casual effect on the dependent variable.
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Experimental deisgn
A set of procedures used to control the influence of factors such as participant variables in an experiment.
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External validity
The degree to which a research finding can be generalised.
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Extraneous variable (EV)
These do not vary systematically wit the IV and therefore do not act as an alternative IV but may have an effect on the DV.
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Field experiment
A controlled experiment conducted outside a laboratory.
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A method of expressing parts of a whole.
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Applying the findings of a particular study to the population.
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Type of frequency distribution in which the number of scores in each category of continuous data are represented by vertical columns.
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A precise and testable statement about the assumed relationship between variables.
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Independent group design
Participants are allocated ti two or more groups representing different levels of the IV.
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Independent variable (IV)
Some event that is directly manipulated by an experimenter in order to test its effects on another variable.
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Informed consent
Participants must be given comprehensive information concerning the nature and purpose of the research and their role in it.
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Internal validity
The degree to which an observed effect was due to the experimental manipulation rather than other factors such as extraneous variables.
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Inter-observer reliability
The extent to which there is agreement between two or more observers involved in observations of a behaviour.
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Intervening variable
A variable that comes between two other variables, which is used to explain the association between those two variables.
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A research method or technique that involves a face-to-face, 'real time' interaction with another individual and results in the collection of data.
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Interviewer bias
The effect of an interviewer's expectations, communicated unconsciously, on a respondent's beahviour.
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Investigator effects
Anything that an investigator does that has an effect on a participant's performance in a study other than what was intended.
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Laboratory experiment
An experiment carried out in a controlled setting.
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Linear correlation
A systematic relationship between co-variables that is defined by a straight line.
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Matched pairs design
Pairs of participants are matched in terms of key variables such as age and IQ.
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The arithmetic average of a data set.
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Measures of dispersion
A descriptive statistic that provides information about how spread out a set of data are.
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Measures of central tendency
A descriptive statistic that provides information about a 'typical' value for a data set.
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The middle value of a data set when the items are placed in rank order.
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A researcher looks at the findings from a number of different studies and produces a statistic to represent the overall effect.
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The most frequently occurring value or item in a set of data.
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Mundane realism
Refers to how a study mirrors the real world.
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Natural experiment
A research method in which the experimenter has not manipulated the IV directly.
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Naturalistic observation
An observation carried out in an everyday setting.
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Negative correlation
Describes a correlation where, as one co-variable increases, the other decreases.
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Negative skewed distribution
Most of the scores are bunched towards the right.
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Non-directional hypothesis
Predicts simply that there is a difference between two conditions without stating the direction of the difference.
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Non-participant observation
The observer is separate from the people being observed.
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Normal distribution
A symmetrical bell-shaped frequency distribution.
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Observer bias
Observer's expectations affect what they see or hear.
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One-tailed test
Form of test used with a directional hypothesis.
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Open questions
Questions that invite respondents to provide their own answers rather than select one of those provided.
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Ensuring that variables are in a form that can be easily tested.
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Opportunity sample
A sample of participants produced by selecting people who are most easily available at the time.
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Order effect
In a repeated measures design, an extraneous variable arising from the order in which conditions are presented.
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Order of magnitude
A means of expressing a number by focusing on the overall size.
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Overt observation
Observational studies where participants are aware that their behaviour is being studied.
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Participant observation
Observations made by someone who is also participating in the activity being observed, which may affect their objectivity.
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Peer review
The practice of using independent experts to asses the quality and validity of scientific research.
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A method of expressing parts of a whole.
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Pilot study
A small scale trial run of a study to test any aspects of the design, with a view to making improvements.
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The group of people that the researcher is interested in.
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Population validity
A form of external validity, concerning the extent to which the findings of a study can be generalised to other groups of people besides those who took part in the study.
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Positive correlation
Refers to the instance, in a correlation, of co-variables both increasing together.
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Positive skewed distribution
Most of the scores are bunched to the left.
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Presumptive consent
A method of dealing with lack of informed conses or deception.
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Primary data
Information observed or collected directly from first-hand experience.
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A person's right to control the flow of information about themselves.
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A numerical measure of the likelihood that certain events will occur.
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Protection from harm
During a research study, participants should not experience negative physical or psychological effects.
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Qualitative data
Information in words that can't be counted or quantified.
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Quantitative data
Information that represents how much or how long there are of something.
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Quasi experiment
Studies that are 'almost' experiments.
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Data is collected through the use of written questions.
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Random allocation
Allocating participants to experimental groups or conditions using random techniques.
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Random sample
A sample of participants produced by using a random technique such that every member of the target population being tested has an equal chance of being selected.
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Card 2


A graph used to represent the frequency of data; the categories on the x-axis have no fixed order and there is no true zero.


Bar chart

Card 3


Dividing a target behaviour into a subset of specific and operationalised behaviours.


Preview of the back of card 3

Card 4


A systematic distortion.


Preview of the back of card 4

Card 5


The value of a test statistic calculated for a particular data set.


Preview of the back of card 5
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