Fundamentals of Research Paper

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Fundamentals of Research Paper

Yetter Ross

Research and Statistics

August 9, 2010

This paper will define the scientific method and how it relates to human services research. It will describe the steps in the process of scientific inquiry and define quantitative research and qualitative research. This paper will also explain how they differ and relate each to the human services field and the scientific method and describe how to decide whether to use a quantitative or qualitative research methodology, and provide examples of what sort of study is appropriate for each methodology and explain why. Finally this paper will define mixed method research and describe its strengths as well provide an example of when it is appropriate to apply mixed method research in the human services field. The scientific method is a process for experimentation that is used to explore observations and answer questions. Scientists use the scientific method to search for cause and effect relationships in nature (Steps of the Scientific Method, 2002-2010). Cross-sectional survey and longitudinal survey design are common scientific methods used in human services to gather information. A cross-sectional study can examine current attitudes, beliefs, opinions, or practices. Attitudes, beliefs, and opinions are ways in which individuals think about issues, whereas practices are their actual behaviors (Creswell, 2008). They are used to gather information on a population at a single point in time. An example of a cross sectional survey would be a questionnaire that collects data on how parents feel about Internet filtering, as of March of 1999. A different cross-sectional survey questionnaire might try to determine the relationship between two factors, like religiousness of parents and views on Internet filtering (Survey Methods). Both are very fast and can study a large number of people. The Longitudinal surveys gather data over a period of time. The researcher may then analyze changes in the population and attempt to describe and/or explain them. The three main types of longitudinal surveys are trend studies, cohort studies, and panel studies (Survey Methods). Han’s Reichenbach’s discovery phase of scientific inquiry includes coming up with an idea, doing a background search of the literature, defining concepts and variables, formulating hypotheses, crafting the research materials, and developing a study design and a plan to implement it. The justification phase creates the rationale for the plan of study and the data analysis, as well as the logic behind conclusions put forward (Rosnow, 2008). Quantitative research generates statistics through the use of large-scale survey research, using methods such as questionnaires or structured interviews. If a market researcher has stopped you on the streets, or you have filled in a questionnaire which has arrived through the post, this falls under the umbrella of quantitative research. Qualitative research explores attitudes, behavior and experiences through such methods as interviews or focus groups. It attempts to get an in-depth opinion from participants. As it is attitudes, behavior and experiences which are important, fewer people take part in the research, but the contact with these people tends to last a lot longer (The differences between qualitative and quantitative research., 2005-2010). There are a few differences in quantitative and qualitative research. For starters, in quantitative the research reports are unusually more of standard, fixed structures and evaluative criteria whereas qualitative research reports unusually use more flexible emerging structures and evaluative criteria. Secondly, Researchers unusually take an objective and unbiased approach in quantitative research and take more of a subjective and biased approach in qualitative research (Creswell, 2008). Lastly, quantitative research researchers seek to...
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