Being able to determine successfully which research design is most appropriate involves taking into account a variety of factors related to the study. A researcher must consider many things including research questions, the hypotheses, and variables. Making the appropriate choice may seem overwhelming, the features of the study will determine its design (Frankfort-Nachmias & Nachmias, 2008). This paper will assess the strengths and weaknesses of correlational and experimental research design. Also, a comparison of the methods and their ethical, legal and socio-cultural considerations will be covered. Two Designs
Correlational research is considered an effective form of educational and psychological research (Thompson, Diamond, McWilliams, Snyder, & Snyder, 2005). The purpose of correlational research is to determine the relations among two or more variables. Information is collected from several variables, and correlational statistical methods are employed to gain further information (Thompson et al., 2005). The existence of a correlation does not suggest causation, and there is no manipulation of the variables in correlational research. (Lomax & Li, 2013) Experimental Research
Experimental research asks the question, what causes something to occur? Sherpis, Young, & Daniels (2010) explain experimental research as attempting to define causality; allowing for the control or alteration of one variable’s effect on others. The control is achieved by researcher’s manipulation of independent variables and measurement of dependent variables (Norcross, Hogan, & Koocher, 2008). Experimental design is often referred to as true experimentation or true experiment design, is considered the “gold standard” in empirical research (Norcross et al., 2008). Sampling
When drawing a sample population of a larger population for testing, one is sampling (Sherpis et al., 2010). For a sample to be representative, it is necessary for the sample used to be drawn randomly and representative of the entire population under consideration. A population is a group considered by the researcher from which to draw its conclusions. Consideration of previous similar studies with common themes and variables may help in choosing an appropriate sampling (Sherpis et al., 2010). Being able generalize the data from the sample and apply it to the entire population is dependent on the extent that a sample is fully representative of the population (Norcross et al., 2008). In experimental research, random sampling may be employed. Random sampling is a sampling procedure that allows for each member of the population the opportunity to be chosen that is equal with others in the population (Norcross et al., 2008). According to Sherpis et al. (2010), it is necessary to have a minimum of 30 participants to establish a successful relationship in the study. In correlational research, a researcher may employ survey research sampling. Surveying is a part of descriptive research that seeks participant’s sentiments, thoughts or inclinations that are relational to the participant's understanding (Sherpis et al., 2010). This methodology of sampling allows for the collection and correlation of data from one to several points from one survey. Several different methods of data collection are available to the researcher, including trend studies, longitudinal studies, panel or cohort studies (Sherpis et al., 2010).
Comparison of Designs
Similarities and Differences
Correlative and experimental research are similar in that they are both empirical types of research (Thompson et al., 2005), describing observed and measured phenomena. The differences between the two types of research are many. Those using correlative research look for the relations and connections between naturally happening variables. Experimental researchers introduce modifications into the...
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