Research Terminology

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Research Terminology

Bias

  • Describes how aspects of a study may be influenced
  • Occurs when factors(s) unduly influence the outcome of results, distorting them
  • Can occur at any stage of the research process
  • To avoid, results must be interpreted as they appear, not as researcher wants
  • Eg. Biased sample – all males, biased research method, biased measuring instruments, biased data recording &/or interpretation


Hypothesis/Question

  • A positive statement of what the researcher expects to find out; an idea they want to test
  • Aim of research is to prove or disprove the hypothesis
  • Eg. Working parents are the majority users of child care facilities


Reliability

  • Reliability refers to a method by which other researchers will find similar results
  • To be reliable, process must be systematic & organised to achieve consistency
  • Reliability results in an accurate representation of the population studied


Sampling

  • Involves selecting a representative range of subjects from a population for study
  • Needs to cover an adequate cross-section of the population
  • Larger sample = wider representation achieved – better for accurate representation
  • Also applies to selection of sites & times for observations & interviews
  • Random sampling – achieves best representation sample (all have equal chance of selection)
  • Quota sampling – fixed proportions of people in a group are selected, eg. age, sex, SES
  • Stratified random sampling – subjects selected at random from within subgroup of larger population, eg. comparing males & females 17-25yrs
  • Cluster sampling – population is divided into groups, & sample taken from within selected cluster
  • Convenience sampling – people selected because of ease of study, convenience


Validity

  • Validity refers to the degree to which a research method measures what it is supposed to measure; whether or not the right method was used
  • Increased when a combination of methods is used
  • Depends on factual data & truths, reliability of data & accuracy in interpretation
  • To be valid, researcher must have background knowledge of topic to make informed assumptions & generalisations, rather than being biased from lack of..



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