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The 3 Basic Types of Descriptive Research Methods

A brief history of comparative methods

❶The US Federal Trade Commission banned tobacco companies from making health claims about their products in

Content: Research Method Vs Research Methodology

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Comparison as a scientific research method

Describing atypical individuals may lead to poor generalizations and detract from external validity. In survey method research, participants answer questions administered through interviews or questionnaires. After participants answer the questions, researchers describe the responses given.

In order for the survey to be both reliable and valid it is important that the questions are constructed properly. Questions should be written so they are clear and easy to comprehend. Another consideration when designing questions is whether to include open-ended, closed-ended, partially open-ended, or rating-scale questions for a detailed discussion refer to Jackson, Advantages and disadvantages can be found with each type:.

Open-ended questions allow for a greater variety of responses from participants but are difficult to analyze statistically because the data must be coded or reduced in some manner. Closed-ended questions are easy to analyze statistically, but they seriously limit the responses that participants can give.

In addition to the methods listed above some individuals also include qualitative as a distinct method and archival methods when discussing descriptive research methods.

It is important to emphasize that descriptive research methods can only describe a set of observations or the data collected. It cannot draw conclusions from that data about which way the relationship goes — Does A cause B, or does B cause A?

Nothing could be further from the truth. Research Methods and Statistics: A Critical Thinking Approach 3rd edition. Jamie has written seven books and co-authored one. Find help or get online counseling now. By Jamie Hale, M. Observational Method With the observational method sometimes referred to as field observation animal and human behavior is closely observed. Ecological validity refers to the extent to which research can be used in real-life situations.

Case Study Method Case study research involves an in-depth study of an individual or group of indviduals. Survey Method In survey method research, participants answer questions administered through interviews or questionnaires. Advantages and disadvantages can be found with each type: In contrast to experimentation, the comparative researcher does not subject one of those groups to a treatment , but rather observes a group that either by choice or circumstance has been subject to a treatment.

Thus comparison involves observation in a more "natural" setting, not subject to experimental confines, and in this way evokes similarities with description. Importantly, the simple comparison of two variables or objects is not comparative research. Tyson's work would not have been considered scientific research if he had simply noted that "pygmies" looked like humans without measuring bone lengths and hair growth patterns. While the choice of which research method to use is a personal decision based in part on the training of the researchers conducting the study, there are a number of scenarios in which comparative research would likely be the primary choice.

The first scenario is one in which the scientist is not trying to measure a response to change, but rather he or she may be trying to understand the similarities and differences between two subjects.

For example, Tyson was not observing a change in his "pygmie" in response to an experimental treatment. Instead, his research was a comparison of the unknown "pygmie" to humans and apes in order to determine the relationship between them. A second scenario in which comparative studies are common is when the physical scale or timeline of a question may prevent experimentation. For example, in the field of paleoclimatology, researchers have compared cores taken from sediments deposited millions of years ago in the world's oceans to see if the sedimentary composition is similar across all oceans or differs according to geographic location.

Because the sediments in these cores were deposited millions of years ago, it would be impossible to obtain these results through the experimental method. Research designed to look at past events such as sediment cores deposited millions of years ago is referred to as retrospective research.

A third common comparative scenario is when the ethical implications of an experimental treatment preclude an experimental design. Researchers who study the toxicity of environmental pollutants or the spread of disease in humans are precluded from purposefully exposing a group of individuals to the toxin or disease for ethical reasons.

In these situations, researchers would set up a comparative study by identifying individuals who have been accidentally exposed to the pollutant or disease and comparing their symptoms to those of a control group of people who were not exposed.

Research designed to look at events from the present into the future, such as a study looking at the development of symptoms in individuals exposed to a pollutant, is referred to as prospective research. Comparative science was significantly strengthened in the late 19th and early 20th century with the introduction of modern statistical methods.

These were used to quantify the association between variables see our Statistics in Science module. Today, statistical methods are critical for quantifying the nature of relationships examined in many comparative studies. The outcome of comparative research is often presented in one of the following ways: And numerous studies have contributed to the determination that the risk of developing lung cancer is 30 times greater in smokers than in nonsmokers NCI, Scientists may opt for comparative research where it would be unethical to conduct an experiment.

Louis, asked all of the third- and fourth-year medical students at the teaching hospital to observe an autopsy of a man with a disease so rare, he claimed, that most of the students would likely never see another case of it in their careers.

With the medical students gathered around, the physicians conducting the autopsy observed that the patient's lungs were speckled with large dark masses of cells that had caused extensive damage to the lung tissue and had forced the airways to close and collapse. Alton Ochsner, one of the students who observed the autopsy, would write years later that "I did not see another case until , seventeen years later, when in a period of six months, I saw nine patients with cancer of the lung.

The American physician Dr. Isaac Adler was, in fact, the first scientist to propose a link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer in , based on his observation that lung cancer patients often reported that they were smokers. Adler's observations, however, were anecdotal, and provided no scientific evidence toward demonstrating a relationship. However, the study had a number of problems. First, it relied on the memory of relatives of deceased individuals rather than first-hand observations, and second, no statistical association was made.

Soon after this, the tobacco industry began to sponsor research with the biased goal of repudiating negative health claims against cigarettes see our Scientific Institutions and Societies module for more information on sponsored research. Beginning in the s, several well-controlled comparative studies were initiated. Their study showed that 1. Both of these comparisons proved to be statistically significant differences. The statisticians who analyzed the data concluded:. Wynder and Graham also suggested that there might be a lag of ten years or more between the period of smoking in an individual and the onset of clinical symptoms of cancer.

This would present a major challenge to researchers since any study that investigated the relationship between smoking and lung cancer in a prospective fashion would have to last many years. In their discussion, Doll and Hill raise an interesting point regarding comparative research methods by saying,.

This is not necessarily to state that smoking causes carcinoma of the lung. The association would occur if carcinoma of the lung caused people to smoke or if both attributes were end-effects of a common cause. They go on to assert that because the habit of smoking was seen to develop before the onset of lung cancer, the argument that lung cancer leads to smoking can be rejected. They therefore conclude, "that smoking is a factor, and an important factor, in the production of carcinoma of the lung.

Despite this substantial evidence , both the tobacco industry and unbiased scientists raised objections, claiming that the retrospective research on smoking was "limited, inconclusive, and controversial. Wilhelm Hueper of the National Cancer Institute, a scientist with a long history of research into occupational causes of cancers, argued that the emphasis on cigarettes as the only cause of lung cancer would compromise research support for other causes of lung cancer.

Ronald Fisher , a renowned statistician, also was opposed to the conclusions of Doll and others, purportedly because they promoted a "puritanical" view of smoking. The tobacco industry mounted an extensive campaign of misinformation, sponsoring and then citing research that showed that smoking did not cause "cardiac pain" as a distraction from the studies that were being published regarding cigarettes and lung cancer.

The industry also highlighted studies that showed that individuals who quit smoking suffered from mild depression, and they pointed to the fact that even some doctors themselves smoked cigarettes as evidence that cigarettes were not harmful Figure 5.

While the scientific research began to impact health officials and some legislators, the industry's ad campaign was effective. The US Federal Trade Commission banned tobacco companies from making health claims about their products in However, more significant regulation was averted. An editorial that appeared in the New York Times in summed up the national sentiment when it stated that the tobacco industry made a "valid point," and the public should refrain from making a decision regarding cigarettes until further reports were issued by the US Surgeon General.

In , Doll and Hill enrolled 40, British physicians in a prospective comparative study to examine the association between smoking and the development of lung cancer.

In contrast to the retrospective studies that followed patients with lung cancer back in time, the prospective study was designed to follow the group forward in time. Cuyler Hammond and Daniel Horn enrolled , white males in the United States in a similar prospective study. And in , the American Cancer Society ACS began the first of two large-scale prospective studies of the association between smoking and the development of lung cancer.

The first ACS study, named Cancer Prevention Study I, enrolled more than 1 million individuals and tracked their health, smoking and other lifestyle habits, development of diseases, cause of death, and life expectancy for almost 13 years Garfinkel, All of the studies demonstrated that smokers are at a higher risk of developing and dying from lung cancer than nonsmokers. The ACS study further showed that smokers have elevated rates of other pulmonary diseases, coronary artery disease, stroke, and cardiovascular problems.

In the second half of the 20 th century, evidence from other scientific research methods would contribute multiple lines of evidence to the conclusion that cigarette smoke is a major cause of lung cancer:.

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Comparison as a scientific research method. Comparative research represents one approach in the spectrum of scientific research methods and in some ways is a hybrid of other methods, drawing on aspects of both experimental science (see our Experimentation in Science module) and descriptive research (see our Description in Science module).

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The research methods are often confused with research methodology, which implies the scientific analysis of the research methods, so as to find a solution to the problem at hand. Hence, it seems apt to clarify the differences between research method and research methodology at this juncture, have a look.

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The methods used in this quantitative research, and this study in particular, are in stark contrast to the staple of qualitative analysis. The subjects were clinically diagnosed PTSD patients, recruited over an month timeline during which 13 of the 17 subjects admitted completed the testing protocols. Pope and Mays COMPARING AND CONSTRASTING RESEARCH METHODOLOGIES 4 () also agree that qualitative research is meant to discover the meanings perceived by the subjects rather than the point of the researcher (p. 6).

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Compare and Contrast Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods Qualitative research methods are complex meaningful analysis characterised by processes and meanings that are not experimentally examined or measured in terms of mathematical measurements (Lincoln, ; Sarantakos, ). Compare and contrast two of the following five research methods in psychology described in your text or on the internet. These research methods include: Case study, Naturalistic observation, Correlation research, Survey research, and Experimental method.