Research Procedures

Those wishing to investigate the brain have to conduct their research with respect to the core aspects of scientific research. Take, for example, a researcher who wanted to investigate if we can manifest our dreams. Would this be considered scientific? Considering how difficult it is to measure the reliability and validity of such a concept, the majority of psychologists would argue that the research is pseudo-psychology. 

Research Procedures Research Procedures

Create learning materials about Research Procedures with our free learning app!

  • Instand access to millions of learning materials
  • Flashcards, notes, mock-exams and more
  • Everything you need to ace your exams
Create a free account
Table of contents

    Psychologists emphasise the importance of scientific research that is empirical, reliable and valid, which can be inferred when research uses various research procedures.

    • Let's start by looking at what makes research in psychology scientific and what types of research in psychology are commonly used.
    • Next, we will take a look at quantitative research procedures. To help you understand how research procedures apply to psychology, we will look at a quantitative research procedure example of a theoretical study.
    • Following this, we will look at the qualitative research method. In this, we will cover qualitative research methods and procedures examples using a social research procedure example to understand how these can apply to research.

    Research Procedures, Women carrying large magnifying glass with larger questionnaires in the background, StudySmarterFor research to be accepted and published by the psychology community, research should be regarded as scientific, vector created by pch.vector;

    Research in Psychology

    When it comes to research in psychology, three core features need to be maintained for a study to be identified as scientific, and these are:

    1. Empiricism
    2. Reliability
    3. Validity

    The nature of these features is to ensure that research reaches a high standard and reduces the chances of the results being due to chance.

    For example, it guarantees that the study measures observable variables via our senses (empiricism).

    The point of this is to ensure that researchers do not investigate nonsensical theories or ideas that cannot be proved or disproved. In addition, the features indicate that the results consistently measure what they should (reliability) and accurately measure what they should (validity).

    Research Procedures, Venn diagram of the three core features of scientific research, StudySmarterResearch that is grouped in the empirical, reliable and valid sets in the Venn diagram would be considered scientific research, created in Canva.

    Researchers can use several research procedures to increase the likelihood of collecting empirical, reliable and valid scientific data.

    Types of Research in Psychology

    Before we look at how researchers can increase the reliability and validity of research, let's look at the different types of research in psychology.

    Some of the common quantitative types of research in psychology are:

    • Close-ended questions.
    • Questions that measure response using the Likert scale.
    • Experimental research.
    • Correlational research.
    • Structured interviews.

    Whereas some common qualitative types of research in psychology are:

    • Open-ended questions.
    • Unstructured interviews.
    • Every kind of observation (structured, semi-structured and unstructured).
    • Case studies.

    Some research types can collect quantitative (numerical) and qualitative (non-numerical) data, commonly referred to as mixed designs. Case studies and semi-structured interviews are examples that gather both kinds of data.

    Quantitative Research Procedures

    Quantitative research is research that collects numerical data. Researchers can use several techniques to increase the reliability and validity of the research. An example is standardising procedures; this is essentially a protocol, e.g. the instructions given to participants or determining the conditions of the experiment before the study. The point of this is to increase the study's internal reliability.

    Internal reliability in this context refers to a study consistently measuring the same thing across each participant.

    The following research procedures will examine how researchers can improve their research standards using their sample. The research procedure used to increase an experimental study's internal validity is randomisation. Typically in experimental research, there is an experimental and control group. The researchers' subjective opinions should not influence research as this can lower the study's validity.

    If a researcher chooses which participants go in which group, then the researcher may unconsciously select them based on factors that may cause the participants to sway the results.

    For example, if the researcher suggests all tall people are better at maths, they may place tall people in favourable groups unknowingly, especially if they are biased and believe this to be true.

    Researchers typically randomly allocate participants to the experimental or control group to prevent biases from occurring.

    A blind experiment is where researchers do not know when they are in the control or experimental group. A double-blind experiment is when the researcher and participant are unaware of who is in which group. The latter is considered the ideal experimental design.

    Now we can examine how the variables investigated can affect reliability and validity. In scientific research, changes observed in the dependent variable must result from manipulating the independent variable, or the naturally occurring changes in the independent variable.

    Additional variables that are not being manipulated or measured specifically but can affect the experiment are known as extraneous variables. Extraneous variables reduce the validity of research as they may impact the results. The researcher cannot confidently say the results are due to the manipulated, independent variable being measured when extraneous variables are influencing the experiment, after all.

    Some examples of extraneous variables in a study testing how sleep affects driving skills are the time of day participants are tested, any test anxiety they may feel, how long the participant has been driving, or driving conditions.

    Research Procedures, Diagram of good research: arrow from independent variable pointing at dependent variable and bad research: arrows from independent variable and extraneous variables affecting dependent variable, StudySmarterResearch qualifies as good when the dependent variable is not affected by extraneous variables, created in Canva.

    Research procedures that can control extraneous variables, including many of the ones described above, include:

    • Standardising experiments - participants tested in the same conditions
    • Randomisation - participants are assigned to groups at random
    • Counterbalancing - reduces order effects and ensures that the results are not due to the order of the procedure

    In a repeated measures design, participants are tested in both conditions, e.g., memory performance after rest and sleep deprivation. When a study uses counterbalancing, half of the participants would be tested after rest and the other after sleep deprivation. Then, they are tested in the opposite condition.

    The reason is to ensure the results are due to changes in rest and sleep deprivation rather than the order in which the participants are tested.

    Quantitative Research Procedure Example

    An example of a good quantitative research procedure example is.

    A hypothetical study that investigated how poor sleep hygiene affected attentional skills used an experimental design.

    The study compared the experimental group (poor sleep hygiene) results to the control group (good sleep hygiene); participants were randomly allocated into these groups.

    The instructions depended on which group the participants were allocated, but the same instructions were given to participants within the same group. With the exception of the sleep hygiene variables that changed in the experimental versus control group, other factors that may affect the results, such as how long the participants slept, were controlled.

    Before you continue reading, can you identify the research procedures that the researcher considered?

    The research procedures considered in the research scenario are:

    • Random allocation of participants
    • Standardised instructions.
    • Controlling extraneous variables

    Qualitative Research Methods and Procedures Example

    The use of standardised procedures is also common in qualitative research.

    For instance, researchers may observe and interview participants in the same conditions.

    In terms of observations, researchers commonly identify behaviours they are interested in watching. Well-designed observations typically use standardised procedures that two or more observers follow, with comparisons of the recordings and analysis of each observer to identify if the study has high internal reliability.

    Similar results between observers indicate a well-designed standardised procedure.

    Social Research Procedure

    An example of an unstructured observation that utilised several research procedures to increase its reliability and validity is:

    A study observed whether children had a preference for immediate or delayed gratification.

    In the hypothetical study, participants were seated at a desk. The table had a sweet on it. The researcher told the participants they could only eat the sweet after the researcher had returned from the bathroom.

    The conditions and instructions used in the experiment were the same for each participant. Later the participants were asked a series of questions to identify if their responses earlier matched how they responded in the interview.

    You would be correct if you identified the study as using standardising protocols as a research procedure to increase the study's reliability.

    Research Procedures - Key takeaways

    • When it comes to research in psychology, three core features need to be maintained for a study to be identified as scientific: empiricism, reliability and validity.
    • Researchers can use several research procedures to increase the likelihood of collecting empirical, reliable and valid scientific data.

    • Standard quantitative research procedures include standardisation, i.e. giving participants the exact instructions and randomisation, i.e. randomly allocating participants to the control or experimental group. Researchers should also try and control for extraneous variables.

    • Standardising procedures are also commonly used as a research procedure to increase the reliability of qualitative research.

    Frequently Asked Questions about Research Procedures

    What are the three research procedures?

    Three examples of research procedures are:

    1. Counterbalancing 
    2. Randomisation 
    3. Controlling extraneous variables.

    What are the 7 steps of research process?

    The seven steps in the research process are as follows:

    1. Choose the topic that will be investigated.
    2. Review the existing background literature on the topic of interest. 
    3. Formulate and operationalise a hypothesis
    4. Develop a research design.
    5. Collect the data.
    6. Analyse the data.
    7. Write how the study was conducted, what was found and what can be inferred from the results in the form of a psychological report. 

    How to write research procedure?

    When writing the research procedure, the study needs to be written in great detail so that other researchers can replicate it. The section should cover the materials used, describe the participants that took part and how the study was conducted.

    What is data collection procedure in research?

    The data collection process can vary depending on what type of analysis is being carried out. Generally, the first stage is to conduct the descriptive statistics, then the statistical tests, and finish with post-hoc tests if the researcher wishes to or if the statistical test allows. 

    What are research procedures?

    Research procedures are steps that researchers should take to increase the reliability and validity of their research. 

    For example, standardising an experiment means that participants are tested in the same conditions, increasing the study's internal reliability.

    Or, controlling extraneous variables means that the study is more likely to investigate how the independent variable and not other variables affect the dependent variable; this increases the study's validity.  

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    Which of the following do extraneous variables affect? 

    In what type of research design is counterbalancing often used? 

    What does counterbalancing control? 

    About StudySmarter

    StudySmarter is a globally recognized educational technology company, offering a holistic learning platform designed for students of all ages and educational levels. Our platform provides learning support for a wide range of subjects, including STEM, Social Sciences, and Languages and also helps students to successfully master various tests and exams worldwide, such as GCSE, A Level, SAT, ACT, Abitur, and more. We offer an extensive library of learning materials, including interactive flashcards, comprehensive textbook solutions, and detailed explanations. The cutting-edge technology and tools we provide help students create their own learning materials. StudySmarter’s content is not only expert-verified but also regularly updated to ensure accuracy and relevance.

    Learn more
    StudySmarter Editorial Team

    Team Research Procedures Teachers

    • 8 minutes reading time
    • Checked by StudySmarter Editorial Team
    Save Explanation

    Study anywhere. Anytime.Across all devices.

    Sign-up for free

    Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.

    Join over 22 million students in learning with our StudySmarter App

    The first learning app that truly has everything you need to ace your exams in one place

    • Flashcards & Quizzes
    • AI Study Assistant
    • Study Planner
    • Mock-Exams
    • Smart Note-Taking
    Join over 22 million students in learning with our StudySmarter App