Paper 2: Basic Research Methods

3.2.3  Research methods

Students should demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the following research methods, scientific processes and techniques of data handling and analysis, be familiar with their use and be aware of their strengths and limitations:

  • Experimental method. Types of experiment, laboratory and field experiments; natural and quasiexperiments.
  • Observational techniques. Types of observation: naturalistic and controlled observation; covert and overt observation; participant and non-participant observation.
  • Self-report techniques. Questionnaires; interviews, structured and unstructured.
  • Correlations. Analysis of the relationship between co-variables. The difference between correlations and experiments.

3.2.3.1  Scientific processes

  • Aims: stating aims, the difference between aims and hypotheses.
  • Hypotheses: directional and non-directional.
  • Sampling: the difference between population and sample; sampling techniques including: random, systematic, stratified, opportunity and volunteer; implications of sampling techniques, including bias and generalisation.
  • Pilot studies and the aims of piloting.
  • Experimental designs: repeated measures, independent groups, matched pairs.
  • Observational design: behavioural categories; event sampling; time sampling.
  • Questionnaire construction, including use of open and closed questions; design of interviews.
  • Variables: manipulation and control of variables, including independent, dependent, extraneous, confounding; operationalisation of variables.
  • Control: random allocation and counterbalancing, randomisation and standardisation.
  • Demand characteristics and investigator effects.
  • Ethics, including the role of the British Psychological Society’s code of ethics; ethical issues in the design and conduct of psychological studies; dealing with ethical issues in research.
  • The role of peer review in the scientific process.
  • The implications of psychological research for the economy.

3.2.3.2  Data handling and analysis

  • Quantitative and qualitative data; the distinction between qualitative and quantitative data collection techniques.
  • Primary and secondary data, including meta-analysis.
  • Descriptive statistics: measures of central tendency – mean, median, mode; calculation of mean, median and mode; measures of dispersion; range and standard deviation; calculation of range; calculation of percentages; positive, negative and zero correlations.
  • Presentation and display of quantitative data: graphs, tables, scattergrams, bar charts.
  • Distributions: normal and skewed distributions; characteristics of normal and skewed distributions.
  • Introduction to statistical testing; the sign test.