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Welcome to Research Methods

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Michele Oliver

on 10 June 2014

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Transcript of Welcome to Research Methods

How do you evaluate scientific reports?
Intuition, Authority & Scientific Approach
The Scientific Approach
Limitations of Intuition & Authority
"It was discouraging news for seniors who hoped they could exercise, make diet changes, or stay mentally alert enough to ward off Alzheimer's disease.  CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews reports a panel of experts at the National Institutes of Health reviewed the science and bluntly concluded there is no proven way to prevent or even slow down the onset of Alzheimer's." 
(CBS News)
But wait...

According to ABC News, a Mediterranean-Like Diet may lower Alzheimer's risk.
"Researchers revealed that persons who consumed a Mediterranean-type diet regularly were 38 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease over the next four years, according to Dr. Nikolaos Scarmeas of Columbia University in New York and colleagues."
Relies unquestioningly on personal judgment
Involves cognitive and motivational biases
Makes us draw erroneous conclusions about cause and effect

Many accept statements based on faith in the authority
Scientific approach rejects this notion and requires much more evidence before conclusions can be drawn

Monday, August 25, 2014
Vol 1, No. 1
Why take Research Methods?
Chapter 1 - Scientific Understanding of Behavior
A healthy dose of scientific skepticism
What we need is
Many occupations require the use of research findings

Increasingly important in public policy and judicial decisions

One of my goals for you this term is to teach you how to think critically about research reports.

View the following video and think of about the following:

1. Why is it wrong for us to draw similar conclusions to those made in the 1950s?

2. What would you do to increase the validity of this study/replication? (How would you improve on this replication)

As researchers, we don't accept intuition – even our own
Ideas must be evaluated on the basis of careful logic and results from scientific investigations.

Here are a couple of definitions you need to know.

- Knowledge based on facts (through the senses)
- Proposes that for something to be scientific it must be be able to be proven false. If things are falsifiable (able to possibly be proven false) then they can be used in scientific studies and inquiry.

Welcome to Research Methods
Sometimes, instead of science
Characteristics of pseudoscience
Hypotheses generated are not typically testable
If scientific tests are reported, methodology is not scientific and validity of data is questionable
Supportive evidence is anecdotal and does not cite scientific references
Claims ignore conflicting evidence
Claims tend to be vague, and appeal to preconceived ideas
Claims are never revised

What are the goals of Science?
Describe Behavior
What behavior are you observing?

Predict Behavior
Do you notice any patterns in the behavior observed?

Determine the Causes of Behavior
What is driving this behavior?

Explanation of Behavior
Why is the behavior occurring?

Basic vs. Applied Research
Last Topic for Today
Basic Research
Attempts to answer fundamental questions about the nature of behavior
Theoretical issues often concern basic phenomena, such as cognition, emotion, motivation, learning, psychobiology, personality development, and social behavior

Applied Research
Conducted to address issues in which there are practical problems and potential solutions
Program evaluation

Comparing Basic & Applied Research
Basic and Applied Research
Neither is considered superior to the other
Applied research is often guided by theories and findings of basic research
Findings in applied settings often require modification of existing theories and spur more basic research
Basic research is crucial to public policy

Full transcript