Practical issues in the design and implementation of research

INITIALLY introduced: from the earliest studies covered in SOCIAL and COGNITIVE, e.g. Milgram, Baddeley, Sherif, HM etc.

Researcher face countless PRACTICAL ISSUES as they design their studies; you will have been introduced to practical issues from the very start of the course, some of which are specific to certain research methods and designs and some of which are issues that were faced by specific researchers in specific studies. Every time you think about a study whether it is classic, contemporary or one that you carried out as one of your practicals, think about the practical issues and problems that the researchers might have faced when collecting data in their study; perspective taking can help, put yourself in their shoes of firstly the researcher but then the participant and maybe even the participants friends or family members. This will help you to think “all around” the study; why not play a game with yourself or a small group – imagine everything that could go wrong for a specific psychologist and ruin their data collection; these are the practical issues that they have to face.

  • Time, space, cost, specialist resources, etc.
  • do you have power for electronic devices, wifi
  • are there immovable objects/furniture that make it hard to set things up as you want them
  • are there physical, language, cultural, psychological barriers between the researcher and the Pps?
  • is it hard to hide in an covert observation?
  • is it hard not to become too close to the Pps in your case study remembering the results subjective as you are now friends as well as researcher and researched
  • are the extraneous variable in your field experimenter that are just impossible to control
  • are there ethical issues with debriefing because people didn’t even know they were in the study? is this really a problem?
  • in memory studies might the to -be remembered items be more memorable for some people compared with others?
  • how will you know that people are actually following your instructions, e.g. not to rehearse or attempt to use any memory strategies to aid them
  • there may also be issues with the control of extraneous variables if conducting  an experiment in the field if you are doing an observation in the field (as in your learning observation) and some-one parks in front of you and you can no longer see properly
  • think about studies like Sedikides and Jackson when people could have got in the way of the researcher or made it hard to hear properly in the birdhouse at the Zoo.
  • things like order effect and Pp variables also count as practical issues, as do demand characteristics, observer bias, interviewer effects etc.