Research methods – common terminology

Here are some of the most common terminology used that it would be useful to understand for your research module.

critical appraisal – examines the practical application of research, assessing how valid and relevant it is to the practice area.

intervention fidelity – how well an intervention is delivered as intended

generalisability – attempting to apply study findings to settings/contexts other than the ones they were originally tested in. Applies to quantitative research.

transferability – how findings can be transferred to another setting/context. Applies to qualitative research.

standard deviation – the spread of results occurring around the mean. For example, the mean age of participants may be 40 with a standard deviation of 25 – 55. Often represented as S.D. A smaller S.D is preferred as this shows a small spread of data around the mean, a large S.D shows a wide spread of data, meaning it is less reliable.

confidence interval – usually expressed as a percentage. Represents how certain the researchers can be that the mean for the entire population would fall within the identified range.

hypothesis – a theory or idea that needs to be tested.

null hypothesis – no significant difference apparent between two groups.

alternative hypothesis – results are the result of a difference between two groups.

p value – a measure of the strength of evidence against the null hypothesis. a small p value < 0.05 indicates evidence against the null hypothesis, this is then rejected and an alternative hypothesis developed.

quantitative – research where the results are numerical such as statistics, percentages etc. Studies cause and effect relationships.

qualitative – research where the results are text based and may follow themes. Includes thoughts, feelings, descriptions etc.

mixed method – where researchers use both quantitative and qualitative data within the same study.

rct – randomised control trial.

randomisation – making something random ie the allocation of participants into a treatment or control arm. A good way of minimising the risk of bias.

treatment arm – where participants receive the treatment/intervention. Characteristic of a rct.

control arm – participants receive no treatment/intervention or they receive a placebo. Characteristic of a rct.

internal validity – whether the results are based on the intervention or an unknown variable.

external validity – how well what is being measured can be generalised to the wider population.

independent variable – the variable manipulated by the researcher to measure its effect on the dependent variable.

dependent variable – what the researcher is interested in measuring in the study.

Reflexivity – the questioning of one’s attitudes, values and prejudices and to appreciate how these could affect the outcome of the research.

homogenous sample – when participants have similar or identical traits ie same age, gender, employment etc.

heterogeneous sample – where every participant has a different value for their characteristics ie different ages, gender etc. Indicative of diversity.

blinding – where participants or researchers are prevented from knowing which intervention group participants are allocated to. Can be single blinded or double blinded.

T-test – used to determine if there is a significant difference between the means of two groups.

bias – a form of error that can affect the outcome of studies.

triangulation – using more than one method to collect data. A way of assuring validity within the research.

primary research – new research studies, carried out through experiments, trials etc.

secondary research – analysis or interpretation of existing research studies.

cause and effect – where one event (the effect) is the result of another event happening (the cause). Randomised control trials are the best method able to establish a cause-effect relationship.

 

 

 

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