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Critique of Descriptive and Observational Methods in Research

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Data Analysis
Wordcount: 1995 words Published: 18th May 2020

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Correlation approach

Correlation mainly refers to the connection amongst two variables. Correlations can positive or negative and they can also either be very strong or fragile in state. In some cases, there could possibly be no correlation at all between those stated variables. The Methods associated with correlation are a generally forms of examinations that are inclusive of “quasi-experimental” strategies such as a naturalistic observation, in which diverse groups are compared, but the cause and effect between those two groups cannot be equated.

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Correlational studies are a form of research that can be used as a preliminary method to collect information about any given subject and is also used in circumstances where an actual experiment is not even vaguely conceivable. I selected this method to see if a connection exists between human development and substance addictions. I think by using this method of research and finding that a relationship does exist, this research is not going to verify that changes to either particular variable will directly lead to the same changes within the other variable; as this study cannot prove or disapprove a cause-and-effect relationship. Below are the three possible outcomes for a correlation study:

  1. Positive correlations: both variables are going to simultaneously increase and/or decrease
  2. Negative correlations: when as the amount in one variable increases, the other will decreases in the same manner
  3. No correlation: there is no relationship between the two variables

While researching this particular research method, I’ve learned that correlational research can recommend that there is a certain relationship between the two stated variables; it does not show that one causes a change in the other, correlation is not equivalent of causation. An example of this would be that a correlational study could advocate that there is a relationship between alcoholism and self-respect, but it will not confirm that not being an alcoholic will actually cause a change in a person’s self-worth. There are basically three different types of correlational research:

  1. Naturalistic Observation: observing the variables in their natural environments without any manipulation or interference
  1. Strengths:
    1. The researcher has the opportunity to view the variable in their natural setting
    2. Suggests further ideas for research
    3. Lab experimentation may not be possible
  2. Weaknesses:
    1. Could be expensive and time-consuming
    2. No control of the subject/variable
    3. Subject/Variable may act differently if they are aware of the current observation
  1. Survey Method: Questionnaires and Surveys are the most collective methods used in research. Random sample of partakers complete a test, survey, or a questionnaire that relates to the study of interest. Random sampling is a dynamic part of guaranteeing the results are completely generalized.
    1. Strengths:
      1. Cheap, fast, and easy—researchers are able to collect large quantities of data in a moderately short amount of time
      2. Flexibility
    2. Weaknesses:
      1. Can be adversely affected by an unreliable sample or mediocre questions via the questionnaire, test, or survey
      2. Participants can affect the testing results—such as appeasing the researcher or falsifying data to make themselves appear better than they really are
  1. Archival Research: Analyzing studies led by other researchers or by considering historical data. An example of this would be, researchers analyzing historical records of patients who died of alcoholism to acquire more information about liver cancer as it relates to alcoholism.
    1. Strengths:
      1. There will be no changes in behaviors
      2. Massive amounts of data delivers an enhanced view of relationships, outcomes, social economics, and possibly trends
      3. Less expensive since the data is archived
    2. Weaknesses:
      1. No control over the data collection
      2. Missing data and/or files
      3. Possibly unreliable data

The Correlative method is listed as one of the four approaches to quantitative research

There are four key types of quantitative research and their differences are mainly related to the degree of control the researcher has in their studies.

  1. Descriptive: Describes the current position of a variable or phenomenon. A hypothesis is developed after the data is collected.
  2. Correlational: Discovers the relationships between multiple variables by means of statistical studies.
  3. Quasi-Experimental: Establishes a cause-effect relationship between variables
  4. Experimental: Uses the scientific method to create a cause-effect relationship between group(s) of variable(s) in any given research study.

Another approach I would consider using is archival research. I feel as though with understanding the relationship between developmental psychology and substance abuse, there will more than likey need to be some form of statistical analysis.  But on the other hand, I believe the information that is going to be collected will be largely qualitative.  I do know that archival research is basically a technique of collecting data from multiple sources that previously existed. Some examples widely known and used are surveying already acquired data. Reviewing mental health records from the 19th century to determine the frequency of alcoholism in the hospital patients at that time would be something that I can use as a starting point for this method.

This will entail searching for and pulling out statistical data and evidence from the original archives; while making sure the records are completely historical and non-current. The archives that I will need are typically held either by an individual association, the government, or by a single organization.  I feel that archival research will provide vast information  given the massive sea of material available, which will be more complex and I am sure extremely time-consuming compared to just researching current events, articles, newspapers, etc., but yet it would yield  more dependable results. When finding trustworthy archives, I would want to know, with assurance, that the information that I’ve collected is accurate and credible and ultimately comes from a reliable. As we’re all full aware, a lot of public information that’s available on the internet is not reviewed, revised or even vetted. A lot of it is even outdated or isn’t even truthful or realistic. I need to know that the information I extract is:

  • complete
  • well-researched
  • supporting evidence
  • extremely relevant
  • provides a well-balanced view(s)

Depending on the type of archives that I am using the research process will vary a lot and types of archives are listed as:

  • business
  • academic
  • government
  • non-profit
  • newspapers
  • periodicals (published and unpublished manuscripts)
  • letters, photographs, videos, audio recordings
  • graphs, maps, books, etc.

Archival data includes a wide collection of practical data and materials created by people for their own individual purposes or on behalf of organizations. Archival data has primarily been used to help cultivate an understanding of the research framework, rather than to update the growth of ideas and theories. 

Interviewing and observing can be building blocks with vast contributions to my research, I do realize that there are growing opportunities for manufacturing a better way to obtain the data I require for my personal research. I believe that having a vast amount of archival data will ultimately be a viable resource. The growth of the online community has directed us to the ever growing opportunities (Asch, 1961) so has the production of online archives widely ranging from corporate reports to periodicals to blogs to product complaint websites. The statement that we must consider archival data as an additional primary source of insight comes from the vast critiques developing from data as a main resource in qualitative research. Arnould and Wallendorf (1994) illustrated the disconnections between what people say and do; they make a convincing case that we should not rely primarily on interviewing to provide understanding of patterns and motives for individual behaviors.

Critiques of views of qualitative interviewing research has raised substantial challenges to our rational about which study questions are possible or appropriate to address grounded simply on interviews alone (Burger, 2009).

There is a wide union for the opportunity and need for more use of archival data, we must contemplate on how we can gather and analyze the archived materials. Existing rules and strategies for gathering and examining data are sparse, and characteristically accept that it will play a secondary role to research methods. People tend overlook the element that qualitative researchers often face challenges of not only finding the archival data, but relatively deciding how to put certain limits on the data that is systematically analyzed and collected and analyzed. I believe it is imperative to develop direction on manageable and comprehensible strategies for gathering archival data.









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