Archive | March 2012

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Is it good science to keep adding participants and manipulating data until an effect is found?

This final blog of the semester will discuss the issue of adding more participants to research or manipulating data until an effect is found. When a researcher has been working on a study for a long period of time it is very frustrating when nothing is really found. In this kind of situation it can be very tempting to just manipulate some of the factors or add some more participants until an effect is found. This is not the correct/ethical response for many reasons.

The first reason for it not being ethical/correct is the issue of having valid and reliable results. When running and experiment every researcher wants to ensure that they have reliable and valid results, however if data is being manipulated for all the wrong reasons the results will not be either reliable or valid. Adding participants will not make the results valid or reliable either because of the reason that they were not originally in the research. An example of adding participants to find an effect would be if a researcher had ran an experiment and he/she knew that by adding more males to the experiment they would find a significant difference between gender. By continuing to add males until this significant difference is found is not ethical because by the time the difference is found there will be a much bigger group of males than females which means there becomes a lot of error because the groups are not equal. The results will also have a high chance of making a Type 1 Error.

The second important reason for why adding participants and manipulating data is not good science is generalisation. Having such strongly manipulated data would mean that the results cannot really be generalised to the population and therefore they are not beneficial to anyone. Another problem is when researchers write up their report after the research and experiment is done the method section should be so detailed that by reading it the experiment should be able to be replicated by anyone. Manipulating data in such a way will result in no one being able to replicate the experiment. If the experiment cannot be replicated then how is the researcher expecting people to believe that the results are truly valid and reliable. This link explains populations and validity in a research study and states “a valid research is one that finds the truth” http://www.sahs.utmb.edu/pellinore/intro_to_research/wad/pop&samp.htm

To conclude it is definitely not good science to keep adding participants or manipulating data until an effect is found. I have stated in this blog a few out of many for why this is true. The bottom line is no matter how frustrating it is that an effect is not found at the end of an experiment it is not ethical or correct for the researcher to keep adding participants and manipulating data until an effect is found because the results will simply be unreliable and invalid.

Applied Research Findings Are More Valuable Than Theoretical Findings

This week’s blog topic is controversial as both applied and theoretical research could be argued to be just as important as each other. Many people will have various different arguments about why one is more important than the other, however, I believe that applied research is slightly more important than theoretical. This blog is going to discuss the reasons for why I say this.

Applied research is when a specific population is tested, for example teenagers with dyslexia or older people that are bilingual etc. When research is done on these types of populations they are aiming to improve everyday activities. Applied research could be researching into a specific illness that occurs in people aged between 20-30 for example. By conducting these types of experiments the findings are going to be valuable. If the experiment is to see if a certain medicine cure’s an illness, the results are going to be valuable either way. If they find that the medicine can cure the illness then great but if they find that the medicine has no impact on the illness then they know not to use this medicine again and they can move on to search and test other medicine that may cure the illness. People are benefiting from applied research and this is what makes it so important. Here is a link to a journal with the research findings of spinal cord injury from the last quarter century, all the research that have been done on spinal cord injury has benefited someone in some way http://ukpmc.ac.uk/abstract/MED/7025250/reload=0;jsessionid=iKVBHCR4KNjAQgSne615.0

Theoretical research is when the general population are tested on general things. An example would be if a participant took part in a simple reaction time task to look at how the ‘attentional spotlight’ works. This experiment could be tested using almost anyone and the findings can be generalized. Theoretical research is expanding science but people and communities aren’t really benefiting from them. This is why I believe that applied research is that little bit more important because of the fact that people benefit from these types of research findings.

To conclude, my personal opinion is that applied research findings are more important than theoretical research findings due to the fact that people benefit from the findings of applied research where as theoretical research findings is only benefiting science and helping to expand it.