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Research Methods Checklist

In preparation for your exam you should be confident that you can do the following:
Section 1: Methods and techniques

Describe different types of experimental methods (Lab, field, natural)

Give characteristics of each type of experimental method
Outline the strengths and weaknesses of each experimental method
Explain the difference between a natural experiment and a field experiment
Explain what is meant by mundane realism

Case study:

Describe what is meant by a case study

Describe at least two techniques that you could use to collect data in a case study
Outline strengths and weaknesses of using a case study approach
Know when it is appropriate/necessary to use a case study method

Correlational studies:

Know what is meant by a correlational study

Know when it is appropriate/ necessary to conduct a correlational study
Know the strengths and weakneses of carrying out observational research
Be able to present correlational data in a table or scattergram

Observational studies:
Describe what is meant by observational techniques
Collect data from observational studies
Know the strengths and weaknesses of carrying out observational research
Self report techniques:
Know what is meant by self report techniques (including questionnaire and interview)
Know the strengths and weaknesses of self report techniques
Know when it is appropriate to use self report techniques
Section 2: Investigation design
Know the purpose of an Aim
Identify the aim of a study
Write a suitable aim for a study
Know the difference between directional (one tailed) and non-directional (two tailed)
Explain why you would use a directional hypothesis
Write fully operationalised hypotheses
Identify the hypothesis from a given study
Explain the difference between an alternative hypothesis and a null hypothesis
Write a null hypothesis
Experimental design:

Identify different experimental designs (independent groups, matched pairs and

repeated measures)
Know when it is appropriate to use each experimental design
Describe the strengths and weaknesses of each experimental design
Know what order effects are and how they can be dealt with (counterbalancing)
Know how individual differences can be overcome when selecting experimental design

Design naturalistic observations

Draw a suitable table for recording observations
Identify strengths and weaknesses of conducting observational research
List appropriate behavioural categories that can be used in a given study
Know the difference between a naturalistic observation and a controlled observation
Suggest one strength and one weakness of studying participants using structured
observational techniques

Questionnaires and Interviews:

Design questionnaires to collect appropriate data

Know the difference between open and closed questions
Write examples of open and closed questions
Write an example of a leading question
Know how leading questions can be a problem in questionnaires and interviews
Be able to identify whether questions are producing quantitative or qualitative data
Explain the difference between a questionnaire and an interview
Design interviews
Explain the difference between structured and unstructured interviews
Explain why it might be preferable to use an unstructured interview rather than a
structured interview
Explain why reliability is important when conducting interviews
Explain how you can assess the reliability of an interview
Explain why interviewer bias and social desirability bias cause problems in interviews
Suggest how an interviewer might be able to avoid social desirability bias
Explain how social desirability bias might affect the validity of a study using a selfreport technique
Justify why an interview is preferable to a questionnaire in a given scenario (and vice


Know what independent and dependent variables are

Identify the independent and dependent variables from a study
Be able to identify different levels of the independent variable
Operationalise variables
Explain what is meant by operationalisation
Know what extraneous variables are (including participant and situational variables)

Extraneous Variables:
Be able to identify extraneous variables
Identify order effects, participant variables, situational variables and investigator
Know why it is important to control variables
Know the difference between an extraneous variable and a confounding variable

Pilot study:

Describe what a pilot study is

Describe why a pilot study is required
Know the advantages of conducting a pilot study
Be able to apply your knowledge of pilot studies to information in a question stem

Understand the concept of validity
Recognise the difference between internal and external validity
Identify threats to internal validity
Identify threats to external validity
Explain what is meant by the term demand characteristic
Be able to identify demand characteristics in a study
Know how to deal with demand characteristics
Explain the terms investigator effect
Know how to deal with experimenter/ investigator effects
Know how issues of validity affect research findings
Know the difference between ecological, population and historical validity
Validity issues in self report techniques: social desirability bias, interviewer bias,
leading questions, content validity
Know how to assess validity


Understand the concept of reliability

Recognise the difference between internal and external validity
Know how to assess reliability (split half method/ test-retest method)
Know how to improve reliability
Know what is meant by inter-observer reliability

Awareness of the BPS code of Ethics
Describe ethical issues and know how to deal with them
Identify relevant ethical issues associated with information in the question stem
Be able to explain in what way it is an issue for the given study (ie relate the issue to
the context)
Understand why ethical issues need to be considered and dealt with
Discuss the strengths and limitations of psychological research that raises ethical
Know what should be included in a debriefing

Know why it is desirable to select a representative sample
Know that all sampling methods aim to be representative of the target population
Understand the concept of bias samples
Describe different sampling methods (Random, opportunity and volunteer sampling)
Know how a researcher would obtain each type of sample
Describe the strengths and weaknesses of each sampling method
Suggest a suitable sampling method based on information provided in a question
Justify the use of a particular sampling method
Know which sampling method is most likely to be biased

Section 3: Data analysis and presentation:

Present data in a table

Present data in a graph (bar chart, scattergram, histogram)
Write an appropriate title and correctly label the axis of a graph
Interpret and draw conclusions from graphs and tables
Calculate measures of central tendency (mean, median, mode)
Know which measure of central tendency is most appropriate for summarising the data
Know when to use measures of dispersion (range and standard deviation)
Analyse and interpret correlational data- be able to identify positive and negative
correlations and know if they are strong, moderate or weak

Qualitative analysis

Explain what is meant by qualitative data

Give an example of a question that would produce qualitative data
Explain in what way a content analysis is a form of observation
Know the processes involved in content analysis
Suggest items that can be used as behavioural categories
Write operationalised definitions for these items
Explain how observer bias might affect the findings of a content analysis

Quantitative data

Explain what is meant by quantitative data

Give an example of a question that would produce quantitative data
Explain measures of central tendency and why you would use one over another
Explain measures of dispersion and be able to explain why standard deviation may be a
better measure than the range.

Correlational analysis

Give strengths and weaknesses of using correlational analysis is a given scenario

Know what a correlation coefficient tells you about a set of data
Explain what examples of correlation coefficients mean (eg +1.00, -.60)
Sketch a scattergram to represent a given correlation coefficient
Draw conclusions from scattergrams
Explain what is meant by a strong/ weak positive/negative correlation (ie. What does
this tell us about the relationship between the variables?