Your Step by Step Guide on how to Conduct an Empirical Research Study in the field of Psychology

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Conducting the research.

Conducting empirical research and getting it published can prove to be fruitful for your academic career. These days a lot of students also take interest in research either for college dissertation or to their own curiosity. 

This article will help you in conducting research by following a step by step process.

Step 1: Topic Selection

Choosing a topic is the easiest and at the same time the most important step in the process. You have to select any topic which interests you the most in the field of psychology. You can choose anything based on your daily observations, or anything that puzzles you or you want to see if that can be generalised.

You should carefully select the topic which you are genuinely interested in as the process will involve a thorough reading of any and every literature that relates, and if the topic is not intriguing to you, then you might have some roadblocks to clear.

Example: Social media is something we use all the time these days and through my observation I have seen people feeling low due to high usage of the media.

I choose this topic for my research.

Step 2: Review of Literature

Once you have the topic, you have to read through the internet for all the previous research papers relevant to the topic. This deepens your knowledge on the subject, it also helps in deciding which aspect of the topic you want to study.

You can also replicate any research with minor changers like location, age range, sample size, etc. to compare the result with the previous research conducted. Make sure you understand the topic completely and have a fair idea about how your research will contribute to the field (Rationale of the study) and the aim of the study.

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To get free access to research papers you can search on google scholar by adding pdf after the topic.  You will find results from different sites like research net, google citations.

Example: If I search for “Social Media and Depression pdf” on google or google scholar and read through all the research papers I will find, some have done experiments to understand the result, some have used a survey method. I also find that most of the researchers found that both have a positive correlation.

Step 3: Variables and Hypothesis

Once you get the right idea of what your research will be about through the review of all the literature, the next step is to identify the variables that shall be the key of your research. If we take the above example of my research topic on “The relation or correlation of Social Media and Depression”, Social Media Usage and Depression were the two variables that I planned to research on. Decide which variable is dependent and which one is independent.

Each variable has an operational definition that is the meaning of the variable in terms of the research or according to the researcher. Example, Social Media Usage here signifies the amount social media is used.

 

Now based on the variables, the operational definition and the idea of research “a Hypothesis” is stated.

Hypothesis is a supposed result based on the researcher's understanding. 

Example: ‘High usage of social media leads to depression’ is what I hypothesized before conducting the research.

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Step 4: Research Design

Based on the above mentioned steps you have to now prepare the research design which is a detailed plan or a blueprint about how the research was conducted, consisting of Method, Methodology, etc.

A. Research Method- is the type of method used to collect data for the research. Some types of data collection methods are experiment, interview, survey, observation, etc.

B. Methodology- includes information on the sample size, age range, materials used for the research. The sample size depends on the type of research and the method being used. For example, for my research, I decided to use the survey method wherein, I could have a large sample size as it was easy to share a form online. Age range also depends on the subject that is being researched and also on the researcher’s understanding and hypothesis. Material used in my case were the questionnaires for each variable. 

C. Result calculation- a rough idea on what statistics concepts and/or tools will be applied for the calculation of the result based on the way data is collected and the main aim of the research is, example: for social media usage and depression I would use ‘product moment correlation’ to know the relationship between the two variables.

Step 5: Conduction

With everything in place, the blueprint or outline ready, this step just requires you to follow it and conduct the experiment and/or survey or any other method based on the decided age range and sample size. 

This step is the most important one as it is the action phase, should be conducted without or with minimum possible bias or errors.

Step 6: Calculation of Results

Once you have collected all the data, results should be calculated. The best statistical tool used for psychological research is SPSS.

It is used to calculate results in split seconds. You have to convert all the data collected into raw data and upload it on the software, apply the required formula and you are good to go.  

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Step 7: Confirm/Reject the Hypothesis

As per the results you either confirm or reject the hypothesis stated in the beginning of the research blueprint.

Example: According to the results of my study, that was a positive correlation between social media usage and depression hereby confirming my hypothesis - “High usage of social media leads to depression.”

Step 8: Conclusion 

Here you conclude the findings by stating the inference, implications of the results which rejected or confirmed your research hypothesis. You should also include any subsidiary or unrelated findings if any.

Step 9: Make Necessary Changes

In case of any confusion you should make the necessary changes. Any difference in the findings and the expected findings, the same should also be reported as each finding is a contribution to the particular field. 

This article is written by Leen Verma who have been a part of the Global Internship Research Program (GIRP).

Leen is pursuing BSc Hons in Psychology. She is an enthusiastic student of psychology. She also loves to write poetry, blogs and other content.