In the same way that science studies many different aspects, the methods necessary to approach them must also be different, with adequate characteristics to approach one or another object of study. Types of research techniques
Research techniques are all the tools that science uses to increase its field of knowledge, both of people in their individuality and as a whole, in addition to being able to know natural phenomena, such as animal behavior.
Next we will see what the main research techniques are and we will include them according to whether they are quantitative techniques or qualitative techniques.
Research techniques are the processes and instruments used in the approach and study of a certain phenomenon, event, person or social group. With these methods, researchers can collect, examine, analyze and expose the information they have found. It is from these processes that research manages to satisfy its main objective, which is to acquire new knowledge and expand science.
Not all research techniques are suitable for the same objects of study. Depending on its characteristics, some techniques or others will be more appropriate. At the moment in which what is to be studied is proposed, the research group will decide to choose the most appropriate technique, this choice being a fundamental point in any research project. Types of research techniques
Types of investigation techniques
Broadly speaking, there are two types of research techniques: quantitative techniques and qualitative techniques . Within these two types there are different tools that are used depending on the data to be obtained and the way in which they are going to be analyzed.
Quantitative research is empirical, and it is based on objectivity. Quantitative techniques usually collect data by transforming them into numbers, and relating these values in such a way that it can be established whether or not there are causal relationships between the different variables evaluated.
1. The surveys
The data is obtained through questionnaires, that is, lists of questions that the participants must answer.
Among the questions that can be asked in a survey we have practically all types: open questions, closed questions, dichotomous questions (option A or option B), multiple-choice questions, fan questions, estimation questions. opinion questions …
Although they are quick and easy to apply, the surveys do pose some problems. Among them is the lack of sincerity in the responses of the participant , after wanting to make a good impression or disguise reality in the face of the researcher. Also, unconsciously or voluntarily, the participant may tend to answer “yes” to everything. Types of research techniques
In addition, it may happen that the participants do not understand some of the items in the questionnaire , answering in a totally contrary way to what they would really have answered if they had understood them.
2. The tests
The tests could be considered a technique halfway between the surveys and the interview. The difference with surveys is that tests tend to have a diagnostic purpose , while surveys seek to know public opinion, impersonally and without knowing the name or personal data of the respondents.
Their objective is to collect information on defined traits of the person, such as their personality, behavior and personal characteristics, both individually and collectively. Among the evaluated characteristics we can find intelligence, academic performance, memory, degree of depression …
These research techniques are one of the most classic tools in psychology and since the first ones were developed, new ones have been designed, adapted to all kinds of scientific needs. Tests cannot be lacking in experimental psychology, but also sociology and educational sciences.
For a test to be adequate, it must be valid, that is, study what you intend to study and not something else . For example, it does not make sense for a test to say that it evaluates intelligence if there are questions of general culture in it, such as knowing which is the capital of France or how many years are five years old. Types of research techniques
You have to understand that the tests, despite being very objective, are not perfect. There is always the possibility that, as with surveys, the participant does not answer everything objectively or has not understood the items that make up the questionnaire.
3. Correlational studies
Correlational studies allow determining the degree to which two or more variables are related within a sample or population . The degree of relationship is estimated using various statistical methods, which make it possible to know if the relationship between these variables exists and, if so, to know if it is directly or inversely proportional.
An example of a positive relationship between two variables would be: grade obtained in an exam and hours devoted to study by university students correlate in such a way that the more hours of study the better the grade.
An example of a negative relationship would be: grade taken in an exam and hours spent chatting at the bar, correlating in such a way that the more hours spent at the bar the worse the grade in the exams. Types of research techniques
4. Causal-comparative studies
Similar in some way to correlational studies, causal-comparative studies aim to establish the time in which cause and effect occur in a given phenomenon . It is for this reason that these studies are subdivided into two types: retrospective causal-comparative studies and prospective ones.
In retrospectives, the research group performs problem analysis when the effects have already occurred. That is, it is about finding what is the cause of a phenomenon that has already been observed. On the other hand, in the prospective ones, the investigation begins before the events occur, starting from the causes and trying to find out what their effects will be.
5. Experimental studies
The main characteristic of experimental studies is that they are guided based on the previous elaboration of one or more hypotheses . That is to say, they start from a statement, in the form of a statement, and it is through research that it is intended to know if this statement is true or false, that is, to verify or refute it. During the experiment, the research group controls one or more variables, evaluating the effects that occur based on the changes they make on them.
The main objective of qualitative research is to understand and interpret phenomena that, for various reasons, cannot be extrapolated to a laboratory context, or that depend on the context in which they occur. It is for this reason that qualitative research describes scenarios, people and communities in their natural form , without the researchers directly controlling and modifying one or more variables. Types of research techniques
Observation, as its name suggests, involves carefully observing the phenomenon, event or specific case, taking the necessary information and recording it in a more or less systematic way.
Actually, observation is a fundamental element of any investigation, however quantitative it may ultimately claim to be. In fact, observation is such an important tool for science that, basically, most of the scientific knowledge has been obtained using this qualitative technique.
The research group relies on observation to obtain as much data as possible . Thus, they observe behaviors that may not be assessable by administering questionnaires or that the subject under study is not aware of performing. The use of this technique is also frequent at the beginning of investigations, when there is not enough information about a specific phenomenon.
There are different forms of observation , let’s see what they are.
- Direct observation: the investigator is in personal contact with the fact to be investigated.
- Indirect observation: the phenomenon is known through observations made by other people.
- Participant observation: the researcher enters the phenomenon, obtaining information “from within”.
- Non-participant observation: information is collected from outside, without intervening in the phenomenon.
- Unstructured observation: the observation is carried out without the help of technical or special elements.
- Structured observation: you have the help of appropriate technical elements, such as tables, files …
- Field observation: it is carried out in places where the events or phenomena to be investigated occur.
- Laboratory observation: the research is carried out with previously determined human groups, under laboratory conditions.
2. Bibliographic research
Bibliographic research is a qualitative technique that is responsible for exploring everything that has been written about a certain topic or problem . This type of research aims to fulfill the following functions: Types of research techniques
- Support and sustain, in a theoretical way, the work to be done.
- Avoid making current research a replica of something that has already been done.
- Allow to disclose previous elaborated experiments to refute / confirm them.
- Assist in the continuation of previous investigations that were interrupted or incomplete.
3. Ethnographic studies
Ethnographic studies are used when you want to know more about the behavior, habits and ways of life of a human group , ethnic group, culture, linguistic group, sexual orientation or any political tendency.
Each human group can have very different behaviors, beliefs and attitudes, but that make up the same cultural unit, which is why this special type of study is used, since there are sociocultural aspects that are difficult to evaluate and obtain quantitatively.
4. Grounded theory
This research method involves building the theory from the data. In other words, the starting point does not consist of the theoretical framework or a previous bibliographic search, but rather the theory is elaborated from the data obtained during the process.
Grounded theory is not only used in the social sciences, it is also an applied method in the health sciences . An example of this would be in the evaluation of a patient’s symptoms and signs, which will determine the diagnosis and the intervention process. Types of research techniques
5. Narrative and visualization methods
The narrative technique involves asking people to tell their stories or experiences about a certain event, explaining their testimony and how they have lived it .
A similar technique is visualization methods, in which subjects are asked to report a phenomenon, element or fact in a pictorial way, such as making a map, a diagram or a more or less artistic representation of their experiences.
An example of a visualization method would be asking someone to make an outline of their community or the elements that are part of their day to day, such as their home, school, the neighborhood bakery …
6. The case studies
Case studies involve an in-depth examination of a single person or a single institution . The main objective of these techniques is to provide a representation as exact as possible of the individual studied, trying to obtain all kinds of relevant information with what you want to study from him.
The case study is a widely used tool in psychology, especially if it is a very complex case or one that needs special attention, or if it is a patient who goes to the psychotherapist’s office. By approaching the person individually and in depth, the researcher has a detailed understanding of the problem or issue to be addressed . Types of research techniques
7. The interviews
The interview is a technique with which data is obtained from the dialogue between two people: the interviewer, or the researcher, and the interviewee.
The role of the interviewee can be played by a participant in an investigation, a patient, a candidate for a job or an expert in a certain subject. This interview is carried out in order to obtain information from the interviewee, which will vary depending on the object of study of the research .
The interview is one of the oldest research techniques. It has been used in psychology for a long time and is also applied in sociology and education. In fact, it is in these sciences, together with observation, that the interview constitutes an indispensable technique since it allows obtaining data directly from the person who is the object of study.
The use of the interview is made when it is considered necessary for there to be interaction and dialogue between the researcher and the person being investigated . It is also a good tool to use when the population under study is small and manageable, be it one person or a small group of them.
The interviewer must be a person who demonstrates self-confidence. In addition, you must put yourself at the level of the interviewee, posing the interview in terms that are easily understood by the interviewee and that there are no ambiguities.