Prior to beginning any study it is important to gather and understand the methods that are to be applied. When forms or subjective measures are to be used, the researcher should always gather the necessary material before subject recruitment and practice with this material before testing begins. While many researchers develop their own questionnaires, interviews, or consent forms, considering the use of a published form can be beneficial. Data collection methods using various types of scales can assist the researcher by providing high validity and reliability. It is often time consuming to develop the exact questions to be used with each question written in a specific manner as to not create any bias or confusion. Preprinted and published forms, when available, can eliminate this concern and free up a lot of time.
By utilizing the necessary hardware, mastering the use of selected software, and gathering forms, training observers, or mastering the scientific method, you can develop a strong foundation on which to base your research. Rushing into an experiment typically creates more problems and costs more time than proceeding in an organized fashion. Spend the extra time to prepare for your study because there’s nothing worse than having to start over because of simple errors that could have easily been avoided.
The remainder of this book covers specific types of research, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. You will also be presented with some basic descriptive and inferential statistics that can be considered a refresher course for those who have taken a formal statistics class. And finally, since the ultimate goal of this text is to provide the tools necessary to evaluate the research of others and incorporate research into your professional activities, we will end with a chapter focused on the critical analysis of the research report.