Experimental research refers to observing and collecting data in a controlled environment, offering potential benefits for professional use. Experimental research is a type in which researchers often test how changes to independent variables impact dependent variables. This is done by changing the value of certain independent variables and measuring the effects on corresponding dependent variables.
- Medicinal researchers use experimental research to determine the best course of treatment for illnesses. Usually, instead of directly testing it on human subjects, they take samples of bacteria from a patient and then try the anti-bacterial medicine developed.
- Social scientists are well-versed in experimental research related to human behavior. To illustrate this, consider a study where two people are randomly chosen, and one of them is isolated from other humans for an entire year. Such scientific experiments in physical sciences allow us to gain insights into different aspects of human behavior.
- Ensuring an exceptional user experience is paramount during product development. This can be achieved by putting the product through a rigorous testing phase, where potential users are invited to give feedback and suggest improvements. Once this process is complete, the product’s final design can be released.
What is Experimental Research?
Experimental research is a scientific study used to analyze and compare two sets of variables – the control group and the experimental group. For example, quantitative research techniques are classified as experimental, where the control variable is kept constant to measure changes in the experiment variable.
Experimental research is a great way to compare two or more variables and observe the effects on a particular group or groups under specific conditions. It helps in understanding cause-and-effect relationships of different variables like price as an independent variable affects sales which is a dependent variable. Let’s understand this with the examples of some of the independent and dependent variables –
1) Independent Variables –
- Inventory (new products or upgrades)
- Sales agents’ approaches and interactions
- Digital user experience (DX
- Marketing activities
- Season, etc
2) Dependent variables –
- In-store visits
- VoC feedback
- Time spent on a website
- Bounce rates
- Site traffic, etc
Importance of Experimental Design
When you conduct experimental research, it plays an important role in understanding the cause-and-effect relationships in a system. By altering particular variables and observing their effect, we can identify how different components of the system interact with one another, which is especially useful when looking into intricate matters.
It is a key component of academics & science. It’s used to test ideas, create new products, and make vital breakthroughs in different fields. Its significance goes beyond that as it’s an essential method for many scientific and academic studies. For instance, knowing the effects of a drug is integral to its development. Researching the dosage and associated side effects is an important part of this process. This enables researchers to create new drugs and treatments that are safe and effective.
Experimental research is also used in psychology to understand how the brain works and identify new treatments for mental health issues. It involves manipulating variables such as stimuli to gain insights into human behavior. It is also used in education to test new teaching methods and find the most effective ones.
Trying out something new via experimental design can be advantageous for businesses. Through experimentation, they can assess the effect of different marketing strategies, product design, and customer service on their success as well as identify potential opportunities. With this change, businesses can see if it is financially beneficial for them, as well as track how other businesses in the same industry react and if those reactions lead to an increase in sales.
When Can a Researcher Conduct Experimental Research?
You can use experimental research methods in different situations like –
- When the cause and effect are dependent on time
- When cause and effect have an invariable relationship
- When the researcher wants to understand the importance of the cause-and-effect relationship
Types of Experimental Research Design
1. Pre-experimental research design
It uses observation to observe the effects of an experiment. Pre-experimental research generally takes place in different design structures
- One-shot case study research design – Single-group pre-experimental research involves testing one group exposed to a stimulus, then analyzing the performance of individuals or entities in the group after application.
- One-group pretest-posttest design – Researchers use pre-and-post-tests to measure the effects of stimuli on test subjects. The results allow for observations about the impact of the stimulus.
- Static group comparison design – In a static group comparison, researchers assess two different groups, with only one receiving the stimuli being studied. Testing is conducted at the end of a process to compare results between groups given and not given stimuli.
2. True experimental research design
For these types of research, participants must be allocated to different groups randomly. This is known as random assignment and is a key element of the research process.
By removing bias in creating study groups, the results of the research are more reliable. Some of the design structures used in this true experimental research are-
- Posttest-only control group design – The randomized control trial design randomly divides participants into two groups, one which acts as a control and does not receive the stimuli being tested, and another which does receive the stimuli. At the conclusion of the experiment, researchers carry out tests to evaluate the tangible results arising from exposure to particular stimuli.
- Pretest-posttest control group design – It involves testing the participants before & after the stimulus from the non-control group. It utilizes a double-test model which allows researchers to compare and assess results in multiple ways.
- Solomon’s four-group design – The Solomon four-group design is a widely used experimental research structure that involves assigning participants to four randomized groups. This method is thought to be one of the most detailed and complex schemes for running experiments. Groups are formed for pre and post-tests, both with and without control groups, for research purposes.
3. Quasi-experimental research design
Quasi-experimental research is similar to true experimental research but differs in how research subjects are assigned to groups as it lacks randomization.
Instead of randomly assigned participants, they are utilized when randomization is not practical or feasible. Quasi-experimental studies are often conducted in educational settings, helping researchers to generate useful insights into the field.
How to Conduct Experimental Research
Some of the steps of conducting experimental research designs effectively are –
- Your experimental research begins with forming a question, choosing a topic, and identifying related variables.
- Then it should include both secondary sources and surveys.
- You need to collect facts and data to use when beginning a research project to help achieve more successful results.
- Once you are done with researching and examining data related to the topic, come up with a hypothesis that can be tested.
- Next, you need to identify which variables are independent and dependent. After that, choose a range for the independent variable(s) and manipulate these according to your desired outcome. You need to measure the dependent variable(s) at the time when you study the independent variable(s).
- When conducting experiments on certain topics, make sure to have a sufficient sample size and ensure that the subjects are assigned to their respective treatment groups randomly. This fairly distributes the different levels of “treatment” among them.
- Control groups are necessary for identifying how a subject would act without external influences. They provide a baseline to compare results against. This allows you to accurately compare the results with the test subjects that did receive manipulation.
- When assigning subjects for a study, you must choose between two types of groups: a completely randomized design or a randomized block design. Additionally, you can opt for either an independent measures design or a repeated measures design.
- Repetitive experimentation is essential as you need to keep trying different variable settings and monitoring the results. Additionally, make sure to document your observations by taking measurements and making notes.
- After running through the experiment(s), you can make a logical conclusion. However, it is essential to keep testing your hypothesis over time to ensure accuracy and validity.
What Data Collection Methods You can use in Experimental Research?
1. Observational Study
In an observational study, a researcher records information as it naturally occurs without any intervention.
Simulations involve creating a hypothetical situation to gain insight into how people or things may react in a real-world setting.
Finally, surveys rely on asking participants questions in order to obtain data.
Some of the upsides of experimental research design are –
- You can freely experiment with variables without affecting the validity of their research, plus it further offers the ability to regulate variables and enhanced objectivity.
- You will be able to replicate its studies in order to examine different factors or verify their results again. This allows them to repeat experiments and gain further insight into the topic at hand.
- It can aid researchers in their understanding of different environments, providing a comprehensive overview, plus it can be deployed in a variety of industries and can help businesses gain various benefits.
- Research results can be applied to other situations and contexts, plus they can be used to validate or disprove hypotheses.
- The findings are precise and clear-cut.
- It enables the identification of correlations between different variables and their subsequent effects on one another.
- It can help researchers gain deeper insights into the relationships between different variables and understand their implications.
A few downsides of an experimental research method are –
- Carrying out an activity like this requires substantial resources, time & cost, hence making it a difficult venture.
- You can create simulation models of real-world scenarios by manipulating variables, although this could lead to unintended consequences if it is not done with care.
- It is not infallible; there may be issues in the methods used and other errors that can’t be anticipated.
- Mistakes in experimental research design should be avoided to guarantee accurate results, and that may require re-running the experiment.
- Certain factors in research cannot be manipulated and some experiments may not be feasible to perform.
Experimental Research Examples
1) Social Media Advertising on Brand Awareness
This experiment will compare the effectiveness of social media campaigns on awareness with and without advertising.
The aim is to compare brand awareness between two campaigns, which could be done using surveys, interviews, or other quantitative methods. This hypothesis speculates that a campaign with creative content will lead to heightened brand recognition.
2) A/B Testing
A/B testing is a technique used to compare two versions of a campaign; it can be used to test whether more creative content will have a greater impact on brand awareness.
Two versions of an ad campaign were created: a creative version and a less creative version. The effectiveness of each was assessed to determine which one generated more brand awareness.
By using experimental research techniques, scientists are able to test theories and identify the root cause of an issue. Furthermore, experimental studies provide more reliable results compared to observational ones. Additionally, quantitative data collected from experiments can be processed & analyzed more accurately than qualitative data.
Applied to cause and effect studies, this type of research method is incredibly valuable. It enables researchers to modify certain variables and track their impact on a predetermined dependent variable, thus giving them deep insights into the relationship between the two.
Despite the positive effects it can have, experimental research also comes with certain drawbacks. Namely, researchers can be biased in their data collection, it’s often difficult to replicate results, and a large number of sample sizes are required for output accuracy.
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Very thoughtful analysis of the potential benefits that come with including an appropriate ratio of experimental research. Thanks for sharing.