How to Produce High-Quality Research

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  • 1:19 Determinism
  • 1:56 Empiricism
  • 2:44 Replicability
  • 3:34 Falsifiability
  • 4:20 Parsimony
  • 5:05 Bringing the Aspects Together
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Devin Kowalczyk

Devin has taught psychology and has a master's degree in clinical forensic psychology. He is working on his PhD.

Psychology is a science that requires high quality research due to the inherent complexity of human thoughts, behaviors and emotions. One way to go about producing high quality research is to follow certain guidelines that all true sciences follow.

High Quality in Research

What's the difference between pie you heated up in your oven and pie from that amazing bakery down the street? The difference is quality. One you can live without, and one is something that is so amazing through and through.

Why is it important to produce something that is high quality? Well, for starters, if someone produces a lot of bad quality material, then people will stop wanting it. If it is inconsistent, or just downright awful, then it will be wholly rejected. If someone produces high quality materials, then people are more likely to buy into it. This is true for pie and for research.

So, what kind of people are buying or rejecting research? Companies, grant providers for research funds, professionals in the community and anyone who will think about hiring you for your research. So, it's a good idea for a researcher to produce things that are of good quality.

We will be discussing some of the aspects of what makes research good. These are the fundamental principles of all sciences and are the basis of today's psychological research. They come from ideas of what science should be doing, such as relying on the real world, instead of on a person's philosophical arguments.

Aspect: Determinism

Determinism means that events have natural causes. Natural causes can be manipulated or reproduced, as well as understood, while supernatural causes cannot be. In psychology, we assume that all human and animal behavior is determined, or caused, by natural phenomena. More specifically, behaviors are not random and not under the control of some non-natural event. We may not understand all of it, but with the progression of science, it is possible that eventually we can understand all the aspects, without relying on supernatural aspects.

Aspect: Empiricism

Empiricism is defined as a reliance on real evidence to confirm or refute a claim. Empiricism does not rely on intuition, faith or even logic to make its point. Some sciences have it easy, being able to physically interact with the objects they make. Empiricism in psychology often takes the form of a psychological experiment. The experiment can take many forms, including tests on people, interviews or having people make decisions in scenarios. The purpose is to collect real, empirical evidence for or against a hypothesis or theory. To further this end, the experimenter writes down the details of how they conduct their experiment.

Aspect: Replicability

Replicability means findings are reliable and reproducible. Single findings might be a fluke, with just the right situation to give significant results. And, if the experiment cannot be replicated, then the findings aren't true. If something were to be truly happening, then the empirical and deterministic points must be able to be recreated. In psychology, this obviously takes the form of re-conducting previous experiments. We won't go into the complex examples that make replication difficult, such as experiments involving mass hysteria or unethical practices, but nearly every experiment conducted in psychology can be done again with the same instructions. And, while the final numbers might vary a little bit, they should come out to the same basic findings.

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