Steps in Conducting a Scientific Research

Scientific research involves a systematic process that focuses on being objective and gathering a multitude of information for analysis so that the researcher can come to a conclusion.

What are the different steps followed for conducting a scientific research?

Scientific research involves a systematic process that focuses on being objective and gathering a multitude of information for analysis so that the researcher can come to a conclusion. The scientific research process is a multiple-step process where the steps are interlinked with the other steps in the process. If changes are made in one step of the process, the researcher must review all the other steps to ensure that the changes are reflected throughout the process.

Step 1: Identify the Problem

The first step in the process is to identify a problem or develop a research question. The research problem may be something the researcher identifies as a problem or some knowledge or information that is to be developed. This serves as the focus of the study.

Step 2: Forming a Hypothesis

The next step of a psychological investigation is to identify an area of interest and develop a hypothesis that can then be tested. A hypothesis can be defined as an educated guess about the relationship between two or more variables.

For example, a researcher might be interested in the relationship between study habits and test anxiety. They would then propose a hypothesis about how these two variables are related, such as 'test anxiety decreases as a result of effective study habits.'

In order to form a hypothesis, you must start by collecting as many observations about something as you can. Next, it is important to evaluate these observations and look for possible causes of the problem. Create a list of possible explanations that you might want to explore. After you have developed some possible hypotheses, it is important to think of ways that you could confirm or disprove each hypothesis through experimentation.

Step 3: Defining variables

A variable is a factor or element that can be changed and manipulated in ways that are observable and measurable. The researcher must also define exactly what each variable is using i.e., how the variable will be manipulated and measured in the study.

In our previous example, a researcher might operationally define the variable 'test anxiety' as the results on a self-report measure of anxiety experienced during an exam. The variable ‘study habits’ might be defined by the amount of studying that actually occurs as measured by time.

By clearly detailing the specifics of how the variables were measured and manipulated, other researchers can better understand the results and repeat the study if needed.

Step 4: Develop the Research Design

The plan for the study is referred to as the research design. It serves as the road map for the entire study, specifying who will participate in the study; how, when, and where data will be collected; and the content of the program. It is composed of numerous decisions and considerations. It specifies all the steps that must be completed for the study. This ensures that the researcher has carefully thought through all these decisions and that he provides a step-by-step plan to be followed in the study.

Step 5: Finalise research method and construct device

There are two basic types of research methods—descriptive research and experimental research.
1. Descriptive Research Methods: Descriptive research such as case studies, naturalistic observations and surveys are often used when it would be impossible or difficult to conduct an experiment.
2. Experimental Research Methods: Experimental methods are used to demonstrate causal relationships between variables. In an experiment, the researcher systematically manipulates a variable of interest (known as the independent variable) and measures the effect on another variable (known as the dependent variable).

Step 6a: Select sample and collect Data

Sample selection and collection of data are critical steps in providing the information needed to answer the research question. Every study includes the collection of some type of data—whether it is from the literature or from subjects—to answer the research question. Data can be collected in the form of words on a survey, with a questionnaire, through observations, or from the literature.

Once the data are collected on the variables, the researcher is ready to move to the next step of the process, which is the data analysis.

Step 6b: Analyze the Data

In the research design, the researcher specified how the data will be analyzed. Using statistics, the researcher analyzes the data according to the research design. The results of this analysis are then reviewed and summarized in a manner directly related to the research questions.

Step 7: Interpretation and Conclusion

Once a researcher has analysed the data, it is time to examine this information (interpret it) and draw conclusions about what has been found. Conclusions are drawn based on the evidence generated by analysis.

Not only can analysis support (or refute) the researcher’s hypothesis; it can also be used to determine if the findings are statistically significant. When results are said to be statistically significant, it means that it is unlikely that these results are due to chance.

Step 8: Reporting and publishing the findings

The final step in a psychology study is to report the findings. This is often done by writing up a description of the study and publishing the article in an academic or professional journal. The results of psychological studies can be seen in peer-reviewed journals such as Psychological Bulletin, the Journal of Social Psychology, Developmental Psychology, and many others.

Why is such a detailed record of a psychological study so important? By clearly explaining the steps and procedures used throughout the study, other researchers can then replicate the results. The editorial process employed by academic and professional journals ensures that each article that is submitted undergoes a thorough peer review, which helps ensure that the study is scientifically sound. Once published, the study becomes another piece of the existing puzzle of our knowledge base on that topic.

* * *

Conducting research using the steps of the scientific research process requires time and effort to the planning process. However, it ensures that the results gain acceptance from the scientific community and that the research is replicable by others in the future, whether hypothesis is proved or disproved. There are eight steps in the process viz. identifying the problem, forming the hypothesis, defining variables, developing the research design, finalising research methods, selecting sample and collecting data, analysing the data, interpreting the data and drawing conclusions from it, and, reporting and publishing the results. While all steps are important and should be performed diligently, hypothesis formulation and developing the research design are of utmost criticality.


If you found this useful, do remember to like Psychology Learners on Facebook and subscribe by email.

For 'SuperNotes' click here.

For Free eBook previews click here.

For other IGNOU MAPC material click here.

For IGNOU related information and material click here.

IGNOU Students - please visit the FREE IGNOU Help Center for latest updates.
IGNOU Solved Assignments: Q2 - MAPC MPC005 Research Methods in Psychology - MPC005/ASST/TMA/2014-15
Start the discussion!
Comment using Facebook
What others like...

Are you a Mental Health Leader?

If you are a psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor, therapist, educator or a mental health institution administrator we can help you improve your client satisfaction and generate higher revenues.

Contact Us

The Real Happiness Center

With a focus on positive psychology and passion for spreading happiness in the world, The Real Happiness Center is helping people find out what happiness means to them, and how they can achieve it.