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Research Methods For Dissertation – Difference Between Observational And Experimental Methods

Research Methods For Dissertation
Susan Wray
September 02, 2022

The selection of research methods for dissertations is a complex task which needs the high attention of the researcher. Before selecting one research method, you should have an idea about the similarities and differences between several methods. In this regard, this article can help me know about the differences between experimental and observational research methods for my dissertation.

What are the Main Differences Between Experimental and Observational Research Methods for Dissertation?

Following are the aspects which make observational and experimental research methods different from each other:

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  • Purpose 

There are several aims of the observational methods in the dissertation, such as:

  • In observational methods, researchers can view actions, emotions, values and norms, which may not be possible in interviews or phone calls.
  • While discussing ordinary details, it is easy for the researcher to understand the actual views and points, which are beneficial to discovering other layers of reality.
  • Through observational methods in the dissertation, there is a sequential view of social life’s interlocking routine events.
  • It is also possible through observational methods in the dissertation that the researchers prefer an unstructured or semi-structured research design; rather than focusing on the previously designed frame of reference.

In contrast, the experimental method aims to find the effects of different research variables. It focuses on the dependent or independent variable. Therefore, researchers, through this method, evaluate the dependence of different variables on each other. This kind of research is mostly used in social sciences, physics and psychology studies. An experimental method used the scientific method to analyze the cause-effect relationship between the group of variables.

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  • Control Group 

In all those dissertations based on observational methods, the case-control type brings two groups closer;

  • The control groups
  • The case-study group

Case-study type has a specific attribute that is not present in the control group. There is a need to evaluate both groups to observe that the case group reveals a specific characteristic higher than the control group. For example, if the researcher compared the two groups of cigar smokers (the case study group mentioned cigar smokers) and (control group) non-smokers. The researcher can observe that the cigar smoker (case study group) had high instances of lung cancer compared to (control group) non-smokers.

On the other hand, the experimental type research methods for dissertation can ensure control groups by working on its variables. The approach to control groups is to identify the variables and set one of the variables constant. In this way, you can better control the experimental methods of research. For example, the time variable can be taken as a constant based on the need for an hour. So, you can see that experimental and observational research methods for dissertation also differ regarding control groups.

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  • Sampling Of Data 

The difference between observational and experimental research methods for dissertation can also be observed in terms of data sampling. At the time of conducting the observational research method of a dissertation, you have to go for a representative sample for the study. For example, you have to collect data for research, and the targeted area is one state. In this case, when you collect data from the whole state, it does not remain easy. Also, travelling across the state may not let you have budget-friendly research. In this case, researchers use an approach of data representation. Here, you can divide the state into several sections and collect a small sample from each section. You can use a small sample to represent a large area based on estimation.

Contrary to the observational research method, the experimental method is more inclined towards the random collection of samples. In random data sampling, every respondent gets an equal opportunity to be selected for a research study. Random data sampling is one reason which makes the experimental research method unbiased. In simple words, you can call the experimental research method a valid one which is free from biasness. Also, you have to take care that when you are following an experimental research method, selecting a particular respondent group is also not allowed. Some researchers go for particular groups to ensure more precise results. This action does not let them meet the desired result, but it is a waste of time and effort.

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  • Interference 

The interference of research helps you define a path for research. You can differentiate the selected research methods for dissertation based on the interference of the study. In the case of the observational method, you do not find any interference. There is no external factor, and you have to study the actions of people in a natural flow. Similarly, if you are studying any object other than a person, the situation remains the same, and you have to study under natural circumstances.

In the observational research method, the absence of interference is the thing which demands high expertise from the researcher in observation. Without the expertise of critical observation, it can be challenging for you to conduct reliable research. On the other hand, by having a good hand in critical observation, this study will be a piece of cake for you. Here, it is the absence of interference which makes it less expensive because you do not have any material or structure to buy.

On the other hand, the experimental research method interferes with the sample set, which demands a hypothesis. The sample can be in any form as per the need of the study, and you have to make a hypothesis for it. There would be two hypotheses, including null and alternative. As a result, you can have any of them, and there would not be any negative effect on the research study. Both hypotheses define a particular condition, so you do not need to worry about it. Here, if you find it challenging to design a hypothesis, you can avail yourself the dissertation writing services.

Final Thoughts 

The above-mentioned pointers can help you understand the differences between experimental and observational research methods for dissertation. Also, you can better identify the condition required for the use of each research method. I hope this article will help you remove confusion related to observational and experimental methods.

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