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Research Methods

1. Causation: When one thing causes another.

2. Correlation: When two things tend to occur together, or are related, but one
does NOT cause the other. There is usually a third factor which explains the
occurrence of these two.
3. Positive control: The group which has received the gold standard treatment.
4. Negative control: The group which has received the placebo (i.e. no
Not having a control group is very poor experimental design.
5. p value: probability that results are totally random; for an experiment to have
statistically meaningful results, p should be equal to or less than 0.05.
e.g. 10% improvement with a new drug as compared to aspirin. p = 0.01; 1%
chance that results are totally random. There is a 99% probability that results
are not random.
e.g. Data has p = 0.1. This means that the results are random! They are not
statistically significant. The null hypothesis was not disproved.
AAMC Notes on Research Methods

Identifying the role of theory, past findings, and observations in scientific


Identifying testable research questions and hypotheses

Distinguishing between samples and populations and between results that do

and do not support generalizations about populations

Identifying the relationships among the variables in a study (e.g., independent

versus dependent variables; control and confounding variables)

Reasoning about the appropriateness, precision, and accuracy of tools used to

conduct research in the natural sciences

Reasoning about the appropriateness, reliability, and validity of tools used to

conduct research in the behavioral and social sciences

Reasoning about the features of research studies that suggest associations

between variables or causal relationships between them (e.g., temporality, random

Reasoning about ethical issues in scientific research

Identifying the basic components of survey methods, ethnographic methods,
experimental methods, or other types of research designs in psychology and

Selecting a hypothesis about semantic activation

Identifying the extent to which a finding can be generalized to the population

when given details about how participants were recruited for an experiment in
language development

Identifying the experimental setup in which researchers manipulate self-


Identifying the most appropriate way of assessing prejudice in a study on implicit


Reasoning about the implications of relying on self-report measures for a specific


Identifying the third variable that may be confounding the findings from a
correlational study

Making judgments about the reliability and validity of specific measures when
given information about the response patterns of participants

Identifying whether researchers violated any ethical codes when given

information about a study