Psych 2030 is a great course that teaches students a lot about how to be a good researcher, how best to conduct research, and how they can begin to understand the mind. It’s mixed with statistics, since research and statistics go hand in hand but it’s so much more than a bridge to a math class. It makes students think about concepts like ethics, the mysteries of the mind, and what the purpose of research is.
1. What’s Inside the box?
In the beginning of the course, the professor asks the students,”What’s inside the box?” Of course no one knew what was in the box and no one was allowed to open it, but the task was for the students to figure out how they might go about figuring out what’s inside the sealed box. The students were never going to open the box and that’s for a reason. No matter what researchers or non-researchers do to figure out what’s going on inside of a person’s mind, they can never truly now what’s inside because even if you ask or look at the brain, there are some things in life that will always be a mystery.
2. What’s the Best Way to Collect Data?
One of the biggest takeaways from this course is that there isn’t one single method of collecting data that is superior to another. Many researchers have their own personal preferences for how to conduct research, whether it be qualitatively, quantitatively, or mixed. But the challenge is to use a method of conducting data based on what’s going to yield the most accurate and informative results. The best way to collect data is to base that decision on how to get the most accurate data as possible without omitting or overlooking important details.
3. Is There More Confidence in Numbers?
Often, people and researchers believe that the larger the sample, the more confidence there can be in any effects found. However, even a large sample can be biased, improperly collected, or not representative of the population as a whole. So is a large sample always best? No. What is best is that researchers take extra care to ensure that the samples they do use are as representative of a population as possible and that those people selected are selected in an unbiased manner.
4. What’s Ethical?
One of the biggest issues when conducting research is respecting a person’s rights and ensuring that there will be as little harm done to them as possible. Many experiments and test studies are not approved by ethics boards because they might infringe on a person’s mental, emotional, or physical well-being. Many countries have different guidelines which researchers have to follow but in North America, researchers follow the APA style format for conducting research. The topic of ethics is a very controversial one but researchers must consider and balance the possible harms of research with the possible gains of research in order to protect the people who willingly participate.
5. What Does a Good Researcher Do?
A good researcher must respect participants, balance possible harms done by research with the possible gains of research, collect data using the method(s) best suited for the task, ensure that there is as little bias in the process as possible, and understand that not everything can be understood. Researchers inform the public about what’s happening in the world and it’s their job to properly do so in a truthful and transparent manner.
Psych 2030 is much more than a research methods course. It is a course that you take home with you after you finish class for the day and keep reflecting on until the next class. It’s a course that could’ve easily been boring but was far from that. Key takeaways from the course include; what’s inside the box, how best to collect data, sample size in regards to confidence, ethics, and what a good researcher does. All of these ideas are concepts that researchers keep in mind each time they conduct research as they are the basis for all research… well at least good research that is.