Synonyms of study

  • as in investigation
  • as in daydreaming
  • as in consideration
  • as in to research
  • as in to learn
  • as in to debate
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Thesaurus Definition of study

 (Entry 1 of 2)

Synonyms & Similar Words

  • investigation
  • examination
  • exploration
  • inquisition
  • disquisition
  • questionnaire
  • interrogation
  • reinvestigation
  • questionary
  • cross - examination
  • soul - searching
  • self - examination
  • self - reflection
  • going - over
  • self - exploration
  • self - questioning
  • self - scrutiny
  • daydreaming
  • contemplation
  • woolgathering
  • preoccupation
  • abstraction
  • hallucination
  • absentmindedness
  • consideration
  • deliberation
  • introspection
  • premeditation

Antonyms & Near Antonyms

  • short shrift

Thesaurus Definition of study  (Entry 2 of 2)

  • reminisce (about)
  • hark back (to)
  • disremember
  • misremember
  • slur (over)
  • contemplate
  • think (about or over)
  • mull (over)
  • wrestle (with)
  • pore (over)
  • kick around
  • beat one's brains out (about)
  • cudgel one's brains (about)
  • muse (upon)
  • reflect (on or upon)
  • speculate (about)
  • dwell (on or upon)
  • fixate (on or upon)
  • brood (about or over)
  • fret (about or over)
  • obsess (about or over)
  • second - guess
  • pooh - pooh

Synonym Chooser

How does the verb study differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of study are consider , contemplate , and weigh . While all these words mean "to think about in order to arrive at a judgment or decision," study implies sustained purposeful concentration and attention to details and minutiae.

When might consider be a better fit than study ?

The meanings of consider and study largely overlap; however, consider may suggest giving thought to in order to reach a suitable conclusion, opinion, or decision.

When would contemplate be a good substitute for study ?

The synonyms contemplate and study are sometimes interchangeable, but contemplate stresses focusing one's thoughts on something but does not imply coming to a conclusion or decision.

When is weigh a more appropriate choice than study ?

Although the words weigh and study have much in common, weigh implies attempting to reach the truth or arrive at a decision by balancing conflicting claims or evidence.

Phrases Containing study

  • course of study

Thesaurus Entries Near study

Cite this entry.

“Study.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus , Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/study. Accessed 23 Feb. 2024.

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Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper

Glossary of research terms.

  • Purpose of Guide
  • Design Flaws to Avoid
  • Independent and Dependent Variables
  • Reading Research Effectively
  • Narrowing a Topic Idea
  • Broadening a Topic Idea
  • Extending the Timeliness of a Topic Idea
  • Academic Writing Style
  • Choosing a Title
  • Making an Outline
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  • Scholarly vs. Popular Publications
  • Qualitative Methods
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This glossary is intended to assist you in understanding commonly used terms and concepts when reading, interpreting, and evaluating scholarly research. Also included are common words and phrases defined within the context of how they apply to research in the social and behavioral sciences.

  • Acculturation -- refers to the process of adapting to another culture, particularly in reference to blending in with the majority population [e.g., an immigrant adopting American customs]. However, acculturation also implies that both cultures add something to one another, but still remain distinct groups unto themselves.
  • Accuracy -- a term used in survey research to refer to the match between the target population and the sample.
  • Affective Measures -- procedures or devices used to obtain quantified descriptions of an individual's feelings, emotional states, or dispositions.
  • Aggregate -- a total created from smaller units. For instance, the population of a county is an aggregate of the populations of the cities, rural areas, etc. that comprise the county. As a verb, it refers to total data from smaller units into a large unit.
  • Anonymity -- a research condition in which no one, including the researcher, knows the identities of research participants.
  • Baseline -- a control measurement carried out before an experimental treatment.
  • Behaviorism -- school of psychological thought concerned with the observable, tangible, objective facts of behavior, rather than with subjective phenomena such as thoughts, emotions, or impulses. Contemporary behaviorism also emphasizes the study of mental states such as feelings and fantasies to the extent that they can be directly observed and measured.
  • Beliefs -- ideas, doctrines, tenets, etc. that are accepted as true on grounds which are not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof.
  • Benchmarking -- systematically measuring and comparing the operations and outcomes of organizations, systems, processes, etc., against agreed upon "best-in-class" frames of reference.
  • Bias -- a loss of balance and accuracy in the use of research methods. It can appear in research via the sampling frame, random sampling, or non-response. It can also occur at other stages in research, such as while interviewing, in the design of questions, or in the way data are analyzed and presented. Bias means that the research findings will not be representative of, or generalizable to, a wider population.
  • Case Study -- the collection and presentation of detailed information about a particular participant or small group, frequently including data derived from the subjects themselves.
  • Causal Hypothesis -- a statement hypothesizing that the independent variable affects the dependent variable in some way.
  • Causal Relationship -- the relationship established that shows that an independent variable, and nothing else, causes a change in a dependent variable. It also establishes how much of a change is shown in the dependent variable.
  • Causality -- the relation between cause and effect.
  • Central Tendency -- any way of describing or characterizing typical, average, or common values in some distribution.
  • Chi-square Analysis -- a common non-parametric statistical test which compares an expected proportion or ratio to an actual proportion or ratio.
  • Claim -- a statement, similar to a hypothesis, which is made in response to the research question and that is affirmed with evidence based on research.
  • Classification -- ordering of related phenomena into categories, groups, or systems according to characteristics or attributes.
  • Cluster Analysis -- a method of statistical analysis where data that share a common trait are grouped together. The data is collected in a way that allows the data collector to group data according to certain characteristics.
  • Cohort Analysis -- group by group analytic treatment of individuals having a statistical factor in common to each group. Group members share a particular characteristic [e.g., born in a given year] or a common experience [e.g., entering a college at a given time].
  • Confidentiality -- a research condition in which no one except the researcher(s) knows the identities of the participants in a study. It refers to the treatment of information that a participant has disclosed to the researcher in a relationship of trust and with the expectation that it will not be revealed to others in ways that violate the original consent agreement, unless permission is granted by the participant.
  • Confirmability Objectivity -- the findings of the study could be confirmed by another person conducting the same study.
  • Construct -- refers to any of the following: something that exists theoretically but is not directly observable; a concept developed [constructed] for describing relations among phenomena or for other research purposes; or, a theoretical definition in which concepts are defined in terms of other concepts. For example, intelligence cannot be directly observed or measured; it is a construct.
  • Construct Validity -- seeks an agreement between a theoretical concept and a specific measuring device, such as observation.
  • Constructivism -- the idea that reality is socially constructed. It is the view that reality cannot be understood outside of the way humans interact and that the idea that knowledge is constructed, not discovered. Constructivists believe that learning is more active and self-directed than either behaviorism or cognitive theory would postulate.
  • Content Analysis -- the systematic, objective, and quantitative description of the manifest or latent content of print or nonprint communications.
  • Context Sensitivity -- awareness by a qualitative researcher of factors such as values and beliefs that influence cultural behaviors.
  • Control Group -- the group in an experimental design that receives either no treatment or a different treatment from the experimental group. This group can thus be compared to the experimental group.
  • Controlled Experiment -- an experimental design with two or more randomly selected groups [an experimental group and control group] in which the researcher controls or introduces the independent variable and measures the dependent variable at least two times [pre- and post-test measurements].
  • Correlation -- a common statistical analysis, usually abbreviated as r, that measures the degree of relationship between pairs of interval variables in a sample. The range of correlation is from -1.00 to zero to +1.00. Also, a non-cause and effect relationship between two variables.
  • Covariate -- a product of the correlation of two related variables times their standard deviations. Used in true experiments to measure the difference of treatment between them.
  • Credibility -- a researcher's ability to demonstrate that the object of a study is accurately identified and described based on the way in which the study was conducted.
  • Critical Theory -- an evaluative approach to social science research, associated with Germany's neo-Marxist “Frankfurt School,” that aims to criticize as well as analyze society, opposing the political orthodoxy of modern communism. Its goal is to promote human emancipatory forces and to expose ideas and systems that impede them.
  • Data -- factual information [as measurements or statistics] used as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or calculation.
  • Data Mining -- the process of analyzing data from different perspectives and summarizing it into useful information, often to discover patterns and/or systematic relationships among variables.
  • Data Quality -- this is the degree to which the collected data [results of measurement or observation] meet the standards of quality to be considered valid [trustworthy] and  reliable [dependable].
  • Deductive -- a form of reasoning in which conclusions are formulated about particulars from general or universal premises.
  • Dependability -- being able to account for changes in the design of the study and the changing conditions surrounding what was studied.
  • Dependent Variable -- a variable that varies due, at least in part, to the impact of the independent variable. In other words, its value “depends” on the value of the independent variable. For example, in the variables “gender” and “academic major,” academic major is the dependent variable, meaning that your major cannot determine whether you are male or female, but your gender might indirectly lead you to favor one major over another.
  • Deviation -- the distance between the mean and a particular data point in a given distribution.
  • Discourse Community -- a community of scholars and researchers in a given field who respond to and communicate to each other through published articles in the community's journals and presentations at conventions. All members of the discourse community adhere to certain conventions for the presentation of their theories and research.
  • Discrete Variable -- a variable that is measured solely in whole units, such as, gender and number of siblings.
  • Distribution -- the range of values of a particular variable.
  • Effect Size -- the amount of change in a dependent variable that can be attributed to manipulations of the independent variable. A large effect size exists when the value of the dependent variable is strongly influenced by the independent variable. It is the mean difference on a variable between experimental and control groups divided by the standard deviation on that variable of the pooled groups or of the control group alone.
  • Emancipatory Research -- research is conducted on and with people from marginalized groups or communities. It is led by a researcher or research team who is either an indigenous or external insider; is interpreted within intellectual frameworks of that group; and, is conducted largely for the purpose of empowering members of that community and improving services for them. It also engages members of the community as co-constructors or validators of knowledge.
  • Empirical Research -- the process of developing systematized knowledge gained from observations that are formulated to support insights and generalizations about the phenomena being researched.
  • Epistemology -- concerns knowledge construction; asks what constitutes knowledge and how knowledge is validated.
  • Ethnography -- method to study groups and/or cultures over a period of time. The goal of this type of research is to comprehend the particular group/culture through immersion into the culture or group. Research is completed through various methods but, since the researcher is immersed within the group for an extended period of time, more detailed information is usually collected during the research.
  • Expectancy Effect -- any unconscious or conscious cues that convey to the participant in a study how the researcher wants them to respond. Expecting someone to behave in a particular way has been shown to promote the expected behavior. Expectancy effects can be minimized by using standardized interactions with subjects, automated data-gathering methods, and double blind protocols.
  • External Validity -- the extent to which the results of a study are generalizable or transferable.
  • Factor Analysis -- a statistical test that explores relationships among data. The test explores which variables in a data set are most related to each other. In a carefully constructed survey, for example, factor analysis can yield information on patterns of responses, not simply data on a single response. Larger tendencies may then be interpreted, indicating behavior trends rather than simply responses to specific questions.
  • Field Studies -- academic or other investigative studies undertaken in a natural setting, rather than in laboratories, classrooms, or other structured environments.
  • Focus Groups -- small, roundtable discussion groups charged with examining specific topics or problems, including possible options or solutions. Focus groups usually consist of 4-12 participants, guided by moderators to keep the discussion flowing and to collect and report the results.
  • Framework -- the structure and support that may be used as both the launching point and the on-going guidelines for investigating a research problem.
  • Generalizability -- the extent to which research findings and conclusions conducted on a specific study to groups or situations can be applied to the population at large.
  • Grey Literature -- research produced by organizations outside of commercial and academic publishing that publish materials, such as, working papers, research reports, and briefing papers.
  • Grounded Theory -- practice of developing other theories that emerge from observing a group. Theories are grounded in the group's observable experiences, but researchers add their own insight into why those experiences exist.
  • Group Behavior -- behaviors of a group as a whole, as well as the behavior of an individual as influenced by his or her membership in a group.
  • Hypothesis -- a tentative explanation based on theory to predict a causal relationship between variables.
  • Independent Variable -- the conditions of an experiment that are systematically manipulated by the researcher. A variable that is not impacted by the dependent variable, and that itself impacts the dependent variable. In the earlier example of "gender" and "academic major," (see Dependent Variable) gender is the independent variable.
  • Individualism -- a theory or policy having primary regard for the liberty, rights, or independent actions of individuals.
  • Inductive -- a form of reasoning in which a generalized conclusion is formulated from particular instances.
  • Inductive Analysis -- a form of analysis based on inductive reasoning; a researcher using inductive analysis starts with answers, but formulates questions throughout the research process.
  • Insiderness -- a concept in qualitative research that refers to the degree to which a researcher has access to and an understanding of persons, places, or things within a group or community based on being a member of that group or community.
  • Internal Consistency -- the extent to which all questions or items assess the same characteristic, skill, or quality.
  • Internal Validity -- the rigor with which the study was conducted [e.g., the study's design, the care taken to conduct measurements, and decisions concerning what was and was not measured]. It is also the extent to which the designers of a study have taken into account alternative explanations for any causal relationships they explore. In studies that do not explore causal relationships, only the first of these definitions should be considered when assessing internal validity.
  • Life History -- a record of an event/events in a respondent's life told [written down, but increasingly audio or video recorded] by the respondent from his/her own perspective in his/her own words. A life history is different from a "research story" in that it covers a longer time span, perhaps a complete life, or a significant period in a life.
  • Margin of Error -- the permittable or acceptable deviation from the target or a specific value. The allowance for slight error or miscalculation or changing circumstances in a study.
  • Measurement -- process of obtaining a numerical description of the extent to which persons, organizations, or things possess specified characteristics.
  • Meta-Analysis -- an analysis combining the results of several studies that address a set of related hypotheses.
  • Methodology -- a theory or analysis of how research does and should proceed.
  • Methods -- systematic approaches to the conduct of an operation or process. It includes steps of procedure, application of techniques, systems of reasoning or analysis, and the modes of inquiry employed by a discipline.
  • Mixed-Methods -- a research approach that uses two or more methods from both the quantitative and qualitative research categories. It is also referred to as blended methods, combined methods, or methodological triangulation.
  • Modeling -- the creation of a physical or computer analogy to understand a particular phenomenon. Modeling helps in estimating the relative magnitude of various factors involved in a phenomenon. A successful model can be shown to account for unexpected behavior that has been observed, to predict certain behaviors, which can then be tested experimentally, and to demonstrate that a given theory cannot account for certain phenomenon.
  • Models -- representations of objects, principles, processes, or ideas often used for imitation or emulation.
  • Naturalistic Observation -- observation of behaviors and events in natural settings without experimental manipulation or other forms of interference.
  • Norm -- the norm in statistics is the average or usual performance. For example, students usually complete their high school graduation requirements when they are 18 years old. Even though some students graduate when they are younger or older, the norm is that any given student will graduate when he or she is 18 years old.
  • Null Hypothesis -- the proposition, to be tested statistically, that the experimental intervention has "no effect," meaning that the treatment and control groups will not differ as a result of the intervention. Investigators usually hope that the data will demonstrate some effect from the intervention, thus allowing the investigator to reject the null hypothesis.
  • Ontology -- a discipline of philosophy that explores the science of what is, the kinds and structures of objects, properties, events, processes, and relations in every area of reality.
  • Panel Study -- a longitudinal study in which a group of individuals is interviewed at intervals over a period of time.
  • Participant -- individuals whose physiological and/or behavioral characteristics and responses are the object of study in a research project.
  • Peer-Review -- the process in which the author of a book, article, or other type of publication submits his or her work to experts in the field for critical evaluation, usually prior to publication. This is standard procedure in publishing scholarly research.
  • Phenomenology -- a qualitative research approach concerned with understanding certain group behaviors from that group's point of view.
  • Philosophy -- critical examination of the grounds for fundamental beliefs and analysis of the basic concepts, doctrines, or practices that express such beliefs.
  • Phonology -- the study of the ways in which speech sounds form systems and patterns in language.
  • Policy -- governing principles that serve as guidelines or rules for decision making and action in a given area.
  • Policy Analysis -- systematic study of the nature, rationale, cost, impact, effectiveness, implications, etc., of existing or alternative policies, using the theories and methodologies of relevant social science disciplines.
  • Population -- the target group under investigation. The population is the entire set under consideration. Samples are drawn from populations.
  • Position Papers -- statements of official or organizational viewpoints, often recommending a particular course of action or response to a situation.
  • Positivism -- a doctrine in the philosophy of science, positivism argues that science can only deal with observable entities known directly to experience. The positivist aims to construct general laws, or theories, which express relationships between phenomena. Observation and experiment is used to show whether the phenomena fit the theory.
  • Predictive Measurement -- use of tests, inventories, or other measures to determine or estimate future events, conditions, outcomes, or trends.
  • Principal Investigator -- the scientist or scholar with primary responsibility for the design and conduct of a research project.
  • Probability -- the chance that a phenomenon will occur randomly. As a statistical measure, it is shown as p [the "p" factor].
  • Questionnaire -- structured sets of questions on specified subjects that are used to gather information, attitudes, or opinions.
  • Random Sampling -- a process used in research to draw a sample of a population strictly by chance, yielding no discernible pattern beyond chance. Random sampling can be accomplished by first numbering the population, then selecting the sample according to a table of random numbers or using a random-number computer generator. The sample is said to be random because there is no regular or discernible pattern or order. Random sample selection is used under the assumption that sufficiently large samples assigned randomly will exhibit a distribution comparable to that of the population from which the sample is drawn. The random assignment of participants increases the probability that differences observed between participant groups are the result of the experimental intervention.
  • Reliability -- the degree to which a measure yields consistent results. If the measuring instrument [e.g., survey] is reliable, then administering it to similar groups would yield similar results. Reliability is a prerequisite for validity. An unreliable indicator cannot produce trustworthy results.
  • Representative Sample -- sample in which the participants closely match the characteristics of the population, and thus, all segments of the population are represented in the sample. A representative sample allows results to be generalized from the sample to the population.
  • Rigor -- degree to which research methods are scrupulously and meticulously carried out in order to recognize important influences occurring in an experimental study.
  • Sample -- the population researched in a particular study. Usually, attempts are made to select a "sample population" that is considered representative of groups of people to whom results will be generalized or transferred. In studies that use inferential statistics to analyze results or which are designed to be generalizable, sample size is critical, generally the larger the number in the sample, the higher the likelihood of a representative distribution of the population.
  • Sampling Error -- the degree to which the results from the sample deviate from those that would be obtained from the entire population, because of random error in the selection of respondent and the corresponding reduction in reliability.
  • Saturation -- a situation in which data analysis begins to reveal repetition and redundancy and when new data tend to confirm existing findings rather than expand upon them.
  • Semantics -- the relationship between symbols and meaning in a linguistic system. Also, the cuing system that connects what is written in the text to what is stored in the reader's prior knowledge.
  • Social Theories -- theories about the structure, organization, and functioning of human societies.
  • Sociolinguistics -- the study of language in society and, more specifically, the study of language varieties, their functions, and their speakers.
  • Standard Deviation -- a measure of variation that indicates the typical distance between the scores of a distribution and the mean; it is determined by taking the square root of the average of the squared deviations in a given distribution. It can be used to indicate the proportion of data within certain ranges of scale values when the distribution conforms closely to the normal curve.
  • Statistical Analysis -- application of statistical processes and theory to the compilation, presentation, discussion, and interpretation of numerical data.
  • Statistical Bias -- characteristics of an experimental or sampling design, or the mathematical treatment of data, that systematically affects the results of a study so as to produce incorrect, unjustified, or inappropriate inferences or conclusions.
  • Statistical Significance -- the probability that the difference between the outcomes of the control and experimental group are great enough that it is unlikely due solely to chance. The probability that the null hypothesis can be rejected at a predetermined significance level [0.05 or 0.01].
  • Statistical Tests -- researchers use statistical tests to make quantitative decisions about whether a study's data indicate a significant effect from the intervention and allow the researcher to reject the null hypothesis. That is, statistical tests show whether the differences between the outcomes of the control and experimental groups are great enough to be statistically significant. If differences are found to be statistically significant, it means that the probability [likelihood] that these differences occurred solely due to chance is relatively low. Most researchers agree that a significance value of .05 or less [i.e., there is a 95% probability that the differences are real] sufficiently determines significance.
  • Subcultures -- ethnic, regional, economic, or social groups exhibiting characteristic patterns of behavior sufficient to distinguish them from the larger society to which they belong.
  • Testing -- the act of gathering and processing information about individuals' ability, skill, understanding, or knowledge under controlled conditions.
  • Theory -- a general explanation about a specific behavior or set of events that is based on known principles and serves to organize related events in a meaningful way. A theory is not as specific as a hypothesis.
  • Treatment -- the stimulus given to a dependent variable.
  • Trend Samples -- method of sampling different groups of people at different points in time from the same population.
  • Triangulation -- a multi-method or pluralistic approach, using different methods in order to focus on the research topic from different viewpoints and to produce a multi-faceted set of data. Also used to check the validity of findings from any one method.
  • Unit of Analysis -- the basic observable entity or phenomenon being analyzed by a study and for which data are collected in the form of variables.
  • Validity -- the degree to which a study accurately reflects or assesses the specific concept that the researcher is attempting to measure. A method can be reliable, consistently measuring the same thing, but not valid.
  • Variable -- any characteristic or trait that can vary from one person to another [race, gender, academic major] or for one person over time [age, political beliefs].
  • Weighted Scores -- scores in which the components are modified by different multipliers to reflect their relative importance.
  • White Paper -- an authoritative report that often states the position or philosophy about a social, political, or other subject, or a general explanation of an architecture, framework, or product technology written by a group of researchers. A white paper seeks to contain unbiased information and analysis regarding a business or policy problem that the researchers may be facing.

Elliot, Mark, Fairweather, Ian, Olsen, Wendy Kay, and Pampaka, Maria. A Dictionary of Social Research Methods. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2016; Free Social Science Dictionary. Socialsciencedictionary.com [2008]. Glossary. Institutional Review Board. Colorado College; Glossary of Key Terms. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Glossary A-Z. Education.com; Glossary of Research Terms. Research Mindedness Virtual Learning Resource. Centre for Human Servive Technology. University of Southampton; Miller, Robert L. and Brewer, John D. The A-Z of Social Research: A Dictionary of Key Social Science Research Concepts London: SAGE, 2003; Jupp, Victor. The SAGE Dictionary of Social and Cultural Research Methods . London: Sage, 2006.

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Synonyms of 'research' in British English

Additional synonyms, synonyms of 'research' in american english, video: pronunciation of research.

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noun as in learning, analysis

Strongest matches

  • application
  • consideration
  • examination
  • investigation

Strong matches

  • abstraction
  • concentration
  • contemplation
  • deliberation
  • questioning
  • academic work

verb as in contemplate, learn

Weak matches

  • apply oneself
  • burn midnight oil
  • bury oneself in
  • crack the books
  • hit the books
  • learn the ropes

verb as in examine, analyze

  • investigate
  • do research
  • give the eagle eye

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Related words.

Words related to study are not direct synonyms, but are associated with the word study . Browse related words to learn more about word associations.

noun as in careful considering

  • calculation

noun as in nook, secluded spot

  • compartment

noun as in statement of results from examination

  • interpretation

noun as in examination and determination

  • dissolution
  • subdivision

Viewing 5 / 195 related words

Example Sentences

Those studies are scheduled for completion over about the next year and a half.

The study tallied activity in more than a dozen different cryptocurrencies.

More recently, studies have reported on what the infection might do to the heart.

That’s according to a new study published in Science Advances.

The study, published Friday in the journal Environmental Research Letters, found this association in both rural counties in Louisiana and highly populated communities in New York.

She completed a yoga teacher-training program and, in the spring of 2008, went on a retreat in Peru to study with shamans.

In fact, in a recent study of their users internationally, it was the lowest priority for most.

But in the case of black women, another study found no lack of interest.

Indeed, study after study affirms the benefits of involved fatherhood for women and children.

A recent U.S. study found men get a “daddy bonus” —employers seem to like men who have children and their salaries show it.

"There's just one thing I'd like to ask, if you don't mind," said Cynthia, coming suddenly out of a brown study.

His lordship retired shortly to his study, Hetton and Mr. Haggard betook themselves to the billiard-room.

She began the study of drawing at the age of thirty, and her first attempt in oils was made seven years later.

In practice we find a good deal of technical study comes into the college stage.

Its backbone should be the study of biology and its substance should be the threshing out of the burning questions of our day.

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On this page you'll find 307 synonyms, antonyms, and words related to study, such as: application, class, consideration, course, debate, and examination.

From Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.

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Your Guide to Understanding Common Research Terms

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                              Demystifying Clinical Trials -- Part 2

The clinical research world can sometimes seem confusing. Research teams have many people in different roles, and they may use words that are unfamiliar to people outside of research work.

The guide below defines some commonly used words and phrases. Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook , Twitter , or Instagram pages if you’d like definitions of other words or parts of the research process!

Accrual – the number of subjects who have completed or are actively in the process of completing a study. The accrual goal is how many subjects are needed to finish the study (2).

Adverse event (AE) – a negative symptom or experience encountered by an subject during the course of a clinical trial. Adverse events can be expected or unexpected.

Assent – a minor child’s affirmative agreement to participate in a clinical trial. Failure to object may not be taken as assent.

Clinical research coordinator – a study team member who manages the day-to-day study tasks as directed by the principal investigator. (3)

Consent form – a document explaining all relevant study information to assist the study subject in understanding the expectations and requirements of participating in the trial. This document is presented to and signed by the study subject.

Control arm/group – a comparison group of study subjects who are not treated with the investigational agent. The subjects in this group have the same disease or condition under study, but receive either a different treatment, no treatment, or a placebo.

Data – the objective information gathered during a research study that is used to determine the results of the study.

De-identification – the process of removing identifiers (personal names, dates, social security numbers, etc.) that directly or indirectly point to a person, and removing those identifiers from the data. De-identification of protected health information is essential for protecting patient privacy (4).

Enroll/Enrollment – the process of an eligible participant signing a consent form and voluntarily agreeing to participate in a research study (2).

Ethics committee – an independent group of both medical and non-medical professionals who are responsible for verifying the integrity of a study and ensuring the safety, integrity, and human rights of the study participants.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – the agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that enforces public health laws related to research conduct.

Greater than minimal risk – the research involves more than minimal risk to subjects (2).

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) – required the Department of Health & Human Services to develop regulations protecting the privacy and security of certain health information (5). The HIPAA Privacy Rule established the conditions under which health information may be used or disclosed by approved entities for research purposes (6).

Hypothesis – a specific, clear, and testable proposition or prediction about the possible outcome of a scientific research study (7).

Informed consent – the process of discussing a clinical trial that goes beyond signing the consent form. The discussion should provide sufficient information so that a subject can make an informed decision about whether or not to enroll in a study, or continue participation in a study. Informed consent is a voluntary agreement to participate in research, and should be an ongoing conversation throughout a subject’s entire time in the study (8).

Investigational New Drug Application (IND) – the process through which an investigator requests the FDA to allow human testing of a new drug.

Institutional Review Board (IRB) – an independent group of professionals designated to review and approve the clinical protocol, informed consent forms, study advertisements, and patient brochures to ensure that the study is safe for human participation. It is also the IRB’s responsibility to ensure that the study adheres to the FDA’s regulations.

Minimal risk – the probability that harm or discomfort anticipated in the research study are not greater than those encountered in daily life or during routine physical examinations (2).

National Institutes of Health (NIH) – agency within DHHS that provides funding for research, conducts studies, and funds multi-site national studies.

Protected Health Information (PHI) – individually identifiable health information. HIPAA provides federal protections for personal health information and gives patients more control over their health information. It also sets boundaries for how entities and institutions can use and release health records (9).

Placebo – an inactive substance designed to resemble the drug being tested. It is used as a control to rule out any psychological effects testing may present. Most advanced clinical trials include a control group that is unknowingly taking a placebo.

Principal Investigator – the primary individual responsible for conducting a clinical trial and adhering to federal regulations, institutional policies, and IRB regulations (2).

Protocol – a detailed plan that sets out the objectives, study design, and methodology for a clinical trial. A study protocol must be approved by an IRB before research may begin on human subjects.

Randomization – study participants are assigned to groups in such a way that each participant has an equal chance of being assigned to each treatment or control group. Since randomization ensures that no specific criteria are used to assign any patients to a particular group, all the groups will be equally comparable.

Research – systematic investigation designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge.

Standard treatment/Standard of care – the currently accepted treatment or intervention considered to be effective in the treatment of a specific disease or condition.

Statistical significance – the probability that an event or difference was occurred by chance alone. In clinical trials, the level of statistical significance depends on the number or participants studied and the observations made, as well as the magnitude of differences observed.

Subject/Participant – a patient or healthy individual participating in a research study.

Treatment arm/group – a group of study subjects who are treated with the investigational agent.

Visit schedule/Test schedule – the number, frequency, and type of exams, tests, and procedures that research subjects will be expected to undergo during the study. Some visits may be the same as normal clinical care visits, while others may be required just for the purpose of collecting data for the research study.

Definitions taken from https://www.centerwatch.com/health-resources/glossary/ unless otherwise cited.

(2) https://www.mayo.edu/research/institutional-review-board/definition-terms

(3) https://acrpnet.org/2018/08/14/the-anatomy-of-a-great-clinical-research-coordinator/

(4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5977668/

(5) https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/privacy/index.html

(6) https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/special-topics/research/index.html

(7) https://methods.sagepub.com/Reference//encyclopedia-of-survey-research-methods/n472.xml

(8) https://oprs.usc.edu/files/2017/04/Informed-Consent-Booklet-4.4.13.pdf

(9) https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-individuals/faq/187/what-does-the-hipaa-privacy-rule-do/index.html

The Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS)  is a collaborative network of specialists bonded by the vision of finding solutions for individuals affected by congenital heart defects including HLHS. The specialized team is addressing the various aspects of these defects by using research and clinical strategies ranging from basic science to diagnostic imaging to regenerative therapies.   Email the program at  [email protected]  to learn more.

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Meaning of research in English

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  • He has dedicated his life to scientific research.
  • He emphasized that all the people taking part in the research were volunteers .
  • The state of Michigan has endowed three institutes to do research for industry .
  • I'd like to see the research that these recommendations are founded on.
  • It took months of painstaking research to write the book .
  • absorptive capacity
  • dream something up
  • ergonomically
  • modularization
  • nanotechnology
  • non-imitative
  • operational research
  • think outside the box idiom
  • think something up
  • uninventive
  • whole cloth
  • study What do you plan on studying at university?
  • major US She majored in philosophy at Harvard.
  • cram She's cramming for her history exam.
  • revise UK I'm revising for tomorrow's test.
  • review US We're going to review for the test tomorrow night.
  • research Scientists are researching possible new treatments for cancer.
  • The amount of time and money being spent on researching this disease is pitiful .
  • We are researching the reproduction of elephants .
  • She researched a wide variety of jobs before deciding on law .
  • He researches heart disease .
  • The internet has reduced the amount of time it takes to research these subjects .
  • adjudication
  • interpretable
  • interpretive
  • interpretively
  • investigate
  • reinterpretation
  • reinvestigate
  • reinvestigation
  • risk assessment
  • run over/through something

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Child Care and Early Education Research Connections

Research glossary.

The research glossary defines terms used in conducting social science and policy research, for example those describing methods, measurements, statistical procedures, and other aspects of research; the child care glossary defines terms used to describe aspects of child care and early education practice and policy.

research study other term

Qualitative and Quantitative Research: Glossary of Key Terms

This glossary provides definitions of many of the terms used in the guides to conducting qualitative and quantitative research. The definitions were developed by members of the research methods seminar (E600) taught by Mike Palmquist in the 1990s and 2000s.

Members of the Research Methods Seminar (E600) taught by Mike Palmquist in the 1990s and 2000s. (1994-2022). Glossary of Key Terms. Writing@CSU . Colorado State University. https://writing.colostate.edu/guides/guide.cfm?guideid=90

Book cover

Doing Research: A New Researcher’s Guide pp 1–15 Cite as

What Is Research, and Why Do People Do It?

  • James Hiebert 6 ,
  • Jinfa Cai 7 ,
  • Stephen Hwang 7 ,
  • Anne K Morris 6 &
  • Charles Hohensee 6  
  • Open Access
  • First Online: 03 December 2022

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Part of the Research in Mathematics Education book series (RME)

Abstractspiepr Abs1

Every day people do research as they gather information to learn about something of interest. In the scientific world, however, research means something different than simply gathering information. Scientific research is characterized by its careful planning and observing, by its relentless efforts to understand and explain, and by its commitment to learn from everyone else seriously engaged in research. We call this kind of research scientific inquiry and define it as “formulating, testing, and revising hypotheses.” By “hypotheses” we do not mean the hypotheses you encounter in statistics courses. We mean predictions about what you expect to find and rationales for why you made these predictions. Throughout this and the remaining chapters we make clear that the process of scientific inquiry applies to all kinds of research studies and data, both qualitative and quantitative.

Download chapter PDF

Part I. What Is Research?

Have you ever studied something carefully because you wanted to know more about it? Maybe you wanted to know more about your grandmother’s life when she was younger so you asked her to tell you stories from her childhood, or maybe you wanted to know more about a fertilizer you were about to use in your garden so you read the ingredients on the package and looked them up online. According to the dictionary definition, you were doing research.

Recall your high school assignments asking you to “research” a topic. The assignment likely included consulting a variety of sources that discussed the topic, perhaps including some “original” sources. Often, the teacher referred to your product as a “research paper.”

Were you conducting research when you interviewed your grandmother or wrote high school papers reviewing a particular topic? Our view is that you were engaged in part of the research process, but only a small part. In this book, we reserve the word “research” for what it means in the scientific world, that is, for scientific research or, more pointedly, for scientific inquiry .

Exercise 1.1

Before you read any further, write a definition of what you think scientific inquiry is. Keep it short—Two to three sentences. You will periodically update this definition as you read this chapter and the remainder of the book.

This book is about scientific inquiry—what it is and how to do it. For starters, scientific inquiry is a process, a particular way of finding out about something that involves a number of phases. Each phase of the process constitutes one aspect of scientific inquiry. You are doing scientific inquiry as you engage in each phase, but you have not done scientific inquiry until you complete the full process. Each phase is necessary but not sufficient.

In this chapter, we set the stage by defining scientific inquiry—describing what it is and what it is not—and by discussing what it is good for and why people do it. The remaining chapters build directly on the ideas presented in this chapter.

A first thing to know is that scientific inquiry is not all or nothing. “Scientificness” is a continuum. Inquiries can be more scientific or less scientific. What makes an inquiry more scientific? You might be surprised there is no universally agreed upon answer to this question. None of the descriptors we know of are sufficient by themselves to define scientific inquiry. But all of them give you a way of thinking about some aspects of the process of scientific inquiry. Each one gives you different insights.

An image of the book's description with the words like research, science, and inquiry and what the word research meant in the scientific world.

Exercise 1.2

As you read about each descriptor below, think about what would make an inquiry more or less scientific. If you think a descriptor is important, use it to revise your definition of scientific inquiry.

Creating an Image of Scientific Inquiry

We will present three descriptors of scientific inquiry. Each provides a different perspective and emphasizes a different aspect of scientific inquiry. We will draw on all three descriptors to compose our definition of scientific inquiry.

Descriptor 1. Experience Carefully Planned in Advance

Sir Ronald Fisher, often called the father of modern statistical design, once referred to research as “experience carefully planned in advance” (1935, p. 8). He said that humans are always learning from experience, from interacting with the world around them. Usually, this learning is haphazard rather than the result of a deliberate process carried out over an extended period of time. Research, Fisher said, was learning from experience, but experience carefully planned in advance.

This phrase can be fully appreciated by looking at each word. The fact that scientific inquiry is based on experience means that it is based on interacting with the world. These interactions could be thought of as the stuff of scientific inquiry. In addition, it is not just any experience that counts. The experience must be carefully planned . The interactions with the world must be conducted with an explicit, describable purpose, and steps must be taken to make the intended learning as likely as possible. This planning is an integral part of scientific inquiry; it is not just a preparation phase. It is one of the things that distinguishes scientific inquiry from many everyday learning experiences. Finally, these steps must be taken beforehand and the purpose of the inquiry must be articulated in advance of the experience. Clearly, scientific inquiry does not happen by accident, by just stumbling into something. Stumbling into something unexpected and interesting can happen while engaged in scientific inquiry, but learning does not depend on it and serendipity does not make the inquiry scientific.

Descriptor 2. Observing Something and Trying to Explain Why It Is the Way It Is

When we were writing this chapter and googled “scientific inquiry,” the first entry was: “Scientific inquiry refers to the diverse ways in which scientists study the natural world and propose explanations based on the evidence derived from their work.” The emphasis is on studying, or observing, and then explaining . This descriptor takes the image of scientific inquiry beyond carefully planned experience and includes explaining what was experienced.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “explain” means “(a) to make known, (b) to make plain or understandable, (c) to give the reason or cause of, and (d) to show the logical development or relations of” (Merriam-Webster, n.d. ). We will use all these definitions. Taken together, they suggest that to explain an observation means to understand it by finding reasons (or causes) for why it is as it is. In this sense of scientific inquiry, the following are synonyms: explaining why, understanding why, and reasoning about causes and effects. Our image of scientific inquiry now includes planning, observing, and explaining why.

An image represents the observation required in the scientific inquiry including planning and explaining.

We need to add a final note about this descriptor. We have phrased it in a way that suggests “observing something” means you are observing something in real time—observing the way things are or the way things are changing. This is often true. But, observing could mean observing data that already have been collected, maybe by someone else making the original observations (e.g., secondary analysis of NAEP data or analysis of existing video recordings of classroom instruction). We will address secondary analyses more fully in Chap. 4 . For now, what is important is that the process requires explaining why the data look like they do.

We must note that for us, the term “data” is not limited to numerical or quantitative data such as test scores. Data can also take many nonquantitative forms, including written survey responses, interview transcripts, journal entries, video recordings of students, teachers, and classrooms, text messages, and so forth.

An image represents the data explanation as it is not limited and takes numerous non-quantitative forms including an interview, journal entries, etc.

Exercise 1.3

What are the implications of the statement that just “observing” is not enough to count as scientific inquiry? Does this mean that a detailed description of a phenomenon is not scientific inquiry?

Find sources that define research in education that differ with our position, that say description alone, without explanation, counts as scientific research. Identify the precise points where the opinions differ. What are the best arguments for each of the positions? Which do you prefer? Why?

Descriptor 3. Updating Everyone’s Thinking in Response to More and Better Information

This descriptor focuses on a third aspect of scientific inquiry: updating and advancing the field’s understanding of phenomena that are investigated. This descriptor foregrounds a powerful characteristic of scientific inquiry: the reliability (or trustworthiness) of what is learned and the ultimate inevitability of this learning to advance human understanding of phenomena. Humans might choose not to learn from scientific inquiry, but history suggests that scientific inquiry always has the potential to advance understanding and that, eventually, humans take advantage of these new understandings.

Before exploring these bold claims a bit further, note that this descriptor uses “information” in the same way the previous two descriptors used “experience” and “observations.” These are the stuff of scientific inquiry and we will use them often, sometimes interchangeably. Frequently, we will use the term “data” to stand for all these terms.

An overriding goal of scientific inquiry is for everyone to learn from what one scientist does. Much of this book is about the methods you need to use so others have faith in what you report and can learn the same things you learned. This aspect of scientific inquiry has many implications.

One implication is that scientific inquiry is not a private practice. It is a public practice available for others to see and learn from. Notice how different this is from everyday learning. When you happen to learn something from your everyday experience, often only you gain from the experience. The fact that research is a public practice means it is also a social one. It is best conducted by interacting with others along the way: soliciting feedback at each phase, taking opportunities to present work-in-progress, and benefitting from the advice of others.

A second implication is that you, as the researcher, must be committed to sharing what you are doing and what you are learning in an open and transparent way. This allows all phases of your work to be scrutinized and critiqued. This is what gives your work credibility. The reliability or trustworthiness of your findings depends on your colleagues recognizing that you have used all appropriate methods to maximize the chances that your claims are justified by the data.

A third implication of viewing scientific inquiry as a collective enterprise is the reverse of the second—you must be committed to receiving comments from others. You must treat your colleagues as fair and honest critics even though it might sometimes feel otherwise. You must appreciate their job, which is to remain skeptical while scrutinizing what you have done in considerable detail. To provide the best help to you, they must remain skeptical about your conclusions (when, for example, the data are difficult for them to interpret) until you offer a convincing logical argument based on the information you share. A rather harsh but good-to-remember statement of the role of your friendly critics was voiced by Karl Popper, a well-known twentieth century philosopher of science: “. . . if you are interested in the problem which I tried to solve by my tentative assertion, you may help me by criticizing it as severely as you can” (Popper, 1968, p. 27).

A final implication of this third descriptor is that, as someone engaged in scientific inquiry, you have no choice but to update your thinking when the data support a different conclusion. This applies to your own data as well as to those of others. When data clearly point to a specific claim, even one that is quite different than you expected, you must reconsider your position. If the outcome is replicated multiple times, you need to adjust your thinking accordingly. Scientific inquiry does not let you pick and choose which data to believe; it mandates that everyone update their thinking when the data warrant an update.

Doing Scientific Inquiry

We define scientific inquiry in an operational sense—what does it mean to do scientific inquiry? What kind of process would satisfy all three descriptors: carefully planning an experience in advance; observing and trying to explain what you see; and, contributing to updating everyone’s thinking about an important phenomenon?

We define scientific inquiry as formulating , testing , and revising hypotheses about phenomena of interest.

Of course, we are not the only ones who define it in this way. The definition for the scientific method posted by the editors of Britannica is: “a researcher develops a hypothesis, tests it through various means, and then modifies the hypothesis on the basis of the outcome of the tests and experiments” (Britannica, n.d. ).

An image represents the scientific inquiry definition given by the editors of Britannica and also defines the hypothesis on the basis of the experiments.

Notice how defining scientific inquiry this way satisfies each of the descriptors. “Carefully planning an experience in advance” is exactly what happens when formulating a hypothesis about a phenomenon of interest and thinking about how to test it. “ Observing a phenomenon” occurs when testing a hypothesis, and “ explaining ” what is found is required when revising a hypothesis based on the data. Finally, “updating everyone’s thinking” comes from comparing publicly the original with the revised hypothesis.

Doing scientific inquiry, as we have defined it, underscores the value of accumulating knowledge rather than generating random bits of knowledge. Formulating, testing, and revising hypotheses is an ongoing process, with each revised hypothesis begging for another test, whether by the same researcher or by new researchers. The editors of Britannica signaled this cyclic process by adding the following phrase to their definition of the scientific method: “The modified hypothesis is then retested, further modified, and tested again.” Scientific inquiry creates a process that encourages each study to build on the studies that have gone before. Through collective engagement in this process of building study on top of study, the scientific community works together to update its thinking.

Before exploring more fully the meaning of “formulating, testing, and revising hypotheses,” we need to acknowledge that this is not the only way researchers define research. Some researchers prefer a less formal definition, one that includes more serendipity, less planning, less explanation. You might have come across more open definitions such as “research is finding out about something.” We prefer the tighter hypothesis formulation, testing, and revision definition because we believe it provides a single, coherent map for conducting research that addresses many of the thorny problems educational researchers encounter. We believe it is the most useful orientation toward research and the most helpful to learn as a beginning researcher.

A final clarification of our definition is that it applies equally to qualitative and quantitative research. This is a familiar distinction in education that has generated much discussion. You might think our definition favors quantitative methods over qualitative methods because the language of hypothesis formulation and testing is often associated with quantitative methods. In fact, we do not favor one method over another. In Chap. 4 , we will illustrate how our definition fits research using a range of quantitative and qualitative methods.

Exercise 1.4

Look for ways to extend what the field knows in an area that has already received attention by other researchers. Specifically, you can search for a program of research carried out by more experienced researchers that has some revised hypotheses that remain untested. Identify a revised hypothesis that you might like to test.

Unpacking the Terms Formulating, Testing, and Revising Hypotheses

To get a full sense of the definition of scientific inquiry we will use throughout this book, it is helpful to spend a little time with each of the key terms.

We first want to make clear that we use the term “hypothesis” as it is defined in most dictionaries and as it used in many scientific fields rather than as it is usually defined in educational statistics courses. By “hypothesis,” we do not mean a null hypothesis that is accepted or rejected by statistical analysis. Rather, we use “hypothesis” in the sense conveyed by the following definitions: “An idea or explanation for something that is based on known facts but has not yet been proved” (Cambridge University Press, n.d. ), and “An unproved theory, proposition, or supposition, tentatively accepted to explain certain facts and to provide a basis for further investigation or argument” (Agnes & Guralnik, 2008 ).

We distinguish two parts to “hypotheses.” Hypotheses consist of predictions and rationales . Predictions are statements about what you expect to find when you inquire about something. Rationales are explanations for why you made the predictions you did, why you believe your predictions are correct. So, for us “formulating hypotheses” means making explicit predictions and developing rationales for the predictions.

“Testing hypotheses” means making observations that allow you to assess in what ways your predictions were correct and in what ways they were incorrect. In education research, it is rarely useful to think of your predictions as either right or wrong. Because of the complexity of most issues you will investigate, most predictions will be right in some ways and wrong in others.

By studying the observations you make (data you collect) to test your hypotheses, you can revise your hypotheses to better align with the observations. This means revising your predictions plus revising your rationales to justify your adjusted predictions. Even though you might not run another test, formulating revised hypotheses is an essential part of conducting a research study. Comparing your original and revised hypotheses informs everyone of what you learned by conducting your study. In addition, a revised hypothesis sets the stage for you or someone else to extend your study and accumulate more knowledge of the phenomenon.

We should note that not everyone makes a clear distinction between predictions and rationales as two aspects of hypotheses. In fact, common, non-scientific uses of the word “hypothesis” may limit it to only a prediction or only an explanation (or rationale). We choose to explicitly include both prediction and rationale in our definition of hypothesis, not because we assert this should be the universal definition, but because we want to foreground the importance of both parts acting in concert. Using “hypothesis” to represent both prediction and rationale could hide the two aspects, but we make them explicit because they provide different kinds of information. It is usually easier to make predictions than develop rationales because predictions can be guesses, hunches, or gut feelings about which you have little confidence. Developing a compelling rationale requires careful thought plus reading what other researchers have found plus talking with your colleagues. Often, while you are developing your rationale you will find good reasons to change your predictions. Developing good rationales is the engine that drives scientific inquiry. Rationales are essentially descriptions of how much you know about the phenomenon you are studying. Throughout this guide, we will elaborate on how developing good rationales drives scientific inquiry. For now, we simply note that it can sharpen your predictions and help you to interpret your data as you test your hypotheses.

An image represents the rationale and the prediction for the scientific inquiry and different types of information provided by the terms.

Hypotheses in education research take a variety of forms or types. This is because there are a variety of phenomena that can be investigated. Investigating educational phenomena is sometimes best done using qualitative methods, sometimes using quantitative methods, and most often using mixed methods (e.g., Hay, 2016 ; Weis et al. 2019a ; Weisner, 2005 ). This means that, given our definition, hypotheses are equally applicable to qualitative and quantitative investigations.

Hypotheses take different forms when they are used to investigate different kinds of phenomena. Two very different activities in education could be labeled conducting experiments and descriptions. In an experiment, a hypothesis makes a prediction about anticipated changes, say the changes that occur when a treatment or intervention is applied. You might investigate how students’ thinking changes during a particular kind of instruction.

A second type of hypothesis, relevant for descriptive research, makes a prediction about what you will find when you investigate and describe the nature of a situation. The goal is to understand a situation as it exists rather than to understand a change from one situation to another. In this case, your prediction is what you expect to observe. Your rationale is the set of reasons for making this prediction; it is your current explanation for why the situation will look like it does.

You will probably read, if you have not already, that some researchers say you do not need a prediction to conduct a descriptive study. We will discuss this point of view in Chap. 2 . For now, we simply claim that scientific inquiry, as we have defined it, applies to all kinds of research studies. Descriptive studies, like others, not only benefit from formulating, testing, and revising hypotheses, but also need hypothesis formulating, testing, and revising.

One reason we define research as formulating, testing, and revising hypotheses is that if you think of research in this way you are less likely to go wrong. It is a useful guide for the entire process, as we will describe in detail in the chapters ahead. For example, as you build the rationale for your predictions, you are constructing the theoretical framework for your study (Chap. 3 ). As you work out the methods you will use to test your hypothesis, every decision you make will be based on asking, “Will this help me formulate or test or revise my hypothesis?” (Chap. 4 ). As you interpret the results of testing your predictions, you will compare them to what you predicted and examine the differences, focusing on how you must revise your hypotheses (Chap. 5 ). By anchoring the process to formulating, testing, and revising hypotheses, you will make smart decisions that yield a coherent and well-designed study.

Exercise 1.5

Compare the concept of formulating, testing, and revising hypotheses with the descriptions of scientific inquiry contained in Scientific Research in Education (NRC, 2002 ). How are they similar or different?

Exercise 1.6

Provide an example to illustrate and emphasize the differences between everyday learning/thinking and scientific inquiry.

Learning from Doing Scientific Inquiry

We noted earlier that a measure of what you have learned by conducting a research study is found in the differences between your original hypothesis and your revised hypothesis based on the data you collected to test your hypothesis. We will elaborate this statement in later chapters, but we preview our argument here.

Even before collecting data, scientific inquiry requires cycles of making a prediction, developing a rationale, refining your predictions, reading and studying more to strengthen your rationale, refining your predictions again, and so forth. And, even if you have run through several such cycles, you still will likely find that when you test your prediction you will be partly right and partly wrong. The results will support some parts of your predictions but not others, or the results will “kind of” support your predictions. A critical part of scientific inquiry is making sense of your results by interpreting them against your predictions. Carefully describing what aspects of your data supported your predictions, what aspects did not, and what data fell outside of any predictions is not an easy task, but you cannot learn from your study without doing this analysis.

An image represents the cycle of events that take place before making predictions, developing the rationale, and studying the prediction and rationale multiple times.

Analyzing the matches and mismatches between your predictions and your data allows you to formulate different rationales that would have accounted for more of the data. The best revised rationale is the one that accounts for the most data. Once you have revised your rationales, you can think about the predictions they best justify or explain. It is by comparing your original rationales to your new rationales that you can sort out what you learned from your study.

Suppose your study was an experiment. Maybe you were investigating the effects of a new instructional intervention on students’ learning. Your original rationale was your explanation for why the intervention would change the learning outcomes in a particular way. Your revised rationale explained why the changes that you observed occurred like they did and why your revised predictions are better. Maybe your original rationale focused on the potential of the activities if they were implemented in ideal ways and your revised rationale included the factors that are likely to affect how teachers implement them. By comparing the before and after rationales, you are describing what you learned—what you can explain now that you could not before. Another way of saying this is that you are describing how much more you understand now than before you conducted your study.

Revised predictions based on carefully planned and collected data usually exhibit some of the following features compared with the originals: more precision, more completeness, and broader scope. Revised rationales have more explanatory power and become more complete, more aligned with the new predictions, sharper, and overall more convincing.

Part II. Why Do Educators Do Research?

Doing scientific inquiry is a lot of work. Each phase of the process takes time, and you will often cycle back to improve earlier phases as you engage in later phases. Because of the significant effort required, you should make sure your study is worth it. So, from the beginning, you should think about the purpose of your study. Why do you want to do it? And, because research is a social practice, you should also think about whether the results of your study are likely to be important and significant to the education community.

If you are doing research in the way we have described—as scientific inquiry—then one purpose of your study is to understand , not just to describe or evaluate or report. As we noted earlier, when you formulate hypotheses, you are developing rationales that explain why things might be like they are. In our view, trying to understand and explain is what separates research from other kinds of activities, like evaluating or describing.

One reason understanding is so important is that it allows researchers to see how or why something works like it does. When you see how something works, you are better able to predict how it might work in other contexts, under other conditions. And, because conditions, or contextual factors, matter a lot in education, gaining insights into applying your findings to other contexts increases the contributions of your work and its importance to the broader education community.

Consequently, the purposes of research studies in education often include the more specific aim of identifying and understanding the conditions under which the phenomena being studied work like the observations suggest. A classic example of this kind of study in mathematics education was reported by William Brownell and Harold Moser in 1949 . They were trying to establish which method of subtracting whole numbers could be taught most effectively—the regrouping method or the equal additions method. However, they realized that effectiveness might depend on the conditions under which the methods were taught—“meaningfully” versus “mechanically.” So, they designed a study that crossed the two instructional approaches with the two different methods (regrouping and equal additions). Among other results, they found that these conditions did matter. The regrouping method was more effective under the meaningful condition than the mechanical condition, but the same was not true for the equal additions algorithm.

What do education researchers want to understand? In our view, the ultimate goal of education is to offer all students the best possible learning opportunities. So, we believe the ultimate purpose of scientific inquiry in education is to develop understanding that supports the improvement of learning opportunities for all students. We say “ultimate” because there are lots of issues that must be understood to improve learning opportunities for all students. Hypotheses about many aspects of education are connected, ultimately, to students’ learning. For example, formulating and testing a hypothesis that preservice teachers need to engage in particular kinds of activities in their coursework in order to teach particular topics well is, ultimately, connected to improving students’ learning opportunities. So is hypothesizing that school districts often devote relatively few resources to instructional leadership training or hypothesizing that positioning mathematics as a tool students can use to combat social injustice can help students see the relevance of mathematics to their lives.

We do not exclude the importance of research on educational issues more removed from improving students’ learning opportunities, but we do think the argument for their importance will be more difficult to make. If there is no way to imagine a connection between your hypothesis and improving learning opportunities for students, even a distant connection, we recommend you reconsider whether it is an important hypothesis within the education community.

Notice that we said the ultimate goal of education is to offer all students the best possible learning opportunities. For too long, educators have been satisfied with a goal of offering rich learning opportunities for lots of students, sometimes even for just the majority of students, but not necessarily for all students. Evaluations of success often are based on outcomes that show high averages. In other words, if many students have learned something, or even a smaller number have learned a lot, educators may have been satisfied. The problem is that there is usually a pattern in the groups of students who receive lower quality opportunities—students of color and students who live in poor areas, urban and rural. This is not acceptable. Consequently, we emphasize the premise that the purpose of education research is to offer rich learning opportunities to all students.

One way to make sure you will be able to convince others of the importance of your study is to consider investigating some aspect of teachers’ shared instructional problems. Historically, researchers in education have set their own research agendas, regardless of the problems teachers are facing in schools. It is increasingly recognized that teachers have had trouble applying to their own classrooms what researchers find. To address this problem, a researcher could partner with a teacher—better yet, a small group of teachers—and talk with them about instructional problems they all share. These discussions can create a rich pool of problems researchers can consider. If researchers pursued one of these problems (preferably alongside teachers), the connection to improving learning opportunities for all students could be direct and immediate. “Grounding a research question in instructional problems that are experienced across multiple teachers’ classrooms helps to ensure that the answer to the question will be of sufficient scope to be relevant and significant beyond the local context” (Cai et al., 2019b , p. 115).

As a beginning researcher, determining the relevance and importance of a research problem is especially challenging. We recommend talking with advisors, other experienced researchers, and peers to test the educational importance of possible research problems and topics of study. You will also learn much more about the issue of research importance when you read Chap. 5 .

Exercise 1.7

Identify a problem in education that is closely connected to improving learning opportunities and a problem that has a less close connection. For each problem, write a brief argument (like a logical sequence of if-then statements) that connects the problem to all students’ learning opportunities.

Part III. Conducting Research as a Practice of Failing Productively

Scientific inquiry involves formulating hypotheses about phenomena that are not fully understood—by you or anyone else. Even if you are able to inform your hypotheses with lots of knowledge that has already been accumulated, you are likely to find that your prediction is not entirely accurate. This is normal. Remember, scientific inquiry is a process of constantly updating your thinking. More and better information means revising your thinking, again, and again, and again. Because you never fully understand a complicated phenomenon and your hypotheses never produce completely accurate predictions, it is easy to believe you are somehow failing.

The trick is to fail upward, to fail to predict accurately in ways that inform your next hypothesis so you can make a better prediction. Some of the best-known researchers in education have been open and honest about the many times their predictions were wrong and, based on the results of their studies and those of others, they continuously updated their thinking and changed their hypotheses.

A striking example of publicly revising (actually reversing) hypotheses due to incorrect predictions is found in the work of Lee J. Cronbach, one of the most distinguished educational psychologists of the twentieth century. In 1955, Cronbach delivered his presidential address to the American Psychological Association. Titling it “Two Disciplines of Scientific Psychology,” Cronbach proposed a rapprochement between two research approaches—correlational studies that focused on individual differences and experimental studies that focused on instructional treatments controlling for individual differences. (We will examine different research approaches in Chap. 4 ). If these approaches could be brought together, reasoned Cronbach ( 1957 ), researchers could find interactions between individual characteristics and treatments (aptitude-treatment interactions or ATIs), fitting the best treatments to different individuals.

In 1975, after years of research by many researchers looking for ATIs, Cronbach acknowledged the evidence for simple, useful ATIs had not been found. Even when trying to find interactions between a few variables that could provide instructional guidance, the analysis, said Cronbach, creates “a hall of mirrors that extends to infinity, tormenting even the boldest investigators and defeating even ambitious designs” (Cronbach, 1975 , p. 119).

As he was reflecting back on his work, Cronbach ( 1986 ) recommended moving away from documenting instructional effects through statistical inference (an approach he had championed for much of his career) and toward approaches that probe the reasons for these effects, approaches that provide a “full account of events in a time, place, and context” (Cronbach, 1986 , p. 104). This is a remarkable change in hypotheses, a change based on data and made fully transparent. Cronbach understood the value of failing productively.

Closer to home, in a less dramatic example, one of us began a line of scientific inquiry into how to prepare elementary preservice teachers to teach early algebra. Teaching early algebra meant engaging elementary students in early forms of algebraic reasoning. Such reasoning should help them transition from arithmetic to algebra. To begin this line of inquiry, a set of activities for preservice teachers were developed. Even though the activities were based on well-supported hypotheses, they largely failed to engage preservice teachers as predicted because of unanticipated challenges the preservice teachers faced. To capitalize on this failure, follow-up studies were conducted, first to better understand elementary preservice teachers’ challenges with preparing to teach early algebra, and then to better support preservice teachers in navigating these challenges. In this example, the initial failure was a necessary step in the researchers’ scientific inquiry and furthered the researchers’ understanding of this issue.

We present another example of failing productively in Chap. 2 . That example emerges from recounting the history of a well-known research program in mathematics education.

Making mistakes is an inherent part of doing scientific research. Conducting a study is rarely a smooth path from beginning to end. We recommend that you keep the following things in mind as you begin a career of conducting research in education.

First, do not get discouraged when you make mistakes; do not fall into the trap of feeling like you are not capable of doing research because you make too many errors.

Second, learn from your mistakes. Do not ignore your mistakes or treat them as errors that you simply need to forget and move past. Mistakes are rich sites for learning—in research just as in other fields of study.

Third, by reflecting on your mistakes, you can learn to make better mistakes, mistakes that inform you about a productive next step. You will not be able to eliminate your mistakes, but you can set a goal of making better and better mistakes.

Exercise 1.8

How does scientific inquiry differ from everyday learning in giving you the tools to fail upward? You may find helpful perspectives on this question in other resources on science and scientific inquiry (e.g., Failure: Why Science is So Successful by Firestein, 2015).

Exercise 1.9

Use what you have learned in this chapter to write a new definition of scientific inquiry. Compare this definition with the one you wrote before reading this chapter. If you are reading this book as part of a course, compare your definition with your colleagues’ definitions. Develop a consensus definition with everyone in the course.

Part IV. Preview of Chap. 2

Now that you have a good idea of what research is, at least of what we believe research is, the next step is to think about how to actually begin doing research. This means how to begin formulating, testing, and revising hypotheses. As for all phases of scientific inquiry, there are lots of things to think about. Because it is critical to start well, we devote Chap. 2 to getting started with formulating hypotheses.

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Hiebert, J., Cai, J., Hwang, S., Morris, A.K., Hohensee, C. (2023). What Is Research, and Why Do People Do It?. In: Doing Research: A New Researcher’s Guide. Research in Mathematics Education. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-19078-0_1

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50 Useful Academic Words & Phrases for Research

Like all good writing, writing an academic paper takes a certain level of skill to express your ideas and arguments in a way that is natural and that meets a level of academic sophistication. The terms, expressions, and phrases you use in your research paper must be of an appropriate level to be submitted to academic journals.

Therefore, authors need to know which verbs , nouns , and phrases to apply to create a paper that is not only easy to understand, but which conveys an understanding of academic conventions. Using the correct terminology and usage shows journal editors and fellow researchers that you are a competent writer and thinker, while using non-academic language might make them question your writing ability, as well as your critical reasoning skills.

What are academic words and phrases?

One way to understand what constitutes good academic writing is to read a lot of published research to find patterns of usage in different contexts. However, it may take an author countless hours of reading and might not be the most helpful advice when faced with an upcoming deadline on a manuscript draft.

Briefly, “academic” language includes terms, phrases, expressions, transitions, and sometimes symbols and abbreviations that help the pieces of an academic text fit together. When writing an academic text–whether it is a book report, annotated bibliography, research paper, research poster, lab report, research proposal, thesis, or manuscript for publication–authors must follow academic writing conventions. You can often find handy academic writing tips and guidelines by consulting the style manual of the text you are writing (i.e., APA Style , MLA Style , or Chicago Style ).

However, sometimes it can be helpful to have a list of academic words and expressions like the ones in this article to use as a “cheat sheet” for substituting the better term in a given context.

How to Choose the Best Academic Terms

You can think of writing “academically” as writing in a way that conveys one’s meaning effectively but concisely. For instance, while the term “take a look at” is a perfectly fine way to express an action in everyday English, a term like “analyze” would certainly be more suitable in most academic contexts. It takes up fewer words on the page and is used much more often in published academic papers.

You can use one handy guideline when choosing the most academic term: When faced with a choice between two different terms, use the Latinate version of the term. Here is a brief list of common verbs versus their academic counterparts:

Although this can be a useful tip to help academic authors, it can be difficult to memorize dozens of Latinate verbs. Using an AI paraphrasing tool or proofreading tool can help you instantly find more appropriate academic terms, so consider using such revision tools while you draft to improve your writing.

Top 50 Words and Phrases for Different Sections in a Research Paper

The “Latinate verb rule” is just one tool in your arsenal of academic writing, and there are many more out there. But to make the process of finding academic language a bit easier for you, we have compiled a list of 50 vital academic words and phrases, divided into specific categories and use cases, each with an explanation and contextual example.

Best Words and Phrases to use in an Introduction section

1. historically.

An adverb used to indicate a time perspective, especially when describing the background of a given topic.

2. In recent years

A temporal marker emphasizing recent developments, often used at the very beginning of your Introduction section.

3. It is widely acknowledged that

A “form phrase” indicating a broad consensus among researchers and/or the general public. Often used in the literature review section to build upon a foundation of established scientific knowledge.

4. There has been growing interest in

Highlights increasing attention to a topic and tells the reader why your study might be important to this field of research.

5. Preliminary observations indicate

Shares early insights or findings while hedging on making any definitive conclusions. Modal verbs like may , might , and could are often used with this expression.

6. This study aims to

Describes the goal of the research and is a form phrase very often used in the research objective or even the hypothesis of a research paper .

7. Despite its significance

Highlights the importance of a matter that might be overlooked. It is also frequently used in the rationale of the study section to show how your study’s aim and scope build on previous studies.

8. While numerous studies have focused on

Indicates the existing body of work on a topic while pointing to the shortcomings of certain aspects of that research. Helps focus the reader on the question, “What is missing from our knowledge of this topic?” This is often used alongside the statement of the problem in research papers.

9. The purpose of this research is

A form phrase that directly states the aim of the study.

10. The question arises (about/whether)

Poses a query or research problem statement for the reader to acknowledge.

Best Words and Phrases for Clarifying Information

11. in other words.

Introduces a synopsis or the rephrasing of a statement for clarity. This is often used in the Discussion section statement to explain the implications of the study .

12. That is to say

Provides clarification, similar to “in other words.”

13. To put it simply

Simplifies a complex idea, often for a more general readership.

14. To clarify

Specifically indicates to the reader a direct elaboration of a previous point.

15. More specifically

Narrows down a general statement from a broader one. Often used in the Discussion section to clarify the meaning of a specific result.

16. To elaborate

Expands on a point made previously.

17. In detail

Indicates a deeper dive into information.

Points out specifics. Similar meaning to “specifically” or “especially.”

19. This means that

Explains implications and/or interprets the meaning of the Results section .

20. Moreover

Expands a prior point to a broader one that shows the greater context or wider argument.

Best Words and Phrases for Giving Examples

21. for instance.

Provides a specific case that fits into the point being made.

22. As an illustration

Demonstrates a point in full or in part.

23. To illustrate

Shows a clear picture of the point being made.

24. For example

Presents a particular instance. Same meaning as “for instance.”

25. Such as

Lists specifics that comprise a broader category or assertion being made.

26. Including

Offers examples as part of a larger list.

27. Notably

Adverb highlighting an important example. Similar meaning to “especially.”

28. Especially

Adverb that emphasizes a significant instance.

29. In particular

Draws attention to a specific point.

30. To name a few

Indicates examples than previously mentioned are about to be named.

Best Words and Phrases for Comparing and Contrasting

31. however.

Introduces a contrasting idea.

32. On the other hand

Highlights an alternative view or fact.

33. Conversely

Indicates an opposing or reversed idea to the one just mentioned.

34. Similarly

Shows likeness or parallels between two ideas, objects, or situations.

35. Likewise

Indicates agreement with a previous point.

36. In contrast

Draws a distinction between two points.

37. Nevertheless

Introduces a contrasting point, despite what has been said.

38. Whereas

Compares two distinct entities or ideas.

Indicates a contrast between two points.

Signals an unexpected contrast.

Best Words and Phrases to use in a Conclusion section

41. in conclusion.

Signifies the beginning of the closing argument.

42. To sum up

Offers a brief summary.

43. In summary

Signals a concise recap.

44. Ultimately

Reflects the final or main point.

45. Overall

Gives a general concluding statement.

Indicates a resulting conclusion.

Demonstrates a logical conclusion.

48. Therefore

Connects a cause and its effect.

49. It can be concluded that

Clearly states a conclusion derived from the data.

50. Taking everything into consideration

Reflects on all the discussed points before concluding.

Edit Your Research Terms and Phrases Before Submission

Using these phrases in the proper places in your research papers can enhance the clarity, flow, and persuasiveness of your writing, especially in the Introduction section and Discussion section, which together make up the majority of your paper’s text in most academic domains.

However, it's vital to ensure each phrase is contextually appropriate to avoid redundancy or misinterpretation. As mentioned at the top of this article, the best way to do this is to 1) use an AI text editor , free AI paraphrasing tool or AI proofreading tool while you draft to enhance your writing, and 2) consult a professional proofreading service like Wordvice, which has human editors well versed in the terminology and conventions of the specific subject area of your academic documents.

For more detailed information on using AI tools to write a research paper and the best AI tools for research , check out the Wordvice AI Blog .

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Methodology

Research Methods | Definitions, Types, Examples

Research methods are specific procedures for collecting and analyzing data. Developing your research methods is an integral part of your research design . When planning your methods, there are two key decisions you will make.

First, decide how you will collect data . Your methods depend on what type of data you need to answer your research question :

  • Qualitative vs. quantitative : Will your data take the form of words or numbers?
  • Primary vs. secondary : Will you collect original data yourself, or will you use data that has already been collected by someone else?
  • Descriptive vs. experimental : Will you take measurements of something as it is, or will you perform an experiment?

Second, decide how you will analyze the data .

  • For quantitative data, you can use statistical analysis methods to test relationships between variables.
  • For qualitative data, you can use methods such as thematic analysis to interpret patterns and meanings in the data.

Table of contents

Methods for collecting data, examples of data collection methods, methods for analyzing data, examples of data analysis methods, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about research methods.

Data is the information that you collect for the purposes of answering your research question . The type of data you need depends on the aims of your research.

Qualitative vs. quantitative data

Your choice of qualitative or quantitative data collection depends on the type of knowledge you want to develop.

For questions about ideas, experiences and meanings, or to study something that can’t be described numerically, collect qualitative data .

If you want to develop a more mechanistic understanding of a topic, or your research involves hypothesis testing , collect quantitative data .

You can also take a mixed methods approach , where you use both qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Primary vs. secondary research

Primary research is any original data that you collect yourself for the purposes of answering your research question (e.g. through surveys , observations and experiments ). Secondary research is data that has already been collected by other researchers (e.g. in a government census or previous scientific studies).

If you are exploring a novel research question, you’ll probably need to collect primary data . But if you want to synthesize existing knowledge, analyze historical trends, or identify patterns on a large scale, secondary data might be a better choice.

Descriptive vs. experimental data

In descriptive research , you collect data about your study subject without intervening. The validity of your research will depend on your sampling method .

In experimental research , you systematically intervene in a process and measure the outcome. The validity of your research will depend on your experimental design .

To conduct an experiment, you need to be able to vary your independent variable , precisely measure your dependent variable, and control for confounding variables . If it’s practically and ethically possible, this method is the best choice for answering questions about cause and effect.

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Your data analysis methods will depend on the type of data you collect and how you prepare it for analysis.

Data can often be analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively. For example, survey responses could be analyzed qualitatively by studying the meanings of responses or quantitatively by studying the frequencies of responses.

Qualitative analysis methods

Qualitative analysis is used to understand words, ideas, and experiences. You can use it to interpret data that was collected:

  • From open-ended surveys and interviews , literature reviews , case studies , ethnographies , and other sources that use text rather than numbers.
  • Using non-probability sampling methods .

Qualitative analysis tends to be quite flexible and relies on the researcher’s judgement, so you have to reflect carefully on your choices and assumptions and be careful to avoid research bias .

Quantitative analysis methods

Quantitative analysis uses numbers and statistics to understand frequencies, averages and correlations (in descriptive studies) or cause-and-effect relationships (in experiments).

You can use quantitative analysis to interpret data that was collected either:

  • During an experiment .
  • Using probability sampling methods .

Because the data is collected and analyzed in a statistically valid way, the results of quantitative analysis can be easily standardized and shared among researchers.

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If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Chi square test of independence
  • Statistical power
  • Descriptive statistics
  • Degrees of freedom
  • Pearson correlation
  • Null hypothesis
  • Double-blind study
  • Case-control study
  • Research ethics
  • Data collection
  • Hypothesis testing
  • Structured interviews

Research bias

  • Hawthorne effect
  • Unconscious bias
  • Recall bias
  • Halo effect
  • Self-serving bias
  • Information bias

Quantitative research deals with numbers and statistics, while qualitative research deals with words and meanings.

Quantitative methods allow you to systematically measure variables and test hypotheses . Qualitative methods allow you to explore concepts and experiences in more detail.

In mixed methods research , you use both qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis methods to answer your research question .

A sample is a subset of individuals from a larger population . Sampling means selecting the group that you will actually collect data from in your research. For example, if you are researching the opinions of students in your university, you could survey a sample of 100 students.

In statistics, sampling allows you to test a hypothesis about the characteristics of a population.

The research methods you use depend on the type of data you need to answer your research question .

  • If you want to measure something or test a hypothesis , use quantitative methods . If you want to explore ideas, thoughts and meanings, use qualitative methods .
  • If you want to analyze a large amount of readily-available data, use secondary data. If you want data specific to your purposes with control over how it is generated, collect primary data.
  • If you want to establish cause-and-effect relationships between variables , use experimental methods. If you want to understand the characteristics of a research subject, use descriptive methods.

Methodology refers to the overarching strategy and rationale of your research project . It involves studying the methods used in your field and the theories or principles behind them, in order to develop an approach that matches your objectives.

Methods are the specific tools and procedures you use to collect and analyze data (for example, experiments, surveys , and statistical tests ).

In shorter scientific papers, where the aim is to report the findings of a specific study, you might simply describe what you did in a methods section .

In a longer or more complex research project, such as a thesis or dissertation , you will probably include a methodology section , where you explain your approach to answering the research questions and cite relevant sources to support your choice of methods.

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Key research terms.

bias: any influence that may distort the results of a research study and lead to error; the loss of balance and accuracy in the use of research methods.

case study: presentation of data about selected settings, persons, groups or events. Data can have been gathered using variety of different research methods (e.g., questionnaire, observation, historical or literary analysis). Is chiefly descriptive and analytical, usually based on qualitative data, though statistics such as survey findings may be included.

causal relationship: relationship between variables where movements in one or more variable(s) are held to cause changes in the other (s).

coded data: data are put into groups or categories, such as age groups, and each category is given a code number. Data are usually coded for convenience, speed, and handling to enable statistical analysis. construct: a mental state that can’t be directly observed or manipulated, such as love, intelligence, hunger, feeling warm, and aggression; a concept developed (constructed) for describing relations among or between phenomena or for other research purposes.

construct validity: the degree to which the study actually measures and manipulates the elements that the researcher claims to be measuring and manipulating. If the operational definitions of the constructs are poor, the study will not have good construct validity. For example, a test claiming to measure “aggressiveness” would not have construct validity if it really measured assertiveness.

internal validity: the degree to which the study demonstrates that a particular factor caused a change in behavior. If a study lacks internal validity, the researcher may falsely believe that a factor causes an effect when it really doesn’t. Most studies involving humans do not have internal validity because they can’t rule out the possibility that some other factor may have been responsible for the effect.

controls: processes used to make uniform or constant the conditions for carrying out an investigation.

control group: in experimental research, the group or item which does not receive the treatment or intervention under investigation and is used to compare outcomes with the one that does. correlation: the extent to which two or more factors vary in relationship to one another; the extent of association between two or more variables. Correlation does not equal causation. For example, might suggest relationship between academic success and self-esteem, but cannot prove that a change in first variable causes a change in second variable. correlation coefficient: a measure of the degree of relationship between two variables. It usually lies between +1 (showing a perfect positive relationship), 0 (showing no relationship), to -1.0 (showing a perfect negative relationship). dependent variable: variable thought to be determined or influenced by others.

experiment: a special type of study (not all studies are experiments!) that allows researchers to determine the cause of an effect; usually involves randomly assigning participants to groups.

external validity: the degree to which the results of the study can be generalized to other places, people, or times.

hypothesis: a proposition which research sets out to prove or disprove: “experimental” where the hypothesis is a positive statement, or “null” where statement contains a negative.

independent variable: a variable that researcher believes precedes, influences or predicts the dependent variable.

informed consent: giving potential participants information about the study, especially in terms of factors that might lead them to refuse to be in the study, before they decide whether to participate. Institutional Review Board (IRB): a committee of at least five members--one of whom must be a nonscientist--that review proposed research and monitor approved research in an effort to protect human research participants.

literature review: often the first step in the research process, it is a review of the literature on and around the subject of inquiry. Its main purposes are to avoid duplication, to identify gaps in research and to place the researcher’s approach within the work and approaches of others.

primary/secondary sources: primary sources are original firsthand records or materials relating to an event or happening. They may include, for example, official minutes of meetings, diaries, verbatim transcripts of interviews, completed questionnaires or records of the results of experiments. Secondary sources are accounts bases upon these, which usually offer an interpretation, commentary, analysis, or restatement of the primary sources. They can include, for example, books, journal articles, and conference papers.

qualitative data: information gathered in narrative, non-numerical form (e.g., transcript of an interview). Qualitative research used for exploratory (hypothesis-generating) purposes or explaining puzzling quantitative results, while quantitative methods are used to test hypotheses.

quantitative data: information gathered in numerical form. reliability: extent to which the same result will be repeated/achieved by using the same measure.

statistical significance: tests used to estimate the likelihood that the finding in a sample is true of the population from which the sample is derived and not due to chance.

simple experiment: used to establish cause and effect, so this type often used to determine effect of treatment. Participants randomly assigned to either control group with no treatment, while the experimental group receives treatment.

validity: extent to which research findings can be said to be accurate and reliable; degree to which conclusions are justified. Internal validity is extent to which researchers can show that they have evidence for the statements they make; external validity refers to a study’s generalizability.

ScienceDaily

Heart attack significantly increases risk of other health conditions

Having a heart attack significantly increases the risk of developing other serious long-term health conditions, a major new study shows.

Researchers at the University of Leeds have analysed more than 145 million records covering every adult patient admitted to hospital over a nine-year period to establish the risk of long-term health outcomes following a heart attack -- in the largest study of its kind.

Whilst heart attacks are a serious and life-threatening condition, the British Heart Foundation estimates that nowadays more than seven in 10 people survive them, provided they receive quick and emergency treatment to get the blood flowing to the heart muscle again. Yet previous research has shown that heart attacks can have health implications for patients including further conditions which affect the heart and circulatory system, but also conditions affecting other parts of the body and mental health conditions.

The new research, part funded by The British Heart Foundation and Wellcome, shows that patients who had a heart attack went on to develop further conditions at a much higher rate than people of the same age and sex who had not had one.

Up to a third of patients went on to develop heart or kidney failure, 7% had further heart attacks and 38% died from any cause within the nine-year study period.

Heart failure, atrial fibrillation, stroke, peripheral arterial disease, severe bleeding, kidney failure, type 2 diabetes and depression all occurred more frequently for people who had a heart attack compared with those who did not; but the risk of cancer was lower overall, and the risk of dementia did not differ overall.

The study also identified that people from more socioeconomically deprived backgrounds were more likely to die or develop serious long-term health conditions following a heart attack. In particular, those from more deprived backgrounds were more likely to develop heart and kidney failure, compared to people from less deprived backgrounds of a similar age.

Lead author Dr Marlous Hall, Associate Professor of Cardiovascular Epidemiology in Leeds' School of Medicine and Multimorbidity Research in the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics (LIDA), said: "There are around 1.4 million heart attack survivors in the UK who are at high risk of developing further serious health conditions. Our study provides accessible online information of the risk of these health outcomes for specific age, sex and socioeconomic deprivation groups so that individuals surviving a heart attack can be well informed about their future risks, in order to support informed healthcare decision making with their doctor.

"Effective communication of the likely course of disease and risk of adverse long-term outcomes between patients and healthcare professionals can promote positive lifestyle changes, encourage patients to stick to treatment, and improve patient understanding and quality of life."

"Our study highlights the need for individual care plans to be revised to take into account the higher demand for care caused by survivorship."

The researchers analysed the records of all individuals aged 18 years and over, who were admitted to one of 229 NHS Trusts in England between 1 January 2008 and 31 January, 2017. This amounted to 145,912,852 hospitalisations among 34,116,257 individuals. There were 433,361 reports of people who had a heart attack for the first time. The average age of heart attack patients was 67 years, and 66% of patients were male.

The study looked at 11 non-fatal health outcomes detailed below, plus death from any cause, and compared the results to a control group of 2,001,310 individuals.

Health outcomes

The research showed a significantly increased risk of developing some conditions following a heart attack, when compared to the control group of patients.

Most likely was heart failure, with 29.6% of the study group going on to develop the condition within nine years of their heart attack, compared with 9.8% of the control group over the same time frame.

Kidney failure developed in 27.2% of the patients in the study group, compared with 19.8% of the control group.

Some 22.3% of the study group went on to develop atrial fibrillation, compared with 16.8% of the control group.

And new hospitalisation for diabetes was seen in 17% of the study group, compared with 14.3% of the control group.

Other conditions were:

Severe bleeding -- Study group: 19%; Control group: 18.4%

Cerebrovascular disease -- Study group: 12.5%; Control group: 11.6%

Peripheral arterial disease -- Study group: 6.5%; Control group: 4.06%

Death from any cause -- Study group: 37.8%; Control group: 35.3%

Overall, hospitalisation records indicating depression occurred in 8.9% of people after a heart attack -- which was 6% more likely following a heart attack than in the control group. Women were more likely to develop depression after a heart attack than men, especially those who had their heart attack at a younger age. 21.5% of women who were under the age of 40 at the time of their heart attack had hospitalisation records for depression compared with 11.5% of men in the same age category.

There was no overall difference in the risk of dementia following a heart attack compared with the control group. Whilst the risk of vascular dementia was more likely in the study group, the difference observed was small (study group 2.3%; control group 2.1%).

In contrast with other health outcomes the research showed that cancer was less pronounced in the study group than in the control group. Some 13.5% of the study group went on to develop cancer after their heart attack, but this compared with 21.5% of the control group. Researchers believe there are likely many factors affecting this finding but the specific reasons for fewer cancers after a heart attack remain unclear and require further investigation.

Morag Foreman, Head of Discovery Researchers at Wellcome, said: "This research provides valuable insight into the types of support and interventions that may be needed for patients following a heart attack, helping both doctors and patients make informed decisions during recovery and beyond."

"This research shows how cohort studies and analysis of large data sets can further our understanding of key health challenges and demonstrates the value to supporting discovery research in the field of population and public health. As survival rates following a heart attack improve, understanding the longer-term impacts on physical and mental health is crucial."

Professor Bryan Williams, Chief Scientific and Medical Officer at the British Heart Foundation, said: "While more people than ever are surviving heart attacks, there can be longer term consequences. Particularly after a major heart attack, people can be left with irreparable damage to their heart, putting them at increased risk of heart failure.

"This study sheds further light on how heart attacks are associated with increased risk of developing other serious health conditions, including heart failure and atrial fibrillation. It also found that those from more socioeconomically deprived backgrounds are at greater risk of further ill health after a heart attack, and at a younger age. The research suggests that these patients may benefit from additional support and monitoring to help reduce their risk of developing further health conditions.

"It is vital NHS has the resource, including staff, infrastructure and equipment, to deliver the care that patients need to help them stay in the best possible health for longer."

  • Heart Disease
  • Diseases and Conditions
  • Chronic Illness
  • Disorders and Syndromes
  • Mental Health
  • Ischaemic heart disease
  • Heart failure
  • COX-2 inhibitor
  • Artificial heart
  • Panic attack
  • Coronary heart disease

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Leeds . Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference :

  • Marlous Hall, Lesley Smith, Jianhua Wu, Chris Hayward, Jonathan A. Batty, Paul C. Lambert, Harry Hemingway, Chris P. Gale. Health outcomes after myocardial infarction: A population study of 56 million people in England . PLOS Medicine , 2024; 21 (2): e1004343 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1004343

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8 facts about atheists.

Caucasian man cycling outdoors

Atheists make up 4% of U.S. adults, according to our 2023 National Public Opinion Reference Survey . That compares with 3% who described themselves as atheists in 2014 and 2% who did so in 2007 .

Here are some key facts about atheists in the United States and around the world, based on several Pew Research Center surveys.

This analysis draws on several Pew Research Center studies. Data on the share of atheists in the United States is from the  2023 National Public Opinion Reference Survey , as well as the Center’s  2007  and  2014 Religious Landscape Studies .

Other data on U.S. atheists comes from various waves of the American Trends Panel, collected in  September and December 2017 ,  February 2019 ,  September 2022 , and  July and August 2023 .

For data from countries other than the U.S., this analysis draws on nationally representative surveys conducted in 2019, 2022 and 2023. Read more details about our  international survey methodology and country-specific sample designs .

For the purposes of this analysis, “wealthy nations” are those that were classified as “high income” according to the  World Bank Income Classifications .

In the U.S., atheists are mostly men and are relatively young,  according to a Center survey conducted in summer 2023 . Around six-in-ten U.S. atheists are men (64%). And seven-in-ten are ages 49 or younger, compared with about half of U.S. adults overall (52%).

Atheists also are more likely than the general public to be White (77% vs. 62%) and have a college degree (48% vs. 34%). Roughly eight-in-ten atheists identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party.

Almost all U.S. atheists (98%) say religion is not too or not at all important in their lives, according to the same summer 2023 survey. An identical share say that they seldom or never pray.

At the same time, 79% of American atheists say they feel a deep sense of wonder about the universe at least several times a year. And 36% feel a deep sense of spiritual peace and well-being at least that often.

U.S. atheists and religiously affiliated Americans find meaning in their lives in some of the same ways. In a 2017 survey , we asked an open-ended question about this. Like a majority of Americans, most atheists mentioned family as a source of meaning.

However, atheists (26%) were far more likely than Christians (10%) to describe their hobbies as meaningful or satisfying. Atheists were also more likely than Americans overall to describe finances and money, creative pursuits, travel, and leisure activities as meaningful. Very few atheists (4%) said they found life’s meaning in spirituality.

A map showing that western Europeans are more likely than Americans to identify as atheists.

Atheists make up a larger share of the population in many Western European countries than in the U.S.,  according to a spring 2023 Center survey that included 10 European countries. For example, nearly a quarter of French adults (23%) identify as atheists, as do 18% of adults in Sweden, 17% in the Netherlands and 12% in the United Kingdom.

Most U.S. atheists express concerns about the role religion plays in society. An overwhelming majority of atheists (94%) say that the statement “religion causes division and intolerance” describes their views a great deal or a fair amount, according to our summer 2023 survey. And 91% say the same about the statement “religion encourages superstition and illogical thinking.” Nearly three-quarters (73%) say religion does more harm than good in American society.

At the same time, 41% of atheists say religion helps society by giving people meaning and purpose in their lives, and 33% say it encourages people to treat others well.

Atheists may not believe religious teachings, but they are  quite informed about religion . In our 2019 religious knowledge survey , atheists were among the best-performing groups. On average, they answered about 18 out of 32 fact-based questions correctly, while U.S. adults overall got roughly 14 questions right. In particular, atheists were twice as likely as Americans overall to know that the U.S. Constitution says no religious test is necessary to hold public office.

Atheists were also at least as knowledgeable as Christians on Christianity-related questions. For example, roughly eight-in-ten in both groups knew that Easter commemorates the resurrection of Jesus.

Most Americans don’t think believing in God is necessary to be a good person, according to the summer 2023 survey. When we asked people which statement came closer to their views, 73% selected “it is possible to be moral and have good values without believing in God,” while 25% picked “it is necessary to believe in God in order to be moral and have good values.”

Adults in some other wealthy countries tend to agree with this sentiment, based on responses to a similar question we asked in 2019 and 2022 . For example, nine-in-ten Swedish adults say belief in God is not necessary to be moral and have good values, while 85% in Australia, 80% in the Czech Republic and 77% in France say this.

However, fewer than one-in-ten adults in some other countries surveyed say that a person can be moral without believing in God. That includes 5% of adults in Kenya, 4% in the Philippines and 2% in Indonesia. In all three nations, more than nine-in-ten say instead that a person must believe in God to be a moral person.

About three-quarters of U.S. atheists (77%) do not believe in God or a higher power  or in a spiritual force of any kind, according to our summer 2023 survey. At the same time, 23% say they do believe in a higher power of some kind, though fewer than 1% of U.S. atheists say they believe in “God as described in the Bible.”

This shows that not all self-described atheists fit the literal definition of “atheist,” which is “a person who does not believe in the existence of a god or any gods,”  according to Merriam-Webster .

Note: This is an update of a post originally published on Nov. 5, 2015. It was last updated Dec. 6, 2019.

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Among religious ‘nones,’ atheists and agnostics know the most about religion

Why america’s ‘nones’ don’t identify with a religion, key findings about americans’ belief in god, unlike their central and eastern european neighbors, most czechs don’t believe in god, why people with no religion are projected to decline as a share of the world’s population, most popular.

About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts .

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  1. Research Study synonyms

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    Accuracy -- a term used in survey research to refer to the match between the target population and the sample. Affective Measures -- procedures or devices used to obtain quantified descriptions of an individual's feelings, emotional states, or dispositions. Aggregate -- a total created from smaller units.

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    Accrual - the number of subjects who have completed or are actively in the process of completing a study. The accrual goal is how many subjects are needed to finish the study (2). Adverse event (AE) - a negative symptom or experience encountered by an subject during the course of a clinical trial. Adverse events can be expected or unexpected.

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    The word research is derived from the Middle French "recherche", ... Other studies aim to merely examine the occurrence of behaviours in societies and communities, without particularly looking for reasons or motivations to explain these. ... Meta-research is the study of research through the use of research methods. Also known as "research on ...

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    research terminologies in educational research. It provides definitions of many of the terms used in the guidebooks to conducting qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods of research. The terms are arranged in alphabetical order. Abstract A brief summary of a research project and its findings. A summary of a study that

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    Research Glossary. The research glossary defines terms used in conducting social science and policy research, for example those describing methods, measurements, statistical procedures, and other aspects of research; the child care glossary defines terms used to describe aspects of child care and early education practice and policy.

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    A seeking of knowledge, data, or the truth about something (Noun) Synonyms: inquest inquiry inquisition investigation probe Examination, study (Noun) Synonyms: inquiry investigation analysis experimentation enquiry Antonyms: ignorance To inspect with care (Verb) Synonyms: read up on do research look into investigate Examine, study (Verb) Synonyms:

  20. Study vs Research: When to Opt for One Term Over Another

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    Provides clarification, similar to "in other words.". Example The reaction is exothermic; that is to say, it releases heat. 13. To put it simply. Simplifies a complex idea, often for a more general readership. Example The universe is vast; to put it simply, it is larger than anything we can truly imagine. 14.

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    bias: any influence that may distort the results of a research study and lead to error; the loss of balance and accuracy in the use of research methods. case study: presentation of data about selected settings, persons, groups or events. Data can have been gathered using variety of different research methods (e.g., questionnaire, observation, historical or literary analysis).

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    This analysis draws on several Pew Research Center studies. Data on the share of atheists in the United States is from the 2023 National Public Opinion Reference Survey, as well as the Center's 2007 and 2014 Religious Landscape Studies.. Other data on U.S. atheists comes from various waves of the American Trends Panel, collected in September and December 2017, February 2019, September 2022 ...

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