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SURVEY METHODOLOGIES

Experimental Research

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What is Experimental Research?

Experimental research, also called experimentation, is research conducted using a scientific approach using two or more variables. The first variable is a constant that you can manipulate to see the differences caused in the second variable. Most studies under quantitative research methods are experimental in nature. Experimental research helps you in gathering the necessary data for you to make better decisions about your proposed hypothesis. The success of experimental research usually confirms that the change observed in the variable under study is solely based on the manipulation of the independent variable.

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What are independent and dependent variables?

In an experiment, the independent is the controllable factor that marketing researchers use to influence changes in the values of dependent variables. The independent variable could be the price, product, place, or promotion, since market researchers can intentionally manipulate or alter these factors and see the effects on sales, growth, revenue, etc. The factors that change because of the alterations of the independent variables are called dependent variables. The purpose of using experimental research to study the market is to maximise the results of dependent variables (sales, revenue, consumer satisfaction) by finding the perfect combination of independent variables. Thus, researchers aim to alter as many independent variables as possible to find whether these strategies are effective in creating desired changes in the organization. 

For instance, if a researcher wants to study whether their dandruff protection product is successful in curing dandruff, and the only difference between the two groups under study is the product of interest (one group uses the product while group 2 uses a placebo), then dandruff could be considered as the dependent variable and the product curing it would be called an independent variable. Now, the independent variable, here, is “manipulated” in the sense that one group is exposed to it and one is not. All things being constant, if the product cures dandruff in group 1 as opposed to the group that is using a placebo, the experimental research findings are successful. This will help in establishing a cause and effect relationship, the product is “causing” the treatment (“effect”) of dandruff.

Hence, in essence, experimental research includes a hypothesis, a variable that is measured, a variable that can be manipulated across groups, and both of these variables can be calculated and compared. Experimental research is usually conducted in a controlled laboratory environment. The researcher collects data that will either support or reject the hypothesis through data analysis. Experimental research is also sometimes called hypothesis testing or a method of deductive research. The purpose of experimental research is to determine the relationship between two variables (dependent and independent). This relationship is generally causal in nature. The data collected in experimental research has to be numeric or quantified. It must be measurable, capable of statistical analysis, and comparable. If the data is observable in nature, such as satisfaction or depression, then a Likert scale should be developed to convert this observable entity into a measurable trait.

What are the different types of experimental research design?

Experimental Research

In its essence, an experimental design is a method that is used to collect data for experimental studies. There are three types of experimental research designs; pre-experimental research design, true experimental research design, and quasi-experimental design. Your experimental design is determined by the way you classify your research conditions and groups (variables, laboratory or natural study, etc.). We will look at each of the three experimental research design in detail:

Pre-experimental research design:

This is the simplest form of experimental research design. Here, a researcher observes a single group or multiple groups after the implementation of some treatment or factor that is assumed to lead to changes in the dependent variable. This research is conducted to understand if and when further study is necessary for the groups under observation. There are three kinds of pre-experimental research:

  1. One-shot Case Study Research Design: Here, one group is studied at a single point in time. This group is generally studied after the implementation of a variable that is presumed to affect another variable has been employed. This kind of experimental research design does not employ a control or comparison group.
  2. One-group Pretest-Posttest Research Design: Here, a single case is observed twice, once before the treatment or manipulation of the independent variable and one after the changes. If the outcome of before and after is different, it is assumed that it was caused by the independent variable. This kind of experimental research design, too, does not employ a control or comparison group.
  3. Static-group Comparison: In this experimental research design, two groups are under observation. One group has experienced the manipulation of the independent variable while the other has not. The changes that are observed between the two groups are assumed to be a result of the manipulations of the independent variable.

One disadvantage of Pre-experimental research design is that the validity of these studies is generally compromised.

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True experimental research design

This research design depends on statistical analysis which will either support or refute a hypothesis. This element of hypothesis testing makes this experimental research design the most accurate kind of research. All true experimental research designs contain independent and dependent variables, pretesting and posttesting, and experimental and control groups. Here, the effect of the independent variable on the dependent variable is tested or verified by comparing two groups. One group is given the intervention or a level of manipulation of the independent variable (also referred to as treatment group) and the other is not exposed to the same intervention (also referred to as a control group).

One more important aspect of a true experimental research design is that the participants in the study are chosen at random. Random sampling is important in experimental research because it ensures that the two groups are equated or comparable and any differences between the treatment and control groups are due to chance and chance only. This experimental research method is mostly used in physical science.

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Quasi-experimental research design

This experimental research is similar to the true experimental research design but they are not the same. The difference here is the assignment of participants in the control group. Here, an independent variable is employed and manipulated, but the participants of a particular group are not chosen at random. This design is generally used in settings where random assignment is either not required or not possible.

To know more about pre-experimental and quasi-experimental research designs, click here.

The biggest advantage of experimental research is that it gives you an opportunity to test your idea before you take it to the market. The following points outline the advantages of experimental research:

  1. Researchers have more control and hold over the variables in order to obtain desired results.
  2. The results of experimental research are valid and specific.
  3. The results found can be generalised to similar ideas or situations.
  4. It enables hypothesis testing and hence gives researchers an ideal starting point.

However, experimental research is not without its limitations. The results obtained from experimental research can be prone to human errors. Since most experimental research takes place in strictly controlled and laboratory-like conditions, the results may not reflect reality. Experimental research is also time-consuming and costly. Moreover, some naturally-occurring phenomenon do not lend them to be controlled in laboratory-like settings, for example: the effects of a pandemic on consumer spending. A researcher cannot cause, control, or replicate a pandemic to understand how it will affect the consumers of the product under study.

FAQs

Experimental research follows a scientific design to determine the relationship between two or more variables. The experimental research design includes: 

  • A hypothesis
  • Variable that researcher can manipulate
  • Variable that can be measured. 

In the experimental research design, one variable is manipulated to see the changes it causes in the second variable.

Experimental research is conducted in a controlled environment. 

Experimental research is used to determine the nature of the relationship between two dependent and independent variables. The researcher collects data and tests the hypothesis to understand whether the result accepts or rejects the hypothesis. 

There are three types of experimental research – Pre-experimental, True experimental, and Quasi-experimental research. 

Pre-experimental research observes a group of dependent variables to study what effect an independent variable has on the group. This experimental design consists of no control group. 

 

True experimental research applies statistical analysis to see the validity of a hypothesis. The research method must follow certain conditions: 

  • It must have a control group
  • A variable that can be manipulated
  • Distribution must be random

In Quasi-experimental research the participants are not randomly distributed. The method resembles a true experimental research, however, its not same.

An experimental quantitative research is what we call an experimental research. It is a type of quantitative research method that follows a scientifc research design, thus it may also be called an experimental quantitative research.

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