GLOSSARY OF RESEARCH TERMS
Bias: A condition that, if not controlled, can influence the results
of a research study.
Blind: Participants are “blind” when they do not know whether
or not they are receiving the treatment or intervention being used in
a research study.
Double blind: A “double-blind” condition exists when neither
the participant nor the researcher know which participants are receiving
the treatment or intervention being used in a research study.
Case: A “case” refers to one group under observation in a
study or one instance of something occurring.
Informed Consent: Anyone participating in research is generally required
to provide (and researchers are obligated to obtain) their agreement to
participate. Informed consent requires that this agreement be given
without reservation, with knowledge of the proposed intervention, and
free from any coercion.
Multiple cases: “Multiple cases” refers to more than one
group or one instance of something occurring.
Cohort: A “cohort” refers to a group of individuals identified
by a common characteristic, which is studied over a period of time as
part of a scientific investigation.
Control: “Control” refers to the condition or group that
does not receive treatment.
Cross-section: A “cross-section” consists of a group of people
who differ in age and/or other factors who provide information for the
research study at the same point in time.
Face validity: A study is said to have “face validity” if
it “rings true” or makes sense.
Generalizable: The extent to which a researcher is able to conclude with
a certain degree of confidence that the findings of a study can be applied
to other persons or situations.
Institutional Review Board: The Institutional Review Board (IRB) is an
officially sanctioned assembly of at least 5, specifically trained professional
whose responsibility it is to promote complete and adequate review of
research activities that involve, in this case, human subjects. Each
organization or institution that receives federal funds and conducts research
is required to maintain an IRB.
Instrument and Measure: These two terms are used interchangeably to denote
tools used to assess the outcome of a study, such as a questionnaire or
observational coding scale.
Manipulation: In an experiment, “manipulation” occurs when
a researcher does something to one variable to see if it affects another
Mean: The average score for a group of participants.
Participant expectations: “Participant expectations” refers
to things that people expect to happen when they participate in a research
Peer review: Academic and scientific journals generally require that
articles be submitted to a committee of one’s peers to review for
scientific merit and accuracy before appearing in a journal.
Placebo: “Placebo” refers to a pretend treatment that participants
believe is the real treatment, such as a sugar pill.
Random assignment: Participants in a study are assigned to be in either
an experimental group or a control group using a method similar to “flipping
a coin,” so that they have an equal chance of being in either group.
Reliable: In research, something is considered to be reliable if it produces
similar results when tested at different times.
Researcher expectations: “Researcher expectations” refers
to things that researchers expect to happen when they conduct a research
Self-selected: Participants in research are considered “self-selecting” when
they volunteer to participate in a study.
Statistically significant: The results of a study are considered “statistically
significant” when the probability that they are due to chance is
less than 5 percent.
Subject: Someone who participates in a study.
Validity: In research, “validity” refers to something being
what it is supposed to be, and not something that it shouldn’t be.
Variables: The thing or things that are being studied.