Experimental research: what it is, characteristics, types and examples - Meanings

Experimental research: what it is, characteristics, types and examples - Meanings
Posted on 11-02-2022

experimental research 

What is experimental research?

Experimental research is one that obtains data through experimentation and compares them with constant variables, in order to determine the causes and/or effects of the phenomena under study. It is also often called the experimental scientific method.

A common example of experimental research is laboratory blood tests to determine the causes of a patient's health condition. In these tests, the results obtained from the patient's samples are compared with constant variables, which indicate the range of normal values.

Experimental is a type of quantitative research. It is based on a control protocol, the presence of variables, the manipulation of said variables, and the observation of quantifiable results. According to its purposes, its design can be pre-experimental, truly experimental, or quasi-experimental.

Experimental research is used when documentary information is not available to explain the object of study or when the available information must be verified. It is also used when time is decisive to understand the relationship of cause and effect in a phenomenon.

It has application in the natural sciences, in the applied sciences, and in certain social sciences, such as psychology, education, and sociology, among others.

Characteristics of experimental research

Experimental research has specific characteristics derived from its methods of analysis.

  • Dependent variables and independent variables. All experimental research starts from dependent or fixed variables (which serve as a control group). These have to be contrasted with the independent variables, which are those that the researcher manipulates to obtain certain results.
  • controlled conditions. The experiments are applied under rigorously controlled conditions to be clear about the factors that affect the behavior of the object of study.
  • Manipulation of variables. The experiment is introduced or provoked by the researcher, who deliberately manipulates the independent variables to obtain various results, always under controlled and rigorous conditions.
  • Observation of the object of study. The researcher must observe the behavior of the object of study in each of the scenarios built for it, from which he will be able to obtain more or less conclusive data.

Types of experimental research

Experimental research is divided into various types according to the design, which in turn depends on the objectives set by the researcher. These design types are:

Pre-experimental design

In this experimental research design, only one variable is analyzed and it is not manipulated, so a control group is not necessary.

It is used to establish a first approach to the object of study and when it is not intended to delve into the cause of the phenomena under study. This means that it is an exploratory design of the state of the question. Therefore, it also serves to test future more complex experiments.

For example, suppose a person wants to know if training in social networks can generate knowledge and impact people. A test must be applied to the group before the course and another at the end. In this way, it will be possible to determine how much they knew about the topic and if their knowledge actually increased after the course. As we can see, it is a single group and a single variable.

True experimental design

It aims to establish the relationship between causes and effects based on a strict control protocol. It is based on statistical analysis to prove or refute the hypothesis. That is why it is considered the most precise type of experimental research.

Some criteria of true experimental design are: establishing a viable control group; establishing various random sample groups; manipulate and testing a single variable so as not to complicate the analysis and compromise the results. For example, studies to test a drug.

Quasi-experimental design

They are characterized by establishing study groups without random selection. Instead, convenient criteria are used for certain purposes not necessarily related to the objective but to facilitate the process. Therefore, quasi-experimental research lacks a control protocol.

This method is used more in the social sciences since it is very useful to determine general trends in the behavior of the groups studied. However, it is not the best for research in the natural and applied sciences.

For example, in a certain educational project, the participants can be grouped in alphabetical order to facilitate the emptying of data.


Advantages and disadvantages of experimental research

Among some of the advantages of experimental research we can mention the following:

  • It can be applied to various areas of study.
  • The researcher has control of the variables.
  • It allows identifying the relationship of cause and effect in the objects of study.
  • The results of the experiments can be repeated.
  • The results are specific and quantifiable.
  • Supports relationship with other research methods.

Among the disadvantages, we can refer to:

  • The conditions of the experiment are always artificial.
  • It cannot be applied to study subjective phenomena.
  • There may be factors external to the experiment that distort the results.
  • It requires a significant investment of time.
  • There is a margin of human error when transcribing the data, which compromises the reporting of results.
  • May be affected by ethical dilemmas. For example, with regard to experimentation with animals or humans.
  • The sample may not be representative enough.

Experimental research method

The method of experimental research depends on the area of ​​knowledge and the objective. It is based on control, manipulation of independent variables, and observation. This must be reflected in the following methodological sequence:

  1. Problem Statement. Prepare the problem statement, specifying the starting variables.
  2. Make the statement of the hypothesis from the identified problem.
  3. Define variables clearly.
  4. Control of the variables. Establish a control protocol for the variables that can alter the results of the experiment.
  5. Select a research design appropriate to the objectives.
  6. Population and sample. Delimit the population and sample under observation.
  7. Run the procedure and get the data.
  8. Statistical data treatment. Analyze the data obtained statistically or mathematically.
  9. Project the results obtained on a larger population, if they are reliable.
  10. Predict related scenarios that have not yet been studied and their implications.
  11. Replicate the experiment with different subjects or samples.

Examples of experimental research

  1. Study on the side effects of a new drug. Area: pharmacology. A control group will consume a placebo. The other group will consume the drug in the experimental phase. None of the participants will know which group they are assigned to. That way, it can be seen if the effects are caused by the drug under test.
  2. Determine the incidence of the substrate on plant growth. Area: natural sciences. As an experiment, one plant will be planted without substrate and another with the substrate. After a while, the results will be observed.
  3. Determine the negative effects of alcoholic beverages on health. Area: health sciences. The researcher must design an experimental protocol that allows knowing the influence of alcohol on the body of mammals.
  4. Check if there is a predisposition in adults to perpetuate gender stereotypes. Area: social sciences. Group 1 is presented with a baby dressed in blue. Group 2 is presented with the same baby in a pink outfit. Both groups are asked for their impressions without having more information than the outfit. Answers are recorded and compared.


Thank You