If you are a student, scientist, historian, research analyst, or specialist, chances are that research is a big part of your day to day. With all of the moving parts that go into conducting your study, along with the time restraints you have, you may be making little mistakes throughout your process. We have compiled a list of five common research mistakes and ways to avoid them!
Not creating and following a detailed timeline
When embarking on a new research project, it is important that you create a detailed timeline, and stick to it. The more detailed that you make this timeline, the less likely you are to make mistakes along the way. In creating this schedule, you can ensure you meet all of the steps in the process and create notes about what to complete in each step. This helps you collect data efficiently and allows you to meet any deadlines you may have. Remember to always pencil in time to revise and review. Without a timeline, you may miss something important.
Failure to perform sample size analysis at the beginning of the research process
Before beginning with your study, it is crucial that you evaluate and analyze your sample size. There are various ways to calculate sample size for different types of studies conducted, so ensure that you are using the best sample to understand your margin of error and minimize mistakes. If you are unsure of your sample size, have a colleague or peer check before you continue on in the process to avoid progressing a possible mistake. You may also reach out to other resources available to you to help you in this step.
Not examining for normality of data
When analyzing the data you have collected, it is important that you examine the normality of the data as well. This examination can be conducted in various different software (SPSS for example) using a normal probability plot or histogram to see if the data collected resembles a normal distribution pattern. This is necessary because it accounts for any outliers that may exist within the data. This is also important because there are many statistical tests (such as two way ANOVA testing) that require a normally distributed data population. If you neglect to account for this normality, there may be errors later on in your research. Make a note for yourself to check for normality when creating your timeline, to ensure this step is not overlooked.
Failure to use correct language and understand the scientific language at play
Especially if you are a student who is relatively new to the research world, this is a common mistake that can occur. While conducting your research and analyzing it, make sure that you fully understand all of the language and terms you are working with. Using incorrect language in the presentation of your research or in your report can be misleading and take away from what you are trying to present. If you are unsure of any language, use the resources available to you to fully understand the language before including it in your findings. This then makes the message of your research clear and does not convolute or confuse what you are trying to say.
Not including the limitations and weaknesses of the study
All research studies have their limitations and weaknesses. However, it is important that those reading your report or research are aware of these limitations. These limitations can occur in your methodology, process, sampling, observation, or data collection. Do not hesitate to include these limitations for fear that it may devalue your research. Your audience needs to be aware of the limitations within your study and the impact these limitations may have. Providing these limitations does not show weakness, but instead demonstrates that you have a full understanding of the research you have conducted. Present your limitations in the discussion portion of your research, and suggest possible ways to overcome these limitations in the future. To avoid forgetting the inclusion of these limitations, revise your work, and ask for a peer review. Have a colleague or a peer point out any limitations they found when reading your results to ensure you didn’t miss any, and that the ones presented in the work are clear.
You may not be able to avoid all mistakes, but hopefully, this will help you be mindful of ones you may be making throughout your process. To avoid making mistakes along the way in data collection, try out the Conseris app! This will help in the organization and collection of data and take some of the stress out of the process for you.