7 junio, 2024

Analytical method: what it is, characteristics, steps, examples

What is the analytical method?

He analytical method or analytical research It is a form of study that involves skills such as critical thinking and the evaluation of facts and information related to the investigation that is being carried out. The idea is to find the main elements behind the topic that is being analyzed in order to understand it in depth.

As with any other type of research, the main objective of the analytical method is to discover relevant information about a topic. To achieve this, first all the data available on the matter are collected; and once they have been collected, they are examined to test a hypothesis or support a certain idea.

Thus, using critical thinking tools, and examining the data and hypotheses to check if they are valid or not, researchers are able to reach conclusions about the topic they are dealing with and generate new ideas. Evidence obtained in this way helps advance knowledge about many different subjects.

Characteristics of the analytical method

It does not provide infallible results

One of the most important aspects to take into account regarding the analytical research method is that its results are always open to modification if new data is obtained or new research is carried out. This is something that happens to a greater or lesser extent with all scientific methods, but especially with this one.

The problem is that, while with other tools such as the experimental method it is possible to affirm causality and, therefore, obtain solid evidence about what causes a phenomenon, the analytical method does not allow this to be done. No matter how much data we have on the subject to study, these will always be incomplete.

Provides one of the strongest types of evidence

Although it may seem like a contradiction to the previous point, the analytical research method is one of the most reliable when studying any type of natural process. Thus, for example, meta-analyses (one of the most common procedures of this method) are considered one of the best study methods.

It allows to obtain correct results from incomplete data

One of the main advantages of the analytical research method is that to carry it out, it is necessary to resort to many different sources of information. The researcher’s job, therefore, is to compare the data provided by all of them and try to find common ground.

Thanks to this procedure, scientists can rule out all the data that could be wrong or for which more evidence would be needed. At the same time, it is possible to find the points that the different investigations have in common, thus finding the elements that are most likely to be true.

They make possible the creation of new experiments and theories

Once the basic components of a phenomenon have been found, it is much easier to carry out research that allows them to be studied in greater depth.

At the same time, the topic being worked on is better understood, so scientists can modify existing theories based on the new results.

All of this makes the analytical research method very useful for generating new data, even if this alone is not one of its main functions.

Requires a large amount of prior data

Possibly the biggest disadvantage of the analytical method is that it cannot be carried out in most situations, because it requires a huge amount of prior information about a subject before it can be studied in this way. For this reason, it is generally only used in subjects for which we already have a good deal of evidence.

Steps of the analytical method

Next we will see each of them.

Observation

The first step to carry out when you want to carry out an analytical investigation is to examine in depth the object of study that you have in hand. To do this, you can resort to both direct observation or other more indirect techniques, such as the review of existing literature on the subject.

Description

The second step of the analytical research method involves collecting all the data that has been obtained in the first and using it to establish a coherent narrative about what is being studied.

Critical examination and decomposition of the phenomenon

Probably the most important step in the analytical research method occurs once all the existing information on the subject to be studied has been gathered. When this happens, the next stage is to examine all the available data and try to better understand the phenomenon that is being observed.

Numbering of parts and classification

Finally, researchers following the analytical method have to examine all the constituent elements that they have found and classify them according to their characteristics. In this final step, new knowledge is built that can be used by other scientists in future studies.

examples

The analytical method is used in a large number of different disciplines; but in general, it is more common in those that deal with complex phenomena and that are not easy to observe directly, such as psychology or nutrition.

In this section we will see a real example of an analytical study that will help you better understand what this research method consists of.

Meta analysis on violence and video games

In their study «Effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, physiological arousal, and pro-social behavior: A meta-analytic review of the scientific literature,» published in the journal Psychological Science, Anderson and Bushman wanted to to study the available data on the relationship between videogames and violence.

In their literature review, the authors noted that more than half a century of research on the effects of exposure to violent TV shows and movies have yielded the following results:

– Even brief exposure to violence in the media produces significant increases in the frequency of aggressive behaviors.

– Children who are repeatedly exposed to displays of violence are more likely to become aggressive adults.

However, there is insufficient data on whether video games cause a similar effect. The authors sought to answer two questions through their meta-analysis: Is violent video gaming associated with increased aggression? And, if this is true, how would this process work?

To collect as much data as possible on this topic, the scientists examined more than 35 research articles on topics such as video games, violence, hostility, and prosocial or helping behaviors. In total, more than 50 independent samples were collected, with more than 4,000 participants.

Results of the investigation

The meta-analysis showed that there seems to be a direct relationship between exposure to violent video games and some factors such as aggressive behaviors, violent thoughts, or aggressive feelings. Although the cause of this relationship is not known, the results seem to indicate that it really exists.

However, due to the limitations of this research method, we cannot affirm that exposure to violent video games is the cause of the increase in the frequency of aggressive behaviors. We know that both elements occur at the same time, but there could be another known as a «strange variable».

A strange variable It is a factor that simultaneously affects the two elements that are to be related in a scientific investigation, and that for various reasons has not been taken into account. The only type of research with which it can be affirmed that there are no extraneous variables is the experimental one.

In this case, it is possible, for example, that children exposed to violent video games play with them because their environment is full of aggression. In this way, they would seek to reproduce what they see around them both by playing this type of game and by behaving aggressively.

Conclusion of the study

The conclusion of the meta-analysis on the relationship between video games and violence seems to prove that this relationship really exists. However, it is necessary to collect more data on the cause of this influence, preferably using the experimental method.

References

“What is analytical research?” in: Reference. Retrieved from reference.com.
“Examples of Studies Using Meta-Analysis” in: Graziano & Raulin. Recovered from graziano-raulin.com.

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