Before running your first research study, there are a few things you should keep in mind for making your life a lot easier. Many researchers run into difficulties during their experiments due to poor planning. This may be attributed to poor time management, unclear communication among team members or follow through with research partners, or even issues during data collection due to having never pre-tested the setup. The following checklist can prevent major issues once your study is up and running.
1. Cost: The first thing to keep in mind is always cost. Be aware of how much funding you might need and how much you have. Plan on applying for funding far in advance to make sure you have it at the time you need it.
2. Location: The second most important point is location. Know where you want to ultimately run your study. Find a space that has ample room for both the equipment and respondents, that is both easily accessible and quiet. It is best to keep unnecessary noise outside, so it is best to ensure the room has no other purpose other than to house your experiment.
3. Research Question: Once you have acquired ample startup funding and set up a location to run your studies, then its time to start operationalizing your research questions to determine proper methods and data collection techniques. What specific metrics do you want to get? Is it within reason to buy all equipment and software upfront? Most people buy their ideal lab setup with a start up fund and then learn as they go.
4. Manpower: Manpower is a very important factor to consider before starting a study. Who is going to help you set up the study and who is actually running it? To run a research project smoothly, it is important to have reliable team members that can help you conduct the study and also identify potential confounds when executing the experiment. It is also imperative to know beforehand how much data output there will be, and who can analyze the data. If at all possible, it is best to assign a specific person or several people to data analysis.
5. Piloting: It is also important to set aside time for pilot testing and to include all staff involved in the project to ensure that they are both competent in running the experiment and that they work well as a team. Scheduling can save a lot of pain. Indeed, piloting a study before starting with the actual data collection is a useful way to check if things are running properly. This also allows you to make sure that you are not wasting any time and resources on data that is not useful. Test a couple of sample subjects to have a somewhat objective sample and look at the output data. This will allow experimenters and those involved in data analysis to understand what they are working with. While this is necessary, it is also important not to spend too much time on the pilot testing phase – you want to use this time to check that data collection and analysis are being conducted correctly and efficiently. Generally, you should do pilot tests until you have a few subjects run through the study smoothly without any errors and the data quality is sufficient. In some cases, pilot tests can also give you valuable pretest data.
If you need further tips and tricks for running your study in the best possible way, please contact the team at iMotions. We would all be happy to assist you!