Example Research Design and Scientific Methods

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Ethically Altering the Emotional State of Users

Executive summary

This is a research design for the purpose of ethically altering the emotional state of users of a social network named XYZ. In this research, the author will apply the qualitative research method for the purpose of getting some useful findings to respond to the chosen topic. An online interview will be held to get some useful answers from 5 users to find the major ways that can be used to ethically alter their emotional states as consumers. The inductive reasoning analysis method will be applied by the author to analyze the data to be collected with the interview method in data analysis. The ethical considerations about personal information of interviewees and the reliability of findings to be reached are all considered in the process of deciding on the research methods for responding to the chosen topic in this research.


Research methods prove to be very important to academic studies and social research practices conducted for people to have a good knowledge of important facts of trends relating to their key concerns (Watari 2015). The appropriateness of the methods used in the research may turn out to be of different outcomes in terms of the impacts on the concerned research targets. In the field of social network industry sector, there is a trend for more and more people, especially young and mid-aged consumers, to be increasingly emphasizing on the effectiveness of affecting the emotional states of their customers, so as to reach more pleasing business performance in meeting the needs of their clients, which are mainly business players that provide their own goods or services to target customers in the marketplace. An important aspect to be taken into consideration is the ethical issues (Adeyemi 2013). With the purpose of reaching objective and practical findings in relevant research practices, researchers are needed to pay sufficient attention to the research methods to be used in their research practices in their processes of trying to reach meaningful and practical, as well as objective findings in responding to their chosen research topic or target. It is because of the fact that lack of ethical considerations in designing and implementing the specific research methods would result in challenges for researchers to reach credible answers while trying to answer corresponding research questions selected in their research practices.

Literature Review

Investigation is one of the most commonly used methods in specific research tasks (Vincent 2006). It is a purposeful, planned and systematic method of collecting materials about the actual or historical situation of the object of study. Investigation method is a basic research method commonly used in the research. It comprehensively uses historical method, observation method, conversation, questionnaire, case study, test and other scientific methods to have a planned, thorough and systematic understanding of educational phenomena, and to analyze, synthesize and compare a large amount of data collected from the investigation (Mcvey 2001). Moreover, induction is encouraged, so as to provide people with regular knowledge. Questionnaire survey is the most commonly used method in the survey. It is a method of collecting data by means of asking questions in writing. The investigators compile a form for the survey items, distribute or mail them to the relevant personnel, ask for answers, and then collect, sort out, statistics and research.

Observation method

Observation refers to the direct observation of the subject by the researcher with his own senses and auxiliary tools according to a certain research purpose, research outline or observation table (Birley and Moreland 2008). Scientific observation is purposeful, planned, systematic and repeatable. In scientific experiments and investigations, observation has the following functions: first is expanding people’s perceptual knowledge. Second is to inspire people’s thinking. Third is to lead to new discoveries.

Experimental method

The experimental method is a scientific research method to discover and confirm the causal relationship between things by changing the main branch and controlling the research object (Mulie 2012). Its main characteristics are: first, initiative transformation. Observation and investigation are to understand the object of study without interfering with the premise of the object, and find out the problems. However, experiments require active manipulation of experimental conditions, artificially changing the object’s mode of existence, change process, and make it subject to the needs of scientific knowledge. Second is about control. Scientific experiments require that, according to the needs of research and with the help of various methods and techniques, the interference of various unrelated factors that may affect science should be reduced or eliminated, and the object of study should be recognized in the state of simplification and purification. Third is causality. Experiments are effective tools and necessary ways to discover and identify causal links between objects.

Content analysis method

Content analysis is a research method which mainly takes all kinds of literature as the research object (Daros and Onwuegbuzie 2009). The early content analysis method originated from the quantitative analysis of historical literature content by social sciences borrowing natural science research methods. In educational science research, content analysis is not only a main method of literature analysis, but also an independent and complete scientific research method. Determine their similarities and differences, classify things, and compare the various aspects of the internal contradictions of each thing, get the internal relations of things, so as to recognize the nature of things. The types of comparative research methods because comparison is a multi-level and multi-form cognitive activity, there are many types. Many scholars generally divide the comparative study into the following three categories: A longitudinal comparative study and a horizontal comparative study. This is divided according to the historical development of the comparative objects and their interrelation. First is longitudinal comparison. Longitudinal comparison is a comparison of the historical form of the same thing.

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The philosophical problem involved in the combination of theory and practice is the relationship between theory and practice (Savall and Zardet 2014). The theory originates from practice and can react to practice. Practice is the main thing. Theory depends on practice and ultimately must be tested by practice. The content of theoretical research also originates from practice. There must be practical content and no reality. Content research is of no value. There is a point of view that academic research should be “on top of the heaven and the earth”, that is, on top of the heaven is theoretical research, and that on the ground is practical research. Therefore, some people do top-heaven research and others do site research. This view should be justifiable based on the theory of social division of labour, but if the relationship between the two is split, it is wrong, because neither top-heaven nor site can be separated from reality, without reality, without practice, it must be indispensable. What a sad thing it is to be able to work out valuable content and be sure to walk into the rubbish heap of history and watch your research work become rubbish. In fact, doing such research is not as meaningful as having tea and chatting with friends.

Scientific and technological (academic) papers, after expert appraisal and/or publication, become the carrier of human knowledge – literature (Collins and Onwuegbuzie 2001). A piece of literature is like a source of knowledge, and finally it can be merged into the ocean of knowledge to benefit mankind. As a carrier of human knowledge, the paper must meet the following requirements.

1. Scientific requires that the purpose of scientific research is to reveal the objective law of things’ development, to seek the objective truth, and to enable people to understand the truth objectively. Scientific papers reflecting the achievements of scientific research must, according to the general task of scientific research, make a thorough study of the research objects and objectively reveal their internal laws. Therefore, the author of the paper should first have a scientific, responsible and rigorous attitude, realistic, accurate data, profound analysis, reliable conclusion. Never be deceit, subjective or personal.

2. Innovation is the lifeline of scientific research and the soul of scientific papers. Only second of the competitions in scientific research are the first. It requires that the phenomena, attributes, characteristics and laws of motion of things revealed in the article, or that the application of these laws must be unprecedented, original or partly original. The requirement for the innovation of master’s thesis is relatively low, which can be new insights, new methods, new local or stage results, including new improvements to existing results (Habib et al. 2014). Most of the research done by postgraduates can only be localized and phased. Therefore, graduate students must have a comprehensive understanding of the origin and development of the subject, firmly grasp the research innovation to write papers, cannot imitate or repeat the existing research. The Editorial Department of our university’s journal once notified a postgraduate paper to be rejected. The author was puzzled and said, “The paper is written in imitation of the papers published in foreign journals. If someone else can publish such articles, why can’t I?” This may be a typical example of not paying attention to innovative requirements and repeated research.

3. Logicality requires that it should be well-founded, rigorous in thinking, clear in context, rigorous in structure, reasonable in inference, and self-contained. Simply speaking, academic papers are a communication platform for putting facts, reasoning and convincing people. They should fully display and scientifically organize materials, draw conclusions through scientific analysis and logical reasoning, and raise them to the height of academic theory.

4. Other requirements are repeatable and effective for scientific papers. The so-called reproducibility means that readers can implement the same research steps according to the methods and materials provided by the paper and reproduce the results of the paper (Mulie 2012). The result should have theoretical value and / or practical value. In order to satisfy the requirement that literature can provide communication and learning, papers must be readable and standardized. (3)

The evaluation index of academic papers must be evaluated by experts. Therefore, it is instructive to understand the evaluation index of academic papers for conceiving and writing papers.

1. The evaluation indexes of academic journals are slightly different for different journals, but the main spirit is basically the same. For example, the evaluation indexes adopted by the some journals of Science and Technology are as follows: the significance of selecting a topic (each index has four grades of an excellent, B good, C and D worse); innovation; advancement; correctness; readability. Generally speaking, each evaluation index of the paper in the review should not be lower than grade C, otherwise it is difficult to pass the review.

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2. According to the “Zhejiang Province Master’s Degree Dissertation Review Form”, the evaluation index of Master’s Degree Dissertation is set as five first-class indicators: topic selection and review (25%), basic theory and expertise (20%), research and design ability (10%), innovation (35%) and writing ability (10%). It can be seen that the above two evaluation systems are slightly different, journal papers focus on the evaluation of research results, and dissertations not only attach importance to the results, but also examine the research process and the author’s knowledge and ability.

However, they all pay more attention to the requirements of innovation.

The general methods and essentials of academic paper writing. The importance of topic selection is not to be explained. Most of the research topics of graduate students are chosen by tutors, but some students themselves choose them. Selection of specific topics is a very complex academic issue, which can only emphasize some principled issues: a) Selection of topics is best to choose their own strengths or familiar areas; b) In the case of graduate students, the selection of topics should be small, not large, which is conducive to a thorough and detailed study of a problem; It should not be too broad to avoid confronting complex problems, such as trying not to choose such comprehensive and strong topics as “strategic research” and “countermeasure research”; d) choosing topics should not be so remote that few references are available for reference, which results in a situation where there is no way to start at the beginning. e) In addition to the significance of topic selection, it is better for graduate students to choose new perspectives and apply new methods to study their subjects, so as to achieve twice the result with half the effort.

Paradigm and Methodology

Seen from the concept of research onion, there are such research philosophies as positivism, interpretivism and realism (Watari 2015). Positivism is about responding to the chosen topic or research target by way of using some reality facts or data revealing facts or trends; interpretivism is about making understandable explanations to the target audiences by explaining the meanings of the sentences or expressions of the collected materials in research practices, while realism mainly relates to the perspective of studying the research target by way of looking into the cultural aspects. It is important for researchers to find out the most suitable philosophy in the process of designing the specific research methods for approaching the chosen research target or research objectives. In this research, the author plans to apply the interpretivism research philosophy because the data to be collected and analyzed in reality research practices to be done will involve a variety of expressions to be given by relevant respondents who can be expected to provide useful messages in finishing this research about altering the users of the social media, namely XYZ. The findings thus to be reached will turn out to be more objective and reliable in a sense.

When it comes to the aspect of research methods, there are two types of methods, including the qualitative methods and the quantitative methods (Vincent 2006). The qualitative methods are used to gather some descriptive data or messages for explaining important facts about nature or quality of the research targets, while the quantitative research methods are used to focus on the analysis of the numerical relationships between important variables that are regarded to be with important impacts on the findings expected to be reached in reality research processes. The findings reached with the qualitative methods tend to be more valid because of the emphasis laid on the effectiveness of directly responding to the research question and topic, while the findings reached with the quantitative methods are likely to be more objective because of the application of the statistical methods used in calculating relevant relationships between involved variables. The qualitative method will be used in this research because it can be used to find out the nature of the problems and trends for the users of the social media in showing their comments on the goods and suppliers of the goods available online.

Sampling, data gathering methods, data analysis

There are such main types of sampling methods as proportionate sampling and non-proportionate sampling methods (Birley and Moreland 2008). Each type of sampling methods tends to be useful under specific research contexts. For example, proportionate sampling methods tend to be more reliable and useful when they are used to take samples among a specific number of research targets who are assumed to be able to provide reliable and useful data or messages needed in completing the research task undertaken by the researcher in a specific research project. However, the non-proportionate sampling method tends to be more reliable when the number of the research targets is found to be uncertain or it is difficult for the researcher to take a certain portion of the excessively large number of research targets taken into consideration in their research processes. To be specific, 5 respondents will be chosen at random from research targets in the sampling process because of the limited time and consideration of efforts needed in this study.

In this research project, the author plans to apply the data gathering method of holding a series of interviews. The interviewees will be selected among users of the chosen social media, namely XYZ. They will be required to answer 5 questions that are closely related to different aspects of the issue about showing their comments as consumers and users of the social media in their purchasing and consumption practices. Their answers thus gathered will be analyzed with the content analysis method, especially the inductive reasoning analysis method, so as to find out some practical answers in answering to the research purpose, namely the ways of altering the emotional states of the users of XYZ, without committing ethical problems. The inductive reasoning analysis method is used to evaluate the contents of gathered research data by way of assessing the implications and meanings of the expressions and data gathered from varying perspectives closely relating to the chosen topic.

Validity, Reliability, Credibility, Trustworthiness

The validity of the research will be ensured by way of directly responding to the research topic selected for this research, namely to find out the major possible ways that can be used to alter the emotional states of the users on the basis of avoiding unethical mistakes in reality research practices thus conducted. The reliability of the research will be ensured by way of ensuring that the chosen research respondents, namely the interviewees taking part in the data collection task will be qualified. To be concrete, they are required to be aged above 18 and should have some experiences of using the social media in their consumption practices. As for the aspect of credibility, that will be ensured by way of properly keeping the data to be gained from the research task. In addition to that, the trustworthiness will be improved in this research by way of introducing and applying a variety of influential theoretical concepts and research findings reached by some authoritative researchers and authors who have conducted involved studies into concerned fields relating to this research topic. A major limitation of this research is the small sample size taken in the interview conducted for reaching meaningful and practical findings in responding to the chosen topic. Only several interviewees will be invited to answer the questions set for them, which will result in barriers for sufficiently generalized findings to be reached in a sense.

Ethical consideration

To avoid being perceived as being unethical, the author will ensure that the consents of all research respondents taking part in this research will be got in advance. In addition, the personal information, such as their names, addresses and jobs, will not be recorded or displayed in the research reports to be created for this research project, so as to avoid negative impacts on them. What is more, the data will be properly stored in the personal computer of the author during the research and will be omitted within two months after the research project comes to an end.


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