As researchers, certainly one of the biggest fails that we aim to avoid, is to present findings that are unfair, partial or influenced by the wrong input or factors.
However, when we aren’t mindful of conducting research from a neutral standpoint, it can be easy to fall into that trap of getting results that aren’t 100% authentic.
So, what exactly would be construed as bias?
Simply put, it is when a researcher heavily influences the results of a study in favour of a particular outcome. This can include picking research respondents that would give the desired answers for a study, or if research tools are merely picked for convenience and not for valid outcomes,
Let’s take a look at some of the scenarios where bias could slip in.
Face to face research can often be influenced by bias, and when respondents simply agree with certain questions as they perceive it as fact or simply as a case of agreement, results can be skewed in favour of the interviewers own possible perception of the research topic.
Also, if a researcher is posing leading questions where those being interviewed will likely be inspired to agree with a statement, the research could prove to not be based on facts.
Bias is, however, not just limited to off-line interviews. Using limited number of sources of information could mean that findings are based on only selected data with limited scope.
Considering all these factors, how can one ensure that bias is eradicated when undertaking research?
Here are some tips to keep in mind.
First and foremost, take stock of the research questions that you are posing in off-line data gathering. Is there room for your respondents to voice their own opinions, and not merely just reflect your own?
Second, remain neutral when approaching your research subject. Gather and summarise as many sources as possible, and review your findings consistently to ensure you have enough information to validate your research points.
Be mindful of the research methods that you use as well: do not simply follow a quantitative or qualitative route simply for the convenience thereof!
Lastly, make relevant information source part of your scope of work. To successfully ensure this, you need to be clear not just on your research topic, but also the goals of your findings and which questions you need to answer to ensure your research has been successful.
Keep your research guides towards true, unbiased findings, and make having a neutral approach to gathering information part of the process. When you take yourself out of the occasion and focus on concrete evidence and facts, you are sure to achieve a true picture of the answer that your research has to answer.
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