Reading: Controlled Experiments. Research Methods

My first observation is simply from the way that the PDF was encoded. The even-numbered pages had been scanned more successfuly than the odd ones. Cut and paste would work on the even pages, while the odd seemer to be images. You have to wonder how that wound up being the case.

More than anything, this seemed to be a recipe of how to perform a controlled experiment. The background of how to treat subjects is presented. Relavent issues such as how confounding variables should be handled are addressed and so forth. Considerable time is spent on discussing the different strengths and weaknesses of between-subject, within subject and mixed approaches are spent. The author spends some time noting that we now call “subjects” “participants” and informs the readers that this is because we live in “enlightened times”. I can’t help but wonder how that will be regarded in 50 years. Or was the author being sarcastic?

As with a good recipe, each element of a solid experiment was walked through. I thought the “Proceedure” and “Analysis” sections (1.2.6 – 1.2.8) were particularly useful.

The “Applying the Method” section showed how the previous section’s information was used in a particular study. This I found to be particularly useful. It’s the equivalent of having a worked problem in a math text. Personally, I’d like to see more of this. A written up (annotated paper?) post mortem of a study would be extremely helpful in informing me how to prepare for the types of problems that are likely to occur in research. I can’t think of a directly applicable journal, but in motion picture special effects there is Cinefex, and in game development Gamasutra with have the occasional post mortem.

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