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What is a Research Instrument?

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What is a Research Instrument?

The term research instrument refers to any tool that you may use to collect or obtain data, measure data and analyse data that is relevant to the subject of your research.

Research instruments are often used in the fields of social sciences and health sciences. These tools can also be found within education that relates to patients, staff, teachers and students.

The format of a research instrument may consist of questionnaires, surveys, interviews, checklists or simple tests. The choice of which specific research instrument tool to use will be decided on the by the researcher. It will also be strongly related to the actual methods that will be used in the specific study.

What Makes a Good Research Instrument?

A good research instrument is one that has been validated and has proven reliability. It should be one that can collect data in a way that’s appropriate to the research question being asked.

The research instrument must be able to assist in answering the research aims, objectives and research questions, as well as prove or disprove the hypothesis of the study.

It should not have any bias in the way that data is collect and it should be clear as to how the research instrument should be used appropriately.

What are the Different Types of Interview Research Instruments?

The general format of an interview is where the interviewer asks the interviewee to answer a set of questions which are normally asked and answered verbally. There are several different types of interview research instruments that may exist.

  1. A structural interview may be used in which there are a specific number of questions that are formally asked of the interviewee and their responses recorded using a systematic and standard methodology.
  2. An unstructured interview on the other hand may still be based on the same general theme of questions but here the person asking the questions (the interviewer) may change the order the questions are asked in and the specific way in which they’re asked.
  3. A focus interview is one in which the interviewer will adapt their line or content of questioning based on the responses from the interviewee.
  4. A focus group interview is one in which a group of volunteers or interviewees are asked questions to understand their opinion or thoughts on a specific subject.
  5. A non-directive interview is one in which there are no specific questions agreed upon but instead the format is open-ended and more reactionary in the discussion between interviewer and interviewee.

What are the Different Types of Observation Research Instruments?

An observation research instrument is one in which a researcher makes observations and records of the behaviour of individuals. There are several different types.

Structured observations occur when the study is performed at a predetermined location and time, in which the volunteers or study participants are observed used standardised methods.

Naturalistic observations are focused on volunteers or participants being in more natural environments in which their reactions and behaviour are also more natural or spontaneous.

A participant observation occurs when the person conducting the research actively becomes part of the group of volunteers or participants that he or she is researching.

Final Comments

The types of research instruments will depend on the format of the research study being performed: qualitative, quantitative or a mixed methodology. You may for example utilise questionnaires when a study is more qualitative or use a scoring scale in more quantitative studies.

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