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EDU 508 Educational Research Methods : Examining Research Bias

This guide is designed to support Soka EDU MA students in their EDU 508 coursework.

Qualitative Research Tasks: Identifying Forms of Research Bias

All research is affected by bias, and different terms are used to describe the kinds of skew that can affect the whole research project process: before, during, and after.  

It is important for researchers to be aware of these common forms of bias--which includes the researchers' own assumptions and perspectives--for many reasons.  A researcher would need to make any assumptions on which a research project is based explicit during the project and in the subsequent write-up.  Steps need to be taken to control for bias when possible, and the researcher will want to determine how the bias potentially limits the conclusions that can be drawn from the project's results.   

Here are just some of the terms used to describe various facets of this phenomenon:

  • Expectancy Effect
  • Experimenter Bias
  • Response Bias
  • Volunteer Bias
  • Observer Effect
  • Observer Influence
  • Observer Paradox

The types of research philosophies and approaches that inform a given research project, such as the positivist or interpretivist approaches, are also sources of research bias that need to be taken into account.

As you have probably guessed from the number and variation of terms and qualitative research approaches above, it might take a bit of digging and playing around with search terms to find more information on a specific aspect of research bias.  One good resource to begin with is a topical encyclopedia.  Each article will explain more about the term's use and context, and you will often be pointed to related terms or articles that might help you find more relevant search terms for your own research project. You will find encyclopedias on education research in the box below.

Discussions of ethics in research often also address this topic, so don't forget to check out the articles on "Ethics in Research" as well. 

Encyclopedias

Some encyclopedias at Ikeda Library that have pertinent information on qualitative research approaches include: 

External Resources: Research Types & Approaches

Below are some external websites with information about research types and approaches, and pages on what can affect their validity.  These have been included to provide you more perspectives and formats on this information, as well as to give you starting points to take your knowledge further in interdisciplinary and real-world contexts.