What is bias in research
A bias in research can be defined as an unfair and prejudiced interest or selection of one idea, solution, outcome, or person and group over the other. In bias the reason for the selection of a particular group or idea is not based on reason, logic, assumption, or judgement. The biased selection is always based on some human prejudice towards one group that makes the researcher feel less encouraged to select it.
The aim of the research is to reveal the truth any deviation from truth is bias. Introducing intentional bias is immoral, unethical, and against the scientific standards. Bias, however, can be introduced unintentionally in the research. Unintentional bias is equally illegal, unethical, and immoral. Therefore whether intentional or unintentional bias could not be justified in the research. The researcher should be well aware of the chances of bias and how to avoid them.
There are three reasons why you should know well what is bias or prejudice in the research.
- First reason is that bias/prejudice can exist in any form during any stage of the research. Some researcher think that prejudice can occur only in the data collection or data analysis stage of the research. Prejudice can occur at any stage of the research, therefore, it is important to know what is bias.
- It is very difficult to eliminate prejudice in research. You should be well aware of the kind of biases you can introduce in your research. This is the only way to be able to eliminate any chances of bias.
- Prejudices can make a research invalid and unreliable. The aim of every research is to benefit the society, a prejudiced research will yield false results. False claims can only harm rather than providing any benefit to available knowledge and society.
Bias is present in any type of study. The researcher should be able to outline all kind of biases that could be introduce dint he research in advance. This will help the researcher understand what, and where to avoid bias. This also helps the researcher plan how to avoid bias. An understanding of the type of biases make the researcher cautious in taking any decisions regarding the research. The researcher can seek help from research advisor, research committee, or the funding committee to check for suggestions in avoiding any risk of bias. When the research is submitted for publication the editor and publishers of the journals also have the responsibility to check for any bias in the study. Minor biases can be reported to the researcher to correct. In case, the editor finds major bias in the research the researcher should be notified and the research study should be rejected for publication.
The type of biases in quantitative research are different form the type of biases one can have in the qualitative research. Quantitative research uses objectivity to reduce bias while qualitative research use accuracy and precision to achieve a valid reliable study.
Avoiding bias in quantitative research
There are different research methodologies in the quantitative research and each of them have their own challenges. The researcher should know how to be able to go through those challenges without introducing any prejudice in the research.
A quantitative research seek help from statistical tools to check the validity and reliability of the research. Quantitative research can check the validity and reliability by the application of test and measures that are designed to check the authenticity of the research. There are several statistical tests like t-test, chi square, z-test, and ANOVA. Each of these tests have different uses and help in checking the validity of the quantitative research.
There are other ways like the sample size itself is a very good determining factor in maintaining the reliability and validity of the research. The researcher should know what should be the ideal sample size that can help in getting authentic results.
The random selection of the sample is also a good way to avoid bias in research. Randomization ensures that every element in the population has an equal and fair chances of representation in the sample. If an element in the sample leaves the study and the researcher selects another one that should also be selected randomly not by judgement or convenience.
The aim of the research should not be the acceptance of the hypothesis. When the researcher is determined to get the hypothesis accepted, the researcher uses biased and prejudiced means to achieve the goal. The aim of the research is to present the facts that are present that should be explored.
Avoiding bias in qualitative research
In qualitative research the researcher cannot use statistical techniques to prove the validity and reliability of the research. The researcher although can use other ways to prove that no bias has been introduce din the research. The methodologies and the approach to research is different in quantitative and qualitative research. The means used to avoid bias are also different in qualitative research.
Qualitative researcher should understand that the methods employed in the research should have integrity and the researcher should be bale to prove it. There should have to be precision that could prove the accuracy of the qualitative research. The analysis of the data should be done without any personal elements involved this will make the qualitative research reliable.
In qualitative research the researcher usually selects sample using non-random sample selection methods. The non-random selection methods like judgmental and purposive samples can be justified in qualitative research. The aim of the qualitative research is generalization within the small population that is studied and not any other population that exist anywhere else. To avoid chances of bias in sample selection the researcher should make sure that other methods of data enhancement are used.
Qualitative studies are more criticized for the presence of bias than quantitative research. The researcher should be able to present the audience the rigor and control methods used to make the research free of bias. There are many tools that qualitative researcher use to make sure bias has been avoided, some of them are as follows: triangulation, corroboration, peer review, respondent validation, persistent observation, and prolonged involvement. These are only few but there are many more that the researcher can utilize to enhance the results and get rid of bias in research.
In general, the researcher whether a qualitative or quantitative has a responsibility to report and prove that the research is free of bias. No research is free of chances of bias but it is the duty of the researcher to ensure that bias has been avoided throughout the research.
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