In the experimental method, researchers/ investigators/ experimenters manipulate one variable in the research while also controlling and randomizing the other variables. The experimental method is carried out when the research question or hypothesis are stated then experiments are designed, data are collected, and then analyzed as findings. The aim of the research is to determine whether there is a relationship between the outcome and one or more of the predictors.
Advantages of experimental method
One of the major advantages of the experimental method is that it is possible to establish the cause-effect relationship. As there are dependent and the independent variables (s) the experiment seeks to establish whether there is a link between the outcome and predictors. It is important to determine whether there are confounding variables, which can be manipulated together with the independent variables. They may cause one to make wrong conclusions, and when selecting the variables using randomness reduces the effects of the confounding variables/ confounders. This may include placing variables in the experimental or /and control groups, and it is possible to exercise control over the confounders.
As the researchers can repeat the results numerous times it is possible to determine the validity of the results. The variables that are controlled are manipulated in similar settings and different contexts to evaluate the interaction between the variables. When the results are accurate and there is low or no bias, and this makes it easier to apply results as one can generalize from the experimental findings. Care should be exercised when replicating the results to identify the variables that were used and application of study findings as the results may not apply in certain contexts.
The experimental method focuses on a systematic price and well organized study investigation process where the investigators evaluate the relationship between variables. When the investigators draw conclusions they need to determine that this is not the result of differences between groups. As such, it is possible to simplify the complexity of the relationship when there are various independent variables. The accuracy of the results depends on how experiments are carried out and manipulation of the variables as intended. As the variables are assigned specific conditions in experiments this is valuable when making conclusions on cause and effects.
Disadvantages of experimental method
While there are various advantages of the experimental method since investigators can isolate and control variables there are drawbacks to this approach. One of the disadvantages is the effect of the settings on the results, and the likelihood that the investigator might influence the results. The settings may even be irrelevant to the experiment’s objective. When using human subjects as respondents they may react differently to the laboratory setting. If the experiment is carried out in artificial settings the results are not necessarily replicated. This presents a problem when generalizing the data as the findings may not adhere to external validity when generalizing the research findings to populations and the measurement variable.
Typically, the investigator starts with a hypothesis before carrying out the experiments, and this influences experiment expectancies. The problem with this is that it is possible to influence the study results, and efforts should be made to eliminate the influence of experiment expectancies. For instance, when the investigator does not know the hypothesis, it is less likely that the results will be biased as they have no incentive to manipulate the data to fit the data. Ethical conduct should be adhered to at all times to avoid manipulating the study findings and reporting inaccuracies.
It is not all phenomena that can be studied using the experimental method, and when the controls are weak this affects the accuracy of the results. Careful control of the variables makes the experiment more artificial and the researcher will likely not generalize the results from such situations to make conclusions. It is also not possible to control all the predictors in all experiments, and when the experiments are carried out in real-life situations the researchers may fail to control some of the variables as desired. Even if the variables are controlled the method only focuses on outcomes and the relationship between the variables, and not the reason for the outcome.