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Trouble Finding Trustworthy Reference Materials?

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Finding Reference Materials You Can Trust

These days it seems that there is more information available than ever before.  Even so, finding information that is both timely and accurate remains as big a challenge as it ever was.  Finding reference materials that can be trusted is often a daunting task, especially if the subject under review is an unusual one.  While online dictionaries and encyclopedias can provide a good starting point, the information provided there is sometimes suspect.  Researchers will often have to turn to other reference materials in order to get the complete story.

Understanding Your Reference Options

It is important for those researching a particular subject to understand and take advantage of all the reference materials at their disposal.  Some good ideas for uncovering the most useful reference materials include:

  • The local library – even in the age of the internet, the local library still has an important role to play when it comes to reference materials.  Libraries often have access to proprietary libraries of reference materials, just waiting to be tapped by eager researchers.
  • Workers in the field – for many subjects there is no better reference point than the people who work in the field every day.  From science to government, tapping the knowledge of the worker in the field is a great way to gather accurate and up to date information.
  • Trade magazines – there are trade magazines and other publications devoted to every imaginable industry, and reading those trade magazines is a great way to get a feel for what is really happening on the ground.  These trade magazines make excellent reference materials for anyone with an interest in a particular industry.

The Importance of In Depth Research

While a quick overview of a given industry or subject may be fine for some uses, it is important for researchers to understand the importance of in depth knowledge.  Having an in depth understanding of the latest trends in a particular field can allow researchers to read between the lines in order to determine what is really happening.  Having a thorough knowledge of a particular industry can also allow those on the outside to understand what is really being said.  This knowledge will be important in many different ways, from financial issues to industry specific problems.

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Five Ways That Technology Has Affected Psychological Research

Information technology has played a large role in enhancing research efforts in science of the mind and behavior. Technology has influenced the discipline not only in how research studies are carried out and analyzed, but also in the actual phenomena that psychologists can investigate. Here are five ways that technology has affected psychological research. 

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The people studied 

Psychological research has historically been strongly biased towards the study of psychology students, because they are convenient for research to find and you can basically force them to do it as a compulsory course requirement. Although this bias towards students still exists, it is assuaged somewhat by the ability to use the internet and mobile apps to reach broader samples of people. 

Lower Costs 

The primary research method in psychology is the self-report questionnaire, which typically involves asking participants to rate certain statements on a numerical scale. Although this method has its critics, one advantage is that is can easily be conducted and analyzed online. Where pen and paper surveys once ruled, computers have taken over. This has reduced the cost of surveying dramatically. 

Easier and more complex analysis 

There was a time when psychologists conducted statistical analyses essentially by hand, with the help of whatever rudimentary calculators were available at the time. Software such as SPSS means that people who are “not good with numbers” are no less able to work as psychological researchers, and greatly reduces the time that researchers spend analyzing their data. 

New measurement tools 

Incredibly accurate research on things like reaction times can now be conducted using specialized computer packages. Mobile technology, using a technique called the experience sampling method, allows psychologists to ask people questions as they go about daily lives. But perhaps the largest shift in measurement has come from neuroscience, where brain-imaging technology has drastically enhanced the understanding of the brain. 

Researching technology 

Technology, and people’s relation to it, is a research topic in itself. For example, some studies are looking into how social groups behave online compared to real-life groups. Others are looking into how internet use affects people, such as the link between social media use and anxiety, or how the internet is impacting people’s ability to concentrate. It’s easy to entice people who spend a lot of time online to participate in studies by offering them discount codes for services they tend to use such as, or a product that they might want such as an MP3 player (for top picks you can see the list here).

The Future 

Advances in neuroscience mean that at some point in your lifetime, researchers will be able to monitor people’s thoughts, and display what they are thinking or dreaming on a computer monitor. Other researchers are theorizing that brain implants could be used to treat certain neurological conditions, enhance certain mental functions, or enable several people with these implants to communicate telepathically perhaps for use in the military. 

More and more, technological advancements are being brought into psychological research, and this trend will continue. The future of this marriage may seem like science fiction, but it is coming. Psychology and technology are now locked onto the same path.