In the field of research, there are endless possibilities for experiments, all involving unique tools to carry out the work involved to answer the questions. The many requirements of a researcher make it hard for everyone to know every tool available, especially as technology advances at such an exponential rate.
Although every scope of science is different from the next, one thing they all have in common is the need for research instruments to help carry out the experiments to search for knowledge expansion. Tools, equipment, software, and intellectual property are crucial components of every scientist’s daily life. Each of these pieces plays an integral role in filling in the missing gaps and puzzle pieces of solving answers, and research instruments have an essential role above all the rest. Understanding what a research instrument is and what’s available to you helps you as a scholar make informed decisions and keep records that track the usage of the tools so other researchers can emulate your work.
What is the Definition of “Research Instrument”?
It might seem like calling one tool a research instrument and another something else wouldn’t be a big deal, but as a scholar, it can mean the difference between obtaining funding and losing it. When you list the instruments you will be using in your experiment, it must look like you know what you’re doing. Putting one tool in the wrong category is a mistake that can be costly.
The term “research instrument” refers to any tool that is used by a scientist to obtain, measure, and analyze data. The data is sourced from subjects included in the research experiment and focused on the topic.
The instruments used have various roles. There are different tools that help you conduct quantitative, qualitative, and mixed studies. How you choose the instrument depends on what type of study you’re performing. However, whatever you use has to be described in the Methods section of your research paper. The more thoroughly you explain it, especially if you have created your own instrument, as in a survey, the better likelihood that someone else can repeat your study for authenticity.
In some cases, you may have to request permission to use the instrument, and this should be acknowledged in your paper so other scholars know they’ll have to do the same.
Characteristics of Solid Research Instruments
Whatever equipment you choose to use in your work, it must have consistent characteristics that can stand up under intense scrutiny. Should your final outcome end up having significant impactful consequences, you don’t want the choice of instrument you used to send the whole experiment falling down.
Keep these tips in mind as you determine the research instruments that will get you through your experiment:
- They must be valid and reliable (the same results occur repetitively).
- Use instruments that use a conceptual framework to do the job.
- The tools have to be able to gather the data that pertains to the research topic and they should help you to test the hypothesis or answer the research questions being investigated.
- Ensure all tools withstand scrutiny of bias and are appropriate in the context in which you are using them. Try to include tools that reflect the culture and diversity impacted by the research.
- In your methodology section, include clear, concise directions on how to use any uncommon instruments or instruments that are predominantly used in your field of study.
Choosing the right instrument makes the work easier. Choosing the wrong one, though, can be damaging to the whole project.