Friday 24 February 2017

What is Correlational Research?

What is Correlational Research?
Correlational Research
Correlational Research is a non-experimental research method. In this research method, there is no manipulation of an independent variable. 

In correlational research, the researcher studies the relationship between one or more quantitative independent variables and one or more quantitative dependent variables; that is, in correlational research, the independent and dependent variables are quantitative.
It is important to stress that correlations refer to measures of association and do not necessarily indicate causal relationships between variables.

Mouly puts it like this: “The correlation simply implies concomitance; it is not synonymous with causation. It may suggest causation in the same sense that the variables involved are part of a cause and effect system, but the nature of the system and the direction in which the components operate is not specified in the correlation. The two variables are not necessarily (or perhaps even commonly) the cause and effect of each other. The correlation between X and Y is often nothing more than the reflection of the operation of a third factor.”

When correlational research is appropriate:

Correlational research is appropriate in the following two instances:

First, it is appropriate when there is need to discover or clarify relationships and where correlation coefficients will achieve these ends. It is especially useful in this connection in the initial stages of a project where a certain amount of basic groundwork has to be covered to get some idea of the structure of relationships. In this way, it gets at degrees of relationships which may become a source of hypotheses and further research.

The correlational approach is also valuable when variables are complex and do not lend themselves therefore to the experimental method and controlled manipulation. It also permits the measurement of several variables and their relationships simultaneously in realistic settings.

Second, correlational research is appropriate where objective, or one of a set of objectives, is to achieve some degree of prediction. (prediction studies are appropriate where a firm basis of previous knowledge is present, the assumption being that at least some of the factors will relate to the behavior to be predicted).

Advantages of Correlational Research:

Correlational research is particularly useful in tackling the problems of education and social sciences because it allows for the measurement of a number of variables and their relationships simultaneously.

The experimental approach, by contrast, is characterized by the manipulation of a single variable and is thus appropriate for dealing with problems where simple causal relationship exist.
In educational and behavioral research, it is invariably the case that a number of variables contribute to a particular outcome. Experimental research thus introduces a note of unreality into research, whereas correlational approaches, while less rigorous, allow for the study of behavior in more realistic settings.
Correlational research yields information concerning the degree of relationship between the variables being studied. It thus provides the researcher with insights into the way variables operate that cannot be gained by other means.

Limitations of Correlational Research:

Correlational research only identifies what goes with what—it only implies concomitance and therefore does not necessarily establish cause-and-effect relationships.

It is less rigorous than the experimental approach because it exercises less control over the independent variables. It is prone to identify spurious relation patterns. It adopts an atomistic approach.