Scientific advances, especially those made during the last two decades, are now sufficient for us to address in a coherent manner the questions of where we came from and what we are. To do so, however, we need answers to two even more fundamental questions the query has raised. The first is why advanced social life exists at all, and has occurred so rarely in the history of life. The second is the identity of the driving forces that brought it into existence.
— Edward O. Wilson, The Social Conquest of Earth

Psychosocial Research: (for psychology) the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions. (Oxford)

Critical and exhaustive investigation or experimentation, having for its aim the discovery of new facts and their correct interpretation, the revision of accepted conclusions, theories, or laws in the light of newly discovered facts, or the practical application of such new or revised conclusions, theories, or laws. (MeSH) The German physician, philosopher, and psychologist William Wundt is often called the father of “experimental psychology” because he set up the world's first formal laboratory of experimental psychology in Leipzig University, Germany, in 1879. (Collin, 34-35)


Applied Research: research with an intended application as a goal. (Norman, 5/26/09) Research directed toward solving a specific problem. (NCIt)

Basic Research: research intended to expand what is known. No immediate application. Theoretical. (Norman, 5/26/09) Fundamental research designed to obtain or increase general scientific knowledge. (NCIt) Also referred to as 'research.'

Case Study: an intensive study of a single individual or small group of individuals. (Hockenbury, 21) A detailed report of the diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up of an individual patient. Case reports also contain some demographic information about the patient (for example, age, gender, ethnic origin). (NCIt) Clinical presentations that may be followed by evaluative studies that eventually lead to a diagnosis. (MeSH)

Criterion: a principle, standard, or test by which a thing is judged, assessed, or identified. (Oxford)

Discovery Science: the collection and analysis of data without the need for a preconceived “hypothesis.” (Brooker, 15) The collection and/or analysis of data with the objective of identifying patterns or correlations that may lead to hypothesis formation. (NCIt) A process that searches for hidden and important connections among information embedded in published literature. (MeSH) Also referred to as ‘discovery-based science.'

Empirical Research: derived from experiment and observation rather than theory. (NCIt) (Uncovering) evidence that is based upon objective observation, measurement, and/or experimentation. (Hockenbury, 15) The study, based on direct observation, use of statistical records, interviews, or experimental methods, of actual practices or the actual impact of practices or policies. (MeSH)

Experience: the accumulation of knowledge or skill that results from direct participation in events or activities. (NCIt) The action of putting to the test, trial. Actual observation of or practical acquaintance with facts or events. The state of having been occupied in any branch or study or affairs. Knowledge resulting from actual observation or practical acquaintance, or from what one has undergone. The events that have taken place within the knowledge of an individual, a community, the human race, etc. (Oxford) While our brains change in normal aging the process is not all downhill, because there are abilities that we gain with experience that offset some of the loses. (Campbell, BSP17)

Experiment: a coordinated set of actions and observations designed to generate data, with the ultimate goal of discovery or hypothesis testing. (NCIt) Involves the manipulation of an “independent variable” in order to see its effect on a “dependent variable.” (Cardwell, 97)

Fact: truth, reality. A thing known for certain to have occurred or to be true. A thing assumed or alleged as a basis for inference. (Oxford)

Hypothetical Construct: something that cannot be measured directly, and whose existence must be inferred. (Cardwell, 20)

Indicator: a thing that serves to give an indication or suggestion (of something else). (Oxford) An event, entity or condition that typically characterizes a prescribed environment or situation and determines or aids in determining whether certain stated circumstances exist or criteria are satisfied. (NCIt)

Law: hypothesis supported beyond any doubt. Never disproved. (Norman, 5/26/09)

Meta-Analysis: a statistical technique that involves combining and analyzing the results of many research studies on a specific topic in order to identify overall trends. (Hockenbury, 17) Involves pooling the results of several studies into a single analysis, essentially creating one large study that can reveal overall trends in the data. (Hockenbury, 569)

Phenomenon: any state or process known through the senses rather than by intuition or reasoning. (NCIt) A fact or event that appears, or is perceived by one of the senses, or by the mind; especially one whose cause or explanation is in question. A very notable, extraordinary, or exceptional fact or occurrence. (Oxford) Plural - ‘phenomenon.’

Portfolio: a compilation of works, records, and accomplishments. (Johnson, 15)

Procedure: a particular mode or course of action. A set of instructions for performing a specific task. (Oxford) Any stepwise set of actions. (NCIt)

Proposition: a statement, an assertion; the making of a statement about something. (Oxford)

Reflective Journaling: thinking reflectively about, and then writing down, what is learned. (Johnson, 19)

Report: an account given or opinion expressed on some particular matter, especially after investigation or consideration. A more or less detailed description of any event, proceeding, meeting, etc., especially one intended for publication or broadcasting. (Oxford) The presentation of information gathered about a particular topic. (Cordray, 7)  A writing that results from gathering, investigating, and organizing facts and thoughts on a topic. (Writers Inc, 134) Editor's note - includes summaries and abstracts.

Research Paper: (written document) defending a “thesis” about a particular topic, supporting it with the credible opinions and research of experts in a particular field. (Cordray, 7) 

Research Quality: the action or instance of searching carefully for a specified thing. (Oxford) Editor's note - applies to the term “research."

Predictive: having the quality of predicting something. (Oxford) An expression of the likelihood that a given test result correlates with the presence or absence of disease. (NCIt) In screening and “diagnostic” tests, the probability that a person with a positive test is a true positive (i.e., has the disease), is referred to as the predictive value of a positive test; whereas, the predictive value of a negative test is the probability that the person with a negative test does not have the disease. Predictive value is related to the sensitivity and specificity of the test. (MeSH)

Reliable: the ability of a test to produce consistent results when administered on repeated occasions under similar conditions. (Hockenbury, 280) The ability of a test to yield the same score, or nearly the same score, each time it is given to the same person. (Coon, 365) An indication that the information is consistent across repeated use of each “assessment” item or task. (Johnson, 320) The extent to which an event or measurement is repeatable, or a process executes as expected. (NCIt) Noun - 'reliability.'

Replicative: to repeat or duplicate a scientific study in order to increase confidence in the validity of the original findings. (Hockenbury, 19) Repetitions of research or an experiment in all details that lead to the same results. (Collin, 343) The statistical ‘reproducibility’ of measurements (often in a clinical context), including the testing of instrumentation or techniques to obtain reproducible results. The concept includes reproducibility of physiological measurements, which may be used to develop rules to assess “probability” or “prognosis,” or response to a “stimulus.” Reproducibility of occurrence of a condition; and reproducibility of experimental results. (MeSH)

Unambiguous: clear or definite in meaning. (Oxford)

Valid: the extent to which a test measures what it is supposed to measure. (Collin, 343) The confidence that we may have that a test, measurement or experimental manipulation is actually doing the job it has been designed to do. (Cardwell, 261) An indication of whether assessment items measure what they are intended to measure. (Johnson, 320) Noun - 'validity.'

Ecological Validity: the extent to which a study reflects naturally occurring or everyday situations. (Miell, 192)

Science: observation, identification, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of natural phenomena. (Brooker, 12) The study of natural phenomena by observation, measurement, and experimentation. (MeSH) The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment. (NCIt) Science can be viewed as an ongoing and never-ending series of questions. (Brooker, 18)

Simulation: a virtual model of a product. Essentially the same thing as a prototype, but it generally uses some sort of software to create the product virtually. (Instructional Design, Instructional Design Terms) A technique which attempts to provide an abstract model of a particular system. It utilizes a mathematical model, which attempts to predict the behavior of the system from a set of parameters and initial conditions. (NCIt)

Standardization: the administration of a test to a large, representative sample of people under uniform conditions for the purpose of establishing norms. (Hockenbury, 280)

Survey: a questionnaire or interview designed to investigate the opinions, behaviors, or characteristics of a particular group. (Hockenbury, 21) A document used in a method of data collection that involves interviewing (or giving questionnaires to) a representative and often large group of people. (NCIt)

Theory: the collection of general principles which serve as an explanation of established facts and observable data. (Cardwell, 250) Tentative explanation that tries to integrate and account for the relationship of various findings and observations. (Hockenbury, 19) Broad explanation of some aspect of the natural world that is substantiated by a large body of evidence. Biological theories incorporate observations, hypothesis testing, and the laws of other disciplines such as chemistry and physics. The power of theories is that they allow us to make many predictions regarding the properties of living organisms. (Brooker, 14) A hypothesis generally accepted by the scientific community. (Norman, 5/26/09)

Thesis: a proposition laid down or stated, especially one maintained or put forward as a premiss in an argument, or to be proved. A dissertation to maintain and prove a thesis or proposition; especially one written or submitted by a candidate as the sole or principal requirement for a University degree. (Oxford) A statement of the purpose, intent, or main idea of an essay. (Writers Inc, 134)

Trial: a commonly used term in “experimental psychology.” It refers to a single unit of experimentation where a stimulus is presented, an organism responds and a consequence follows. In “conditioning,”  “learning” is said to take place after a number of such trials. (Cardwell, 255)