Qualitative and quantitative research methods can be used in child development studies. The decision on which method to use is typically based on the research question of interest and how researchers have previously attempted to address the question. With respect to qualitative methods, the researcher's job is to study the topic in its natural context with as little intrusion as possible. In the quantitative method, the researcher's job, after conceptualizing the study, is to define the dependent and independent variables or decide whether this kind of control is possible. In instances where variables cannot be controlled, the researcher must use appropriate methods to control for differences or use correlations to determine how the variables may be related to each other. Using representative sampling is imperative to be able to generalize the study to other populations and settings. In either approach to child development research, the ability to uncover interesting data and to replicate it helps strengthen the field as a whole.
See also: THEORIES OF DEVELOPMENT
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