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Control Variables in Research – Meaning and Importance

The purpose of every research is to explore a particular area and investigate some aspects of a researchable problem. While working on research work, you can realise that it needs to have a proper approach to meet the desired results. In this way, the research variables play a vital role. It is very important to understand the need and role of variables and their types as well. Every variable analysis and interprets something unique by relating different things. One of the most commonly used research variables is the control variable which can be observed in all studies. As per its importance, this article aims to discuss control variables and their importance.

What is Meant by Control Variables?

Most of the research studies use control variables, and students do not even know which variable is the control one. You may have studied about dependent, independent and constant variables. The dependent variable is one which has to deal with changes with respect to the independent one. In this scenario, there are one or multiple constant variables as well. These constant variables are known as control variables. There is not any direct effect of the control variable on the main aim of the research, but it plays a dynamic role in achieving the designed aim. So, you can say that control variables indirectly affect a particular research study.

Why are Control Variables Important for a Research Study?

Every research study is supposed to confirm the validity in two different ways, including internal as well as external. To ensure both of these validities, different factors are used. From which control variable is the one which works well to optimise the internal validity of the research. There is a proper procedure to follow while using control variables, and this way, you can better influence the study. Also, the standard procedure helps you know about the control variable as well as its association with other aspects.

It is a control variable, which helps you limit the effects of confounding variables. Similarly, you can deal with the effects of other extraneous variables as well. Based on the objective of the study and problem statement, you can see how to use these variables for perfect end results.

From a broader perspective, you may only consider dependent and independent variables to regulate the research study. The interesting point is that any kind of variable which can create an impact on your research work can be controlled, and you have to see which variable can perfectly help you in this regard. In order to clear this point, it is better to learn about the multiple examples of control variables. 

What are Different Examples of Control Variables?

Following are some control variables which can be observed to use while solving lots of research problems:


As control variables are those which are kept constant in a research study, so you can see many studies in which temperature is kept constant. So, it would not be wrong to say that temperature is a control variable. You can see in experiments that temperature has nothing to do with the aim of the study, but there can be a material whose characteristics are observed under constant temperature and varying concentrations of a mix. 

You can understand with the help of another example. Let’s take a problem which addresses the growth of the plan. In this problem, your research aim is to study the different qualities of soil. In this problem, all of the other factors which are necessary for the life of a plant can be kept constant because those aspects are supposed to be provided under all circumstances and you need to learn about something else. In selected problem, it is the quality of soil which is studied under different conditions, and you can keep the temperature as a constant factor. 

Amount of Light

Discussing the same example of a plant, you can better understand how the amount of light work as a control variable. It is true that the amount of light is another necessary component for the life and growth of plants, but if you do not keep it constant, it will directly affect the outcomes of the study. Also, you would not be able to learn about the direct impacts of soil quality. On the other hand, if you keep the amount of light constant, you can enhance the chances of focusing on soil quality. The obtained results would be more inclined towards the achievement of a designed objective.

In order to clarify this concept, you can take two research studies. The first one, in which one of the variables is constant, and the other one which does not have the same control variables. The outcomes of both studies can help you identify the impacts of variables and their importance in generating particular end results. 

Noise in the Surrounding

Noise in the environment is also one of the control variables which help you achieve the selected objective of your research. Let’s understand it with the help of an example. Suppose, you have to study the effects of drugs on the memory of a person. In this research, you can select a particular drug like caffeine. It is not wrong that noise in the surrounding can affect the behaviour of drug-addicted people. Still, here the focus point is to associate the drug effects with memory, not the behaviour. So, you take noise in the environment as a constant variable. It can help you explore behaviour which leads towards the actions associated with memory.

For research work, if you find troubles in selecting control variables, then it is better to ask someone for assistance. There can be your supervisor, senior or peer as well. In case you still feel confused, help with dissertation can work well.

Concluding lines

 As a responsible researcher, you have to explore every factor which is used in research. One of these factors is the control variable. From the above-mentioned points, you can learn all about control variables. The basic of control variable helps you make a perfect start to any experiment. After that, you have to come up with a specific type of control variable. Keeping all these points in mind, today’s article has addressed important aspects.




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