Drawing upon your puzzle, devise a strategy for collecting data as defined by your operationalized variables. In doing so you will need to demonstrate why your chosen methodology is best suited to testing your hypothesis. This will entail a discussion of your Literature Review and its implications for your research project, the identification of specific research questions, specifying the type of research you are conducting, and in the end, justifying the appropriateness of your methodology on both theoretical and practical terms. The following is presented as a guide to help you through this process.
Discussion of the Literature Review and the Formation of Research Questions
Summarizing your Literature Review develop the argument that a significant and important hole exists in our understanding of the “state of the field” and it is your intention to fill this void by proffering an answer to the resulting research question(s).
Example:As illustrated in the preceding review of the literature concerning (subject X), some believe that Democratic Peace Theory is _____, while other’s claim it is ______. Despite these various explanations, we are still left with the question(s) =Research Questions. In the pages that follow the hypothesis that (restate your hypothesis) will be tested by/with an eye towards answering these questions.
(Research questions are stated in a manner in which you intend to test the hypothesis: i.e. as testable questions)
Development of a Theoretical Framework
A theoretical framework is a collection of interrelated concepts. It is like a theory but not necessarily as well worked-out. This framework guides your research, determines what things you will measure, and what statistical and/or qualitative relationships you will look for. Hence the task is for you to reflect upon your hypothesis and the research question(s) derived above and to ask yourself what is the best explanation for the expected or observed behavior. Is it because people always act in their best interest? Because all people have a desire to help others? Because the specific people involved are responding to particular pressures? The formation of a good theoretical framework requires you to rely on your intellect as well as your gut instincts.
Once you have established a theoretical explanation for the observed (or hypothesized) behavior, develop your framework by drawing upon others who have used such an explanation and relate such explanations directly to your own project. This section should not only justify why the chosen theoretical framework is relevant to answering the research question(s), but also how it will be implemented (i.e. how it will guide the research and measurement of variables).
Example: In order to understand why people do X it is prudent to view man as an economic animal…an instrumentally rational being pursuing self interest. Rational Choice Theory clearly illustrates this behavior by demonstrating that —-. For example in Title of the Study Smith shows that ____. In much the same way it is herein hypothesized that ____ and therefore, as this study will reveal ____. [ßTheoretical Assumption]
Demonstrating this hypothesized relationship the independent variable (choice) will be held constant by making the assumption that all choices are guided by rationality. This is justified on the basis of _____ and in turn this dictates that the relationship between the IV and DV must be measured on the basis of ____ while always making sure to _____. [ß Methodological Guidance]
Taking into account the posture laid out in your Theoretical Framework, the specific data points you are seeking to measure (as identified by the operationalization of your established variables with reference to the derived research question[s]), as well as the particular type of research you are conducting (see below); identify a specific research method that is most suitable to your study and explain why this is so. To do this your Methodology section should include a discussion of the specific method to be employed and how it conveys the relationship between your theoretical framework and hypothesis. It should also include a discussion of how this method has been used in the past—demonstrating similarities to your own study in order to justify its use—and why it is appropriate for collecting and analyzing the data points your are seeking. Moreover, your Methodology section should include a discussion of why and how the chosen methodology will guard against reliability and validity problems—or should such issues still exist, how such problems will be controlled for. Finally, you should include a discussion of the pragmatic reasons for choosing the specific methodology: such as cost considerations, convenience, or particular problems related to your hypothesis and the availability of data.
Types of Research
Quantitative vs. Qualitative
Quantitative studies measure variables with some precision using numeric scales. For example, you might measure a person’s height and weight. Or you might construct a survey in which you measure how much respondents like President Clinton, using a 1 to 10 scale.
Qualitative studies are based on direct observation of behavior or on transcripts of unstructured interviews with informants. For example, you might talk to ten female executives about the decision-making process behind their choice to have children or not, and if so, when. You might interview them for several hours, tape-recording the whole thing, and then transcribe the recordings to written text, and then analyze the text.
Applied vs. Basic research
Applied research is research designed to solve a particular problem in a particular circumstance, such as determining the cause of low morale in a given department of an organization.
Basic research is designed to understand the underlying principles behind human behavior. For example, you might try to understand what motivates people to work hard at their jobs.
Exploratory vs. Confirmatory
Exploratory research is research into the unknown. It is used when you are investigating something but really don’t understand it all, or are not completely sure what you are looking for. It’s sort of like a journalist whose curiosity is peaked by something and just starts looking into it without really knowing what they’re looking for.
Confirmatory research is where you have a pretty good idea what’s going on. That is, you have a theory (or several theories), and the objective of the research is to find out if the theory is supported by the facts
*As a general rule (but there are many exceptions), confirmatory studies tend to be quantitative, while exploratory studies tend to be qualitative.
Types of Methods
(This is a Very, Very Abbreviated List)
|Field Experiment Inductive (theory development) Interviews