Presentation on theme: "1 Developing a Research Question Partially adapted from The Research Methods Knowledge Base, William Trochim (2006). & Methods for Social Researchers in."— Presentation transcript:
1 Developing a Research Question Partially adapted from The Research Methods Knowledge Base, William Trochim (2006). & Methods for Social Researchers in Developing Counries, The Ahfad University for Women & Online Statistics Education: A Multimedia Course of Study, David M. Lane, Rice University.
2 Agenda The initial research question Developing research questions Evaluating the question Some important questions 2
3 Initial Research Question Research starts with getting an initial idea/topic about something to investigate What do we want to learn? –Are we testing an intervention? –Are we describing the current situation? –Are we looking at changes over time? –Do we want to do several of these things at the same time? Probably 1 or 2 “big” questions, and several other minor questions Be very specific in your questions! What are you studying and what do you want to know?
4 Developing research questions What are some interesting questions? Some examples of general questions: –How do the poor save? –What is the impact of credit? 4
5 Developing research questions Can we make these more specific? –How do the poor save? Which poor? What is the range of ways that migrants to Gujarat save money formally and informally? How common is the use of each means of savings? What are the average annual realized returns to each means of savings? 5
6 Developing research questions Can we make these more specific? –What is the impact of credit? Impact on what? Credit for whom? What type of credit? How does the introduction of one additional microfinance institution in a rural village affect average household level income, consumption, investments, and women’s empowerment over 3 years? 6
7 Developing research questions Ask yourself: Is this research needed? –Is it worth the expense and time? –Do we already know the answer? –Does it answer important questions, and add to general knowledge? –Does it have policy-relevance? 7
8 Developing research questions If it’s a scientific question, use the scientific method: –Start with a null hypothesis -- assume no impact and wait to be proven wrong by your results. –Starting research thinking “I want to show that SHG’s improve women’s empowerment” is not valid research….first assume that SHG’s have no impact, and wait until you have enough evidence to reject that assumption If we already know the answer, we don’t need to do research! 8
9 Evaluating the Question If the question is still too broad, work towards a more specific question –Discuss your ideas with your peers –Ask your instructor to review your idea –Do a preliminary literature review on your topic How much work is required? –Beginning researchers often underestimate the time and effort needed –Reduce scope or refine question if necessary How excited are you about the project? –Research is hard work –Being excited about your project will provide a strong motivation to complete it
10 Some important questions What are the basic household and business impacts of the provision of credit and the provision of savings services through various models? Which products (in terms of price and convenience) result in which impacts? Which product features or marketing methods best encourage take-up or usage of a product, or maximize impact? How do certain product features encourage certain types of people to avail of them? How successful are existing efforts to extend financial services to the poor? How can existing efforts be improved upon? How can resources be most efficiently allocated within financial services? Who takes up financial services that target the poor, and who does not? What other realities affect the financial lives of the poor, and what products, features, or additional services account for these realities to maximize impact? What decisions can be made by regulators and by financial services providers to best alleviate poverty? 10