Exploring topics – thinking about qualitative vs. quantitative research
Proposal components Introductory Chapter Literature Review Methodology
Sources for Topics Literature Review Personal Experience
Interviews with Key Informants
Components of Introductory Chapter
Statement of the Problem Information about the Scope of the Problem Information about who is affected by the problem Information about what new information is needed about the problem (Optional) – the theoretical framework that will be used to address the problem What is the primary research question or hypothesis that you will address? Information as to how what you will discover will contribute to the knowledge base in your field Information about how you will conduct your research and who or what you will study
COMPONENTS OF A LITERATURE REVIEW
Theoretical literature Best practices literature Practice models (in professional fields)* Empirical (Research) literature * Best practice material describes how organizations have attempted to address the problem in the past and the degree of success associated with these approaches. ** Practice models contain theoretical assumptions about the types of intervention activities that will produce desired outcomes!
In addition, literature reviews may contain
A historical overview of the topic or a discussion of a current policy issue or piece of legislation related to the topic. A discussion of a methodological approach (i.e. feminist research, ethnographic) and the theoretical assumptions associated with the approach.
Structure of literature review
A review of the theoretical, empirical, practice/best practices literature related to the problem. This material should be organized into logical categories. The review should contain information about how previous studies were conducted – basic assumptions, sampling, research methods, research instruments, and significant findings. Any significant gaps in the previous literature should be identified.
A literature review should be:
A road map that provides a justification for using a particular methodological approach to collect data!!!
You should not, under any circumstance, just make up how you will collect your data
The Methodology Chapter includes:
A restatement of your research question or hypothesis. An operational definition or statement about the concept you will measure. A detailed description about how you will measure the concept. An analysis of the reliability/validity of your research A description of your sample and sampling procedures. instrument or how you will ensure reliability/validity Your research design or general approach to research A description of how you will collect data. A description of procedures to protect human subjects and/or confidentiality of information. A description of how you will analyze data A description of expected limitations of the study.
One of the decisions you will need to make is whether your research will be:
Exploratory (Qualitative) Descriptive (Describes a particular situation or group of people) Explanatory (Theoretical)
Exploratory or qualitative approaches should be used when
There is little theoretical or research literature about a particular situation. When there is literature about this problem, but we know little about how a particular population group experiences a problem. When you want to know about culture values and norms When you want to develop some new ideas about how a problem should be addressed based on hunches or practice experience.
Descriptive approaches should be used when:
You just want to describe what is happening in a particular situation. When there are some theories about the situation or group of people studied and you can develop specific research questions and responses. When you do not want to test a formal hypothesis – for example you might want to do a survey of peoples attitudes or beliefs.
Quantitative (Explanatory research) should be conducted when
When you want to test an hypothesis. When there is sufficient theoretical literature that can be used to identify assumptions and construct hypotheses. When you have enough participants to construct experimental and control groups or can reasonably conduct pre and post tests. When you can link theories or specific actions with outcomes.
Theories must be Empirically tested and verified.
Independent and dependent variables must be identified in order to test a theory.
Social work practice theories include the following
Qualitative research differs substantially from quantitative
Differences between qualitative and quantitative research
Involves unstructured interviews, observation, and content analysis. Subjective Inductive Little structure Little manipulation of subjects Takes a great deal of time to conduct Little social distance between researcher and subject Involves experiments, surveys, testing, and structured content analysis, interviews, and observation. Objective Deductive High degree of structure Some manipulation of subjects May take little time to conduct Much social distance between researcher and subject
Next week we will: Continue our discussion of the differences between qualitative, quantitative, and descriptive research. Talk about the differences between research questions and hypotheses. Find research questions and hypotheses in journal articles. Please bring an article related to your research topic to class next week.
For the remainder of this class
We will identify a topic and try to find appropriate literature. Use the library data base including Academic Search Premier and Social Work Abstracts. Conduct a brief Internet Search for articles.
Basic strategies for search
Try to set some parameters for your topic. Are you looking for information on specific issues or population groups? Are there topics that are related to the issue that you are exploring? If you are interested in a particular population group, perhaps there is limited available research. However, look at whether there is research that have examined other population groups in terms of this issue. For example, if you are looking at the participation of Hmong parents in their children’s schools, you might be able to find information on Latino or African American parents or simply parent participation.
Other tips Look for recent articles first (less than 10 years old)
The first three things you should look at in an article are the title, abstract (brief introductory summary), and the reference list. The reference list should lead you to similar articles on the topic. Set some priorities for the literature that you examine 1) full-text search, 2) articles in university library, articles from inter-library loan,4) Explore other libraries, 5)Internet research
You may find articles on the Internet. However:
Not all Internet articles are scholarly. They may focus on opinions and not offer actually research evidence or theories. They may not be “real articles.” Hint: Wikipedia is not a legitimate source!!!
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