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Selecting Researchable Topics and Questions

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1 Selecting Researchable Topics and Questions
Chapter 4

2 Introduction Research Question
Questions about one or more topics or concepts that can be answered through research A research question can be about local or global governments, individuals or organizations, and an entire society

3 Introduction Research Topic
A concept, subject or issue that can be studied through research

4 Discussion - Question Create a research question about the social impact of living through a natural disaster. Do you know people who lived through a natural disaster such as a hurricane, a tornado, a tsunami, or the like? In what ways do you think their lives have changed? Do you think their experiences are typical or unusual?

5 Introduction Hypothesis
A testable statement about how two or more variables are expected to be related to one another

6 Introduction Research question vs. Hypothesis
A research question is similar to a hypothesis, except that a hypothesis presents an expectation about the way two or more variables are related, but a research question does not Research projects that have explanatory or evaluation purposes typically begin with one or more hypotheses, most exploratory and some descriptive projects start with a research question

7 Introduction Focal research
“Studying Women’s Lives: Family Focus in the 30s ” Hoffnung had personal experiences and professional interests that set the stage for her study of women’s lives Research provides basic information about the social world and understandings that can be applied to creating social policy

8 Quiz – Question 1 Identify ethical issues from the focal research.
How were the ethical issues handled?

9 Introduction Sources of research questions
The selection of a research question is often the result of many factors Personal interests, experiences, values, and passions The desire to satisfy scientific curiosity Previous work -- or the lack of it -- on a topic The current political, economic, and social climates Being able to get access to data Having a way to fund a study

10 Introduction Values and Science Value Free?
Research in the 19th and much of 20th century science was considered “value-free” Today, values, both social and personal, are part of all human endeavors, including science Group interests and values can influence research, especially influential during the creating and evaluation of hypotheses Social and personal values are not necessarily bad The danger comes when scientists allow their values to introduce biases into their work that distort the results of scientific investigation

11 Introduction Personal Factors
Personal interests often influence researchers’ specific research topics Having a strong personal interests can lead to the willingness to the make the necessary investment of time and energy Research by Hoffnung (2000) Personal interest in career and motherhood influenced her work

12 Introduction Research and the Social, Political and Economic World
Change in society influences amount of research on topics E.g. Gender, Sexual Orientation Before the 1970s, few studies focused on women, as a result of the women's movement in the late 1960s and early 70s, scholars began to study women and their lives Current events focus attention: e.g. natural disasters, swine flu, etc…

13 Introduction Research Funding
“It is always difficult to raise money for social science research; after all, it neither directly saves thousands of lives nor enables one to kills thousands of people” (Fischman et al., 2004). Many research projects are funded through private foundations, government agencies, local and state institutions, or corporate sponsors Insert page number for quote

14 Introduction Research Funding
Funding research expresses a value choice The particular values associated with a specific project affect funding as the appropriations process for research is part of a larger political process The availability of funding and economic support can influence a study The questions asked The amount and kind of data collected The availability of the resulting research report

15 Developing a Researchable Question
A question that can be answered with research that is feasible

16 Developing a Researchable Question
Transforming a research question to a researchable question Narrow down the broad area of interest into something that is manageable

17 Developing a Researchable Question
Example: Cell phones You cannot study everything connected to cell phones You could study the effect of cell phones on family relationships You cannot study all age groups, but you can study a few You might not be able to study people in many communities, but you might be able to study one or two You would not be able to study dozens of behaviors or attitudes that change overtime, but you could study some current attitudes and behaviors In the community in which I live, how does cell phone use affect parent-child relationships; more specifically, how does the use of cell phones affect parents’ and adolescents’ attempts to maintain and resist parental authority?

18 Developing a Researchable Question
Reviewing the Literature The process of searching for, reading, summarizing, and synthesizing existing work on a topic or the resulting written summary of a search

19 Developing a Researchable Question
Reviewing the Literature Academic Sources To start a literature review, you will need to figure out which literature or sources you want to search Books, articles, and government documents are the most common sources Popular literature, including newspapers and magazines, might be good sources of ideas, but academic journals will be more useful in your literature review

20 Developing a Researchable Question
Reviewing the Literature Keywords The terms used to search for sources in a literature review With common keywords you will generate a large number of sources – you can limit the search to title and abstracts only You can use multiple keywords by including “and” between terms

21 Developing a Researchable Question
Reviewing the Literature Using the literature in a study Helps researcher to identify their own research question or hypothesis Examine what previous researchers have used Provide context for your own work Provides an overview of the current state of research and narrows your inquiry

22 Developing a Researchable Question
Practical matters Feasibility Whether it is practical to complete a study in terms of access, time, and money

23 Developing a Researchable Question
Practical matters Access The ability to obtain the information needed to answer a research question

24 Developing a Researchable Question
Practical matters Research costs All monetary expenditures needed for planning, executing, and reporting research Although many research projects are grant funded a grant is NOT necessary

25 Developing a Researchable Question
Practical matters Time expenditures The time it takes to complete all activities of a research project from the planning stage to the final report

26 Summary Research questions can vary in scope and purpose
A review of the literature is essential Planning a study Time Money Access to data

27 Quiz – Question 2 We can expect that the interest in certain research topics will change over time. This is due to a. different sources of funding. changing political, social, and economic elements. changing personal factors. all of the above none of the above

28 Quiz – Question 3 Some topics that may be interesting and important but gaining access to the population may be very difficult. Which of the following presents the greatest obstacles? College students living in a dormitory Individuals who are members of a bowling league Children who are hospitalized for minor illness Individuals who are members of a secret cult Singles who go on singles’ cruises

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