Overview What is a research question? How does one develop one? How does one evaluate one?
Objectives: After today you should be able to... Understand the importance of a well- developed research question. Be aware of numerous methods for generating a research question. Develop a concise research question. Be able to evaluate the quality of a research question. Understand the role and nature of publishable replication research.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE RESEARCH QUESTION The research question is the starting point of the study. Everything flows from the research question. It will determine the population to be studied, the setting for the study, the data to be collected, and the time period for the study. A clear and concisely stated research question is the most important requirement for a successful study.
PREREQUISITES The most important prerequisite for this research is a well ‑ cultivated curiosity. This seems to be a common characteristic possessed by notable researchers. Beyond being curious, these individuals also had the patience and tenacity to follow a question until satisfied with the answer.
Origins of a Research Question Careful Observation of People Application of New Technology The Annoyance Principle Build on Experience Scientific Communications Skeptical Attitude (questioning peers and status quo)
Other Ideas and Inspirations Question validity of commonly held beliefs Question relationships Direction of causality Third variables unaccounted for? Levels of analysis (can increase) Boundaries (generalizability) - external validity Question validity of existing studies Change settings (e.g., situational specificity hypothesis) Change types of individuals/units (children/adults; e.g., Zollo study)
Characteristics of a good research question FINER Feasible Adequate numbers of subjects? Adequate technical expertise? Affordable in time and money? Is it possible to measure or manipulate the variables? Interesting To the investigator? Novel To the field? Ethical Potential harm to subjects? Potential breech of subject confidentiality? Relevant To scientific knowledge/theory? To organizational, health or social management and policy? To individual welfare?
Hypotheses Examples RQ: Is a happy worker a productive worker? H1: Happier workers are more productive than unhappy workers. RQ: Does increasing the happiness of workers make them more productive? H1: Increasing the happiness of workers does not increase productivity.
Hypotheses should be developed before data are collected.
Good hypotheses Constructs are clear Relationship (sign, direction if experimental, type of moderation) is clear Population often included Design/statistical method often clear Mean differences Compared to who? (can’t have a “more” without a “than” Related (correlation) The word “significant” is unnecessary
Good hypotheses construction Statistical test is clear (usually one per hypothesis) With mediator hypothesis may be X will positively relate to Y M will positively relate to Y X will positively relate to M X will not relate to Y when controlling for M OR M will mediate the positive relationship between X and Y