Lecture 2 Research Questions: Defining and Justifying Problems; Defining Hypotheses.
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1 Lecture 2Research Questions: Defining and Justifying Problems; Defining Hypotheses
2 Announcements: SPSS installed on following PC’s: Upstairs lab Basement BisqueCitronCrimsonEbonyRubyOliveBasementLavenderSienna
3 Our Focus Today: What makes a good research problem? Research Questions for Theory DevelopmentResearch Questions for Practical ApplicationTurning research problems into testable hypotheses
4 Purpose of ResearchTo increase knowledge within a discipline or an area of study.To increase knowledge as a consumer of research and to understand research within a discipline or area of study.
5 Increasing Knowledge Within a Discipline or Area of Study For Theory DevelopmentPractical ApplicationDeveloping Research Tools
6 Defining Research Problems What is a problem?“an interrogative sentence or statement that asks: What relation exists between two or more concepts?”A problem can be restated in one or more ways to produce testable hypotheses.A good research problem often produces more than one testable hypothesis.
7 Characteristics of good research problems Should state the concepts or variables to be related clearly and unambiguouslyShould be testableShould be feasible, given resources
8 Three Specific Criteria for a Research Problem What are we going to learn as the result of the proposed project that we do not know now?Why is it worth knowing?How will we know that the conclusions are valid?
9 The Research Question Common mistakes in defining research questions Very broad area of interestToo narrowCannot be measuredProblem is trivial or already understood
10 Problem: Too Broad Very broad area of interest Solutions? “I want to understand how people use the Internet”“What factors influence the use of an interface?”Solutions?
11 Problem: Too Narrow Too narrow Solutions? “Do Females Use Technology X more than Males?”Solutions?
12 Problem: Cannot be Measured “Will this new information technology make society better?”Solutions?
13 Problem: Trivial or Previously Answered Research Questions This is why we actually use literature– even in applied, business, or exploratory research.Bringing an ‘old’ problem to a ‘new’ discipline is not necessarily trivial.
14 So, what is a good research problem statement? “The research problem is to investigate the presumed effect of A, B and C on X and Y in (population).
15 Moving from General to Specific “Could use of technology X affect society in a positive way?”“If we looked at two populations, one using technology X and one not using it, would they differ?”“How is the use of technology X related to productivity and work satisfaction in task groups within population Y?”
16 Example from Week 1 Job Income Prestige Socioeconomic Status Academic Academic AbilityAcademicAchievementGradesLevel ofSchooling attainedMath skillsLanguageskills
17 Implications of Research Questions for Statistical Analysis
18 Type of Research Question StatisticsDescriptiveMean, frequencyComplex DescriptiveCross-tabulations, factor analysisSingle factor difference questionsT-test, one-way ANOVAComplex or multifactor difference questionsFactorial ANOVABasic associational questionsCorrelationComplex or multivariate associational questionsMultiple Regression
20 Justifying Research Problems Explain what is not known about the problem.Why does the problem matter?Provide documentation that this is actually a problem.Available statistics?Available literature that shows that this is a needed area of inquiry?
21 What is not a Justification? No one has looked at it before.Literature has failed to address the issue.You think its interesting.If it is ‘interesting’ then there is probably a justification buried in there, but you have to spell it out.
22 Justification as Significance of the Study (Creswell 2003) What are the ways that the study will add to the scholarly research/literature in the field?How does the study improve practice?How might the study improve policy?
23 Turning Research Questions into Testable Hypotheses
24 Inductive Logic of Research in Qualitative Studies Generalizations are made, or Theories to Past ExperienceAnd LiteratureResearcher Looks for Broad Patterns, Generalizations, orTheories from Themes or CategoriesResearcher Analyzes Data to Form ThemesOr CategoriesResearcher Asks Open-Ended Questions of ParticipantsOr Records Field NotesResearcher Gathers Information
25 The Deductive Approach in Typical Quantitative Research Researcher Tests or Verifies a TheoryResearcher Tests Hypotheses or Research QuestionsFrom the TheoryResearcher Defines and OperationalizesVariables Derived from the TheoryResearcher Measures or Observes Variables Using anInstrument to Obtain Scores
26 Why not just rely on pure observation? Subjectivity“group A is nicer than group B”RecallWhat did you say to me last week about topic X?Interpretations or conclusions that lack convincing support“most kids don’t care what their parents say”
27 HypothesesA good research question will produce one or more testable hypotheses.Testable hypotheses predict a relationship between variables (not concepts).
28 Three Basic Kinds of Hypotheses Descriptive QuestionsSingle variable descriptionsCentral tendency, variability, percentagesAssociationalNon-directional relationship between variables.DifferenceGroup Comparison
29 Null hypothesis Null Hypothesis: In English… H0: μ1 = μc μ1 is the intervention population meanμc is the control population meanIn English…“There is no significant difference between the intervention population mean and the control population mean”
31 Alternative Hypotheses Non-directional hypothesesAssociations, not causalDirectionalIncrease in A increases BDecrease in A decreases BInverseIncrease in A decreases BDecrease in A increases B
32 Conventions in Stating Hypotheses Null hypothesis often not statedCompletely depends on convention in a given disciplineThree basic approaches to using variables in hypotheses:Compare groups on an independent variable to see impact on dependent variableRelate one or more independent variables to a dependent variable.Describe responses to the independent, mediating, or dependent variable.
33 Things to consider when stating hypotheses Know what you want to explain: dependent variableOne common problem is under-specifying the key DV or DV’sThe independent variable(s) should have variationConsider more than one independent variable, especially factors for which you might want to “control”
34 Exploratory versus Confirmatory Exploratory ResearchOften just testing to see if there are associations between one or more variables.Confirmatory ResearchThe more your topic has been researched, the more likely that you will be engaging in some type of confirmatory research.
35 An Example Model Socioeconomic Status Academic Achievement Academic AbilityAcademicAchievement
36 Next Week: Causation, Validity and Reliability Read over the online “Layman’s Guide” to Research Methods