research method

Outline of the Project

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Part 1 (4-5 double-spaced pages, plus attachments)

 

This part introduces your research question and explains its importance. It also shares what we already know that is relevant to your research question and situates your research in that body of knowledge. The literature review must cite and discuss at least four scholarly articles, books or book chapters that are relevant to your research question. The paper should proceed as follows:

 

I.               Introduction

a.     Specify your research question.

b.     Explain why your research question is important to answer.

II.             Literature Review

a.     Extent of previous study. Considering what you found when searching the literature, address:

                                               i.     To what extent have other researchers addressed your question or similar questions?

                                             ii.     Document your answer by briefly discussing what previous research has examined. Include citations to specific articles or books.

b.     Findings of previous research. Now considering only those four or more books or articles that you read, discuss:

                                               i.     How have others answered your research question, or else questions that are as close to your question as you can find?

                                             ii.     On what basis did the authors reach those conclusions (i.e., describe the studies in your own words)?

c.     Describe what you think your study could add to this existing literature. If believe your question has been extensively studied and definitely answered and that you can add nothing to that answer, explain that conclusion instead.

III.           References – Full citations of all sources cited, using Chicago, APA, or MLA format

IV.           Attachments (supply via e-mail or hard copy) – For each of your sources, printouts or copied-and-pasted screen material of either a) the first page of the source, b) the list of records your database retrieved for you, including the sources you used, or c) the full search record from the database you used, including the abstract (if an abstract is available). Please also submit a paragraph describing your literature searching strategy. At minimum, identify the database(s) you used and some of your search terms.

 

Part 2 (3-4 double-spaced pages)

 

This part of the paper discusses your theory and hypotheses. It should proceed as follows:

 

I.               Theory

a.     Based on pre-existing knowledge and logical reasoning, say what you expect the answer to your research question to be. (Please remind the reader of your question.)

b.     Explain why you expect this. Walk your reader through your reasoning, drawing as appropriate on more general ideas about the way the world works and being clear about any assumptions you made to arrive at your prediction.

II.             Variables and Hypotheses

a.     Variables

                                               i.     Identify the dependent variable and the key independent variable that your research will examine.

                                             ii.     Identify at least one other variable derived from your theory that your research will examine (e.g., another dependent or independent variables, an intervening variable, or an antecedent variable) and say what type of variable it is.

b.     Relationships and hypotheses

                                               i.     In the form of a hypothesis, state the relationship between your dependent and independent variable that you expect to find if your theory is correct.

                                             ii.     State at least one other hypothesis – derived from your theory and involving the additional variable(s) you identified above –  that you plan to test in your research.

III.           References (if you used any sources)

 

Survey Questions

 

Your survey should be administered online using a free account available at www.surveymonkey.com . It should abide by the following guidelines.

 

1.     Your survey should have 3-8 questions.

2.     Questions should be multiple-choice or else answered with a single number.

3.     Respect privacy.

a.     Questions must not deal with sensitive topics.

b.     Do not ask questions or design response options in a way that would allow you to identify who completed your survey.

4.     Make sure your questions include indicators for all the variables used in your hypotheses (at least 3).

 

Part 3 (4-6 double-spaced pages, plus attachments)

 

I.               Research summary

a.     State the research question your study was designed to address

b.     Briefly describe your research methods (e.g., data collection method, sample).

II.             Describe your data

a.     Briefly define each variable in your dataset.

b.     Describe the values actually taken by each variable in your dataset, reporting measures of central tendency and dispersion appropriate to each variable’s level of measurement.

c.     Note: You may answer a), b) and c) in a table rather than narrative form, but you should still have some narrative that refers your reader to your table, tells your reader what the table shows, and highlights a few notable descriptive statistics (e.g., measures of central tendency and dispersion for your dependent variable and key independent variable, clues that your main hypothesis may be confirmed or disconfirmed, or anything else surprising or striking).

III.           Main hypothesis test

a.     State your main hypothesis.

b.     Describe your strategy for testing it (see class notes).

c.     Say why you used this strategy.

d.     Share the results of your test and discuss to what extent they appear to support your hypothesis.

IV.           Additional test(s)

a.     Describe the additional test(s) you will be doing and the rationale for it/them. (Note: Draft survey questions directions identify your additional test options.)

b.     State your expectation(s) in the form of a hypothesis or hypotheses.

c.     Describe your testing strategy.

d.     Say why you used this strategy.

e.     Share the results of your test(s) and discuss to what extent they appear to support your hypothesis or hypotheses.

V.             Discussion and Conclusion

a.     Answer your research question in terms that a layperson could understand, based on all data analysis in your paper.

b.     Discuss your study’s limitations and how confident you are in your answer to your research question. Your response should include discussion of:

                                               i.     The degree to which you think your sample represents the underlying population;

                                             ii.     Any problems you suspect with the validity and/or reliability of your key measures;

                                            iii.     Other details or potential explanatory factors you were not able to account for in this analysis, but probably should have;

                                            iv.     Anything else that you think is an important strength or weakness of your study.

VI.           Attachments

a.     A blank copy of your survey form

b.     Your full excel file

 

 

 

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