Formulation of research questions


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Formulation of research questions by Dr. Badr Aljaser as part of the 5th Research Summer School at KAIMRC

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Formulation of research questions

  1. 1. Formulation ofResearch Question
  2. 2. Research Summer School 2
  3. 3. ResearchSummerSchool3O ExplorationO DescriptionO Explanation
  4. 4. ResearchSummerSchool4O To develop an initial, rough understandingof a phenomenonMethods:O literature reviewsO InterviewsO case studiesO key informants
  5. 5. ResearchSummerSchool5O Precise measurement and reporting of thecharacteristics of the population orphenomenonO What is the case?O What is the nature of the relationship?O Methods: census, surveys, qualitative studies
  6. 6. ResearchSummerSchool6OWhy is there a relation ?OJustifiable relation
  7. 7. O Research idea provides the very basic foundationof research workO Without research idea there cannot be a researchO A ‘problem’ situation is not a ‘wrong’ situationbut we are simply problematizing the situationO Our intention is to enhance our knowledge aboutthe situationResearch Summer School 7
  8. 8. Problem or Opportunity FormulationThe crucial first stage in the researchprocess—determining the problem to besolved or the opportunity to be studied and theobjectives of the researchResearch Summer School 8
  9. 9. O Research problem is understanding and explainingthe problem – what I am going to study, why andhow?O Research problem sets the frame of reference forthe studyO Defining a research problem is clarifying oneselfwhat is the problem and what the research isintended to do or what are the expected outputResearch Summer School 9
  10. 10. O Looking for rationalO Arriving to this problem (interest, gap, need, educational/medicaland policy change)O Collecting preliminary informationO Reviewing the literatureO Discussing with the stakeholders, other researchersResearch Summer School 10
  11. 11. O We often need to write a section in our research proposal /thesisO This section can be limited just in one sentence or can be fewparagraphs long extending to more than a pageO Whatever its length be, it should define and delimit theproblemO It should also justify the problemResearch Summer School 11
  12. 12. O What situations or problems tend to fascinate, challenge, or interestyou?O List as many ideas as you can as quickly as possibleO Identify which are:O Most interesting (I)O Feasible (F)O Fundable ($)O Best overall (*)O Write/Rewrite your best idea or research question?Research Summer School
  13. 13. Capability: Is it feasible?O Are you fascinated by the topic?O Do you have the necessary research skills?O Can you complete the project in the time available?O Will the research still be current when you finish?O Do you have sufficient financial and other resources?O Will you be able to gain access to data?Research Summer School 13
  14. 14. Appropriateness: is it worthwhile?O Will the examining institutes standards be met?O Does the topic contain issues with clear links to theory?O Are the research questions and objectives clearly stated?O Will the proposed research provide fresh insights into thetopic?O Are the findings likely to be symmetrical?O Does the research topic match your career goals?Research Summer School 14
  15. 15. And - (if relevant)Does the topic relate clearly to an ideayou were given -possibly by your organisation ?Research Summer School 15
  16. 16. Formulation means translating and transforming the selectedresearch problem into a scientifically answerable researchquestion.This is the aim of the study.Research Summer School 16
  17. 17. O Gives specific focus to our study while staying withinthe research context as set by our research problemO Begins with a general concern that should benarrowed down to a concrete researchable issueO Defines exactly what we are going to do, how, andwhyResearch Summer School 17
  18. 18. O Helps to clarify what to expect as the findings ofthe researchO Is the process of operationalizing our researchO One critical concern: are we asking the questionwe want to study?O Or, is our research question compatible with ourresearch purposeResearch Summer School 18
  19. 19. Useful TechniquesRational thinking Creative thinkingSearching the literature Scanning the mediaBrainstorming Relevance TreesExploring past projects DiscussionKeeping an ideas notebookResearch Summer School 19
  20. 20. O Based on literature/ideaO Includes sample description (e.g., Adult SaudiHypertensive)O Includes study design(e.g., relationship, difference betweengroups, etc.)O Includes the independent & dependent variablesO Is measurableResearch Summer School 20
  21. 21. Research Summer School 21
  22. 22. Research Summer School 22
  23. 23. "Ask a poor question and you will get apoor research. A clear question alsohelps the investigator rapidly assesswhether the study is relevant to his orher own…practice". (Counsell, 1997)Research Summer School 23
  24. 24. O Improves clarity of the problemO Facilitates subsequent steps of the research processO Helps select appropriate literature for reviewO Anticipates issues, resource needsO Improves efficiency, minimizes wasted effortsResearch Summer School 24
  25. 25. No hole inthe literatureDefine Research QuestionConduct Literature ReviewRefine QuestionHole inliteratureDesign StudyObtain IRB Approval(medical research)Collect & Analyze DataOperationalize variablesWrite and Report ResultsResearch Summer School
  26. 26. O Investigates important questionsO Is ethical ?O Connected to theoryO Connects the study to prior researchO Uses appropriate research design and analysisproceduresO Disseminates resultsResearch Summer School 26
  27. 27. Problem or IssueDefine populationDefine interventionWrite QuestionSearch termsComparatorOutcome measurePICOResearch Summer School 27
  28. 28. O A useful model to help structure an answerablequestion.O Used to formulate research question.O Breaks down the question into four key elements.Research Summer School 28
  29. 29. O Population, Patient, Problem PO Intervention or Indicator IO Comparator or Control CO Outcome OResearch Summer School 29
  30. 30. O Population, Patient, Problem PO Exposure EO Outcome OResearch Summer School 30
  31. 31. Do first-year medical students who complete a student-runanatomy review course score higher on the anatomy finalexam than students who do not complete the review course?What is the population? first-year medical students PWhat is the intervention? Completing the review IWhat is the control? students who don’t complete CWhat is the outcome? Final exam score OResearch Summer School 31
  32. 32. O Who are you interested in?O How would you describe the patients orpopulation of interest?O Be specificResearch Summer School 32
  33. 33. ExampleO AsthmaticsO Adults with mild to moderate asthma(treated with β2-agonists alone or withinhaled corticosteroids <1mg daily)Research Summer School 33
  34. 34. O CauseO Risk factorO Prognostic factorO Treatment or interventionO Be preciseO Be briefResearch Summer School 34
  35. 35. ExampleO High saturated fat dietO SmokingO Regular use of salbutamolResearch Summer School 35
  36. 36. O What is the alternative to the intervention?O May not always be necessaryO Be preciseO Be briefResearch Summer School 36
  37. 37. ExampleO Low saturated fat dietO Not SmokingO As Needed use of salbutamolResearch Summer School 37
  38. 38. O What do I hope to accomplish?O What could this exposure really affect?O Be preciseO Be briefResearch Summer School 38
  39. 39. ExampleO DeathO Glycemic controlO Asthma controlResearch Summer School 39
  40. 40. In mild to moderate adult asthmatics(P), does the regular use ofsalbutamol (I) compared to asneeded use (C) result in worseasthma control (O)?Research Summer School 40
  41. 41. No hole inthe literatureDefine Research QuestionConduct Literature ReviewRefine QuestionHole inliteratureDesign StudyObtain IRB Approval(medical research)Collect & Analyze DataOperationalize variablesWrite and Report ResultsResearch Summer School
  42. 42. O Details in later workshop (search/appraise lit)O Identify possible sources of informationO Colleagues and librariansO Databases, PUBMED, PSYCLIT, Science Citation IndexO Journals, chapters, books, publicationsO Read critically and summarizeO Citations referencedO Sample sizeO Study design and limitationsO Overall conclusionsResearch Summer School 42
  43. 43. No hole inthe literatureDefine Research QuestionConduct Literature ReviewRefine QuestionHole inliteratureDesign StudyObtain IRB Approval(medical research)Collect & Analyze DataOperationalize variablesWrite and Report ResultsResearch Summer School
  44. 44. O Clearly stated?O Stated as a question?O Testable?O Defines variables to be studied?O Defines sample to be studied?O Describes the setting for the study?Research Summer School 44
  45. 45. O Feasible: adequate subject #, expertise, affordable,manageable in scopeO Interesting: to the investigatorO Novel: -confirm, extend or refute previous findingsO provide new findingsO Ethical: fulfill guidelines for the protection ofstudentsO Relevant:O to scientific knowledgeO to education policyO to future researchResearch Summer School 45
  46. 46. O Clough and Nutbrown use what they call the Goldilocks test todecide if research questions are either too big two small too hot orjust right/O Too big need significant fundingO Too small are likely to be insufficient substanceO Too hot maybe so because sensitivities that may be aroused as a resultof doing the research . This may be because of the timing of theresearch or the many other reasons that may be upset key people whohave a role to play.O Just right are those just right for investigation at this time by thisresearch in this settingResearch Summer School 46
  47. 47. O Is a formal statement of the relationship betweenvariables to be investigatedO Must contain two or more measurable variablesand must specify how the variables are relatedO Sets the framework for developing interpretationsand drawing conclusionsO Is a prediction regarding the possible outcomes ofthe study.Research Summer School 47
  48. 48. O The hypothesis is the narrowest expression of theresearch question.O Summarizes the elements of the study through thedesign, sample, predictor and outcome variables.O The purpose of the hypothesis is to establish a basisfor statistical tests ( What test will be used).Research Summer School 48
  49. 49. O Simple vs. ComplexO Simple: contains one predictor and one outcomeO Complex: -More than one predictor or outcome.(Not easily tested .. Can break it into simple hypothesis).O Specific vs. VagueO Specific:O Leaves no confusion about what the question is.O Clear about what is being collected.O Stated in Advance vs. After-the-FactO In Advance: provides a primary objective and a basis forinterpreting study results.Research Summer School 49
  50. 50. O AlternativeO Non-directional: The difference is unknownO Directional: Existing studies/data suggest direction ofrelationship, expressed as HAO NullO Actually, hypotheses are statistically tested in their nullformO Expressed as no relationship/association exists betweenvariables, expressed as H0Research Summer School 50
  51. 51. O We believe that female educators have morepositive leadership characteristicsO Our hypothesis (research or alternate, HA):women educators have positive leadershipcharacteristicsO Null hypothesis (H0): there is no associationbetween gender of the medical educator andleadership characteristicsResearch Summer School 51
  52. 52. O A good hypothesis should be in a declarativesentence form specifying the relationshipbetween variables; conditional statement cannotbe a hypothesisO It must be measurable and empiricallytestable, concise and with specific meaning(clarity is obtained by means of definitions)O It should be linked with some theoretical /conceptual / analytical framework / toolsResearch Summer School 52
  53. 53. Isolate and Identify the Problem, Not the SymptomsO Certain occurrences that appear to be the problemmay only be symptoms of a deeper problemO Good researchers must be creative in developingproblem or opportunity formulations byinvestigating situations in new waysResearch Summer School 53
  54. 54. Determine the Unit of AnalysisO The researcher must specify whether theinvestigation will collect data aboutindividuals, households, organizations, departments, geographical areas, or objectsResearch Summer School 54
  55. 55. O A written statement of the research design thatincludes a statement explaining the purpose of thestudy and a detailed, systematic outline ofprocedures associated with a particular researchmethodologyO The research proposal must communicate exactlywhat information will be obtained, where it willbe obtained, and how it will be obtainedResearch Summer School 55
  56. 56. Include SMART Personal objectivesSpecific: What precisely do you hope to achieve from undertaking theresearch?Measurable: What measures will you use to determine whether youhave achieved your objectives?(Secured a career-level first job insoftware design)Achievable: Are the targets you have set for yourself achievable givenall the possible constraints?Realistic: Given all other demands upon your time, will you have thetime and energy to complete the research on time?Timely: Will you have time to accomplish all your objectives?Research Summer School 56
  57. 57. O Formulate PICO questionO Write a FINER(feasible, interesting, novel, ethical, relevant)educational research questionO Translate your question into a working hypothesisResearch Summer School 57
  58. 58. Research Summer School 58
  59. 59. WorkshopPlease think of your research question inrelation to the morning class
  60. 60. O Does client-centered therapy produce more satisfaction inclients than traditional therapy?O Does behavior modification reduce aggression in autisticchildren?O Are the descriptions of people in social studies discussionsbiased?O What goes on in an elementary school classroom during anaverage week?O Do teachers behave differently toward students of differentgenders? (causal-comparative design)O How do parents feel about the school counseling program?O How can a principal improve faculty morale?Research Summer School 60
  61. 61. O What is your area of interest?O Where could you look for help in decidingupon a specific research problem?O What criteria will you apply when decidingupon a specific research problem?O How could you narrow down your researchproblem?O How might your value-judgments(preconceived ideas) affect your researchendeavors?Research Summer School 61
  62. 62. 1. Be clearly linked to overall project goal2. Allow the target population to be identified3. Guide the appropriate level of aggregation (e.g. class,course, curriculum, institution)4. Identify the outcome variables and key predictors ofthose variables5. Determine what type of study is needed (e.g.descriptive, relational, experimental)6. Identify background characteristics that mightinfluence outcomes7. Raise questions about how to best collect data8. Influence the number of participants in the studyResearch Summer School 62
  63. 63. Research Summer School 63
  64. 64. Research Summer School 64