Research Methods I - Lecture 1 - Research, what is it (good for)?


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The first lecture in a freshman course on pluralistic approaches to research methodology.

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  • Hand out red and green cards for polling. Tell them to bring them to the next lectures as well.
  • For course structure, don’tforgettomention the logic betweenlecturesandtutorials, and the link thisimpliesfor reading the literature as well.Alsomention ‘At the CuttingEdge: Research in Practice’ (first session is upcomingTuesday) – see course manual.
  • For house rules, address at least these points:AttendanceElectronic equipment in classContacting me or your tutor (if that’s not also me)  see the course manualFor assessment, mention at least:WeightingDeadlinesExplain basic idea for each assignmentHave them check the course manual about naming the documents for digital submissionBefore you go on to the next slide, gather practical questions that students may still have.
  • Before you go on to the next slide, take some time to gather questions that students have about substantive issues (specific concepts, things that were unclear in the book, etc.). Also ask about things that they would specifically like to learn more about today.Answer those questions directly or address them during the rest of the class.
  • Do a quick in-class poll first.Who started this course thinking it would be boring?Who still thinks it will be boring?Of those who still think that, who of you are willing to give it an honest try?Because the academic way to try and make the world a better place is through creating a critical, and hopefully better understanding of the world in all its facets. Solve actual problems, or fundamentally understand a phenomenon better.Research is what we call the process of creating this ‘better understanding’.We look at things very closely, and systematically, and try to be transparent and unbiased in doing so.We offer a good analysis based on that very close look.In doing so, we hope to expand the knowledge we have.
  • Knowledge that is not known in the wider world; not just unknown to you.
  • Nomothetic: natural sciences, quantitative social sciencesIdiographic: humanities, qualitative social sciences
  • Examples of variables in a study may include age, gender and socioeconomic status.
  • Interval: blood pressure, IQ, time to bike to UCM
  • Research Methods I - Lecture 1 - Research, what is it (good for)?

    1. 1. Research Methods 1 Research, what is it (good for)? – Lecture 1
    2. 2. Welcome • Who am I? • What do I do (and how can you help)? • What is this course about? – Research Methods 1, 2, and Project – Course structure 2
    3. 3. The Research Methods Semester Semester 1 & 2 Period 1 & 4 Research Methods II (SKI1004) Many ways of doing research Period 3 & 6 Research Methods I What is (good) research? Period 2 & 5 (SKI1005) Doing Your Research Project (PRO1011) (Currently incorrectly titled ‘Research Proposal Writing’ in the Course Catalog) The research process Analyzing data Asking the right questions Writing a research proposal Presenting results 3
    4. 4. Practical Issues • RTFM • House rules • Assessment • Literature – Getting the book – Using assigned literature • Shaping this course 4
    5. 5. Topics for today • What is research methods? • Research methods vocabulary & different approaches • The place of theory in research • The role of literature in research (if we still have time for that) 5
    6. 6. What are methods? Or, let’s take it one step back first: WHAT IS RESEARCH? 6
    7. 7. Why Research Methods? No really, why? 7
    8. 8. What is research? • To create new knowledge • Finding answers to questions (or problems) – Posing the right questions to begin with. – Answering those questions systematically. 8
    9. 9. What is research not (necessarily)? • Complex, difficult, hard to do. • Statistics, or generally done with a computer. • Boring (no really!) 9
    10. 10. What are Methods? • The systematic process by which we conduct research. • Rooted in certain assumptions on ‘reality’ and ‘knowledge’ (which we’ll discuss next week). • Methodology vs. ‘techniques’ (sometimes called ‘methods’) 10
    11. 11. Basic Process of doing Research Define topic Formulate question Decide on approach Gather information (data) Analyze Present 11
    12. 12. Purpose of Research 12
    13. 13. A bit of vocabulary that we can use, and the major APPROACHES TO RESEARCH 13
    14. 14. Three Components of a Research Approach 14
    15. 15. Three Approaches to Research Qualitative research: – Focuses on individual meanings. – Tends to use open ended questions. – Collects data in participant’s setting. – Moves from particulars to general themes (inductive; we’ll get to that). – Written report tends to be flexible in structure. Quantitative research: – Tests the relationships among measurable things (variables; we’ll get to that as well). – Tends to use closed ended questions. – Produces numerical data. – Uses statistical analysis of data generated. – Tests theories deductively, final report is structured. Mixed methods research: – Collects and integrates both quantitative and qualitative data. – May provide a more comprehensive analysis of a given research problem. 15
    16. 16. Criteria for Selecting a Research Approach Quantitative approach is best when: – Testing causal relationships (factor/s that influence a particular outcome). – Evaluating the usefulness or successes of an intervention. – Establishing which factors best predict an outcome. – Testing theories or explanations. Qualitative approach is best when: – The Researcher is uncertain about which are the most important variables to be examined. – If the topic is new, sample population is unexplored by the topic or the dominant explanations may not apply to a given sample population. – If we want to understand hard to quantify concepts better (‘meanings’, ‘identities’, etc.). 16
    17. 17. Criteria for Selecting a Research Approach (continued) Mixed Methods approach is best when: – Neither quantitative nor qualitative approaches will adequately examine the variables being researched. – The Researcher wants to capitalize on the strengths of both qualitative and quantitative approaches. • Personal Experiences – – – – – Training Preferences Time Resources Experiences • Audience – – – – Advisors Journal editors Graduate committees Colleagues in the field 17
    18. 18. Confirmatory vs. Exploratory • Confirmatory: is it true what we believe based on the existing theory and literature? • Exploratory: what is going on here, and how can we explain it? 18
    19. 19. Research logics • Deductive: work from the ‘top down’. • Inductive: work from the ‘bottom up’. • Nomothetic: aims to generalize, and come up with ‘universal’ laws. • Idiographic: aims to specify, and come up with particularistic meanings and descriptions. 19
    20. 20. Deductive Logic 20
    21. 21. Inductive Logic 21
    22. 22. Combining inductive and deductive methods 22
    23. 23. Now that you get the basic idea, let’s talk about SOME BASIC CONCEPTS 23
    24. 24. Variables • A variable is a characteristic of an individual or group that is measurable. • Variables may have temporal order, or be measurable or observable. • Normally used within quantitative approaches. • Not used very often in qualitative approaches (though they can be). 24
    25. 25. Types of Variables • Independent – Variables that (probably) cause outcomes • Dependent – The outcomes that depend on the independent variables • Intervening or mediating – Variables that stand between the independent and dependent variables • Control – Independent variables that are measured and statistically "controlled" • Confounding – Variables that could also affect the dependent variables, but cannot or will not be measured 25
    26. 26. Types of information in variables • Data: – Categorical 1. Nominal 2. Ordinal – Quantifiable 3. Interval 4. Ratio 26
    27. 27. Population • The whole (theoretical) group of people, things, observations, phenomena, etc. that we wish to make statements about. 27
    28. 28. Sample • A selection from the population that we will study in our research. 28
    29. 29. Size of the sample • N = Number of people, things, observations, etc. in the sample. 29
    30. 30. Quality control: Validity • Internal validity: Do we measure what we intend to measure? • External validity: Can we generalize this to the population to which we want to? 30
    31. 31. Quality of food 31
    32. 32. Quality control: Reliability • Are the ways in which we are measuring things consistent over time, or between cases? 32
    33. 33. Defining and using THEORY 33
    34. 34. The Nature of Theories ‘A set of interrelated constructs (concepts), definitions, and propositions that present a systematic view of phenomena by specifying relations among variables, with the purpose of explaining and predicting phenomena.’ (Kerlinger, 2000: 9) 34
    35. 35. The Use of Theory • The literature determines what theories may be used to examine the research questions • Quantitative studies tend to test theories as explanations • Qualitative studies may generate the theory • Mixed methods studies may have no theories at all or a theoretical framework in which both quantitative and qualitative data are collected 35
    36. 36. Finding, reviewing, and using LITERATURE 36
    37. 37. The Use of Literature • Provide a summary of major studies on the research problem. • Demonstrate the writers knowledge of the topic/problem/issue. • Integrate what others have done and said about the topic/problem/issue. • May criticize previous scholarly works on the topic/problem/issue. 37
    38. 38. Positioning the literature review 38
    39. 39. The Use of Literature in a Quantitative Study In quantitative studies the literature is used deductively as it provides a framework for the research questions and hypothesis – Provide direction to the research questions and hypotheses – Introduce a problem – Introduce and describe the theory that will be used – Examine the usefulness of the theory – Compare results with existing literature or predictions 39
    40. 40. Using Literature in a Qualitative Study 1. 2. 3. 40
    41. 41. Selecting Literature Material 1. Broad syntheses (such as encyclopedias) Especially if you are new to the topic 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Journal articles Academic books Conference papers Dissertations Reports on the web 41
    42. 42. Style: Definition of Terms & Concepts • Qualitative studies are inductive and evolutionary in nature hence the definition of terms may appear later in the written report, perhaps in the data analysis. • Quantitative studies are deductive with a fixed set of objectives, hence all relevant terms are comprehensively defined earlier in the study. • In Mixed methods studies the definition of relevant terms follows the use of (earlier or later in the study) and emphasis placed on quantitative and qualitative approaches. 42
    43. 43. What is bad research? 1. Research that is fraudulent. 2. Research that is in a technical sense correct, but misleading. 3. Research that is sloppy or poorly written. 4. Research that is made in good faith, but in error. 5. Research that makes extremely small or incremental arguments. 6. Research that has no real-world application. 43