Research Week 2


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  • Research Week 2

    1. 1. Review for Research Proposal Development February 5
    2. 2. Today’s topics <ul><li>problem formulation </li></ul><ul><li>hypothesis formulation </li></ul><ul><li>independent and dependent variables </li></ul><ul><li>operational definitions </li></ul><ul><li>review of the literature </li></ul>
    3. 3. What is theory? <ul><li>systematic set of interrelated statements intended to explain some phenomena </li></ul><ul><li>a theory’s purpose is to explain and predict a phenomena </li></ul><ul><li>helps us make sense out of and see patterns in diverse observations </li></ul>
    4. 4. The language of theory <ul><li>Encompasses a system of variables </li></ul><ul><li>Involves the study of variables and the attributes that compose them </li></ul>
    5. 5. The components of theory <ul><li>Hypothesis: a statement that attempts to explain something </li></ul><ul><li>Variables: things hypotheses predict </li></ul><ul><li>Attributes: the concepts that make up a variable; characteristics or qualities that describe something or somebody </li></ul><ul><li>Example: Gender (variable) composed of the attributes, male and female </li></ul>
    6. 6. Variables <ul><li>Most hypotheses predict which variable influences the other </li></ul><ul><li>- Independent variable: one that explains or causes something </li></ul><ul><li>- Dependent variable: one that is being explained or caused; the variable which is the effect </li></ul>
    7. 7. Independent vs. Dependent Variables <ul><li>Independent Variables </li></ul><ul><li>precede the observation, intervention </li></ul><ul><li>“ do not vary” </li></ul><ul><li>are known </li></ul><ul><li>Dependent Variables </li></ul><ul><li>change or vary depend upon something happening, some relationship existing, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>It’s what we’re interested in changing, measuring, etc. </li></ul>
    8. 8. Problem Formulation
    9. 9. Phases in the research process <ul><li>Problem Formulation </li></ul><ul><li>Study Design </li></ul><ul><li>Data Collection/Processing </li></ul><ul><li>Data Analyses </li></ul><ul><li>Interpretation of Findings </li></ul>
    10. 10. Problem Formulation <ul><li>A difficulty is recognized for which more knowledge is needed </li></ul><ul><li>A review of the literature is conducted </li></ul><ul><li>The research question is posed </li></ul><ul><li>Purpose of the research is finalized </li></ul><ul><li>- units of analysis </li></ul><ul><li>- hypothesis </li></ul><ul><li>- variables identified/operationally defined </li></ul>
    11. 11. Research Problems <ul><li>statements about a general social condition, “disorder,” etc. that is problematic for society, the funders, the researcher, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>framed as statements: </li></ul><ul><li>Youth who had been in foster care are more likely to become chronically unemployed than youth who were not in foster care. </li></ul><ul><li>The physical health status of homeless individuals is worse than the health status of people who are not homeless. </li></ul>
    12. 12. Research questions <ul><li>clear, specific questions explaining the intent or objective of the research </li></ul><ul><li>Remember: they are framed in the interrogative: </li></ul><ul><li>What is the connection between poverty and social satisfaction? </li></ul><ul><li>Is there an association between childhood sexual abuse and dysfunctional relationships as an adult? </li></ul>
    13. 13. What makes a research question a good one? <ul><li>Relevant for policy or practice </li></ul><ul><li>Can be answered by observable evidence </li></ul><ul><li>Is there more than one possible acceptable answer? </li></ul>
    14. 14. Purposes of Research <ul><li>Exploration </li></ul><ul><li>- provides a beginning familiarity with a topic that is relatively new/unstudied </li></ul><ul><li>Description </li></ul><ul><li>- describes situations and events. </li></ul><ul><li>Explanation </li></ul><ul><li>- addresses why something happens </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluation </li></ul><ul><li>- evaluates social policies, programs, and interventions </li></ul>
    15. 15. Topic selection <ul><li>How should you or I pick a topic? </li></ul><ul><li>--Theory should always help guide us. </li></ul>
    17. 17. Hypotheses <ul><li>NULL: </li></ul><ul><li>no relationship exists between the variables </li></ul><ul><li>ALTERNATIVE: </li></ul><ul><li>a relationship does exist </li></ul><ul><li>can specify the direction </li></ul><ul><li>postulate the relationship between two variables </li></ul><ul><li>tentative statements predicting what researchers expect to find </li></ul>
    18. 18. Defining the Phenomena <ul><li>conceptual definitions </li></ul><ul><li>general, refined definitions of abstract concepts </li></ul><ul><li>operational definitions </li></ul><ul><li>instructions for how a concept was measured or evaluated </li></ul><ul><li>explicit; very specific </li></ul><ul><li>anyone in the same situation will measure the concept in the same way </li></ul>
    19. 19. Operational Definitions Examples <ul><li>Poverty: </li></ul><ul><li>Household income less than $20,000/year </li></ul><ul><li>Inability to pay rent in 2 of last 3 months </li></ul><ul><li>80% of caloric intake from food stamps or food pantry </li></ul><ul><li><100% of US poverty threshold </li></ul>
    20. 20. Examples (continued) <ul><li>Marital satisfaction : </li></ul><ul><li>Can we say the amount of happiness in a marriage? </li></ul><ul><li>Why, why not? </li></ul>
    21. 21. Writing Task… <ul><li>Identify a research problem </li></ul><ul><li>What is a related research question? </li></ul><ul><li>Write a null and an alternative hypothesis. </li></ul><ul><li>Operationally define one variable under investigation. </li></ul>
    22. 22. Some questions to consider: <ul><li>Does this study have clear significance for SW practice or social welfare? </li></ul><ul><li>What population or sub-population are we interested in? </li></ul><ul><li>What’s already been investigated? </li></ul><ul><li>What aspect of a theory interests us? </li></ul><ul><li>What evidence/data is available? </li></ul>
    23. 23. Practicality <ul><li>Feasibility: consider practical constraints of time, money, available subjects/data, ethics. </li></ul><ul><li>What will be supported by the environment in which we’re working? </li></ul><ul><li>Recent prominence of an issue can lead to interest in and funding for research. </li></ul>
    24. 24. Literature Reviews <ul><li>What does theory tell us? </li></ul><ul><li>What’s already been done before? </li></ul><ul><li>Conflicts, consistencies in the literature </li></ul>
    25. 25. For Next Week: <ul><li>Read the Yang and Marcotte (2007) article </li></ul><ul><ul><li>link from Blackboard syllabus </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lehman Library </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Pay attention to the </li></ul><ul><ul><li>research questions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>operational definitions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>hypotheses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>and other concepts from this week and next </li></ul></ul>