What is research? Why do we undertake it?
Research is the means by which we find answers to
questions which we have set ourselves or which have
been set for us by others
unresolved problems arising from academic literature
the need to monitor the effects of action already taken
the desire to assess the level of satisfaction with a service
High quality of research?
It is based on the work of others
It can be replicated
It is generalizable to other settings
It is based on some logical rationale
It is doable
It generates new questions or is cyclical in nature
It is incremental
It is an apolitical activity that should be undertaken for
the betterment of society
Language of Research
Theoretical and empirical
Social research is theoretical, meaning that much of it is
concerned with developing, exploring or testing the
theories or ideas that social researchers have about how
the world operates.
But it is also empirical, meaning that it is based on
observations and measurements of reality
Language of Research
Statistics become so dominant in social research is that it
allows us to estimate probabilities for the situations we
Most social research is interested in looking at causeeffect relationships. This doesn't mean that most studies
actually study cause-effect relationships.
There are some studies that simply observe and some
others that explore relationships. If we want to change the
world, we are automatically interested in causal
relationships - ones that tell us how our causes affect the
outcomes of interest.
Types of questions
A study designed primarily to describe what is going on or what
A study designed to look at the relationships between two or
A study designed to determine whether one or more variables
causes or affects one or more outcome variables.
If we did a public opinion poll to try to determine whether a
recent political advertising campaign
preferences, we would essentially be studying whether the
campaign (cause) changed the proportion of voters who would
vote left or right (effect).
Time in Research
Time is an important element of any research design.
Introduce one of the most fundamental distinctions in
Cross-sectional : A study that takes place at a single
point in time. In effect, we are taking a 'slice' or crosssection of whatever it is we're observing or measuring.
Time series: A study that takes place over time.
Types of Relationships
A relationship refers to the correspondence between two
The nature of the relationship
A correlational relationship simply says that two things
perform in a synchronized manner (third variable prob.).
A causal relationship if the two variables are not only in
correspondence, but that one causes the other.
Patterns of Relationships
Types of Relationships: Variables
A variable is any entity that can take on different values.
Anything that can vary can be considered a variable.
Variables aren't always 'quantitative' or numerical.
Another important distinction having to do with the term
'variable' is the distinction between an independent and
dependent variable. This distinction is particularly
relevant when you are investigating cause-effect
the independent variable is what you (or nature) manipulates
-- a treatment or program or cause.
The dependent variable is what is affected by the
independent variable -- your effects or outcomes.
An hypothesis is a specific statement of prediction. It
describes in concrete (rather than theoretical) terms
what you expect will happen in your study.
A single study may have one or many hypotheses.
Actually, whenever we talk about an hypothesis, we are
really thinking simultaneously about two hypotheses.
Usually, we call the hypothesis that you support (your
prediction) the alternative hypothesis, and we call the
hypothesis that describes the remaining possible
outcomes the null hypothesis.
Criteria for “good” hypothesis
Should be stated as a declaration not as a question
should explicitly state the expected relationship among
should reflect the theory or literature it is based on
should be brief and to the point
should be testable
Types and Sources of Data
Types of Data
Sources of Data
Structure of Research
Process usually start with a broad area of interest
should be narrowed down
formulate a hypothesis or a focus question
now, it is possible to get engaged in measurement or
collection of the basic data enables the researcher to
understand the problem
Even preliminary analysis of data might point out some
of the conclusions
attempt to address the original broad question