Identify the strengths and limitations of commonly used research methods. Evaluate the appropriateness of various scientific methods.

You have had a chance to become familiar with the literature in your topic area and to think about future research directions that will make a unique contribution to the literature (assignment 1).  In assignment 2, you will be asked to focus your ideas and to develop a specific line of questioning. The goal for this assignment is to identify the concepts and/or variables relevant to your research study.  In this second assignment, you will build upon the literature review (assignment 1) to state the purpose of your study, operationally define key concepts related to your research purpose, and how you will collect data to address your research purpose. The assignments in this course are helping you to develop skills related to information and research literacy.

Learning Outcomes

Learners will be required to:

identify the strengths and limitations of commonly used research methods

evaluate the appropriateness of various scientific methods

identify gaps in knowledge and propose recommendations/solutions

locate appropriate evidence based sources

Step 1: Develop your study purpose and design

To complete assignment 2 you must develop the following:

  1. A research study purpose that will add new knowledge to your topic of interest
  2. A study design that will allow you to address your research purpose

Please note that there will be a lot of moving parts as you work through assignment 2.  If you make changes in one section of the assignment, it is likely that these changes need to be reflected in other sections of your assignment.

Step 2: Write the assignment

The second assignment will consist of two sections.  In the first section you will identify your purpose statement, hypotheses and/or research questions, and identify the theoretical and study populations, sampling frame, and sample.  In section two you will identify major variables/concepts you will be investigating.

Section 1: Identify your purpose statement, research questions(s)/hypotheses, and population/sample

In the first part of your assignment you need to clearly:

  1. Identify your study’s purpose statement

    • Your purpose statement must reflect your methodology (design of study; e.g., qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods)
    • See Chapter 2 (pgs. 33-37) on how to write a purpose statement
    • Quantitativemust include:

      • Independent and dependent variables OR predictor and criterion variables
      • Identify the theoretical framework or model that is guiding the study (if applicable)
      • Identify the participants targeted for the study (inclusion criteria)
      • The strategy of inquiry (e.g., non-experimental, experimental)
    • Qualitativemust include (note: the red elements below are outlined in the textbook but do NOT need to be included in your purpose statement)

      • Identify and describe the central phenomenon or idea)
      • Recognize thephilosophical worldview and research approach
      • Identify the participants targeted for the study (inclusion criteria)
      • Mention the strategy of inquiry (e.g., grounded theory, phenomenology)
      • Identify the research site where the study is being conducted
  1. Identify and justify (using peer reviewed literature) your research hypotheses (quantitative) and/or research questions (qualitative)

    • Quantitative – Must include research hypotheses:

      • Must describe the predicted relationship(s) between independent and dependent variables OR predictor and criterion variables
      • Need to reflect your study design (correlational or examining group differences).  Thus, if you are conducting a correlational study design you need to state whether you anticipate observing a positive or negative relationship (e.g., The hypotheses for this study are that a) [X] will be positively related to [Y] and b) [X] will be negatively related to [Z]).  If you are comparing groups you need to state which group you anticipate to score higher/lower on each of the dependent variables (e.g., The hypothesis for this study is that the participants in the treatment group will have [higher/lower?] scores on the [dependent variable] compared to the control group).
      • Depending on your study design you may have more than one hypothesis.  You must write the number of hypotheses that reflect your study design.  You can include more than one research hypothesis into one sentence.  For instance, the example of the correlation research hypothesis stated above contains two research hypotheses.
      • You must justify (with supporting peer reviewed references) eachof your research hypotheses (why do you expect to observe these results?)
    • Qualitative – Must include 2-3 research questions:

      • 2-3 broadresearch questions about the central phenomenon.  Qualitative research questions are broad in nature.  You will be evaluated on two things.  The first is whether the research questions reflect the central phenomena in your purpose statement and secondly do they require a qualitative approach to answer.
        • The following is an example of a research purpose statement and questions from Bennett et al.
          • Research purpose: “The purpose of the study was to qualitatively examine the role of and meanings attributed to physical activity among women throughout the course of their pregnancies”
          • Research questions: How do women experience physical activity as pregnancy progresses?  What are the barriers and facilitators to physical activity over the course of pregnancy?
        • Be sure to justify (with supporting peer reviewed references) why the research questions are important to address.
  1. Define and justify (using peer reviewed literature) the population you will be studying (theoretical and study populations), identify what participant sample you will examine and how you will obtain participants (sampling frame).  

    • Please watch the following video for requirements on this part of the assignment
    • What are the inclusion criteria (access to)
    • Identify potential sample
    • What are the specifics of accessing these potential participants
    • Why are you studying this population

Section 2: Identify your study design and concepts

Every empirical research study has variables, constructs, and/or key concepts to consider (something that can be measured, assessed, or documented).  Your task is to identify, provide operational definitions, and describe how you will collect data for the variables (quantitative) and/or key concepts (qualitative) that will be addressed in your study. It is expected that you will cite appropriate references (see additional points and formatting below) when providing operational definitions, supporting an argument, and referring to specific measurement instruments and/or data collection procedures.   Be sure to address the following in your write-up if they are applicable to your research study:

  • Identify and provide operational definitions for the key concepts to be examined in your study (if applicable)
  • Identify and provide operational definitions for the criterion or dependent variable(s) (key outcomes to be assessed) in your study (if applicable)
  • Identify and provide operational definitions for the predictor or independent variable(s) in this study that will be examined (if applicable). If applicable, identify and define the levels of the independent variable(s).
  • Identify and provide an operational definition for extraneous variables that may impact your study’s findings (if applicable). Explain why they are extraneous variables and how you will control for these extraneous variables. Identify extraneous variables that you cannot control for (if applicable) and justify why you cannot control for these extraneous variables.
  • Identify how your data will be gathered (e.g., what measures will you use? Interviews/observations? Questionnaires?).
  • Identify the theoretical perspective are you using for your study (if applicable; e.g., you cannot study ‘motivation’ – this is too broad; you need to state which theoretical perspective of motivation will guide your study). Describing a theory is not a requirement of this assignment (you will not lose marks if you do not describe a theory), but theory often enhances our understanding of what we know about a topic.

Operationally measurementà how you plan to measure a concept

The following video provides a good overview of what an operational definition is:

My hint to you when trying to operationally define your variables or key concepts is to look at the introduction or methods sections of other research papers where the authors are measuring the same variable and see how they operationally define their variables.

Additional considerations:

  • This may seem counter intuitive, but you need to make sure everything in your assignment is consistent/congruent (e.g., your purpose statement and hypotheses need to reflect the variables that you are studying, thus you need to figure out which variables you are studying first).
  • If you are proposing a mixed methods study then you need to complete both the qualitative and quantitative components as outlined in sections 1 and 2.
  • If you are proposing a quantitative study a nice layout for section 2 is to identify a variable, operationally define the variable, and then tell the reader how you would measure that variable (repeat as many times as necessary).
  • If you are proposing a quantitative study the labelling of your variables needs to reflect your study design.


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Reference no: EM132069492

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