# Choosing a Research Topic

- Interest

- usually choose topics of interest to the researcher
- interest may develop from
- personal interest in a phenomenon
- the influence of knowledge after having worked in the field
- observations made from the world

- Problem Solving

- there exists a need to generate an alternate more effective or efficient solution to a problem

- Previous Research

- "Research begets research"
- based on the findings of a previous study
- one many seek to replicate the study
- extend the generalizability of the study by testing different populations or, in different settings

- Generally research raises more questions than it answers

- based on the findings of a previous study

- Theory

- can serve as a rich source for hypothesis formulation
- Theories make predictions
- Which then can be transformed into a testable hypothesis

- Theories make predictions

# Literature Review

- Review the Existing Literature on a Topic

- Purpose is to familiarize oneself with the works that have already been conducted in the topic area
- It helps to guide the research in the appropriate direction by answering several questions related to the topic area…And generating other questions that may not have been previously considered

- Questions that should be Addresses in the Lit Review

- Has work been conducted in this topic area?
- What do the results of these studies suggest?
- Was any unforeseen methodological difficulties encountered that I should be aware of for my study?
- Does more research on this topic need to be conducted? And if so, in what specific areas?

### Formulating a Research Problem

- It takes the form of a concise question regarding the relationship between two or more variables

- Its important to make sure the question is specific enough to avoid confusion and to indicate clearly what is being studied
- Vagueness is to be AVOIDED

- Criteria

- Should describe the relationship between two or more variables
- Should take the form f a question
- Must be capable of being tested empirically

- Operational Definitions

- Main function is to avoid confusion within the research design
- it defines key concepts and terms so that readers understand clearly what and who is being measured in a research study
- This is crucial for replication and understanding the limits of generalizability

## Articulating Hypotheses

- Hypotheses attempt to explain, predict, and explore the phenomenon of interest

- It is the researcher's educated guess about how the study will turn out
- All hypotheses must be falsifiable
- Meaning they are capable of being refuted based on the study's results

- All hypotheses must make a prediction about the relationship between the two or more variables

- Null Hypothesis

- Always predicts that there will be no difference between the groups/variables being studied
- It is the null hypothesis which is tested
- It is either rejected or not rejected based on the results of statistical analysis
- Rejecting the null hypothesis only allows the researcher to not reject the alternate hypothesis…Never Accept

- Alternate Hypothesis

- Always predicts that there will be a difference between the groups/variables being studied

- Hypotheses CAN NOT be "Accepted"

- Reject
- Fail to reject

- Directional vs. Nondirectional Hypothesis

- The use of directional hypotheses depends on the researcher's knowledge about how the groups will differ
- There is a belief that the groups will differ
- AND, there is a belief about how the groups will differ

- Nondirectional
- There is a belief that the groups will differ
- BUT, there is no belief regarding how the groups will differ

## Choosing Variables to Study

- Variable: anything that can take on different values

: Constant - something that can not vary

- Independent Variable

- The factor manipulated or controlled by the researcher
- This is what the experimental group will be exposed to

- Levels of the Independent Variable
- Simplest Form: it is either Present or Absent
- one group is exposed to the experimental condition while the other is not

- Multiple Levels
- Groups in the experiment receive varying degrees of the independent variable

- Multiple Independent Variable
- a study can have multiple independent variable…this would demand for larger sample sizes based on the number of variables

- Simplest Form: it is either Present or Absent

- Dependent Variable

- Is the measurable effect of the Independent variable
- Baseline Measure
- is necessary to show if any effect occurred as a result of experiencing the independent variable
- this measure is taken prior to, and after exposure of the independent variable

- Categorical Variables

- variable that can take on specific values only within a defined range of values
- EX: gender, race, eye color

- Continuous Variables

- Variables that can theoretically take on any value along a continuum
- Benefit is that it allows precision of measuring
- EX: income, weight, age

- Continuous variables may be changed into categorical variables
- EX: Age Categories (Young Adulthood, Elderly) or Income Brackets

- Quantitative Variables

- Vary in amount
- The frequency with which something happens

- Qualitative Variables

- vary in kind

# Research Participants

## Selection:

Pre-existing or target groups- some research studies require specific groups; difficulties may arise such as generalizability

**Sample**- representative subset of population

**Random selection**- participants are chosen in such a way that each member of the population has an equal probability to be selected to participate

- often difficult to accomplish, unless population is narrowly defined; narrowly defining population has negative effect of limiting the representativeness of the resulting sample

- the results of a study cannot be generalized based solely on random selection; evidence for generelizability comes from replication studies

## Assigning Study Participants to Groups

**Random Assignment**- assigning in such way that each participant has equal probability of being assigned to any of the groups within the study; effective way to ensure that groups are equivalent

**Nuisance Variables**- variables that are not under researcher control

Without equivalent groups several variables may come into play; compromising results

Random Assignment is most effective in large sample sizes

# Multiculturalism Considerations

- considerable effect on a researcher’s choice of a research question and design (even if researcher is unaware)

- important in selection and composition of the sample participants used in particular research studies