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by Mildred Patten


Leaders rely on research to make decisions

Must be able to sort/evaluate info
Often conduct research in job
Lifestyle decisions based on research
Need to read/report research for classes

Empirical Research

Simple observations can be misleading

Plan systematic observation (so not misled)

Why observe - need for study (purpose/significance)

Who observe - population or a sample of one, not biased against

any subgroup (subjects)

How observe - tests, interviews, surveys, direct observation

(measurement in numbers or words)

When observe - existing groups or experimental ones

(descriptive or cause and effect research design)

Process is to describe existing situation

(literature), produce new data (empirical data
collection), draw conclusions

Experimental Versus Non-Experimental


Experiments treat then observe changes in

behavior to establish cause and effect

Two groups assigned at random (equal chance to be in

either group)

Treatment group (experimental group) behavior

observed versus control group behavior

Quasi-experimental (causal-comparative) has no


Randomization essential in TRUE experiments!!!

Non-Experimental Research

No treatments given
Observe and describe

Often called descriptive research

The type of measurement used does not

indicate whether or not research is experimental

Cause and effect determined by true

experiments, only suggested by quasi

Experimental Versus Causal

Comparative Studies

Experiments establish cause and effect

Often unable to experiment due to legal, ethical,

physical, financial reasons

Alternatives Quasi-Experimental
See an effect that has occurred
Look at past to determine cause
(ex post facto research)
Use controls such as matching

Dangers in Quasi-Experimental Studies

(aka Causal-Comparative)

Common cause for both the cause and the effect

being investigated

stress causes smoking and cancer

Difficult to establish that experimental and

control groups are equivalent

Essentially observational or descriptive, BUT

goes a step further to explore causality

Types Of Non-Experimental Research

Causal Comparative (quasi-experimental) describe existing

differences, try to identify cause
Survey/poll (descriptive) observe and describe attitudes,
opinions, behaviors (can be self-observation)
Case study in depth study of one case (individ/group)
Longitudinal research observe same subjects over a long
time period
Correlational observe relationships, make predictions
Historical examine existing data to test hypotheses

Topics 1-4

What does empirical research mean?

What is the purpose of experimental research?

What is the difference in experimental and causal comparative (or quasiexperimental) research?

What is the difference between experimental and non-experimental research?

If I conduct a study of students to determine their attitudes toward tuition

rates, what type of study is this?

Variables In Non-Experimental

Variable A trait that can vary/change

Categorical variables (gender)

Mutually exclusive (no overlapping categories)

Exhaustive (all possible choices provided)

Quantitative (grade point average)

Measure in real numbers

Independent versus dependent (in causal


Cause is independent

Variables In Experimental Studies

Experiments have AT LEAST one independent variable
(IV) and one dependent variable (DV)

Experiments investigate how a change in the IV affects

the DV

IV is manipulated and change in the DV is measured

Non-experimental studies have no manipulation

Simple experiment = one IV and one DV

Complex = more than one IV or DV

Topics 5-6
What type of variable (Categorical or Quantitative) is gender?
test score? race? times logged on to the library site?


test score


What is an independent variable (IV)?

What is a dependent variable (DV)?

times logged

If I want to examine whether incentives affect productivity, what

variable is the IV (and DV)?

Research Hypotheses, Purposes, And


Research hypothesis predicts the outcome of a


Directional (one group will score higher)

Direction is based on previous research

Null hypothesis tested statistically

Non-directional (a difference will be found)

Research purpose or research question often used here

Research questions should be interesting
(how groups differ, not simply do they differ)

Operational Definitions

Conceptual or constitutive dictionary meaning

Operational specific steps used to measure the


A matter of degree

Strive to allow replication of the study

Replication by other researchers enhances confidence

in results

Topics 7-8

What is a research hypothesis?

It is hypothesized that athletes will have higher GPAs than nonathletes. Is this a research question or a hypothesis?
Explain the difference between operational and conceptual or
constitutive definitions.

If I define intelligence as the number of minutes it takes a person to

solve a puzzle, is this a conceptual or operational definition?

Quantitative v. Qualitative Research

(Part I)


Deductive (read literature, deduce hypothesis, test)

Structured measures (surveys use numbers)
Large sample (subjects); generalize to population
Researcher removed from process


Inductive (observe local situation, propose theory)

Unstructured data collection (words/themes)
Small sample; limit conclusions to group studied
Researcher involved (participants); individual quotes

Quantitative v. Qualitative Research

(Pt. II)

Research Questions (RQ) dictate type

If RQ unclear or little is known in literature, may need


Time/Money/Subject availability

Limited subject availability means quantitative

Qualitative takes more time and money

Often combine both

Initial qualitative investigation leads to quantitative

Topics 9-10
If I want to determine how much people tend to pay for new cars,
is this likely to be quantitative or qualitative research?

If I want to see why police officers fail to give DUI tickets to

drivers who are obviously impaired, is this better suited to qualitative
or quantitative?

Surveys tend to what kind of research?

What type of research has the greatest potential for researcher


Program Evaluation

Evaluation Research (not usually experimental)

Applied (not basic) research

Includes needs assessment (of those served)

Formative evaluate (modify) during program

Process is evaluated (how implementing)

Progress is evaluated (goal attainment)

Summative end of program goal attainment

(may have comparison group)

Ethical Considerations in Research

Standards followed in research community

Protect subjects from physical/psychological harm

Review committees used for legal protection

Subjects have rights (privacy, confidentiality,

knowledge of purpose)

Informed consent required (tell general purpose/benefits;

procedures used; potential harm; right to withdraw/refuse without

Debriefing needed after study (review purpose; offer to share

results; assure confidentiality)

Hidden purpose often needed (ethical dilemmas)

Role of Theory in Research

Theory unified explanation for discrete


Researchers test theories

Deduce hypotheses from theories and test with

observations (confirm/reject hypothesis quantitative

Induce theory from observations (called grounded

theory used in qualitative)

Topics 11-13
What is the difference between formative and summative

What are the rights of subjects in research?

Explain the concept of informed consent:

Deducing hypotheses to test theories is done in quantitative or

qualitative research?


(first step in planning research)

Start with broad problem area

Review both theoretical and research literature

Helps narrow scope and develop research questions or

hypotheses to test

Can replicate other studies (mimic original)

Modified replication (new/modified population/instrument)

Focus on conflict identified in literature

Benefits to Reviewing Literature

Identify measurement instruments to use

Avoid dead-ends and wasted efforts
Learn how to write research reports

Cite relevant literature in the Introduction

provides context for reader and justifies doing study

Reviewing literature demonstrates your expertise

(located it, used it in planning, cited it correctly)

Locating Literature Electronically

Articles are more up-to-date than books

ERIC, PsychLit, SocioFile (discussed in textbook)

Infotrac I (OneFile), ABI-Inform (our library)

Each article is a record, made of fields (title, author,

date, descriptors)

Best searching requires good descriptors (use a

thesaurus to find them)

Use of Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT) helps to

narrow searches

Organizing a Literature Review

Describe broad problem area and define major terms

Establish importance of topic by

Citing other research that shows it is important enough to study

Citing statistics showing broad application of topic

Write topic-by-topic description (w/ headings/subhds)

Group references together when about a common topic

Include both methods used and results found in previous studies

Sometimes need to trace the history of topic

Summarize the topic at the end and indicate relevance to your


Move from least related to most related topics

Preparing to Write a Critical Review

(Note that this is NOT a series of reports on articles/books)

The lit. review is a CRITICAL assessment of

literature on a topic
Your assessment of the studies reviewed should
show through in your discussion of them
Discuss both weak and strong points of studies
reviewed (incl. sampling/instrument/limitations)
See Examples in textbook

Creating a Synthesis (in writing Lit.


Provide a whole picture of what is known about the topic

An outline of subtopics is useful
Move from subtopic to subtopiceach paragraph should be organized around a
topic (first sentence of each paragraph is the topic sentence!)
Cite together numerous authors making the same point
Might devote a whole paragraph to important and central sources
Give limited details on research methods to explain differences in findings, but
criticize such things as small or biased samples
Provide specific definitions for technical terms
Use quotations sparingly
Use transitional terms/phrases (As a consequence; therefore)
Follow style manual for citing references carefully and consistently (APA)

Citing References

Harvard method (using author, date referencing) is the

most common

APA uses it and gives guidelines in APA manual

Key characteristics (see text Examples 1-5)

Last name can be subject of sentence (emphasizes


Content can be subject (authors not emphasized)

Use authors as subject when compare/contrast

Reference list includes only those cited in text!


Whats the first step in reviewing the literature?

What are the benefits of reviewing the literature

What purpose do citations serve?

Why are refereed articles so important in reviewing the literature?

Explain the difference between an annotated bibliography and a written

literature review: