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1. WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE TOPIC? Understand the history of the subject
you intend to study. This should compel you to acquire sufficient knowledge of
the subject area, along with comprehending the significance of work already
done in the field.

Knowledge-based elements:
a) a description of previous works on the topic
b) identification of leading concepts, definitions and theories
c) consideration of the ways in which definitions were developed and
operationalized as solutions to problems seen in previous work
d) identification and description of matters other researchers have
considered important

2. WHAT IS YET TO BE KNOWN/ANSWERED? Be acquainted with the current

research and debates on the topic. This should make it possible to identify
general areas of concern that might give pointers to specific matters worth

Argumentational elements:
a) a description of what you find wrong in previous works on the topic
b) a proposal for action that might solve the problem — your research
c) an explanation of the benefits that might result from adopting the proposal
d) a refutation of possible objections to the proposal

Basic Research

Summative Evaluation

Formative Evaluation
Illuminative Evaluation

Applied Research Action Research


: to contribute to theory or knowledge by

a) formulating and testing hypotheses
b) applying a theory or method to a new area
c) evaluating the generalizability of propositions across time and space

: research questions are often of a “what” and “why” form

What are the components of personality?

What is quality?

: to produce recommendations or solutions to some problems

faced by a specific group of people in a situation

: the goal is to take theoretical insights and apply them in real-

world situations

: uses both qualitative and quantitative data

: research questions are often of a “how” and “when” form

How can the structural functional approach explain witchcraft beliefs?

How can the low motivation of workers be increased through a specific

organizational structure?

: to summarize and assess the main benefits of a policy,

programme or product in order to judge its effectiveness or
applicability to a specific situation or in a range of contexts

: the aim is to assess the degree of generalizability

: usually uses abstractions and quantitative data

: research questions often follow on from some initiative

How did the changes to organizational structure change motivation


What effect has community care had on voluntary agencies?


: to make improvements to a specific programme, policy, or a set

of activities at a specific time and place, and with a specific group.

: the aim is to focus the research, using case-study method and

qualitative evidence

: research questions often focused and specific

How can this agency be more effective in meeting the needs of its

How can we maximize the benefits of this computer system for our
research team?

: to help a group to help themselves through the research

: the aim is to empower the respondents to ‘research themselves

and their situation’ and on this basis take responsibility for their
own situation, make recommendations, possibly implement those
recommendations, and perhaps even evaluate the implementation

: research questions focus on specific problems or issues, and

involves qualitative evidence

: research questions are not usually set by the researcher but are
issues subjects feel strongly about

: to make key behaviors or attitudes in a given context visible to


: the aim is to enlighten policy makers or practitioners to the

dynamics of behaviors in comparable situations in order that
those behaviors can be understood and attended to in a more
appropriate way

: a range of evidence, often qualitative, is employed.


: to describe ways in which people make the sense they do in and

through the ways they communicate

: the aim is to focus on the detail of the commonsense character

of everyday life and the practices (methods) by which we make
our actions understandable (able to be shared) by others

: close scrutiny of how people do what they do provides an

explanation of what those people do and why they do it in the way
they do


: to satisfy curiosity, provide : to understand a common and : to explain the cause of non-
better understanding or for uncommon social occurance of a phenomenon
general interest phenomenon by observing the
detail of the elements that : to show causal connections
: to examine the feasibility of make it a phenomenon in order and relationships between the
further study by indicating to provide empirical basis for variables of the types :If A then
what might be relevant to valid argument B:”
study in more depth
: questions focus on the how : to suggest reasons for events
: to provide illumination on a and what and make recommendations
process or problem for change

: questions focus on how, : questions focus on why and

what, when and where. aim to uncover laws and
regularities of a universal

: studies can be large or small

scale and are often based on
hypothetico-deductivism and
associated quantitative data
basic research, applied research, action research, summative evaluation, formative
Purpose of the Study
evaluation, illuminative evaluation, ethnomethodology

Scope of the Study what was included (and excluded); why, and to what effect?

people, policy, programs; breadth versus depth; case-study, survey, chronological,

Focus for the Study comparative etc.
individuals, groups, program components, whole programs, organizations, critical
Units of Analysis
incidents, time periods, etc.
purposeful, probability, quota, random, size, representation, significance, level of
Sampling Strategy

Collected Data qualitative, quantitative

Data Management organization, classification, presentation, referenced, indexed, etc.

Analytical Approach inductive, deductive

Addressing Validity triangulation, multiple data sources, multiple study

When did the Study Occur? currency of findings, long-term investigation, short and snappy, phased and piloted

literature review and analysis, problem definition, practical outcomes, intellectual

How is the Study Justified?
endeavor, etc.

Ethical Issues informed consent, confidentiality of information, reactivity, data protection, etc.

Logistics access to data and respondents, fieldwork, record keeping, data management, etc.