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September 19, 2013 - 3N06

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McMaster University
Political Science
Todd Alway

September 19, 2013 Political Science 3N06 Political Science 3N06 2013 Lecture 3b: Designing a Research Design - Your literature review allows you to refine your research question - What happens next? Hypotheses - Having developed a clear research question o Your research proposal will ultimately contain one (or several) hypotheses - Tentative answers to your research question - Answers that you will then test against the evidence - Different types of research questions often call for different types of hypotheses (see Halperin and Heath) - Regardless, hypotheses usually state a relationship between two types of variables - Independent o Something that causes the dependent variable; o EG Research questions:  What is the relationship between democracy and development;  Independent; development;  Dependent; democracy o EG Research  Does political affiliation influence attitudes towards capital punishment?  Independent; political affiliation  Dependent; attitudes; - Dependent - To say that two variables are causally related, certain conditions have to hold - 1. The variables must correlate with one another o Vary with each other; move with each other; o Positive correlation – increase in one variable will cause an increase in another variable; - Although the association is rarely 100% - 2. The cause must take place before the effect - If the dependent variable occurs before the independent variable then you may be confusing effect for cause 1 September 19, 2013 Political Science 3N06 o EG Free trade and development; freer states tends to have development? Free trade causes development? Or states that are already developed have free trade? - 3. The relationship between the variables must be non-spurious - If a third variable accounts for the correlation, then the apparent causality is not real o VARIABLES surrounded by other variables; other variable accounts for it to be moved together; o E.G if people eat more ice cream -> more drowning’s, variable temperature; accounts for why two variables appear to move with each other; What do your variables actually mean? - You know what you want to look at - The question is how will you know it when you see it? - You need to clearly define your variables o Different ways of defining democracy; version of democracy; o Defining terrorism; one person’s terrorist is another freedom fighter; o All kinds of definitions associated with these variables/ meanings; o Conceptualization; define in words what we mean when we use a specific term;  What is development, etc. - A two-step process Conceptualization – specifying what you mean by a given variable - Many terms have no obvious and accepted definition o Democracy? o Terrorism? - Define what you mean by the term - Your conceptual definition may or may not capture the “objective” essence of a phenomenon (think constructivism here) - But it does need to clearly and unambiguously articulate what you mean by the term Operationalization – linking the conceptual definition of your variables to observable data - How will you identify or measure the variables? - How will you see economic growth,
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