Lecture 9 – February 10h
• How to design a research project
o 1. Define the purpose of your project – exploratory, descriptive, or explanatory?
o 2. Specify the meanings of each concept you want to study
o 3. Select a research method
o 4. Determine how you will measure the results – operationalization
o 5. Determine whom or what to study sampling
o 6. Collect empirical data observation
o 7. Process and analyze the data
o 8. Report your findings
• Chapter 5 – Conceptualization, operationalization and measurement
o Measurement – careful, deliberate observations of the real world for the purpose of
describing objects and events in terms of the attributes composing the variable
We want to develop specific variables
o Two related issues/questions:
How do we define the things we study?
What are the indicators/measures we use for those things?
o Conceptions, concepts, and reality
E.g., prejudice, trust, social cohesion
Conceptualization – the process of coming to agreement about what terms
Does trust mean that you’re willing to let your daughter marry someone?
What do our concepts actually mean?
Concepts are constructs derived by mutual agreement from mental images
We need to do this to know:
What we are studying
What data to collect
o Indicators and dimensions
Indicator – a sign of the presence or absence (or amount) of a concept
• E.g., attending place of worship is an indicator of religiosity
Dimension – a distinct aspect of a concept
• E.g., attendance and contributions are different dimensions of religiosity
o What if we disagree on indicators?
o Interchangeability of indicators:
If several different indicators all represent the same concept, all of them will
behave the same way
E.g., if students are more liberal on all indicators than are nonstudents, then we
can conclude that students are more liberal
Relatedly, if some indicators give different results, those indicators may be
measuring a different dimension
o Nominal and operational definitions Specification – the process through which concepts are made more specific
A nominal definition is one that is simply assigned to a term without any claim
that the definition represents a “real” entity