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Chapter 5

Chapter 5: Designing a study.docx

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Jayne Baker

Chapter 5: Designing a Study Preplanned and Emergent Research Questions  First step is to select topic when beginning research project  Topic then narrowed into a focused research question  Qualitative researchers often begin with vague research questions and topic emerges slowly during the study o Flexible and encourages slowly focusing topic throughout study o Begins data gathering with general topic and notions of what will be relevant o Use early data collection to guide how they adjust research question because they don’t know what’s more important until later on  Quantitative researchers narrow topic into question as a discrete planning step before finalizing study design; use it as step in process of developing hypothesis and to guide study design as they collect data o Focus on specified research problem within broad topic  Research questions refer to relationships among small number of variables (i.e. what causes divorce? Vs. is age at marriage associated with divorce? [2 variables: age at marriage and divorce]) o Has one or more causal relationships o Need to consider practical limitations QUALITATIVE DESIGN ISSUES The language of cases and contexts  Qualitative researchers use language of cases and contexts, examine social processes and cases in their social context, and look at interpretations or creation of meaning in specific settings  Looking at social life from different points and explaining how people construct identities  Examine motifs, themes, distinctions, and ideas rather than variables and often adopt inductive approach of grounded theory Grounded Theory  Qualitative researchers develop theory during data-collection process; inductive method means that theory is built from data or grounded in data  Qualitative researchers build theories by making comparisons Context is Critical  Emphasize social context for understanding social world  Social meaning and significance distorted if it taken out of the context  Same events or behaviours can have different meanings in different cultures or historical time periods Cases and the Process  Use “case-oriented” approach that places cases, not variables, center stage; examine variety of aspects of one or more cases  Look at sequence of events as they occur; since they examine the same cases over time, they look at changes over time Interpretation  Assigning significance or coherent meaning to something  Quantitative research- gives meaning by rearranging, examining and discussing numbers by using charts/statistics to explain how patterns in data relate to research question  Qualitative research- rearranging, examining and discussing textual or visual data in way that conveys remains true to original people/situations; greater emphasis on interpreting data QUANTITATIVE DESIGN ISSUES The language of Variables and Hypotheses Variation and Variables  Variable: concept or its empirical measure that can take on multiple values  I.e. gender- takes on two or more values (male or female)  Attributes: categories or levels of a variable; values/categories of variables Types of Variables  Researchers who focus on causal relations usually begin with effect and then search for its causes  Variables classified into 3 basic types depending on their locations in the causal relationship  Independent variable: first variable that causes effect in causal expla
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