Research Methods: Ch 3,4,5

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How does an EHS student identify a research problem?
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Keep focus broad rather than narrow. Read a review paper(s). Read the research literature.
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Identifying a Research Problem
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Talk to EHS faculty and other active professionals. Analyze and challenge popular beliefs. What interests you? Write down ideas during lectures and discussions. Areas of dissatisfaction. Areas of controversy.
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Criteria in Selecting a Research Problem
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Does it interest you? Is it worthwhile? (Is there a need to solve the problem?) Is it feasible? (Can you gain access to participants) Is it timely? Can you attack the problem without prejudice? (Can you be objective?) Are you prepared in the techniques to address the problem? (Must have sufficient training & experience )
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Moving from a General Idea to a Specific Research Question
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Once you have an idea, you MUST read research on that topic to narrow the question down.
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Purposes of the Literature Review
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1) Identifying the problem. 2) Developing hypotheses. 3) Developing the method.
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Six Steps in the Literature Search
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1. Write the problem statement. 2. Consult secondary sources. • Research reviews 3. Determine descriptors. • Key terms that help you get to the relevant published work. 4. Find primary sources using: • Indexes and bibliographies • Computer searches 5. Read and record the literature – now you must understand the study and record the important stuff: -Statement of the problem – Characteristics of participants – Instruments and tests used – Testing procedures – Variables: independent and dependent 6. Write the literature review. -This is the Introduction in a research paper and in your proposal.
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Choosing the title
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Succinctly informs reader of the study’s content. ▫ Not too long or too short. Often written last.
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Writing the introduction
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• Creates interest in the problem. • Persuades readers of the significance of the problem. • Provides background information. • Leads to the specific purpose of the study. • Accomplished through a review of the literature (and some reasoning by the author/researcher).
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Stating the research problem
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• Usually follows the Intro but may be embedded in the text. • Should be a single sentence that describes the problem. • Should identify the different variables in the study. • Specifies the study population.
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Presenting the research hypothesis
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• Expected result(s). • Deduced from theory or induced from empirical studies. ▫ Derived from previous research. ▫ Based upon logical reasoning Must be able to answer, and provide support for, \”why do you think that will happen?\” • Sometimes hypothesize that one method is just as good as another
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Identifying Variables
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• A characteristic or trait of a person or thing that can be classified or measured.
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Dependent variable
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– variable (s) that is/are measured. ▫ The variable(s) that is/are expected to change as a result of the intervention.
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Independent variable
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the experimental treatment or intervention; the cause.
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Categorical variable
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a kind of independent variable that cannot be manipulated, such as age, race, sex; also called moderator variable
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Control variable
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a factor that could possibly influence the results and that is kept out of the study.
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Extraneous variable
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could affect the relationship between the independent and dependent variables but is not included or controlled.
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Sample Hypotheses
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• Male basketball players have a higher incidence of ankle injuries than female players. • Obese children engage in more sedentary behavior than normal weight children but have similar physical activity levels. • Stretching is effective for reducing stress in older females who live independently.
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Sample Purpose/Problem Statement
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• To determine whether functional training has similar effects as traditional resistance training on muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, agility, balance, and anthropometric measures in young adults. • The aim of the study was to determine the effect of 21 weeks of conditioning and plyometric jump training on body composition in youth with Down syndrome.
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Making the Problem and Hypotheses Clear
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• Operational definition of certain terms; definitely the dependent variables. • Describes an observable phenomenon as opposed to a dictionary definition. • Researcher must be able to define, and test, what they are studying. For example, fatigue and obesity must be defined in observable ways so that they can be empirically tested.
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limitations.
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• Possible shortcomings that cannot be controlled OR are the results of restrictions imposed by the researcher Aim to reduce these through good design and use of scientific method.
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delimitations.
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Choices that researchers make to define a workable research problem. ▫ Researcher delimits their study so it is doable. ▫ Examples – choosing a certain population to study; choosing certain tests; limiting a sample size.
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Limitations are acknowledged in the report (usually in the Discussion).
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▫ Too many problems and the study may be useless. ▫ Researcher \”confesses\” to the problems that they could not control and informs the reader to consider those when interpreting the results.
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Significance of the Study
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• So what? Why is it worthwhile? • Different for basic and applied research; consider the aims of the study and the type of research. • Focus on gaps in research, contradictory findings, and/or how the study will contribute to practice. • Must be able to explain the rationale for the study.
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method
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The purpose of the Method section of a research article (or proposal) is to explain how the study was (or will be) conducted. The description should be thorough enough for a competent researcher to reproduce the study.
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Parts of the method section:
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Participants Instruments or apparatus Procedures Design and statistical analyses
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principles of methods
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1) Less is more – focus the study; do not get too complex; do not add variables just for the sake of it. Must be a reason for all decisions regarding the method. 2) Simple is better – keep a study straightforward so that interpretation of results is not too complex.
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SELECTING PARTICIPANTS
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Are participants with special characteristics necessary for the research? – Age, sex, level of training, size, etc. – E.g. athletes, people with high blood pressure, overweight children, Asian males. 2) Can permission and cooperation be obtained from participants? Can you get their consent? 3) Can enough participants be found? What sample size is needed?
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What also needs to be reported in a research paper (not in a proposal):
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Sample size – how many participants were recruited and how many actually participated The researcher may have recruited more or less participants than originally planned. Loss of participants – how many people dropped out and why (if known). Protection of participants – a statement that consent was obtained from participants (or parents if needed).
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INSTRUMENTS
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Validity and reliability of the instrument – select a tool that is proven to be an accurate measure of a variable. Difficulty in obtaining measures – how easily can data be collected? Access to equipment or tools – does researcher have access to what they need? The researcher needs to be trained on using the instrument.
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WHAT INFORMATION TO INCLUDE ABOUT INSTRUMENTS
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Description of the instrument so reader understands; include reference for the validity and reliability of the tool. -Scoring procedures of the instrument (if appropriate). -Sample items of a survey.
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PROCEDURES
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-How the data will be collected. -All testing procedures. -Data collection considerations: -When, where, how the data will be collected. -Order of tests; time between. -Who will conduct testing. -Plan for data recording and scoring of tests. – Intervention for an experimental study. —- Is it appropriate for all participants? —– What is the duration, frequency of the intervention; the dose of the drug (for e.g.)? —– Any pilot data to support the intervention
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Information about procedures in a research proposal or report should include
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-Order in which steps were undertaken. -Timing of the study (i.e. time between tests). -Relevant instructions given to participants. -All information needed for another researcher to replicate the study – no more and no less
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DESIGN AND ANALYSES
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Select the appropriate statistical analyses to answer the research question.

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