Research Design Questions Paper

Research Design Paper

Overview:

  • This paper is designed to help you “put it all together,” or to synthesize class material. 
  • The length of your paper should be approximately 6-10 pages.
  • Due date is listed on the course schedule.
  • Choose one of the following research questions. 
  • Based on your chosen research question, answer the research design questions that follow the list of possible research questions. The research design questions ask for fairly specific information about how you might go about doing research on your chosen research question. The questions guide you through designing an appropriate research project to address your chosen research question. Please note: You are NOT being asked to do the actual research; rather, you are being asked to propose the research.
  • Papers will be graded on writing quality, clarity, thoroughness, creativity, methodological soundness and the appropriate use of course material.
  • An abbreviated example is attached in order to show you the kinds of information that you are expected to discuss. (See also: examples on D2L.)

Research Questions

Select one of the following research questions. You are to come up with a scientifically acceptable way to do research on the question you have chosen.  Following the research questions is a list of specific research design questions that you need to address in the paper.

  1. Does population density increase feelings of social isolation? (i.e., do people in more densely populated areas feel more socially isolated than do people in less heavily populated areas?)
  2. Do students with military backgrounds (i.e., students who have served time in the military prior to attending college) fare as well in college as those without military backgrounds?
  3. How does internet usage affect people’s knowledge of world events?
  4. Does the sex of a speeder influence whether or not they will get a ticket when stopped?
  5. Does political identification (i.e., liberal/conservative) influence compliance with the smoking ban on the MTSU campus?
  6. Do football players act more aggressively when waiting in line than do basketball players?
  7. Do metropolitan areas with more cultural resources (e.g., museums, art galleries) have lower levels of interpersonal violence?
  8. How effective is Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library? (This is a literacy program where children 5 and under receive a free book every month.) In other words, do children participating in the program do better than children who don’t participate?

Research Design Questions

Address each of the following questions in your paper. Answer as specifically and completely as possible—as if you were telling someone else how to do the research and they could do the research based on what you’ve told them. Please type your paper, include the research question on the front page and number each design question as you address it. You do not need to repeat the design questions, just their numbering. This helps me follow the writing and makes sure you address each question. Page numbers are just approximations.

Q1. Importance (~1 page)

Why might a social researcher, both from a purely academic point of view as well as from a more applied point of view, be interested in this question?  In other words, why is this an important issue to study?

Q2. Hypothesis (~1-2 pages)

Each of the research questions implies a two-variable, causal relationship.

  1. Draw the causal diagram for the question you have chosen and identify which variable is independent and which is dependent. (Note: some of the research questions are relatively broad; you may need to be more specific in stating your causal diagram.)  Be sure to clarify the meaning of the terms/variables that you will use.
  2. What is the null hypothesis?  What is the alternative hypothesis?
  3. Evaluate the alternative hypothesis with regard to the four criteria for causality discussed in class.

Q3. Mode of observation (~2-3 pages)

a. What mode of observation would you use to study your research question?  Why would this be the best choice in this situation?  Be sure to compare your chosen mode of observation to other possible modes of observation.

b. Provide information on how you would use this mode of observation to collect information to answer your question (e.g., how and when a survey will be conducted, how experimental and control groups will be set up, how you will conduct your field observation, etc.). Be as specific as possible.

Q4. Operationalization/Measurement (~2-3 pages)

a. Given the mode you have chosen, give a specific way you could measure each of the variables in your causal diagram. (If you use a scale, present a couple of questions you might use and how a scale score will be created.)

b. Indicate the level of measurement at which your variables will be measured.

c. Evaluate your chosen measures for each variable in terms of validity.

d. Evaluate your chosen measures for each variable in terms of reliability.

Q5. Sampling (~2-3 pages)

a. Discuss how you would select cases (e.g., people) for your study.  What kind of sampling design would you use?  Why? Be as specific as possible.

b. Discuss any limitations or problems you might face in your selection of cases. 

Q6. Ethics (~1 page)

Identify a major ethical consideration you need to keep in mind.  How would you handle this consideration?  How do you justify your decision?

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