How does an EHS student identify a research problem?
Keep focus broad rather than narrow. Read a review paper(s).
Read the research literature.
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Identifying a Research Problem
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.
Criteria in Selecting a Research Problem
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 toaddress the problem? (Must have sufficient training & experience )
Moving from a General Idea to a SpecificResearch Question
Once you have an idea, you MUST readresearch on that topic to narrow thequestion down.
Purposes of the Literature Review
1) Identifying the problem.2) Developing hypotheses.3) Developing the method.
Six Steps in the Literature Search
1. Write the problem statement.
2. Consult secondary sources.• Research reviews3. Determine descriptors.• Key terms that help you get to the relevantpublished work.4.
Find primary sources using:• Indexes and bibliographies• Computer searches5. 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 dependent6. Write the literature review.-This is the Introduction in a research paperand in your proposal.
Choosing the title
Succinctly informs reader of the study’scontent.? Not too long or too short.
Often written last.
Writing the introduction
• Creates interest in the problem.• Persuades readers of the significance ofthe problem.• Provides background information.• Leads to the specific purpose of the study.• Accomplished through a review of theliterature (and some reasoning by theauthor/researcher).
Stating the research problem
• Usually follows the Intro but may beembedded in the text.• Should be a single sentence thatdescribes the problem.
• Should identify the different variablesin the study.• Specifies the study population.
Presenting the research hypothesis
• Expected result(s).• Deduced from theory or induced fromempirical studies.? Derived from previous research.? Based upon logical reasoningMust be able to answer, and providesupport for, “why do you think thatwill happen?” • Sometimes hypothesize that one method isjust as good as another
• A characteristic or trait of a person orthing that can be classified or measured.
– variable (s) that is/are measured.? The variable(s) that is/are expected tochange as a result of the intervention.
the experimental treatment or intervention; the cause.
a kind of independent variable that cannot bemanipulated, such as age, race, sex; alsocalled moderator variable
a factor that could possibly influence the results and that is kept out of the study.
could affect the relationship between the independent and dependent variables but is not included or controlled.
• 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.
Sample Purpose/Problem Statement
• To determine whether functional training hassimilar 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.
Making the Problem and HypothesesClear
• Operational definition of certainterms; definitely the dependentvariables.• Describes an observable phenomenonas opposed to a dictionary definition.• Researcher must be able to define,and test, what they are studying.
For example, fatigue and obesitymust be defined in observable ways sothat they can be empirically tested.
• Possible shortcomings that cannot becontrolled OR are the results ofrestrictions imposed by theresearcherAim to reduce these throughgood design and use of scientificmethod.
Choices that researchers make to define aworkable research problem.
? Researcher delimits their study so it is doable.? Examples – choosing a certain population tostudy; choosing certain tests; limiting a samplesize.
Limitations are acknowledged in thereport (usually in the Discussion).
? Too many problems and the study maybe useless.? Researcher “confesses” to the problemsthat they could not control and informsthe reader to consider those wheninterpreting the results.
Significance of the Study
• So what? Why is it worthwhile?• Different for basic and applied research;consider the aims of the study and the type ofresearch.• Focus on gaps in research, contradictoryfindings, and/or how the study willcontribute to practice.
• Must be able to explain the rationale for thestudy.
The purpose of the Methodsection of a research article (orproposal) is to explain how thestudy was (or will be) conducted.The description should bethorough enough for a competentresearcher to reproduce thestudy.
Parts of the method section:
Participants Instruments or apparatusProceduresDesign and statistical analyses
principles of methods
1) Less is more – focus the study; donot get too complex; do not addvariables just for the sake of it.
Must be a reason for all decisions regardingthe method. 2) Simple is better – keep a studystraightforward so that interpretationof results is not too complex.
Are participants with specialcharacteristics 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 cooperationbe obtained from participants? Canyou get their consent?3) Can enough participants befound? What sample size is needed?
What also needs to be reported in a researchpaper (not in a proposal):
Sample size – how many participants wererecruited and how many actually participated The researcher may have recruited more or lessparticipants than originally planned.
Loss of participants – how many people droppedout and why (if known). Protection of participants – a statement thatconsent was obtained from participants (orparents if needed).
Validity and reliability of theinstrument – select a tool that isproven to be an accurate measure of avariable.Difficulty in obtaining measures- how easily can data becollected?Access to equipment or tools -does researcher have access towhat they need?The researcher needs to betrained on using the instrument.
WHAT INFORMATION TO INCLUDEABOUT INSTRUMENTS
Description of the instrument soreader understands; includereference for the validity andreliability of the tool.-Scoring procedures of theinstrument (if appropriate).-Sample items of a survey.
-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 theintervention; the dose of the drug (for e.g.
)?—– Any pilot data to support the intervention
Information about procedures in aresearch proposal or report shouldinclude
-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 researcherto replicate the study – no more and no less
DESIGN AND ANALYSES
Select the appropriate statistical analysesto answer the research question.