|Due: Thursday, March 19th – on iLearn and hard copy in class
As I’ve said in class, research design, measurement, and sampling all go together to make up the plan for your research endeavor. In a sense, the outline of your proposal at this point looks like:
1. Here’s my question
2. Here’s why it is interesting and where it fits into what we already know about the subject 3. Here’s how I’m going to come up with data relevant to addressing my question
But item 1 is really short. It could be stated in a sentence, though we usually take a page or two in order to get our readers interested in the question.
Item 2 kind of just segues from explaining why the reader should be interested in your question to addressing where it fits into existing research on the subject. This takes anywhere from a page to five pages depending on how many literatures there are to describe and how much detail you think you need to give.
I’ve been giving you research articles to pick through because they illustrate items 1 and 2 well. But item 3 is a bit different. Research articles generally don’t go into as much detail on methods as a research proposal will. This is because a research proposal is plan for research – a plan a government agency or nonprofit might invest in. Proposals are judged by whether the question is interesting/important and if the plan is assessed to be a good way of addressing the question. By the time you have done the research and have findings, readers are more in- terested in what you found than how you got there. This is why research articles are a little scant on methods details.
I’ve gone into detail on this point because the last papers I got were a big short on detail overall. Yes, I was asking you about data types and such and there is a limited amount you can say. But I want you to constantly push to provide as much detail as you can. In this 4the assignment, I want you to talk about the key concepts involved in your research and how you will measure them. Detail is going to be key to doing well on this assignment.
For this assignment, I’d like you to put together your entire proposal as it exists at present. What you submit should include your question, your sketch of your lit review, and details about your data gathering process all tied together as a single proposal. We are going to send people home with someone else’s proposal to mark up and comment on.
The new content specific to this assignment is all about concepts and measures. In your write-up, I want you to identify all key concepts and fully explain them to your readers. If you are examining the role the fear plays in police decisions to use lethal force, then you need to explain this idea of fear and what is meant by a ‘decision to use lethal force’. But, if you are interested in how youth, masculinity, and race play into fear, then these three concepts need to be explained as well. In general, you do not want conceptual confusion – explain one concept at a time rather then explaining how you think they relate. How they relate is important, but adding that element will come later.
Once you explain your concepts, you need to explain how each of these concepts will be measured. This ties into your last assignment. The type of information you plan to gather will dictate to a degree the way in which you can measure a given concept. Your operationalization of concepts should make clear things like whether the concept is latent or manifest, whether it is unidimensional or multidimensional, if it is precisely defined in an existing literature or if it is a relatively new and therefore fuzzy idea, etc. Be detailed in your descriptions. If you say you think a series of survey questions can measure a given concept, actually come up with those questions.
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