Research Methods POLS 201 Week 2
Research Methods POLS 201 Week 2 Pols 201
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Date Created: 01/23/16
Chapter One: Approaches to Research, a summary Intro o Data and research can come in forms of words or numbers, and can be used in all different fields o Pragmatism places emphasis on what is useful in achieving certain objectives o Defining terms proves an important and difficult task in research o Some Key Terms Research Methodology Principles of research that is underscored by a certain philosophy Research Methods The essential elements of the design of the research Research Techniques How data is collected and analyzed Research tools The materials and resources used to conduct research The PAPA model of research (Refer to the figure 1.1 in the text) o An acronym meaning pure, applied, policy, and action. Each term has its own meanings Pure research Concerned specifically with scientific outcomes Curiosity driven Applied research Something beginning with curiosity, but the person performing the research isn’t necessarily intended to become involved in the implementing whatever results are found o A researcher of this nature could sell their results to someone who needs to use the results for further implementation Policy research Connected to a policy o For example, if a government enacts a policy to reduce crime, they may run some research to see if the policy in fact works Action research Focused on bettering particular activities o For example, a teacher can compare test results between classes who are using newer textbooks vs. older textbooks o Research done to help achieve efficiency o All four of these methods use a scientific theory to improve themselves Stages of Research o Problem Where you decide what you’re going to do. Five steps to decide on a problem Topic selection o Finding a general area of studying Problem definition o Narrowing down the topic o See Figure 1.2 Literature review o See if your problem has already been done o Possibly make revisions to help make the approach more personal and applicable Hypothesis formation o Make an informed guess as an answer to your problem Methodology o Consider some probable issues that can occur from how you intend to collect data and approach the problem o Data Collection Apply research methods to gather information. There are three steps to do so. Definition of the Universe o In this situation, the universe is the number of things that is to be studied Sampling o Since you can’t study everything of your particular universe, a smaller sampling is necessary Data collection o This is where you would go forth and collect necessary findings on your data o Data Analysis See if your data actually answers the problem you intended to address Organization of information o Organize information in a way that can be analyzed efficiently Analysis of results o Check for validity of information Begin to classify, describe, interpret o Action Do something with your findings Report writing o Make publications for interested parties Distributing information o Making sure said interested parties are actually receiving the information Putting results into action o This usually does not involve the researcher, but this is where you use the research to make changes in order to make whatever was researched have more desirable outcomes the next go around o Research reports are written linearly But, during research, you may move back and forth between these various stages Through revisions and modifications Sometimes you can omit steps, but make sure that omission is justified 1.3 Some actual research projects o See page 8 and 9 as the author analyzes four research projects that he has been involved in, and how he outlines each project through the steps previously presented ( Problem, Data Collection, Data Analysis, Action) For Example The third research project he discusses is o Policy Research into Crime Victimization Problem What were the levels of crime in two main towns following a civil war Data Collection Survey people of this time in a certain sample cluster Data Analysis Looks for trends in victimization Action Evidence was provided to the proper groups o Each study involved different subjects Each drew upon different theories Important to note that the research done is to provide data for those who are making decisions, instead of trying to specifically develop something for academic theory 1.4 Research Accuracy: Where the Last One Ended o Disciplined vs Disciplinary Be systematic and accurate, but not defined by academic boundaries Validity o Correctness of the data present o Some issues Some people may not tell the truth, especially in victimization cases Independence of data collectors from the organizations that sponsor them Might get in trouble for telling the truth Reliability o The ability to replicate the same results using the same techniques, and providing results that someone else could duplicate If you change methods and you get a changed result, this must be explained Generalizability o The ability to predict from a sample the whole population Usually done through random samples Research involves trade-offs, concerning certain strengths and weaknesses 1.5 Summary o Types of research Research is concerned with Collecting data Analyzing it Using the findings to solve problems Social science exposes viewpoints to analysis before reaching any conclusions The main research types (all of which use theory) are Pure Applied Policy Action o Stages of Research Four main ones are Problem Data collection Data analysis Action Results are answers to a problem Research reports are linear and formal, while the research process is an interaction amongst all the stages. Quality Issues o Trade offs between validity, reliability, relevance, generalizability Chapter Three: Research Proposal and Literature Review A research proposal is the first and formal way of clarifying your ideas o Helps define the problem and helps narrow in on the topic The first part of a research proposal is the Literature review, the second is the methodology, which is the next chapters field 3.1 Research Proposal o Each department might have its own requirements for the style of each proposal This helps provide a format Shorter studies have 1-2 pages for a research proposal Longer studies have 4-10 pages for a proposal o See if you can get your proposal down in thirty seconds, which gives you a good idea of what your goals are Table 3.1 Contents of Research Proposal o 1- Title o 2 -Introduction o 3-Problem Statement Gives the purpose of the study Gives the rundown of the issues/questions that will be asked Structured by textbooks, research, and general concerns o 4-Context Identify the context of the study Review important literature and cite key references in dealing with possible issues that may arise with each variable Relate the results of the research study to previous literature and show the differences Show how the proposed study relates to other research and how will attempt to fix gaps in previous research Textbooks, articles, research reports, library indexes, and databases like Google Scholar and JSTOR for good sources o 5-Researh Problem and Hypotheses These statements of problems are for both quantitative and qualitative studies. They focus a study when stated clearly and concisely Questions should be manageable Formal hypotheses are especially important for quantitative based research Guidance on how to narrow research problems can be found in this text and others o 6- Assumptions and Limitations Identify limitations, assumptions, and biases Use this textbook to help you do that o 7- Significance of the /problem Describe plausible relevance or potential significance of the potential findings Frame this by theory, previous research, or social concerns o 8-Research Methods Techniques to collect and analyze data Participants get involved Tasks, if needed are assigned Procedural order is used, as well as timing Data gathering and statistical designs and analyses are used here Conduct a pilot study, while ensuring a high degree of validity and reliability Use research methods textbooks, statistics textbooks, handbooks, research reports, research articles, examining if instruments have protocols to follow Choose your supervisor if you can Research proposals are quality control devices for supervisors o Some supervisors can be demanding Research, Measurement, and the Nature of Knowing :1.19.2016 Levels of Analysis o Pure: Theoretical Try to understand the way the world works in a general way Help scholars understand the causal links between variables and social outcomes at a general level We are not specifically interested in the specifics, but the general We are trying to understand what characteristics of individuals lead people to vote in certain ways. o Policy (exploratory) Look at social outcomes in one specific context for the purposes of making a decision in that context We want to know specifically We want to know things about a specific situation o Applied Consider social outcomes more specifically in varying contexts- bridge the gap between very specific policy research and general theory This is the gap between policy and pure We know that there are broad trends o We also know that a lot gets lost with one specific instance o Applied is using a mix of broad human behavior and specific context of a circumstance to better understand the way the world works o Action (descriptive) How can we help people understand that? Doing research for the point of helping the public understand and policy and politics affect their lives Theory and Practice o There is no distinction Theory is informed by observing practice We develop theory by gathering evidence from practice Observation about knowing how the world works In developing theory by understanding the world better, we form practice The Nature of Knowing o Philosophical section o Essentially the scientific method o Still following the same general ideas, Ontology Our starting point The question is “what it is we think we can know” o What is the nature of reality? o What should we spend our time trying to know? o Before you start doing research must understand If there is an objective reality or not? There is a tangible world that we can understand Causes and effects exist Overtime, as we learn more about the way the world works We get closer to understanding the Truth. o Truth There is a physical way the world works, including human behavior Scientist view This is the more dominating view Social Constructed reality? There may or may not be an objective truth, but because we are social beings, we have come to some set of agreements about how the world works. o Little t truth What we know is what we agree upon What makes physical reality is what we agree upon Humanist View o There is an important distinction here. Epistemology How can we know what we know? o How do we acquire knowledge? If our ontological perspective says there is an objective reality, we can know this by observing this objective reality Empirical testing Observation o Scientist Theory Interpretative logic o Humanist View Axiology Do we selectively know, generally know, or does context matter? o If you are an objective realist you believe you study the world as it is There is no alternative interpretation o If you are interpretists You believe value underlie everything. Methodology A term that is used most of the time o Not “research method” Given what is possible to know, how can we actually learn it? What is our framework? o Positivist Observation and theory, the scientist They believe in observing the world o Post-positivist/interpretive Dialogue, textual analysis, critique Rhetoric How do we convey what we know? o Modes of communication or argumentation? Data, analysis Language of science, how we do analysis, how do we come to conclusions from that analysis Empowerment Dialogue Recognizing the way that people collectively view the world and try to change that Praxis This is one of the most important things we should take away from research o How do we use what we know? How do we apply that knowledge to understand our world Scientists say explaining or predicting is the best way to make a knowable world Post positivists Gain mutual understanding, and create conversations in which we can understand context and develop solutions Logic What is our structure for drawing conclusions? o Inductive You have a general principle about the world, and from that you draw a specific answer for a specific instance. o Deductive logic You have a specific piece of information, you can take it on a broader skills o There are flaws in thinking in both ways Deductively If something happens in one spot doesn’t means it’ll happen everywhere Inductively Just because a general statement is made doesn’t mean it is specifically fitting. These two aforementioned methods are more for positivists o Abductive When a bias is or is not confirmed Easy to do this This is how people think If you adhere to more of the socially constructed view o Be consistent in your ontological perspective The Scientific Method o Identify a problem or question Define the problem Use literature to find the problem Develop a hypothesis o Collect Data Determine which unit to analyze Developing a data collecting plan Collecting and prepping data Where and how we collect the data, and then actually do it Observe the world in the same way WE can’t sit and watch things o Data Analysis Specify a model Estimate the model Reject or fail to reject hypothesis Find if the hypothesis is good or not, basing this evidence Collect Data Everything is driven by the hypothesis development We are not going to prove or disprove the hypothesis, you will never prove something o Share results and make some conclusions Positivism o The world is real Empirical focus, Learning by observing Not how we think how the world should be Understanding the causes and effects o When doing research you shouldn’t talk about how the world should be, but how it is Independent variable, dependent variable distinction Research should be objective Objective? Means that you should avoid having strong opinions on a topic, because you tend to get on an abdjuctive tract Value Free? Don’t apply your specific values about how the world should be, not understand what it is you want. o Important distinction Don’t “think” or “believe” something In the Memo Should be replicable Someone should be able to do your study over Post-Positivism o The World is socially constructed from shared or individual meanings Always changing of time Once we change time, we will change the variable. You can’t always replicate social sciences because we always will change as people. Not constant Three Paradigms o WE will mostly deal with positivism Interpretists Empower the powerless Make better decisions Positivists Better understanding the truth of the world Post modernisms Everything we do is wrong. Quantitative or Qualitative o Positivist research is done with numbers Numbers can lie Either type of data can if within positivist or post positivist frameworks o Make your data to what is helpful Positivist Methods o Mathematical Modeling Game theory o Logic Modeling Causal diagrams o Qualitative techniques Content analysis Read through documents and coat them into numbers Surveys Case Studies o In political science you will get mostly statistics Post-positivist approaches o Not as scientific methody Interpretative Researcher will read transcripts, drawing a conclusion about how the world is understood Narrative Pretty much anything you talk about can be drilled down to a story o Find the story that people find for a story of a situation o Most politics interests follow the similar stories We are not trying to say what is right, but what the narrative is Emancipatory Examine power relationships for people who don’t have power o Feminist, Marxist, Ethnic Approaches Understand why the world is the way it is from the perspectives that it is already in. The point is to find a balance of power Post Positivist methods o Case studies Look at small sub set of the world Gain deep understanding of one case o Grounded theory Gather data while continually comparing and categorizing to derive o Ethnography The anthropologists The way a community views the world is studied o Narrative Postmodernism o By deconstructing the situation we can point out the actors Critique the story, understand, what motivations there are, what lessons there are Comes from literary critique Causality o Particularly important about policy Scientists care about this The intent of policy is to tweak some variable in order to cause a change in some outcome Idea that is a fairly simple straightforward logic Find an intent, tweak and invent an answer Dependent and Independent variables o Dependent, what we expect to occur o Independent variables, what we want to use to make a change to what to occur Independent variables will always precede an dependent variable in a logic model If, then. Logic Model o Inputs Government gets some sort of inputs, we are going to do something o Activities When we do something o Results in a direct output After this we will have A short term outcome A longterm outcome o And the impact o The key part of the theory is what happens next What Theory is? o Nothing complicated An answer to the world Gravity, Rational Choice, Public Service Motivation What Theory isn’t? o Not a specific answer to a specific question It is a general answer to a general question o Not scientific law There is some probability of a theory being incorrect There is some probability of a theory being incorrect o There may be times when theory doesn’t apply In social sciences It is more complex to get something so definitive. o Getting better than a coin flip is great How do we know? o We don’t know anything Until we have reached a theory that explains everything, we don’t know anything WE are going to make claims o That a theory is correct or incorrect o That something can hold or won’t hold Ideally, fully sufficient evidence can support a claim Often, people can quickly find a way to make a claim wrong Then go back through a cycle of evidence until there is a consensus reached o We learn in college is largely that consensus We often have shifts in views about what that view is overtime Evidence o Just about any information can be evidence Observations, religious beliefs The context will dictate the extent to which the evidence is valid We try to gather valid evidence and see if it is valid Validity o We don’t have evidence that is valid or invalid But we have a range of validity Face validity o Is something is plausible o Is the argument that someone is making plausible Content validity o Is it relevant Pragmatic o Is it realistic Evidence in political Science o Dealing with concepts that are hard to agree upon, define, and measure Program effectiveness Fairness Will differ based on your perspective Happiniess Justice When we do political and policy research, most important and difficult to define. 1.21.2016 Evidence in Political Science Evidence in Political Science o We are often dealing with concepts that are difficult to define and measure o They are very often abstract Program effectiveness Fairness Happiness Justice Happiness? o Defining it can provide an issue. o We ask specifically about specific policies Concepts o Three classes of concepts Directly observable Economic policies that are intended to see if people buy homes, you can see and assess Indirectly observable Exams are measures for school systems Theoretical concepts Concepts that can be represented with something observable o Intelligence o Job satisfaction The concept can be represented with something observable We need to develop an operational definition of the concept in order to measure it Operationalization of constructs Definition of things that they are measuring Indicator o The measurement of a concept is an indicator It represents, but does not directly measure the concept We might measure a variety of things o There are always errors in measuring Indicator= concept+ error A valid indicator Accurately measures the concept o You are never going to have a complete indicator o You will never have a complete measure Shooting for objective here Is measured with little error. o Please note that you can never eliminate all biases o Height Proving that there Is no perfect measurement You’d have to actually measure people throughout the day o Measurement with error Inches Just a standardized way of doing things o The reason something is measured by something doesn’t always make it the right way What are the problems with these arguments? o One thing to understand about research is that there are a lot of challenges All of these arguments have correlation causation issues. Corporations move jobs off-shore because corporate taxes are too high o Corporations don’t actually pay a lot of taxes, but they most likely move off-shore because of wage costs o This statement is almost completely unverifiable o You could jack up taxes on corporations and see if they will leave This most likely wouldn’t happen, for obvious reasons Renewable energy is impractical because it is too expensive o Not great technology yet, so yes, things are still expensive A lot of money up front, but you will ideally save money later o Also an argument that destroying the earth is also incredibly expensive This cost is externalized The economy has declined because union membership has fallen o Of course, they are many factors that go along with economy falling o “the economy” is a very loaded word Hard to define what exactly is a strength in the economy People who graduate from college are less likely to go to jail o People who are going to college are the kinds of people are who are not going to jail in the first place o Doesn’t actually solve the problem Research starts with an observation. o When talking about doing research Basically going through the process of the scientific method Collect data Come up with an answer Where does research start from? An observation of something we can’t explain or we want to know more about o Beer is expensive in TN Why is it so expensive At this point, you aren’t even looking at policy o But instead, what is happening and why Why? o Most simply, because of the high taxes on beers (high gravity beers) The research problem? The interesting question here is: o Why are taxes on beer so high? This is what we want to know more about. The scientific Method o Identify a problem or question Define the problem Beer is taxed too much Use literature to understand the issue Literature is previous studies to make more understanding o Also, look at other researchers Look for explanations o Sin Tax Develop a hypothesis The Sin Tax example o When taxes are high, people drink less beer o If taxes are high, fewer can afford or buy it Supply and Demand here The other industries in the state o Rent seeking Industries will lobby the government to benefit the industry Here this an assertion of YES, people drink less when taxes are high o Collect Data Determine unit of analysis The easiest way to do this is to determine your independent and dependent variable. o Independent- how high taxes are o Dependent- how much people drink A unit of analysis here is places Data collection plan You can look here at counties o Gather information about their tax rates Go to all the establishments that sell, and get their receipts Can calculate the per capita that people can buy Collect and prepare data o You must compare it with something to make a difference Get information about every county in the state What would very in the state is local state taxes You aren’t going to learn a whole lot from that You might want to look at other states as well You want to look for populations that are similar o Be careful of beer sales on per county o Make sure it is per capita Going back to hypothesis o You should expect as taxes get higher, you should see the per capita rate to go down Have a negative correlation All a regression is is an equation of a line. o If you run the analysis and you should expect to see a negative slope If you do, you have some evidence to support it That means, you have evidence that support, NOT PROVING Share results and make conclusions/ conjectures We don’t want to complicate it! o Analysis is pretty simple If you understand what a line is, it can work
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