Developing a Research Project

The Elements of Research Design

Three Purposes of Research   Exploration – Generally not sufficient for dissertation project This can be the goal if significant new facts or relationships are identified Usually need to at least speculate on explanation Central goal of most political science research Description – –  Explanation – .

Getting a Project Started   Identify a topic or area of interest Key transition is from topic to question – – – Identify puzzle in literature Should be able to state question in 1-2 sentences Clearly define the purpose of the project  Once you have a question. you need hypotheses about the answer .

turn to various methods of theory development Deduction – formal theory. computational models Induction – building by analogy Theory building often involves both methods .From Theory to Hypotheses     Once you have a question.

social movements) Organizations/Institutions (states. bureaucracies.) Groups (parties. firms) . leaders.Choose a Unit of Analysis     Level of aggregation at which your hypotheses can be observed Individuals (citizens. etc.

Units of Analysis and Threats to Inference  Ecological Fallacy – Cannot infer individual behavior from collective outcomes Cannot infer collective outcomes from individual behavior  Reductionism – .

Choose a Method of Research    Experiments Surveys Case Studies – – Field Research Archival Research   Aggregate Data Analysis – Existing or Field Collection Use Multiple Methods Whenever Possible .

how do you select cases to avoid bias? .Select Observations    What is the population to which you want to generalize? How can you reach that population to draw a sample? If random sampling is impossible or inappropriate.

Operationalize Variables   Translate theoretical concepts into observable information that can be gathered on units of analysis How valid are your measures? How reliable are your measures?  .

Collect the Data    Be clear and systematic about the type of data collected Keep clear files and records of all data collected If using quantitative data. keep “do files” for all data construction and analysis. .

Analyze the Data     Make analysis techniques transparent To the greatest extent possible. Think about presenting results in the most meaningful way possible. make analyses easily replicable. Clear and meaningful results are more persuasive and more widely read. .

Connect Analyses Back to Puzzle and Hypotheses    Always draw readers back from analyses to their implications for hypotheses and your original puzzle What does it all mean? Try to get back to those one or two core sentences .

What is a Good Dissertation?   Theory development – Is this alone enough for a dissertation? This is the goal of most projects Is it ESSENTIAL for a dissertation? Is this any different from theory testing? Theory Testing – –  Policy Evaluation – .

What is a Good Dissertation?  Historical Evaluative/Descriptive – When does this constitute a contribution to social science? A viable strategy for dissertations? When does this constitute a contribution to social science?  Literature Assessing – – .

Ideographic Explanation Is one mode of explanation preferable to the other? Is one mode of explanation inherently more “scientific?” Can ideographic work be political science? .What is a Good Dissertation?     Nomothetic vs.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful