This assignment has three parts:
1)come up with a reasonable research question.
2)Using JSTOR, search for concepts related to your research question and decide on two scholarly journal articles that you believe might be related to your research question. tell me which journal the article is in, who the author is, and what the title of the article is.
3)Provide a one-paragraph summary of each article and let me know if after reading the article if you believe it is related to your research question or not (it is okay if it is not—that’s part of the literature review process).
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Three purposes of research (exploration, description, and explanation)
●Exploratory studies are typically done for three purposes:
○To satisfy the researcher’s curiosity and desire for a better understanding
○To test the feasibility of undertaking a more extensive study
○To develop the methods to be employed in any subsequent study
●Exploratory research often begins by identifying what the key variables are.
○Example: Let’s say that I just started to become interested in the issue of school consolidation.
■One of my first tasks would be to try to identify those variables that are conceptually linked to school consolidation.
●What might some of these variables be?
○Regional geographic information
●Exploratory studies are essential whenever a researcher is breaking new ground.
○Main shortcoming of exploratory studies:
■They seldom provide satisfactory answers to research questions.
●Why? Because they are often not definitive
●The main purpose of descriptive studies is to describe situations and events.
○Answers the questions: What? Where? When? How?
●Researcher observes and then describes what was observed.
○Different than exploratory, because the observation is careful, deliberate and scientific.
■Typically more accurate than casual observations
●U.S. Census bureau is an excellent example of descriptive social research.
○Census bureau collects all kinds of descriptive information on people and places in the United States.
●More comprehensive than an exploratory study, but still may not provide the answers the researcher is looking for
●Purpose of explanatory research is to explain why things happen the way they do.
○Answers the question: Why?
●Explanatory research is often tied to descriptive research, but is different:
○A descriptive research project would report on the voting intentions of the electorate.
○An explanatory research project would report why people choose the candidate they do.
■Voters making an assessment on candidate’s stance on health care, candidate’s electability, etc
Time and Research
●A cross-Sectional study involves observations of a sample or cross-section of a population or phenomenon that are made at one point in time.
■Usually easy to gather information
■Provides a good “snapshot” of a particular point in time.
■Works best for exploratory and descriptive types of studies.
■Time-bound to one point in time, making it difficult to extrapolate to earlier or later points in time.
■Does not always work well for explanatory types of studies.
●Example: Calling principals to discuss educational issues one month after September 11, 2001
●Longitudinal studies are designed to permit observations of the same phenomenon over an extended period of time.
○Someone interested in explaining how the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the 1st amendment right to free speech could examine Supreme Court opinions on record over a long period of time.
●Trend studies: a type of longitudinal study that examines changes within the population over time.
○A researcher interested in explaining unemployment could look at population data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
○Another trend study could look at whether or not people become more or less interested in politics during election years. Survey data from several election and non-election years could answer this question.
●Cohort studies: the researcher examines specific sub-populations, or cohorts, as they change over time.
○Some possible cohort groups which could be studied:
■Persons born in the 1990s
■Couples who were married in 2015
●Panel Studies: the researcher examines the same set of people over time.
■A researcher could interview the same sample of voters each month.
■A researcher could conduct an intensive study of the behavior of 20 inmates in the county jail over time.
●Usually, research proposals are drafted prior to conducting the actual research.
○Why draft a research proposal?
○Necessary for grant applications
○Needed to get IRB approval
○Can be a way to let others know what kind of research you are interested in doing
○Is a good way to solicit suggestions for making your research project better
●Problem or objective
○What exactly do you want to study? Why is it worth studying?
○What have others said about this topic? Where is your research going to fit into this literature? Are there flaws in past research that you can remedy?
●Subjects for study
○Whom or what will you be studying in order to collect data? What are the risks to the subjects? What steps will you take to ensure they are protected?
○What are the key variables in your study? How are they operationalized? Have you developed your own measurement, or are you using a pre-existing measure?
●Data collection methods
○How will you actually collect the data? Will you need a sample? How will you approach the sampling process? Will it be an experiment? How will the experiment be conducted?
○Indicate the kind(s) of analysis you plan to conduct. What is the rationale for the analysis methods you have chosen
○What is the rough timetable for your research? Having a timetable is a good way to keep yourself on track.
○When asking someone to cover the costs of your research, you will need to provide a budget
●Where do research topics come from?
○Television, or other media
○Discussions with family or friends
○Something that you read somewhere
●Basically—your topic should be something that you are curious about
●Political Science is inherently interested with just about anything related to:○Politics ○international relations ○ Government ○Public policies ○ Law ○ Regulations ○The media ○Economics ○Democracy ○Congress, the President, the Courts, or Public agencies ○So if in doubt begin by selecting one of the above
■Your topic must be about things, phenomenon, or patterns that can be observed and measured.This rules out things that you can never observe or that you cannot know about with certainty. Can’t study unicorns, ghosts, Western Jackalopes, Loch Ness Monster,
Narrowing the Topic
●Think about: what is it that is of interest to me about this topic?
○Try to narrow the focus down into two related concepts.
○Let’s say that I am interested in the economic development.
■To narrow my focus, I try to choose two concepts:
●Infrastructure spending and economic development (dont use this for the paper)
●Then I craft a possible connection between these two:
○Commerce does not happen in a vacuum. One of the responsibilities of government is to provide the infrastructure necessary to facilitate economic activity and economic growth
●Making sure that your concepts are measurable:
■Per capita dollars spent on local government infrastructure
■Percentage of the local government budget allocated for capital or infrastructure projects
■Per capita GDP within city limits (measure of economic consumption)
■Percentage of population growth within city limits (measure of economic prosperity)
●Once you have measurable concepts, simply state your concepts and the connection between the two in the form of a question:
○Concepts: infrastructure spending and economic development
○Research question: Do cities that spend more per capita on infrastructure see greater economic development
○Best not to be haphazard in your reading.
○Follow these simple steps:
■Locate relevant studies
■Read thoroughly to discover the major findings and methods
■Take notes as you are reading
■While fresh in your mind, organize what you have read and write clearly about the studies in a way that builds context around the research question