I know it is long but please read all the instructions. This is due Saturday morning. I cannot be late, please submit on time.
Quantitative Study Research Project and Write-up
The assignment is broken into 3 parts ultimately leading to a design and implementation of an actual quantitative research study. The design will not be an experimental type of study it will be what is referred to as an observational or “quasi-experimental” design. In your final write-up you will reference the Meier & Brudney chapter on research design as the rationale for choosing this type of quantitative study.
The research project assignments are structured as a progression of tasks that build upon the prior assignment and culminate in the creation of your final product. Each assignment is a building block to the final project, creating the 6 elements or sections in sequential order.
Regardless of the type of design employed the format for a quantitative research study generally includes:
- An Introduction
- A literature Review
Your final project paper will include all 6 elements of a quantitative study. However, we will greatly reduce the length and importance of the introduction, literature review, discussion and conclusion and instead will heavily focus on the methods & results sections.
Please note, the format of a research paper is different from the steps in the research process, do not confuse the two.
PART 1: DUE SATURDAY MORNING PLEASE
- The assignment is to write up your draft of the Introduction and Literature Review sections of your final project.
- You will be executing a quantitative observational study (Meier & Brudney refer to it as “Quasi-experimental) within parameters set out by your instructor you must develop your research plan.
- The goal of assignment 1 is to scan the existing literature and narrow your research question, formulate some preliminary research objectives, strategy and plan, including select appropriate variables for your research project, and preliminary plan your method of analysis. This will allow you to identify a research gap and a research question or you may wish to confirm existing empirical theory with your study.
- I would recommend purchasing, borrowing, or securing a copy from the library, the following textbook: Creswell, John W., Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches, 4th Edition (Los Angeles, CA: Sage, 2014). This is the main textbook used in PA 508 Research and Analysis and is a good reference for the PA502 research project as well. It will help guide you on how to construct your hypotheses, write your introduction, narrow down your research problem, construct a literature review, and has many research terms defined. I will use Creswell’s text below to define specific research concepts but you should read the text for more information and examples.
- You must use the HPSA citation method for this course. The MPA program is adopting Turabian: A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses and Dissertations- Chicago Style for Students and Researchers (8th Edition) as the Academic Writing Style starting in Fall Semester 2014.
- You will only use a secondary data source for this study. You will not be doing any primary data collection. The quantitative data you will be allowed to use:
- Choice A: Visit and research the site Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data site of the Federal Department of Health & Human Services (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion) at http://www.cdc.gov/brfss/index.htm (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. Click on the prevalence and trends database to choose the available data.
- Choice B: Visit any of the following federal government statistical web sites for data sets; The US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics site at http://www.bls.gov/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. ; The US Department of Commerce’s Census Bureau’s site at http://www.census.gov/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. , or the interagency federal statistics portal at the site http://www.fedstats.gov/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. Any other data sources must be approved by your instructor prior before assignment #1 is due. The U.S. Government also host another web site,http://www.data.gov/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. that you can find datasets as well.
The introduction of a quantitative research study must include the following elements:
- The research problem or the issue that leads to the need for your study.
- The significance of the study for particular audiences or three or four reasons that the study adds to the scholarly research, how it might improve practice or improve policy.
- A purpose statement. The purpose statement sets the objectives, the intent, or the major idea of a proposal or study. What is the goal for the study? This includes the variables (both independent and dependent variables) in the study and their relationship, the participants, and the research site.
- The research question in a quantitative study inquires about the relationships among variables that the investigator seeks to know. It is much more narrow description of the study than the purpose statement. An example would be “the relationship between educational attainment and income in the United States since 1945.” This is a general statement, not a specific prediction about the relationship between the variables. The hypotheses will deal with prediction (See review of literature section).
- You are also to submit to me your unit of analysis for your study. The unit of analysis refers to the unit, case, or part of social life that is under consideration in your study. The unit can be individuals, groups, organizations, institutions, countries, units of governments, students, and so forth. Knowing your unit of analysis helps drive your data collection and research design, including any sampling plan you may use in your study. Most students find it advantageous to declare their unit of analysis up front, once they have reviewed their data sources and the literature. If you are using one of my supplied datasets, the units of analysis should be clear and upfront, as the data is already collected and in the form of a dataset. You still need to declare what that unit of analysis is, I will not do this for you.
- Variables: for this study you are to select ONE dependent variable and at least TWO independent variables but no greater than FOUR (independent variables). The study employs a positivist epistemology so the dependent variable is the “effect” variable and the independents are the “cause” or “causal” variables for your study. A variable represent an operational transformation of a concept into something suitable to test in a quantitative study and it is the application of measurement theory in Chapter one of the Lind, et. al course textbook. You are to use variables measured at the interval or ratio level only. Nominal or ordinal variables may only be used to create comparison groups and only if approved by your instructor.
- The review of literature is the second section of assignment 1 and includes the following:
- What is a literature review? A literature review “shares with the reader the results of other studies closely related to the one being undertaken, [i]t relates a study to the larger, ongoing dialogue in the literature, filling in gaps and extending prior studies” (Creswell, 2014, 27-28). See the professional and student research studies for examples.
- The topic or as Creswell (2014, 25) describes as “the subject or subject matter of a proposed study such as ‘faculty teaching,’ ‘organizational creativity,’ or ‘psychological stress” needs to be clearly stated up front. Use the literature to define the topic as most are social science concepts with specific and technical definitions.
- You need at least 5-7 references in your literature review by the time assignment #1 is due.
- Do note that this is a research topic that requires you to use peer-reviewed research journal articles. Creswell’s definition of research is apropos here as he defines it as “the author or authors pose a question or hypothesis, collect data, and try to answer the question or hypothesis” (2014, 35). This is the standard definition of research in the social sciences. Opinion pieces in magazines and newspapers, online blogs and articles are not research. Government and non-profit reports generally can be used as a data source (not included in the 8 requirement) and scholarly books may be utilized as well. Evaluating your sources is covered in the PA508 course, not in this one, see me if you have any doubt about whether the source is appropriate.
- A good strategy to use in constructing your literature review is to use what Creswell describes as the “deficiencies in the past literature” model (2014, 118-119). This means that deficiencies in the past literature may exist because either the topic was not explored with a particular population or sample or even group, the literature may need to be replicated by you to validate it and see if you arrive at the same results, or apply the hypotheses to new research sites, samples or populations.
- At the end of the review of literature section your summary of the relevant literature will lead you to declare your formal research hypotheses. A hypothesis formally proposes an expected relationship between independent and dependent variable. Testing of hypotheses employs statistical procedures, ones described in your methods section. The following are examples of quantitative hypotheses:
- A nondirectional hypothesis: there is a relationship between educational attainment and income level in the United States
- A directional hypothesis: adults with higher educational attainment will have higher average incomes in the United States.
- A null hypothesis: there are no significant differences in income level between United States citizens with a university degree and those without a university degree.
- This is not easy and so this assignment assumes you will have to revise and resubmit based upon your instructor’s feedback.