Scientific Method and Research Question

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Preliminary Steps in the Research Process

Janet Sullivan Wilson, PhD, RN

What are the Steps in the Quantitative Research Process?

Problem statement(s) + background Purpose of the research Aims/objectives of the research Research question(s) Research hypothesis or hypotheses Review of the literature (ROL) Conceptual, theoretical framework

Steps in the Research Process (cont.)
Design & Methodology, Sampling Collection of Data: Methods, measurements, assessment Analysis & Interpretation of Data Research dissemination & utilization

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The Steps In The Research Process are:
Different and similar in quantitative vs. qualitative research A process of thinking/reasoning to figure out a problem Stage specific: conceptual, design/planning, empirical, analytic, dissemination (with specific steps in each) Sometimes combined or overlapped depending upon the researcher & journal style Followed not only in doing the research but also in reporting the research in journals, grants, reports

This week’s learning module covers only the following steps in the research process: (i.e., the conceptual stage) The problem to be studied: background of + specific statement(s) Purpose of the research Aims/objectives of the research Research question(s) Research hypothesis or hypotheses Review of the literature (ROL) Conceptual, theoretical framework for the study

Research Problems
Paradigms + mixed methods Sources of problems: reading; clinical experience; other studies; social issues; existing theories Problem statements + questions

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Purpose

vs.

Aims/objectives
Specific accomplishments the researcher will achieve by conducting the study

Summary of the researcher’s overall study goal Usually very broad

Problem Statement

vs.

Question
Purpose is stated in the form of a question in order to invite an answer

Expression of the disturbing situation or dilemma that needs to be studied Context of problem + significance (to nursing practice, knowledge base, theory development, research priorities) is also included to substantiate why the research is needed

Hypothesis
The educated, informed, best “guess” or prediction that answers the research question The hypothesis states the expected relationship between single or two or more independent and dependent variables The hypothesis or prediction is derived from a thorough review of past research

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Terms you Need to Know
Simple vs. Complex Hypotheses Directional vs. nondirectional hypotheses Null Hypothesis Independent vs. dependent variables Primary and secondary resources Hypothesis acceptance or is supported (not proved)

Examples of Hypotheses
Lower levels of exercise postpartum will be associated with greater weight retention. Lower levels of exercise and low self esteem are associated with greater weight retention and an increased incidence of post partum depression.

Research Example (in the Appendix of your text) : Preventing Smoking Relapse in Postpartum Women What is the problem that needs investigation? Identify the problem statement. What is the purpose of the study? What is the specific objectives of the study? What is the hypothesis of the study?

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The Review of the Literature (ROL)
A written summary of the state of the existing knowledge about a research problem Most often done electronically but print sources are available too (print indexes, abstract journals) Uses primarily primary source materials (as compared to secondary) Research reviews prepared by others = metaanalysis and meta-synthesis

Purposes of Reviewing the Literature for a Researcher
Identify a problem Find out all that is known about that problem Discover the gaps in knowledge about the problem Identify interventions needed Identify need for replication of a study Identify the theoretical/conceptual framework for the study Help develop the hypothesis Identify suitable designs, tools, methods for a study Help with the analysis

Purposes of the...
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