By Dr. Markus M. L. Crepaz
1) PUZZLE: This is a tough one. Your research must have a puzzle, if not, why do the research? If theory and praxis diverge, that is a puzzle; contested theories represent a puzzle; inconsistent empirical findings are a puzzle; etc.
2) RESEARCH QUESTION: At some point you should clearly state in the form of a question the objective of your research.
3) LITERATURE REVIEW: Here you are taking stock – what is it that others have written about your subject. This is the place for showing off how much have you have read and understood about the material and drop names.
4) THEORY: This is VERY important! Here you don’t drop names – after all this is the place where you present YOUR theory to the world, YOUR ideas, YOUR contribution.
5) UNIT OF ANALYSIS: What is the “unit” that you are examining? Is it elections, individuals, countries, etc.?
6) TEMPORAL AND SPATIAL PARAMETERS: Over what time period and what location are you applying your theory?
7) HYPOTHESIS: What is your hypothesis? Remember a hypothesis contains three things: first it indicates the object of observation, the dependent and independent variables, and the direction of their relationship. For example: “the more I’m feeding my cat, the fatter she gets”. “Cat” is the object of observation, “food” is the cause, cat getting “fat” is the effect, and the direction of the relationship is positive.
8) DEPENDENT AND INDEPENDENT VARIABLES: Which ones are they? How much do they vary?
9) PROCESS TRACING: Why should the cat get fat if feed a lot? If more calories enter her body that she can burn, her body will on the basis of biological processes begin to store the energy contained in the food in terms of fat. Process tracing should in detail describe the various steps how things move from cause to effect.
10) OPERATIONALIZATION OF CONCEPTS: Your hypotheses will contain concepts, i.e. names of things. You will have to translate these...