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A research question is defined as a question around which one centers his or her research; it is an answerable inquiry into a specific topic or field. A good research question constitutes the fundamental core of a scientific study, makes implications about research methods, and drives the investigative process (O’Sullivan, Rassel, & Taliaferro, 2011). Typically, constructing a research question is one of the essential steps that are to be undertaken before setting off to examine the issue at hand. Thus, a researcher needs to make sure that the question is clear, providing key specifics that a study’s target audience can readily comprehend without needing more explanation. The question needs to be narrow enough and expressed in the fewest possible words. Lastly, a good research question embarks on an open, debatable, or controversial topic instead of hinting at widely accepted facts.
Constructing a research question is a vital part of any scientific investigation for several reasons. A research question sets the direction for the entire study and helps its authors stay on topic. It allows a person to choose appropriate research designs and methods, which is of great use in the empirical part of a study (O’Sullivan et al., 2011). A research question helps to set the right objectives and put forward an adequate hypothesis without which a study may prove underdeveloped or even fail altogether. Lastly, if a researcher applies for funding, the committee will pay the most attention to the research question since it is the easiest and least time-consuming way to grasp the gist of a study.
When research implies recruitment of people, it is imperative that its authors consider ethical guidelines and boundaries. Before starting an investigation, researchers need to gain explicit consent from all the participants. However, it should be noted that genuinely giving consent is impossible without having enough information about the subject matter (O’Sullivan et al., 2011). Hence, it is the authors’ responsibility to communicate the objectives and methods of a study to the respondents so that they could evaluate whether they truly want to be involved. Researchers have an obligation to protect private information from third parties and unauthorized access in general. For the sake of safety and positive climate during research, the participants need to know who will receive the data and how they are going to be kept and processed. In summation, respondents trust researchers with information that they otherwise have exclusive control over, and this trust should not be breached.
Confidentiality and anonymity are two key concepts in regards to ethical research. Some research designs, such as qualitative, imply gaining insights into the lives of the participants and handling personal information (O’Sullivan et al., 2011). Often, when used negligently in the context of a study, information may disclose the identity of a speaker. This puts him or her in a situation that is unpleasant at best and dangerous at worst. For instance, if a person shares his or her experiences with a rather controversial phenomenon, a leakage and consequential identity disclosure can cost them a reputation. Thus, it is vital to make everything possible to ensure confidentiality and anonymity. A body that assesses the ethical value of research is the Institutional Review Board, otherwise known as the Independent Ethics Committee.
Questions and Hypotheses
Do higher average annual costs at Texas colleges and universities mean higher salaries after attending?
- Variables: independent – average annual costs ($20,237 at Rice University), dependent – salaries after graduation ($65,400 at Rice University).
- Hypothesis: There is only a slight positive correlation between average tuition fees at Texas colleges and universities and the level of income after graduation.
Is there a correlation between the average annual costs at Texas colleges and universities and the typical total debt after graduation?
- Variables: independent – annual costs ($20,237 at Rice University), dependent – total debt ($11,200 at Rice University).
- Hypothesis: Higher average annual costs at Texas colleges and universities are strongly correlated with a higher typical total debt after graduation.
O’Sullivan, E., Rassel, G. R., & Taliaferro, J. D. (2011). Practical research methods for nonprofit and public administrators. New York, NY: Routledge.