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Research Problem

One or more sentences that indicate the goal, purpose, or overall direction of the study


Context of the research problem

Communicates the background or larger body of knowledge or subject


Purpose of the research problem

A general statement of the goal of the study


Significance of the research problem

is the reason for the study

How will the study make a contribution to knowledge and/or practice


Research Problem Components

context of the problem
purpose of the problem
significance of the problem


Five reasons for conducting replication studies

To check the findings of a major or milestone study
To check the validity of research findings with different subjects
To check trends or change over time
To check important findings using different methodologies
To develop more effective or efficient interventions



A label or name that represents a concept or characteristic


Categorical variables

are composed of attributes or levels



is a categorical value of a variable



is another name for attribute


Conceptual or Constitutive Definition

Uses other words to define the variable; a dictionary definition


Operational Definition

Uses measurement operations to define the variable; generally preferred in research


Independent Variable (IV)

The variable that is the subject of the study

Precedes, influences, or predicts the dependent variable

In a true experiment, the IV is under the control of the experimenter


Dependent Variable

The variable that is measured to see if the IV had an affect
Affected or predicted by the independent variable


Extraneous Variables (Nuisance Variables)

Any variable that may affect the DV, but is not the subject of the study


Confounding Variables

A variable that co-varies with the independent variable (IV), but is not the IV.

A confounding variable provides an alternative explanation for the findings of the study (other than the IV).


Continuous Variable

Can take on an infinite number of possible values

Between any two values, another value is possible


Categorical Variable

Can take on only a finite number (often a small number) of possible values

The values are the categories (Example: High/Medium/Low or Yes/No)


Predictor Variable

The variable we predict from


Criterion Variable

The variable we are trying to predict


Criteria for Evaluating Quantitative Research Problem Statements and Questions

The problem should be researchable (empirical)

The problem/question should be important

The problem should indicate the type of research (descriptive, associational, quasi-experimental, or experimental)

The problem statement/question should specify the sample

The problem statement/question should specify the variables

The problem statement/question should be clear



Educated “guesses” or tentative expectation about a correct solution to a problem, descriptions, possible relationships, or differences


Why Researchers Use Hypotheses

The hypothesis provides a focus that integrates information
The hypothesis is testable

The hypothesis helps the investigator know what to do

The hypothesis allows the investigator to confirm or disconfirm a theory

The hypothesis provides a framework for developing explanations that can be investigated scientifically

When supported, the hypothesis provides evidence of the predictive nature of the relationship between the variables

The hypothesis provides a useful framework for organizing and summarizing the results and conclusions of the research


Inductive hypotheses

derive from the researcher’s observations of behavior

Inductive hypotheses are limited by the what data the research has had the opportunity to be exposed to


Deductive hypotheses

are derived from theory or its application

They help build a body of knowledge over time


Research hypotheses

are conjectural, declarative statements of the results the investigator expects to find

Most research hypotheses specify a direction of effect, but they can also be non-directional


Statistical hypotheses

are statements of the relationships or differences that can be tested statistically


Null Hypothesis

a statistical statement of no differences between groups or no relationship between variables

The null hypothesis can either be rejected or fail to be rejected as the outcome of a research study.
A statistical hypothesis


Criteria for Evaluating Research Hypotheses

The research hypothesis should be stated in a declarative form

The research hypothesis should be consistent with known facts, previous research, and theory

The research hypothesis should follow from the research problem

The research hypothesis should state the expected relationship between two or more variables

The research hypothesis should be testable

The research hypothesis should be clear

The research hypothesis should be concise


Qualitative problem statements or questions ________________________.

tend to be open-ended, less specific, and evolving