Formulating research questions
Lecture notesThis week we go to the basic features of a scientific question. We will spend most of the time discussing where research questions come from, and some key terms:
- The Phenomenon -- the larger topic of study, the empirical question that underlies the research.
- Theory: a proposition about what causes the phenomenon. A theory links two hypothetical constructs or abstract psychological processes.
- The Hypothesis: a
testable prediction that describes of relation between two variables derived
from the theory,
each of which can be operationally
- Hypothetical construct
- Operational definition
- Internal & external validity
- Independent v. Dependent variables
- Measurement v. experimental studies
Chapter 3 of the text and two readings.
- The first, from Time and The New York Times, describe findings from paleontology that may revolutionize our understanding of primate evolution. They show how scientific theories that we are "sure of" can, in fact, be overturned over night. Click here or the image.
- The third describes die-hard attempts to produce "fusion energy", and shows how hard it can be to discard bad theories when there is a lot of wishful thinking in support of the theory.
Analyze a journal article
For this week you will describe the core parts of a journal article using the “research flow” from lecture. The article examines whether drinking leads to assumptions that themselves may lead to aggression.
(Can't get the article directly? A PDF versions is here.)
Read the guide to research articles first – it will show you how to efficiently find the key parts of an article and answer these questions.
Feel free to use any other published article in a psychology journal. Instructions on how to find an article (which you will have to for your paper) below and in the guide to research articles.
Journal articles often test several hypotheses, and may analyze multiple variables. For this assignment pick one hypothesis from one article to analyze: keep it simple!!
Read the paper, and answer the following, using no more than one typed page:
- What is the Phenomenon being addressed?
- Briefly, what is the Theory?
- What was the hypothesis tested by the study?
- Was the hypothesis supported by the data?
- What conclusions can we reach about larger phenomenon from this study?
- What other research might be useful to clarify the phenomenon?
|The most powerful search service at UIC is ISI Web of Science.