Project #1 - Research Design
Due October 26, 2015
The purpose of this project is to introduce you to some of the considerations involved in collecting data. The
process may be daunting, but once you have thought through many of the concerns, you will be well on your way
to conducting research on a topic that interests you. To that end, I encourage you to choose a topic that genuinely
inspires your curiosity.
Type your answers to all questions on a separate sheet(s) of paper, with each response numbered to correspond with
the question number. Your answers should be in full sentences, in appropriate English. Make all of your answers
speciﬁc to the topic ...view middle of the document...
You would select the major studies which have contributed to your topic. You
would take note of the deﬁciencies of other studies which have failed to deliver any useful information you
dont want to make the same mistakes! You would also discuss your ideas with others who share your interest
and incorporate their comments.
I’m not asking you to do any of this, because I’m not asking you to do the actual study. I want to know: where
would you go to ﬁnd all this information? What would you read, and how would you ﬁnd it? Be speciﬁc. If
you would research on the internet, where on the internet? (Google is not a source.) If you need published
studies, where would you ﬁnd them? Who would you talk to? I recommend the information desk at a library
if you need help getting started on this one.
3. Identify your hypothesis, or the objective of the study. For the purpose of this project, I want you to investigate
a causal relationship, as in “I think that x results in y”. The ﬁrst step to investigating causality is to determine
correlation, where the values of one variable are somehow associated with the values of another variable. If you
suspect x causes y, then x is the explanatory variable and y is the response variable. Formally, a hypothesis is
stated as a claim. What is your hypothesis? We’ll be getting to hypothesis testing methods in week 7 of this
4. Identify a speciﬁc research question that needs to be answered in order to support/reject the hypothesis. It
should be expressed in suﬃcient detail so as to make the study strategy and analysis methods obvious.
5. Identify a speciﬁc set of data that you could collect that would help you answer your research question. Using
terms learned in this course, what type of data is it? If it is qualitative, how would you categorize it (i.e. sort
it into categories)? If it is quantitative, how would you measure/count it? What would your units be?
6. What is your population? Data, if you recall, are a set of observations on members of a population. What
set of people or things is a potential source for the data that you identiﬁed in question 5? Roughly, how big
is your population? How did you arrive at this estimate? Do you have the resources (money, time, access) to
collect data from your entire population? Does the actual data collection aﬀect your population? List at least
one advantage a census would over surveying a sample of your population, and at least one disadvantage. Will
you need to restrict your data collection to a sample?
7. (a) How large of a sample do you think you will need? Later in the quarter we will discuss speciﬁc methods
to identify sample size – it’s surprisingly complicated. We want a big sample, but it will turn out, not too
big. For now, give me your gut sense of the minimum size you think your sample should be.
(b) How will you identify who should be in your sample? Remember, the ideal sample is SRS, but this is
not always possible. How...