Key Terms Research Methods

  1. alternative hypothesis
    A specific statement of prediction that usually states what you expect will happen in your study.
  2. anonymity
    The assurance that no one, including the researchers, will be able to link data to a specific individual.
  3. attribute
    A specific value of a variable. For instance, the variable sex or gender has two attributes: male and female.
  4. cause construct
    Your abstract idea or theory of what the cause is in a cause-effect relationship you are investigating.
  5. concept mapping
    Two dimensional graphs of a group's ideas where ideas that are more similar are located closer together and those judged less similar are more distant. Concept maps are often used by a group to develop a conceptual framework for a research project.
  6. conclusion validity
    The degree to which conclusions you reach about relationships in your data are reasonable.
  7. confidentiality
    An assurance made to study participants that identifying information about them acquired through the study will not be released to anyone outside of the study.
  8. constructivists
    Constructivist are people who hold a philosophical position that maintains that reality is a conceptual construction. In constructivism, the emphasis is placed on understanding how we construe the world. Constructivists may be realists (believe there is an external reality that we imperfectly apprehend and construct our view of) or subjectivists (believe that all constructions are mediated by subjective experience).
  9. correlational relationship
    Two variables that perform in a synchronized manner.
  10. critical realism
    The belief that there is an external reality independent of a person's thinking (realism) but that we can never know that reality with perfect accuracy (critical).
  11. cross-sectional
    A study that takes place at a single point in time.
  12. deductive
    Top-down reasoning that works from the more general to the more specific.
  13. dependent variable
    The variable affected by the independent variable; for example, the outcome.
  14. ecological fallacy
    Faulty reasoning that results from making conclusions about individuals based only on analyses of group data.
  15. effect construct
    Your abstract idea or theory of what the outcome is in a cause-effect relationship you are investigating.
  16. empirical
    Based on direct observations and measurements of reality.
  17. epistemology
    Is the philosophy of knowledge or of how you come to know.
  18. evidence-based practice
    The use of the best available programs or treatments based on careful evaluation using critically reviewed research.
  19. evolutionary epistemology or natural selection theory of knowledge
    A theory that ideas have survival value and that knowledge evolves through a process of variation, selection, and retention.
  20. exception fallacy
    A faulty conclusion reached as a result of basing a conclusion on exceptional or unique cases.
  21. exhaustive
    The property of a variable that occurs when you include all possible answerable responses.
  22. hierarchical modeling
    The incorporation of multiple units of analysis at different levels of a hierarchy within a single analytic model. For instance, in an educational study, you might want to compare student performance with teacher expectations. To examine this relationship would require hierarchical modeling because you are collecting data at both the teacher and student level.
  23. hypothesis
    A specific statement of prediction.
  24. hypothetical-deductive model
    A model in which two mutually exclusive hypotheses that together exhaust all possible outcomes are tested, such that if one hypothesis is accepted, the second must therefore be rejected.
  25. independent variable
    The variable that you manipulate. For instance, a program or treatment is typically an independent variable.
  26. inductive
    Bottom-up reasoning that begins with specific observations and measures and ends up as general conclusion or theory.
  27. informed consent
    A policy of informing study participants about the procedures and risks involved in research that ensures that all participants must give their consent to participate.
  28. Institutional Review Board (IRB)
    A panel of people who review research proposals with respect to ethical implications and decide whether additional actions need to be taken to assure the safety and rights of participants.
  29. longitudinal
    A study that takes place over time.
  30. methodology
    The methods you use to try to understand the world better.
  31. mixed methods
    Any research that uses multiple research methods to take advantage of the unique advantages that each method offers. For instance, a study that combines case study interviews with an experimental design can be considered mixed methods.
  32. mutually exclusive
    The property of a variable that ensures that the respondent is not able to assign two attributes simultaneously. For example, gender is a variable with mutually exclusive options if it is impossible for the respondents to simultaneously claim to be both male and female.
  33. negative relationship
    A relationship between variables in which high values for one variable are associated with low values on another variable.
  34. null hypothesis
    The hypothesis that describes the possible outcomes other than the alternative hypothesis. Usually, the null hypothesis predicts there will be no effect of a program or treatment you are studying.
  35. one-tailed hypothesis
    A hypothesis that specifies a direction; for example, when your hypothesis predicts that your program will increase the outcome.
  36. operationalization
    The act of translating a construct into its manifestation—for example, translating the idea of your treatment or program into the actual program, or translating the idea of what you want to measure into the real measure. The result is also referred to as anoperationalization; that is, you might describe your actual program as anoperationalized program.
  37. positive relationship
    A relationship between variables in which high values for one variable are associated with high values on another variable, and low values are associated with low values.
  38. positivism
    The philosophical position that the only meaningful inferences are ones that can be verified through experience or direct measurement. Positivism is often associated with the stereotype of the hardheaded, lab-coat scientist who refuses to believe in something if it can't be seen or measured directly.
  39. post-positivism
    The rejection of positivism in favor of a position that one can make reasonable inferences about phenomena based upon theoretical reasoning combined with experience-based evidence.
  40. qualitative
    Data in which the variables are not in a numerical form, but are in the form of text, photographs, sound bytes, and so on.
  41. qualitative data
    Data in which the variables are not in a numerical form, but are in the form of text, photographs, sound bytes, and so on.
  42. qualitative variable
    A variable that is not in numerical form.
  43. quantitative data
    The numerical representation of some object. A quantitative variable is any variable that is measured using numbers.
  44. relationship
    Refers to the correspondence between two variables.
  45. repeated measures
    Two or more waves of measurement over time.
  46. Requests For Proposals (RFPs)
    RFPs, published by government agencies and some companies, describe some problem that the agency would like researchers to address. Typically, the RFP describes the problem that needs addressing, the contexts in which it operates, the approach the agency would like you to take to investigate the problem, and the amount the agency would be willing to pay for such research.
  47. research question
    The central issue being addressed in the study, which is typically phrased in the language of theory.
  48. right to service
    The ethical issue involved when participants do not receive a service that they would be eligible for if they were not in your study. For example, members of a control group might not receive a drug because they are in a study.
  49. subjectivist
    The belief that there is no external reality and that the world as you see it is solely a creation of your own mind.
  50. theoretical
    Pertaining to theory. Social research is theoretical, meaning that much of it is concerned with developing, exploring, or testing the theories or ideas that social researchers have about how the world operates.
  51. third-variable problem
    An unobserved variable that accounts for a correlation between two variables.
  52. threats to validity
    Reasons your conclusion or inference might be wrong.
  53. time series
    Many waves of measurement over time.
  54. two-tailed hypothesis
    A hypothesis that does not specify a direction. For example, if your hypothesis is that your program or intervention will have an effect on an outcome, but you are unwilling to specify whether that effect will be positive or negative, you are using a two-tailed hypothesis
  55. unit of analysis
    The entity that you are analyzing in your analysis; for example, individuals, groups, or social interactions.
  56. validity
    The best available approximation of the truth of a given proposition, inference, or conclusion.
  57. variables
    Any entity that can take on different values. For instance, age can be considered a variable because age can take on different values for different people at different times.
  58. voluntary participation
    For ethical reasons, researchers must ensure that study participants are taking part in a study voluntarily and are not coerced.
Card Set
Key Terms Research Methods
Key terms from The Research Methods Knowledge Base