The HeART of Research:

finding, formulating, limiting & stating a research question

Worldviews & Research





What you can observe is a cheap imitation of what's real. Once you do something with the pure knowledge you have tainted it.


Theoretical concepts are divine knowledge--Divine idea(l)


Renaissance - Platonic views prevalent: laughed at Leonardo's practical use of knowledge

Reality is based on what you can observe.


Naming experiences or things experienced makes it real.


Romans - practical -"if it works it is knowledge"


High Middle Ages (Nominalists) - by giving something a name you create reality. It doesn't exist until named.

Deductive Logic

· Premises not challenged.

· Can identify new relationships within existing knowledge.

Inductive Logic

· Can challenge knowledge premises.

· Conclusions limited to particular cases.

Proceeds from a general statement (hypothesis) to specific conclusions.

By understanding the theoretical truths we can apply it to the world.


Proceeds from specific statements to a better understanding of one phenomenon.

By observing the world we create knowledge.


Worldviews & Research






ONTOLOGY - beliefs about what it means to exist - what counts as real?

REALIST: Reality exists independent of observer's perceptions and operates according to immutable natural laws that often take cause/effect form.


TRUTH is defined as that set of statements that accurately describe reality.

RELATIVIST: There exists multiple, socially constructed realities ungoverned by natural laws causal or otherwise.


TRUTH is defined as consensus construction of the combined quantity and quality of info that provided the most powerful understanding that leads to action.

EPISTEMOLOGY - beliefs about what it means to know - what counts as knowledge?
DUALIST/OBJECTIVIST: Knowledge is a phenomenon that exists external to the observer - the observer maintains a distance and studies the phenomenon (sometimes refered to as empiricism) MONISTIC/SUBJECTIVIST: Knowledge is created by inquiry through a dynamic interaction with the environment (knowing and being are the same thing)
METHODOLOGY - overall guiding strategies or "general approaches"
INTERVENTIONIST seeks to control variables and neutralize contexts. The goal is to explain how something "really works" in order to predict and control. HERMENEUTIC seeks a dialectic (a dialogue among differing views) that creates an ongoing process of iteration/analysis/critique/reiteration/reanalysis etc. that leads to a joint construction of a case. The goal is understanding.

Different Research Purposes: Basic, Applied, &/or Evaluative

They differ in function, especially to the degree to which they faciliate decision-making.

They differ in purpose, questions of investigation, and intended uses.



Tests theory "with little or no thought of application of the results" (p. 19)

Starts with a theory, principle, or generalization

Problem: to state & explain relationship

Limits: not designed to solve problems, make decisions, or to take action


Purpose: influences the way people perceive reality. Adds to knowledge of basic principles and scientific laws

Tests the usefulness of theories


Concerned with the application & development of research-based knowledge


Limits: stated in general terms & not as specific recommendations for immediate action


Purpose: to produce knowledge to provide a (generalizable) solution to a general problem. Influences the way people perceive a common problem


Evaluative Methodology

Focuses on a particular practice at a given site(s).

Focuses on implementation at a given site.

Purpose - aids in immediate decision-making

Limits: Limited generalizability

Evaluation research assesses the merit and worth of a particular practice in terms of the values operating at the site(s). This type of research aids in decision-making. Types of questions requiring evaluative methodology are: Does it work as intended? Is it worth doing?


Action Research (solution to a local problem at a local site.

Collaborative Action Research - focuses on a change strategy

Policy Studies - formulation, implementation, & effectiveness


Two Main Research Traditions



Influenced by psychological research tradition


Emphasis is on designing experiments, doing research with groups of students, and testing hypotheses using measurement and statistics.


numerical reporting


quantitative analysis


emphasizes explaining

Influenced by anthropological research traditions


Focuses on a particular event, group of people, process,

institution, or concept in a case study design



rich contextual descriptions


qualitative analysis


emphasizes understanding


Some studies integrate quantitative & qualitative methods.


General Research Process

Step 1 - Select a general problem.


Step 2 - Review literature on the problem (especially prior research and theory)


Step 3 - Select specific research problem, question, or hypothesis


Step 4 - Decide on design and methodology (based on step 2 & 3)


Step 5 - Collect data (method of collecting data depends on decision in step #4)


Step 6 - Analyze and present data or provide integrative diagrams (process & presentation depends on decisions in step #4 & #5).


Step 7 - Interpret the findings and state conclusions or generalizations regarding the problem (reporting format depends on purpose of study and intended audience).



Research Processes Vary Depending

on Methodology Selected:



Step 1 - Select a research topic and formulate a research problem.


Step 2 - Identify the variables and population to be used as key words for a literature review.


Step 3 - Develop a modified preliminary proposal with: introduction to the problem, significance of the study, specific research problem (statement, question, or hypothesis) and tentative operational definitions for variable or concepts.


Step 4 - Develop a preliminary proposal with a problem statement, an abbreviated literature review, a proposed design which specifies population/sample, instrumentation, procedures and limitations.

Step 1 - Select a research topic.


Step 2 - Locate and obtain access to a site for participant-observation; a person(s) for ethnographic interviews; or an archive for historical/legal research.


Step 3 - Conduct preliminary observations, interviews, or view documents.


Step 4 - Complete a preliminary data analysis and develop a problem statement with research questions.


Step 5 - Use the major concept(s) from the problem statement to develop key words for a literature review.


Step 6 - Develop a preliminary proposal with a problem statement, an abbreviated literature review, a proposed emergent design which specifies site and purposeful sampling strategies, techniques for analysis and limitations.