SOC234 2018 Lab1 – Bega

Dear SOC234 Lab,

Please respond to the following question with a reply-post of no more than 250 words:

‘What makes a good and bad research question?”

Remember that you will need to post your reply before Lab 1, and don’t forget to look at both the instructions for Tweeting and Blogging and the Lab and Lecture Guide, both up on Moodle.

Thanks and good luck, Roger.

#S234UOW18  #Lab1  #Bega

Posted in SOC234 - Social Research methods, UOW.

5 Comments on SOC234 2018 Lab1 – Bega

Colby Gray-Balcomb said : Guest Report 12 months ago

The research question is a major feature in the developing and conduction research projects and plays an important role in determining what exactly you want your research to uncover (Natalier 2013, p25). With the research question playing such an influential part in the success of research it is important that you have a strong question. A good research question needs to be clearly focused as it is the starting point of your research and helps generate and create new ideas and knowledge of the research being conducted. The research question should also be original because it is important for research to be centred around areas of the topic that have limited knowledge or little current information. To create a good research question current research and questions should be acknowledged and studied to allow for other perspectives and to help increase the researcher’s current knowledge on the research in question (Walters 2013, p26-27). If you have a weak question the findings in the research project is often weak and therefore weakening the overall project. A bad question can also be the result of a broad and awkwardly worded question, these kinds of questions leave room for misinterpretation possibly resulting in a research project with an unclear direction, undesired and in some cases unusable results (Walter 2013, p28). Lastly a bad question can be the result of asking questions that have already been answered and leaving the researcher with no new information (Walter 2013, p28).

Amelia Love said : Guest Report 12 months ago

Kristin Natalier identifies the research question as a “key aspect” of any research project (Natalier, 2013, p.25). The research question establishes exactly what the project aims to achieve, therefore, the quality of the project depends on the quality of the research question. It is the foundation to a good project as it guides the hypothesis, results and conclusion. A good research question identifies the holes in existing research and does not link too closely with existing knowledge (Natalier, 2013 p.27). In other words, it is new, innovative and has not been answered before. The research question provides restrictions and clear direction to the project by establishing an aim, a method and identifying the main concepts (Walter, 2013. p.10). It should also primarily establish exploratory, descriptive or explanatory grounds (Patulny, 2018). Effective research questions provide the researcher with the tools to adequately discuss and analyse the results. A bad research question is one that is too general (Ezzy, 2010, p.66) and closely related to a question that has already been answered. Research questions need to be concise and well thought out (Natalier, 2013, p.28). If the research question is too broad, the researcher is likely to have more difficulty discussing, analysing and answering the question (Ezzy, 2010, p.66). High quality research questions separate the successful and insightful projects from the mundane and allow us to better understand human action within context.

Alicia Redshaw said : Guest Report 12 months ago

Understandings of phenomena within the social world can be grained through social research. Within this, our level of our understanding is underpinned by the quality of research question developed (Walter 2013, page. 9). When a researcher develops a good research question, they are able to draw significant conclusions and findings. Good research questions are appropriately focused with structure, are concise and clear and provide opportunities for further exploration (Mantzoukas 2007, p.373). Developing a question that relates to a significant issue in the social world, and providing brief but important information in the proposed topic improves the quality of the question. Focusing on a relevant topic “related to an empirical phenomenon” helps to develop a good social research question of interest (Natalier 2013, p.27). Good research questions are novel, finding answers to new questions with a point of difference from existing studies. They are ethical, feasible and have specific content and sound structure, often exploring a cause and effect relationship (Hulley 2007, p.20). An example of a research question that fulfils this criteria could be: ‘What is the relationship between physical activity level and childhood obesity within the Bega Valley?’. This question, along with other good research questions, focuses on a specific issue while conceding flexibility as to variables arising within the data obtained (Mantzoukas 2007, p.371). Furthermore, they are compatible with the theory and methodology of the research (Ezzy 2013, p. 54). When looking at the qualities of bad research questions, there are a number of common themes. Bad research questions lack adequate structure, focus and organisation. They are often either too narrow or too broad, to general or vague, not sufficiently focused and/or too objective (Ezzy 2013, p.54). Such research questions lack the ability for the researcher to develop meaningful conclusions. For example, ‘How many kids within the Bega Valley do exercise daily?’ would be a limiting research question. While it allows for data to be obtained, it does not explore the variables that relate to how or why kids in the Bega Valley do/do not exercise daily, and provides no opportunity for discovering the potential impacts of this. Bad research questions are unable to be measured and therefore result in “trivial or insufficient results that lack direction or impact” and furthermore usher in scepticism pertaining to validity (Mantzoukas 2007, p.372). References: 1. Ezzy, D (2013) “The Foundations of Good Social Science Research’ Chapter 3 in Walter, Maggie (ed.) (2013) Social Research Methods, 3rd Edition. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press, p50-71. 2. Hulley, S, Cumming, S, Browner, W, Grady, D, Newman, T 2007, ‘Conceiving the Research Question’, 3rd edn, Designing Clinical Research, Lippincott William & Wilkins, Philadelphia, United States. 3. Mantzoukas, S 2008, ‘Facilitating research students in formulating qualitative research questions’, Nurse Education Today, vol.28, pp.371-377. 4. Natalier, K 2013 “The Foundations of Good Social Science Research” Chapter 2 in Walter, Maggie (ed.) (2013) Social Research Methods, 3nd Edition. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press, p3-24 5. Walter, M (2013) “The Foundations of Good Social Science Research” Chapter 1 in Walter, Maggie (ed.) (2013) Social Research Methods, 3nd Edition. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press, p3-24

Madison Van Beek said : Guest Report 12 months ago

A clear indicator of a high-quality research question is a question that is straightforward and focused with a clear aim, as this therefore works to highlight the overall purpose of the research project (Walter 2013, p. 36). A superior research question is one that is original and engaging, as a unique approach to a topic will capture the attention of the research project's intended audience and by adopting an original research focus, a researcher can thoroughly engage with differing perspectives (Walter 2013, p. 27). In order for a high-quality research question to be developed, the researcher must ensure that the research question not only highlights the overall aim of the research, but the main concepts and key ideas involved in the research study (Walter 2013, p. 10). Furthermore, as Ezzy (2010, p. 65) argues, choosing a specific and focused research question is advantageous during the research process as a question that is too generalised will likely be difficult for the researcher to answer, discuss and analyse. A substandard research question will fail to provide a clear aim, and will evidently be overly broad and unclear, in turn confusing the intended audience, resulting in disinterest (Walter 2013, p. 28). Therefore, when designing a research question, it is crucial that the researcher consider and determine the key ideas and concepts that are to be explored in the research project, as this will in turn assist the researcher in developing the appropriate data collection methods and methods of research analysis (Walter 2013, p. 25)

Carina Severs said : Guest Report 12 months ago

According to Denscombe (2014, p. 2), to gauge whether a question is either good or bad you need “test to ensure the question can extract the information accurately to interpret the social phenomenon” you are interested in. If it does not accurately reflect the social phenomenon, then the question including the research method and methodology, would “need to be reviewed to ensure the most reliable information is gathered” (Denscombe 2014, p. 2). According to O'leary (2004, p. 1) “It is a creative and strategic process which involves constantly assessing, reassessing and making decisions about the best possible means for obtaining trustworthy information, carrying out appropriate analysis and drawing credible conclusions”. Further, “questions should be able to be consistently understood and ask for answers which respondents are able to provide” (Fowler & Floyd 2007, p. 63). There are a multitude of considerations when developing a question for research, including social, political or cultural bias, target group, validity, loaded words producing loaded results and many more. If we do not pose innovative research questions it is less likely that our research efforts will generate interesting and influential theories (Alvesson, M and Sandberg, J 2013, p. 47). High quality questions distinguish the exceptional from average research, which could give us insignificant or negligible results. R: Alvesson, M, and Sandberg, J 2013, Constructing research questions: Doing interesting research, Sage, London. Denscombe, M 2014, The good research guide: for small-scale social research projects, McGraw-Hill Education (UK). Fowler, Floyd J Jr 2001, Why it is easy to write bad questions, ZUMA Nachrichten 25, pp. 49-66. URN: O'leary, Z 2004, The essential guide to doing research, Sage. Patulny, R2018, SOC234 - Social Research Methods 2018 Lecture 1: Introduction , Powerpoint slides, University of Wollongong, viewed 28 Feb 2018.

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