d i g i t a l   a d v i s o r . . .

Justifying Your Study

One way in which research differs from other forms of inquiry is that you need to justify virtually everything that you do. Your critics can challenge the validity or relevance of your findings if they believe there was something non-typical about the people you selected for study, something biased in the way you selected people for study, something unfair about the groups you compared, something wrong with the way you phrased your questions, and so forth. Every aspect of your study design has an influence on what you will learn from the study.

Therefore, you need to have a rationale for every aspect of your study. To see how this rationale makes a differences, imagine that you are reading two different studies with similar designs and research methods, but with different rationales. Which would you find more persuasive?

Rationale for:
Study A
Study B
research question
I was curious
about it
I noticed a discrepancy in the research and wanted to test it
I happened to know these teachers
These teachers represented the population other researchers have been studying
I didn't bother to compare them with anyone else because I knew they were honest people
I compared them with another group who were similar to them in all respects except their knowledge about this one issue of interest to me.
Data collection
It was easiest for me to do, didn't have time for anything more 
The data I collected were directly relevant to the discrepancy I wanted to learn about
The patterns I see make sense and fit with my own personal experience
The patterns I see are consistent with one version of this theory but not with the other. Therefore they raise questions about the second version of this theory.

The point of this little contrast is to show you how others will read your study. They will be looking to see how serious you are about really examining this issue closely, and really trying to learn something. 


© Mary Kennedy, 2006


Evaluating Research

Reasoning with Evidence

Doing Your Own Research