Organizing Scientific Thinking Using the
Written by Kevin Ochsner and modified by others.
Based on a scheme devised by Steve Kosslyn.
This handout outlines a structured process for generating, asking, evaluating and answering
This process, denoted by the acronym QuALMRI, can be used to organize
and plan your own research, outline your writing about it, and help understand the research of
QuALMRI stands for:
ogic & design,
Importantly, QuALMRI can help you make clear what the
that you are asking, and help you to relate it directly to some means of testing it.
this process is useful not just in psychology and science, but in any endeavor in which data is
used to discriminate between alternative arguments.
This handout has 2 parts: 1) a detailed description of the 5 main steps of the QuALMRI process
and 2) a streamlined blank template for use in outlining.
Part 1: QuALMRI in Depth
I. Begin with a Question
: i.e. what do you want to know about?
All research should be
motivated by a clearly defined question or set of questions that the research seeks to address.
A. Questions can be considered at two levels:
1. Diffuse questions
provide a “bigger-picture” motivation for research, such
as, “how does gender matter in social interaction?”
These questions cannot be addressed in
single experiments, but rather are answered by considering patterns of data across different
studies, each of which addresses a more specific question.
2. Specific questions
are “bite size” pieces of larger, more diffuse, ones.
example, given a general interest in gender and social interaction, a more specific, more
question might be, “how do men and women offer different types of verbal and nonverbal
feedback during conversation?”
This question could be refined further by focusing more closely
on examination of specific types of feedback that are offered particular situations.
B. Make clear the connection between diffuse and specific questions.
Usually a diffuse “big picture” question is made clear at the beginning of an article, and specific
smaller questions to be addressed in individual experiments are also identified.
connection between them is essential for mapping out the motivation behind the research.
experimenter, this entails making clear how your specific questions relate to the more diffuse
motivating issues; as a reader/evaluator of other’s work, it entails extracting this information and