continueto emphasize the broadertheoretical assumptions that underiie

Continueto emphasize the broadertheoretical

This preview shows page 11 - 12 out of 28 pages.

continueto emphasize the broadertheoretical assumptions that underiie particular method- ologicalchoices. Research Design A research design is simply an orderly plan for gathering and analyzing data, one that serves the pafticular goals of the researcher for a particular study. It is not necessarily or even usually an experimental design. What is crucial is that researchers give considerable forethought to the plans and goals embodied in their design decisions before acring on them, so that the time and effort to be invested in carrying them out are likely to serve their purpose. In our view, researchers should make decisions that fit their own goals and interests, not any particular ideology; questioning methodological dogma and divisions can lead to creative new options (seeBavelas, 1995). An examination of our group's research, for example, reveals a considerable heterogeneity of choices. lnductiue Versus Hy p ot h e s i s-T e sting D e s igns As described above, one major choice to be made at the outset is between inductive and PERSPECTIVES ON INQUIRY hypothesis-testing designs; here we describe some of the more specific aspects of that choice. Anyone exposed to typical methods courses is likely to be more familiar with hypothesis-testing ( "theory-driven" ) research, which is often described as the pinnacle of research design. Because of the starus afforded it in some quarters, hypothesis testing is often the design that researchers choose first, for any topic. We do not subscribe to this "evolution- ary scale" view of research design, especially when it relieson the natural sciences as a role model. A careful reading of the history of (and contemporary research in) life sciences such as biology reveals a strong foundation of painstaking inductive observation. However, design prejudice runs in both directions. Just as some experimentalists mistrust inductive research, some inductive researchers reject experimental or hypothesis-testing designs out of hand, primarily because of historical posi- tivist associarions. Our eclectic view is going to offend extremists on both sides, so we address our remarks to those who want to make up their own minds. If we put preconceptions and received wis- dom aside, what are the differencesbetrveen hypothesis-testing research and inductive research? In hypothesis-testing research, the theory drives the design for gathering the data. Ideally, the researcher has a cleady formulated hypothesis, that is, a serious bet about what is going on and why. Multivariate statistical data dredging is nor the same as hypothesis testing. The researcher has to develop a desigrr that clearly anticipates all possible outcomes, including one that would suppon his or her hypothesis and others that would not. Only if the outcome can either advance or diminish the plausibiliry of the researcher's theory is there true hypothesis testing. A hypothesis- testing design demands an up-front commit- ment, and a great deal of experimental, quantitative, statistical research do€s not meet this standard. On the other hand, contrary to
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