How to Write your Academic Research
Research has become such a prevailing phenomenon of our civilization that all of us are imparted by it. Scholars and practitioners of various levels of sophistication in the academic disciplines and professions engage in research. Students do not progress very far in our formal education system without encountering the necessity to do some type of research. Research is conducting in many setting: laboratories, classroom, libraries, the city street and foreign cultures just to mention few. Some research is for short duration, other research spans long periods of time. Industries, businesses, and funding agencies such as the department of education and the national institution of health, spend vast sums of money on research activity. Yet, much research is done with little funding. Advances in many field of endeavor are attributed to research and for much of this research activity there is the inherent assumption that research fosters improvement.
Graduate student will find it difficult, a least early in a graduate program, to identify with research situations and to key into a process of conducting research. It may be that the only motivation for taking a research methods course and for engaging in research at all is that they are required in graduate program. Expertise and experience for conducting research are limited. So, the necessity for conducting research provides little direction for how to go about doing it.
When it comes to matters of research, the situation of average of elementary or high school teacher, counselor, or administrator is not much different from that of the graduate student. In fact, a consideration portion of the graduate student population is often made up of school personal pursuing graduate degree on a part time basis. But regardless of degree requirements, research is done for the purpose of explaining and predicting phenomena, and in the case of education research, those that impact upon teaching and learning and the operation of the schools. There is an inherent assumption that educational research, by providing a better understanding of the education process, will lead to the improvement of educational practice.
Decision making in the schools is based on a contribution of experience, expert opinion, and research results and the professional educator should be knowledgeable about the research methodology and results.
Much educational research is reported in such a way that knowledge of the methodology is invaluable, and in almost all cases, such knowledge is essential for a meaningful implementation of research result. Although graduate students may have a short-term or immediate need to conduct research for a thesis or dissertation, a long term result of the research experience should be that they become well professional educators and that they use research result increasingly in decision making.
The First Step
Educational research is to some extent complex and demanding. However, the broad spectrum of research activities uses various research methods, ranging from relatively simple, single operations to complex combinations of procedures. With organized and concentrate study, the aspiring educational research should be able to master necessary research methods. Basically, the only way to become competent in research is by doing it, but before research can be put into practice, some skills must be acquired. Knowing what procedures apply in pursuing the solution of the specific problem? How the data are could be collected and interpreted? How satisfactory reports are could be produced? In the context of a specific research effort, all these questions call for certain skills.
The approach of this text is essentially one of emphasizing the application of procedures. To a large extent, what is done in educational research is based on common sense. We try to structure things so that we can tell what is going on, so that we can understand the information contained in the data. This text discusses general procedures and methods, but the practicing research must apply them to the specific situation. To some extent, the idea of a typical research project is a misconception. There is no typical project; each has unique problems and conditions. Although there may be considerable similarity among various types of projects, doing a research project is not like baking a cake from a recipe. The educational researcher should always aim for a respectable competently done product. However, a researcher should not become discouraged if the results are less than perfect, it is not likely that there has been a period study. Therefore, any finished product wool not to be totally exempt from criticism. In doing research, there are potential pitfalls, and errors are likely to occur. Any researcher should be willing to accept in a strictly constructive sense for the purpose of improving a particular project or improving future research in the area. These characteristics are related in that, as a composite, they describe the nature of research. They are somewhat separated in this discussion focus on their individual meanings. A strong empirical approach characterizes educational research. Technically, is the concept that all knowledge is derived from sense experience? But the result of this experience must take some kind of informational from so that knowledge can be generated. Information takes the form of data. There are many possible forms of data, including test scores, field notes, responses to questionnaire items, and physical performance scores, to mention just four. The researcher works with these data. That work may involve organizing data, generating hypotheses from the data, testing hypotheses, and so.
Collecting the data relevant to the problem is the third step in systematic research. However, data cannot be collected in any available and haphazard, or adhoc manner. The process collection requires proper organization and control so that the data will enable valid decisions to be made about the research problem at hand. The fourth step is analyzing data in a manner appropriate to the problem. The fifth step is this is the process of drawing conclusions or making generalizations after the analysis has been made. The conclusions are based on the data and the analyses within the framework of the research study.
Regardless of the form research takes or the ends to which it is directed. We want research to be valid. That is to possess validity. What is validity of research? In general, for something to be valid we want I to based on fact.
The Second Step
The study has a good internal because, if the physical performance test score of the two classes differ, say that the mean for class two is much higher than that for class one, we can interpret this result with confidence and conclude that program two is the more effective program. Whatever the result they can be interpreted with confidence, because overall the only difference between the two classes is the program. Both are morning classes taught by the same teacher in the same school, and both classes consist of eighth-grade boys. To be sure, any two boys might differ on their inherent physical ability, but sixth boys were assigned randomly, twenty-eight to each class. As classes, overall the two classes should be very similar on factors other than the programs that might affect the physical performance. For example possibly some boys get those sleep than others, but overall the averages should be about the same for the two classes. In essence, the random assignment, event out, the two classes on these other factors, and we say that the groups are equivalent within random fluctuation.
Average science achievement scores are computed for the study taught using each of the three materials. What conclusions can be drawn about the relative effectiveness’ of the three types of materials, essentially none? There are numerous factors which may affect the science achievement scores which cannot be separated from possible effects.
To illustrate this point, suppose the students in school three have the highest average score. It is because they are high ability students are because teacher C is a superior teacher, or is the test used by teacher C easier than those used by the other teachers, or are the material more effective than those used. There is no way these result can be validity interpreted, regardless of the pattern of results. Too many plausible and competing explanations of the results cannot be discounted to be able to conclude that materials 3 are the most effective. Thus, this research study lacks internal validity because the results cannot be interpreted.
As defined early, external validity is the extent to which research results can be generalized. To a large extent, internal validity is a prerequisite for external validity because if result cannot be interpreted is not likely that they can be generalized. Consider an example.
In a school district which has five elementary schools a survey is conducted of parents perceptions of the school, quality of the curriculum, effectiveness of the administration, discipline. A telephone interview is developed with well constructed items and an adequate number of items to cover the school characteristics of interest. Within each elementary school 25 parents of students enrolled are selected randomly and interviewed. For any parents not available or unwilling to be interviewed there is a there is a defined procedure for random replacement. The interviews are conducted and 125 interviews are completed with only six of those being replacements for unavailable parents.