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Dissertation questions

Dissertation questions examples

There is no "one best way" to structure a quantitative research question. However, to create a well-structured quantitative research question, we recommend an approach that is based on four steps: (1) Choosing the type of quantitative research question you are trying to create (i.e., descriptive, comparative or relationship-based); (2) Identifying the different types of variables you are trying to measure, manipulate and/or control, as well as any groups you may be interested in; (3) Selecting the appropriate structure for the chosen type of quantitative research question, based on the variables and/or groups involved; and (4) Writing out the problem or issues you are trying to address in the form of a complete research question. In this article, we discuss each of these four steps, as well as providing examples for the three types of quantitative research question you may want to create: descriptive, comparative and relationship-based research questions.

STEP ONE
Choose the type of quantitative research question (i.e., descriptive, comparative or relationship) you are trying to create

The type of quantitative research question that you use in your dissertation (i.e., descriptive, comparative and/or relationship-based) needs to be reflected in the way that you write out the research question; that is, the word choice and phrasing that you use when constructing a research question tells the reader whether it is a descriptive, comparative or relationship-based research question. Therefore, in order to know how to structure your quantitative research question, you need to start by selecting the type of quantitative research question you are trying to create: descriptive, comparative and/or relationship-based.

STEP TWO
Identify the different types of variable you are trying to measure, manipulate and/or control, as well as any groups you may be interested in

Whether you are trying to create a descriptive, comparative or relationship-based research question, you will need to identify the different types of variable that you are trying to measure, manipulate and/or control. If you are unfamiliar with the different types of variable that may be part of your study, the article, Types of variable, should get you up to speed. It explains the two main types of variables: categorical variables (i.e., nominal, dichotomous and ordinal variables) and continuous variables (i.e., interval and ratio variables). It also explains the difference between independent and dependent variables, which you need to understand to create quantitative research questions.

To provide a brief explanation; a variable is not only something that you measure, but also something that you can manipulate and control for. In most undergraduate and master's level dissertations, you are only likely to measure and manipulate variables. You are unlikely to carry out research that requires you to control for variables, although some supervisors will expect this additional level of complexity. If you plan to only create descriptive research questions, you may simply have a number of dependent variables that you need to measure. However, where you plan to create comparative and/or relationship-based research questions, you will deal with both dependent and independent variables. An independent variable (sometimes called an experimental or predictor variable) is a variable that is being manipulated in an experiment in order to observe the effect this has on a dependent variable (sometimes called an outcome variable). For example, if we were interested in investigating the relationship between gender and attitudes towards music piracy amongst adolescents, the independent variable would be gender and the dependent variable attitudes towards music piracy. This example also highlights the need to identify the group(s) you are interested in. In this example, the group of interest are adolescents.

Once you identifying the different types of variable you are trying to measure, manipulate and/or control, as well as any groups you may be interested in, it is possible to start thinking about the way that the three types of quantitative research question can be structured. This is discussed next.

STEP THREE
Select the appropriate structure for the chosen type of quantitative research question, based on the variables and/or groups involved

The structure of the three types of quantitative research question differs, reflecting the goals of the question, the types of variables, and the number of variables and groups involved. By structure, we mean the components of a research question (i.e., the types of variables, groups of interest), the number of these different components (i.e., how many variables and groups are being investigated), and the order that these should be presented (e.g., independent variables before dependent variables). The appropriate structure for each of these quantitative research questions is set out below.

Source: dissertation.laerd.com
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