Reliability and Validity in Research – This is a statistical concept in the field of research whereby a particular phenomenon is being evaluated or rated by various raters. It is, therefore, the extent or degree to which there is an agreement in the rating scores amongst the multiple raters, which brings about homogeneity and unanimity amongst these raters. To measure inter-rater reliability, it entails taking the total number of ratings in a particular judgment conducted, as well as the counting the accumulative ratings are done in the rating exercise. The total number of agreements is then divided by the total number of ratings and converted into a percentage to give the inter-rater reliability. McHugh (2012) provides a good example of how inter-rater reliability is calculated by reviewing the various methods that have been stipulated by scholars previously.
This is also another reliability aspect. Test-retest reliability is the extent or degree to which results obtained from a particular test (which is similar) and consistent over time. In test-retest reliability, a similar test is administered to the same people in two or more instances and then the results are evaluated. To measure the test-retest reliability, there are two primary formulas applied. The first formula, which is better applied in instances where two tests were conducted in the Pearson Correlation formula that tests how well two sets of data correlate.
The other method is intraclass correlation formula that is applicable where more than two tests were administered. These formulas help calculate the test-retest coefficients that range between 0 and 1. In his article on validity and reliability in social science research, Drost (2011) provides the various reliability and validity aspects and gives detailed examples of the test-retest reliability measurement.
Face validity, which is also referred to as the logical validity, entails the extent or degree to which an evaluation or investigation intuitively seems to quantify or measure the variable or rather the theory that it is objectively meant to measure. This, therefore, means that face validity is when a specific evaluation or assessment tool does what it is meant to do to provide results. To measure face validity, one can engage in the assessment of the concepts or ideas to be measured against the theoretical and practical applications.
This is the measure of how accurate or effective a given value from a research study is and can be used in the future or rather to predict future patterns in the field studied. In their research on the predictive validity of public examinations (Obioma & Salau, 2007) use the predictive validity aspect to predict how the performance of students in public examinations will affect their future academic performances in the university and college level.
Concurrent reliability and validity
This entails the degree to which current test results relate to results from a previous test. For instance, if in the measurement of an individual’s IQ test are taken at two varied intervals, concurrent validity is measured through comparing on how closely similar are these results from the two tests. A good example of research that has employed the use of concurrent validity is the research done by (Tamanini et al., 2004) on the Portuguese king’s health test performed on women after stress. The researchers indicate how this test is applied and measured by using it as their primary test in their research.
Addressing the issues of reliability and validity
On most qualitative researchers, the nature of the data is more important to the researcher than the other descriptive elements of the research. This, however, does not rule out the need for conciseness in the descriptive sections. Reliability in research entails the concerns the stability, consistency of the data as well as homogeneous repeatability of the results if several tests are done (LoBiondo-Wood & Haber 2014). On the other hand, validity entails the accuracy and integrity of the data or results collected from the various tests that a researcher performs. Various researchers address these issues of validity and reliability in different ways, based on the purpose and the kind of research they carry out.
The authors, Obioma & Salau, (2007), go down to research on the effects of public examinations on the future academic performance of students. The focus here, therefore, is more on the data validation to ensure that their conclusions, as well as the outcomes of the results, have the required accuracy and integrity to validate their arguments. The two authors and researchers have applied the aspects of predictive and concurrent validity in their research. In regards to the use of predictive validity, this is where their research question is based on.
They have made sure that the data or the arguments that they bring forth as substantially valid and convincing to attain the objective of predicting the future academic performances of the children who undertake the public examinations that are governed by the various bodies in the country. They have however not applied any reliability aspects in their research. At least not anyone that can be easily identified.
In the book by Drost, he has touched on both aspects; validity and reliability. In this book, he has not presented it in a research form but rather brought it out to the readers in the form of a review of both aspects of research, but on the dimension of social sciences. For instance, she has covered the various instances of both validity and reliability, by providing real-life examples and the various methods that can be used to measure the respective instances of both aspects. She approaches the concepts of validity and reliability from a general perspective whereby she accounts for the reasons as to why researchers, especially in education and social sciences, should adopt a culture of ensuring validity and reliability in their results. He explains the various instances of reliability and provides formulas and tools that can be effectively applied to measure these instances. She also provides the various elements that can impact the level of validity and reliability of data or results in research.
In conclusion, the concepts of validity and reliability are important in research. The researcher from various fields should adopt a culture of achieving these concepts in the results they obtain during their research. As Drost argues it, strong support for the validity and the reliability of research not only makes the research highly validated or otherwise believed in but also limits the possible critiques that the research may face. It fills the gaps that may be identifiable in the research. A researcher should be able to understand the various instances of both reliability and validity as well as know when it is appropriate to apply what instance in the research.
McHugh, M. L. (2012). Interrater reliability: the kappa statistic. Biochemia Medica, 22(3), 276-282.
Drost, E. A. (2011). Validity and reliability of social science research. Education Research and perspectives, 38(1), 105.
Obioma, G., & Salau, M. (2007). The predictive validity of public examinations: A case study of Nigeria. Nigerian Educational Research & Development Council (NERDC) Abuja.
Tamanini, J. T., Dambros, M., D’ancona, C. A., Palma, P. C., Botega, N. J., Rios, L. A., & Netto Jr, N. R. (2004). Concurrent validity, internal consistency and responsiveness of the Portuguese version of the King’s Health Questionnaire (KHQ) in women after stress urinary incontinence surgery. International Braz j Urol, 30(6), 479-486.
LoBiondo-Wood, G., & Haber, J. (2014). Reliability and validity. G. LoBiondo-Wood & J. Haber. Nursing research. Methods and critical appraisal for evidence-based practice, 289-309.
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An instructional theory refers to a theory that provides clear guidance on how to assist individuals learn and develop. Instructional theories center on how to design material for enhancing the education of individuals. They differ from learning theories in the sense that while learning theories explain how learning occurs, instructional theories stipulate how to assist individuals to learn.
Stated differently, instructional theories, as informed by learning theories, delineate the core teaching approaches (such as worked examples versus partial solutions, lecture versus cooperative activities, immediate versus deferred reinforcements) that may be included in a lesson. Instructional theories are usually normative and situation specific. The field of instructional science deals with understanding and improving instructional methods to make them more appealing and effective (Edgar, 2012, p. 2).
The origins of instructional theories can be traced to formative endeavors by educational psychologists to map out the link between psychology and the pragmatic application of instructional theory in education settings. John Dewey (1910) and Edward Thorndike (1913) are two important theorists who envisaged a special connection between instructional theory and educational practice (Dijkstra, Schott, Tennyson & Seel, 2012, p. 3). The connection between the philosophical perspectives and instructional theories is obvious. For instance, learning activities in a traditional classroom are centered on and controlled by the instructor, who presents the materials to be learned and prescribes the kinds of learning activities that students engage in.
Learners are expected to read and analyze the information (through homework and classroom activity) until they master it. Knowledge is regarded as a commodity to be passed from the teacher to the learner. In sum, instructional theories identify methods of instruction (ways of supporting and facilitating learning), as well as the circumstances in which the methods may or may not be used.
A Perspective on the Connection
between Theory and Practice
The connection between instructional theories and pedagogical practices is made complex by a number of factors. It can be perceived that pedagogical practices should be founded on the best instructional theories available, but this relationship may not be as simple. Educational practices are likely to be informed by philosophical beliefs than by empirical evidence and theoretical discernment of learning. Learning institutions are established according to the various cultural and community beliefs and worldviews, the human nature, as well as what are to be learned. They also differ with respect to their beliefs regarding teaching and learning, although philosophical convictions frequently come first (Duffy & Jonassen, 2013, p. 17).
All instructional programs and educational systems incorporate some instructional theory, even though such theory is in most instances implied and frequently goes unnoticed. Vastly different classrooms materialize from different philosophical views. For instance, if one is of the conviction that knowledge is produced anew by each student, that a student’s mental activity decides what he or she learns, and that learning happens from engaging in authentic assignments in a social atmosphere, then the resultant classroom is likely to involve learners working on projects and learning in groups.
In this manner, the students are able to discuss how best to tackle problems or consult on the meaning of various concepts. There is a consistency between theoretical beliefs and pedagogical practices. However, the question concerning which comes first is not always clear since evidence exists that people seek out and agree to information that affirms their preexisting beliefs while rejecting those that do not conform to such beliefs.
There exists a reciprocatory link between theory and practice. A common conviction is that knowledge flows from systematic theories to the advancement of effectual practices, that effective instructional theories inform sound pedagogical practices (Leong & Austin, 2006, p. 7). However, science does not always work in such a linear manner. An examination of both social and physical sciences reveals that ideas frequently derive from observation and interrogation of naturally occurring events. Scientific theories often come from attempts to find practical solutions to problems, such as asking the question “what is the best approach of teaching the concept of osmosis?”.
Established pedagogical practices that teachers have been found to be effectual should be used as sources of ideas in coming up with a practicable instructional theory. A final caveat in comprehending the connection between theory and practice involves acknowledging that the learners are more important than the instructor in deciding the material to be learned. However, this is not to say that the teacher’s role is unimportant, only that the perceptions, previous knowledge, and beliefs of learners should dictate what and if they learn things related to the teacher’s instructional goals.
This theory deals with the manner in which individuals perceive and
use information to explain events (Higgins & LaPointe, 2012, p. 1). It
looks at what information is collected and how it is treated to shape a causal
judgment. Heider (1958) first proposed the attribution theory, although other
psychologists such as Weiner (1974) and Jones et al (1972) developed a
theoretical framework that later became a key research model in social
psychology. Heider offered a discourse on what he termed as “commonsense” or
“naïve” psychology. According to his perspective, individuals are similar to
recreational scientists, attempting to understand the behavior of other
individuals by gathering and analyzing information until they obtain a
reasonable cause or explanation.
Instructional Theories – Key Statements and Assumptions
Attribution theory concerns itself with how people construe events and how this construal relates to their thoughts and behaviors. The theory presumes that individuals try to determine why people behave in the manner that they do. An individual seeking to understand why other people or person behaved in a certain manner may attribute one or several causes to the behavior (Erbas, Turan, Aslan & Dunlap, 2010, p. 118). Heider proposed that individuals usually make two kinds of attributions, namely internal attribution and external attribution.
Internal attribution involves the deduction that a person is acting in a certain manner because of some inherent attribute about the individual, such as personality or attitude. Conversely, external attribution involves the assumption that a person behaves in a certain manner due to the circumstances that he or she is undergoing. Attributions are also considerably affected by motivational and emotional drives (Higgins & LaPointe, 2012, p. 3). Faulting other people and evading personal blame are existent convenient and self-serving attributions.
Individuals also tend to make attributions in defending against what they perceive as attacks. People sometimes even blame victims for their circumstances as they seek to distance themselves from thoughts and feelings of suffering the same predicament. Lastly, individuals also tend to assign less variableness to other people than themselves, viewing themselves as more versatile and less conventional compared to others.
A three-stage process forms the basis of an attribution. First, the individual must observe or perceive a behavior. Second, the individual must trust that the behavior was deliberately performed, and lastly, the individual must establish if he or she believes that the other person was coerced into performing the behavior (in such a scenario, the cause will be attributed to the circumstances) or not (where the action will be attributed to the other individual). Weiner’s attribution theory focused on achievement. He identified effort, aptitude, task complexity, and luck as essential factors that affect attribution for achievement (Higgins & LaPointe, 2012, p. 2). Attributions are categorized under three underlying dimensions, which include stability, controllability, and the locus of control (Jarvis, 2012, p. 148).
The stability dimension looks at whether causes remain constant or change with time. For example, effort may be categorized as internal and variable while aptitude may be categorized as a constant, internal cause. Conversely, controllability contrasts causes that are within the control of an individual, such as skills, from those that one is not able to control, such as mood, ability, the actions of other individuals, and luck. Lastly, the locus of control dimension is divided into two poles, which include external and internal locus of control.
Application of the Attribution
Weiner’s Attribution Theory has found widespread application in various fields, including clinical psychology, law, and education. Weiner contended that causal attribution determines how people react to achievement and failure. For instance, a student is not likely to experience a sense of pride and accomplishment if he or she receives an A grade from an instructor who gives only higher grades. Conversely, a higher grade from instructors who issues few high grades is likely to lead to immense satisfaction to the student (Weiner, 1980, p. 362).
Students with higher academic achievements and high self-esteem often attribute their superior performance and achievements to internal, established, and intractable factors such as aptitude while attributing failure to internal, tractable factors such as task complexity and the level of effort. For instance, students experiencing recurring failure in numeracy are likely to consider themselves as being less proficient in arithmetic.
This self-perception of numeracy ability evidences itself in the learner’s prospects of success on numeracy tasks, as well in their thoughts on failure or success in the same tasks. Similarly, learners with learning disabilities are more likely to attribute their failure to ability, which is an intractable factor and not effort, which is more tractable.
The Elaboration Theory
This theory holds that to optimize learning, instruction should be prepared in an order of increasing complexity. For instance, when teaching procedural tasks, it is important to present the simplest adaptation of the task first. The lessons that follow should present additional adaptations until all the tasks have been taught. In all the lessons, the teacher should remind the students of all tasks taught (synthesis or summary). An important view of the Elaboration Theory is the observation that the student needs to develop a purposeful context for the assimilation of consequent skills and ideas (Nenkov, Haws & Kim, 2014, p. 769). Therefore, the Theory deals solely with organizational approaches at the macro level.
It stipulates that the instruction begin with an overview that provides knowledge of a few simple but general ideas, with the rest of the instruction presenting exhaustive ideas that expound on earlier ones. The Elaboration Theory includes three models of instruction, as well as systems from stipulating these models based on instructional goals.
Similar to other models of instruction, the three components comprise strategy components. It is imperative to note that the Elaboration Theory is not fixed, but continues to improve as studies expose weak strategy aspects that should be purged from the model and novel strategy aspects that ought to be included into the models.
The Models of the Theory
The three models of the elaboration include procedurally organized model, the conceptually organized model, as well as the theoretically organized model (Reigeluth, 2013, p. 368). A procedurally organized learning program, such as a regression analysis course, would teach the least complex and most generally applicable processes and procedures first, with the rest being taught as is necessary in attaining the same purpose but under different and more challenging conditions.
Conversely, a course in genetics may utilize a conceptually organized model where the general concepts are presented first. Lastly, a course in introductory microeconomics would probably utilize a theoretical structure where the fundamental principles (such as marginal costs, costs and opportunity costs, scarcity, rational choices, etc.) are taught first.
Application of the Elaboration
The theory may be applied to the design of instruction, particularly
in the cognitive domain. Instruction is more effectual when it adheres to an
elaboration strategy, that is, the use of epitomes comprising analogies,
motivators, syntheses, as well as summaries. For instance, nearly all economic
principles may be explained as elaborations of the classic law of demand and
supply, including taxation, regulation, and monopolies.
Problems with the Instructional Theories and Recommendations
Elaboration theory contends that the structure of content should be made plain and overt to learners through a number of organizers and synthesizers. This view is rather problematic in the sense that presenting learners with an outline that reflects the text structure is likely to encourage memory-level indoctrination and encumber the transfer of the memorized material to problem-solving assignments. Such likely negative outcomes of explicit teaching structure might be because of the continuous knowledge-of-result feedback that is usually characteristic of motor learning tasks. It is uncontested that learning may not occur when learners are able to decipher things effortlessly.
As it is currently constituted, the Elaboration Theory is more of an instructional design procedure than a theory. It provides precise steps for structuring instruction. Such a procedural approach presents two principal problems. First, the procedural directions prescribed beforehand often go beyond the knowledge base regarding instructional and learning processes and are frequently at variance with such knowledge and second, those tasked with designing instructions are disposed to adhere to models in a general, principle-based manner notwithstanding the procedural stipulations.
The theory should be redeveloped into a series of guiding rules that are lucidly referenced to instructional and learning processes. A rule-based formulation will permit instructional designers to adapt the theoretical constructs to a wider variety of situations.
The Component Display Theory
This theory was developed by David Merrill (1983) and delineates the microelements of instruction, that is, particular ideas and means of teaching them (Reigeluth, 2013, p. 279). The theory categorizes learning as bi-directional and comprising of content (concepts, facts, processes, principles, and procedures) and performance (memory and generalities). It identifies four principal forms of presentation, which include rules, examples, recall, and practice.
Rules refer to expositive presentation of generality while examples are expositive presentation of occasions and instances (Duncan & Goddard, 2011, p. 80). Conversely, recall is inquisitory or probing generality while practice refers to probing instances. The Component Display Theory also includes secondary presentation forms, which include goals, mnemonics, preconditions, as well as feedback. The theory stipulates that instruction is only effective as long as it contains all essential primary and secondary forms. Therefore, a comprehensive lesson would comprise of a goal, followed by a permutation of rules, examples, practice, mnemonics, recall, and feedback that are task-specific and appropriate.
CDT further proposes that for a given goal and student, there exists a distinctive combination of the various forms of presentation that leads to the most effectual and successful learning experience. In addition, a number of assumptions underlie the Component Display Theory. While there are several varieties of memory, the theory holds that algorithmic and associative memory structures have direct connections to the performance aspects of Find/Use and remember correspondingly. While algorithmic memory is made up of outlines or rules, associative memory consists of successive levels of network structure. The differentiation between the Find and Use performances lies in the use of extant rules in processing inputs compared to forming new rules through the restructuring of existing ones.
Application of the CDT
The Component Display Theory
has found extensive usage in applied instructional design. It was employed in
designing the TICCIT computer-based instructional system (Choi, 1986, p. 40). One
of the key roles of instruction is to foster active mental processing by the
learner. Evidence exists that there is a direct correlation between the quality
and quantity of learning and cognitive processing of pertinent information by
the student. Nonetheless, proper use of attention focusing information, as well
as an experiential environment, may improve the requisite mental processing,
thereby improving the level of learning. Because computers are interactive, the
execution of this active involvement becomes easier than is the case with other
Limitations of the CDT
There exist at least for different elements of instruction that
impinge in student performance, including the organization of instruction, the
method of instruction delivery, student motivation, and the method used in
managing the interaction between the instruction and the student (Choi, 1986,
p. 43). Further, instructional organization may be classified into two distinct
categories, which include organizing instruction on a set of topics and
organizing it on one topic. The Component Display Theory only examines the
organization of instruction on one topic. Although the theory covers only a
single, limited facet of instruction, its meticulous procedures offer
instructional designers ways of producing effectual instruction within this
Instructional Theories Conclusion and Thoughts
The basic aim of instructional theories is to enhance the quality of instruction. A learning-focused instructional theory should provide guidelines for designing learning environments that can offer the proper combinations of self-direction, empowerment, structure, guidance, and challenge. It must also include guidelines for aspects that have been mostly ignored in instructional design, which include deciding among the various instructional approaches, including project-based learning, tutorials, problem-based learning, and simulations.
The needs for learning have increased and, therefore, new paradigms must provide guidelines for promoting social, emotional, spiritual, attitudinal, and ethical development, as well as an intricate understanding, meta-cognitive strategies, complex cognitive tasks, and higher-order critical thinking skills in the cognitive sphere. Various instructional theories must provide guidelines in every of the above spheres of learning and development.
Choi, S. Y. (1986). Application of Component
Display Theory in Designing and Developing CALI. Calico Journal, 3(4), 40-45.
Dijkstra, S., Schott, F., Tennyson, R. D.,
& Seel, N. M. (2012). Instructional Design: Volume I: Theory,
Research, and Models:volume Ii: Solving Instructional Design Problems.
Hoboken, NJ: Taylor and Francis.
Duffy, T. M., & Jonassen, D. H. (2013). Constructivism
and the technology of instruction: A conversation. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence
Erlbaum Associates Publishers.
Duncan, S. F., & Goddard, H. W.
(2011). Family life education: Principles and practices for effective
outreach. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Edgar, D. W. (2012). Learning theories and
historical events affecting instructional design in education: Recitation
literacy toward extraction literacy practices. Sage Open, 2(4), 1-9.
Erbas, D., Turan, Y., Aslan, Y. G., &
Dunlap, G. (2010). Attributions for Problem Behavior as Described by Turkish
Teachers of Special Education. Remedial and Special Education, 31(2), 116-125.
Higgins, N. C., & LaPointe, M. R. P.
(2012). An individual differences measure of attributions that affect
achievement behavior: Factor structure and predictive validity of the academic
attributional style questionnaire. Sage Open, 2(4), 1-15.
Leong, F. T. L., & Austin, J. T. (2006). The
psychology research handbook: A guide for graduate students and research
assistants. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Nenkov, G. Y., Haws, K. L., & Kim, M. J.
(2014). Fluency in Future Focus: Optimizing Outcome Elaboration Strategies for
Effective Self-Control. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5(7), 769-776.
Reigeluth, C. M. (2013). Instructional-design theories and models: An Overview of Their Current Status. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Approaches for all research, whether qualitative or quantitative, requires interpretation and contextualization by the researcher. Narrative statements or a series of figures will not give the answer to the research question or statement (hypothesis) by themselves.
Therefore it is important to choose a research approach (or
approaches) that will give the correct ‘type’ of data to answer your research
A number of approaches are available when gathering data,
but these don’t have to be used in isolation. For instance a focus group can
elicit viewpoints which may need exploring further will a larger research
cohort using a closed question survey. For this reason, it is important to plan
your approach thoroughly before you start, to ensure your research question can
be answered and to let your respondees know what is expected of them.
Don’t forget that whichever research method is chosen, it
needs to have a robust ethics form that has been approved before contacting
participants and starting to gather data.
Approaches that can be used:
This is where a group of people discuss a particular
problem, facilitated by the researcher. The group interaction and the sharing
of ideas not only means that rich and meaningful data can be pulled out from
the focus group but also during the course of the focus groups, ideas can be
co-constructed between participants which can be used to further the depth of
When using structured interviews, the questions are written
beforehand and are strictly adhered to regardless of the answer.
Whilst pre written questions are also used in semi
structured interviews, this approach allows for the researcher to spontaneously
build on answers given, allowing the base question to be answered but also
elaborating on any areas which may impact on the research answer.
Surveys are an excellent way to reach a large number of
people. This approach works if there is a clear idea of the questions that will
elicit research to support the hypothesis. A mix of qualitative (open text
fields) or quantitative (set questions and answers) can be used.
This approach is valuable when more in depth research is
required and allows the researcher to investigate the issues in the place or
time that they occur. The researcher will observe the participant and often
will have follow up meetings to clarify or build on the information gained.
This method works on the ideology that it is less important what is said, then how it is said. The story a participant will tell may not be
entirely factual but it will be their perception of what happened which gives
greater in sight. This approach is linked to discourse analysis methodology.
Appreciative enquiry (AI)
AI shifts the traditional focus of looking for the negative
impacts of an issue and instead approaches the issue from a positive
Ethnographical methodology requires the researcher to embed
themselves in the participatory groups own setting, for a sustained time in
order to observe, talk and learn from participants.
There are a number of branches from the ethnographic
More than just an autobiographical account, an
auto-ethnographic researcher should reflect on events and use these to uncover
meanings and feelings that a purely narrative account may miss.
Using video, photos and artefacts as the main source of
research data rather than supplementing it.
Researchers using this methodology are involved and
participants or ‘lurkers’ in virtual groups and communities. Ethical issues
need to be carefully considered with this approach.
Soft Systems Methodology (SSM)
Instead of studying isolated issues, SSM is a holistic way
of looking at and solving problems. These are often presented in mind map
formats, making this a good research methodology for visual learners.
Questions to ask before choosing a research approach:
Will we learn more about this topic using
quantitative or qualitative approaches?
Which approach will produce more useful
Which will do more good?
Taken from: Cousin. Glynis, (2009) Researching Learning in Higher Education. Routledge. UK.
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This collective article is designed to provide you with a realistic and relevant learning opportunity which will help prepare you for the dissertation. You are asked to prepare a research proposal similar to one that could be submitted to an ethics committee. This proposal could be linked to your proposed dissertation topic, if you have already identified one. If not, it could be associated with a current area of interest. Please see your handbook for information on writing and marking.
You are required to:
Identify a research question/problem
Justify the research, research design and methods
Consider resources & constraints
The main objectives of research ethics committees are to protect both prospective participants in research studies and researchers. To achieve this, ethics committees need specific information regarding proposed studies to be able to make informed decisions about the ethical implications of these studies, considering the proposal from the participants’ perspective. The main ethical issues focus on the validity of the research (is the research question important and do-able?) and the welfare of the participants (what will participation involve, are there any acceptable risks, how will informed consent be sought, how will confidentiality be respected?). Therefore, these issues need to be addressed in your proposal.
Identifying a Research Question/Problem
Your research question should be both:
Useful (extending knowledge relevant to health care that might contribute to changes in practice)
Do-able (feasible given resource constraints)
This can be achieved by identifying a practice related problem, considering complaints, policy initiatives and service delivery changes, or by reading articles in journals.
Justify the Research, Research Design and Methods
What is the current state of knowledge in your topic area? Has your research question already been answered? If not, what are the typical methods used to address research questions similar to yours? What other methods might be appropriate? You will need to provide a brief critical review of relevant literature and state how your study will contribute to this field of study.
Given your research question, what types of data will be collected to answer this (e.g. quantitative and/or qualitative)? What is the most appropriate research strategy (e.g. experiment, survey, case study, action research etc) and what methods will you use (e.g. observation, questionnaire, interviews etc)?
Resources and Constraints
What factors should you take into account?
Time – do you have enough to prepare, conduct, analyse and write up the study?
Expertise – do you have knowledge and skills in the particular topic & method(s)?
Participants – can you secure access to the necessary participants (e.g. patients, relatives, work colleagues) within the ethical guidelines and in the relevant time frame?
Financial resources – will you need to consider acquiring extra staff and/or equipment, how will you cover the costs of conducting the research (photocopying, postage, travel etc), can this be approved by your manager or do you need to secure funding?
Writing a Research Proposal
A research proposal is a detailed statement identifying what you intend to do; why; how; and with whom. It indicates your ability to conduct the study and provides an opportunity:
For you – to clarify your thoughts
For others – to examine these (importance, feasibility, ethics, funding etc)
Components of an Research Proposal
Title of the proposed project
Name of the student/researcher
Brief summary and problem statement
Aims & objectives
Rationale/justification (why the research is important and should be conducted)
Brief literature review (scientific background)
Brief description of research design (approach, strategy, methods, analysis)
Ethical considerations (consent of participants, other clinicians, participant information sheet)
Any resource implications (how costs will be met, any funding required/secured)
Proposed outputs (dissemination, feedback to participants)
Research Proposals – Questions to Ask
Is it realistic?
Have I the necessary skills & time to carry it out?
Is it ethical?
Have I considered how my sample will be selected, how informed consent will be achieved, how data will be collected, stored (and destroyed) and disseminated whilst maintaining confidentiality and complying with the Data Protection Act?
Is it clear?
Have I used simple language & not jargon?
Have I explained technical terms?
Have I included an indication of the kinds of questions I will be asking, or observations I will be recording?
Can I anticipate any problems?
Have I covered each section thoroughly?
Are there any weaknesses?
In this article we have identified what is generally required of researchers when they submit proposals for ethical approval. The assignment for this module involves preparing a similar proposal.
If you enjoyed reading this post on how to write a research proposal, I would be very grateful if you could help spread this knowledge by emailing this post to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook. Thank you.