Friday, January 29, 2010

Keys to a Good Dissertation

A dissertation should be 1) scholarly 2) significant and 3) original.

Be wary of horse-race research--pitting two methods or paradigms against each other, pulling the trigger, and seeing who wins. This is great for physics, biology and other types of research but in the sociology/educational realm positivists dont' like them because it is hard to control variables, qualitative folks don't like it because the situations aren't that clear cut to the point that you could assign a couple of factors to the study and get the information you need. Plus you miss a lot of important things from their perspective.

One important factor that you should analyze in doing research is your background--values, beliefs, theoretical grounding, etc. Then look at how that impacts your research question and the methods you will use.

Don't throw methods together udner minimal constraint.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Variables (Furlong ch 3 and 4)

3 Criteria to Establish Causation
1. Antecedence (timing, Variable A happens before variable B the effect so that it is a potential impact to create the effect.)

2. Systematic covariation (i.e., contiguity) – Cause and effect has to be “joined” or physical and temporal together-ness.

3. Eliminate other possible causes (How can you say you've ruled out everything? You can't; you can just do what you can and then make a convincing argument.)

Independent Variable (IV=cause) --> Dependent variable (DV=effect)
So 1) IV precedes the DV 2) They happen close to each other in time and space 3) other possible causes are eliminated then we can say that data support IV --> DV.

If you don't have the 3rd (eliminate other possible causes) then you can merely correlate your variables.

Concept of causation is philosophical (x causes y). You don't see the cause you measure things that indicate a cause.

Aristotle's 4 Causes
Material: substance something is made of (material exists)
Efficient: sequence of events across time (energy expended with material to put material into a for, pattern or essence)
Formal: pattern, form, or essence of something (blueprint for a chair)
Final: goal or purpose of something (know the object is for sitting)

These seem

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