SCENARIO: Your supervisor has approved your research question and plan for studying some aspect of diversity and/or collaboration in a community group. Now it is time to conduct your literature review and develop your hypothesis and research plan.
ASSIGNMENT: In the first Touchstone, you developed a research question and prepared a preliminary bibliography for your literature review. You will now conduct your literature review, formulate your hypothesis and research plan, and develop a set of notecards that summarize your work.
REQUIREMENTS: You must create 8-11 notecards using the touchstone template below. Your notecards will include:
research question card
literature review (4–6 cards)
operational definitions card (if needed)
research method card
Touchstone 3 Template
Touchstone 3 Sample
When you have finished, submit the Touchstone template. Before you get started, let’s look at how you’ll build your notecards, step by step.
Step 1: Revise Touchstone 1
First, return to the community group descriiption, research question, and proposed bibliography that you submitted in Touchstone 1, and make any necessary changes based on feedback from the grader. You will likely want to refine your reading list based on the feedback you received and what you learned about diversity and collaboration in Unit 3.
Step 2: Conduct a Literature Review
Next, complete your reading for your literature review.
Reminder of attributes of good readings for your literature review:
They are academic, scholarly works about research findings or they are reliable journalistic reporting based on scientifically credible and reliable data.
They should have been published in the last 20 years—unless they are a landmark work on the topic and provide important background or as a comparison.
They look at different sides of the argument and a variety of perspectives.
As you complete each reading, take notes. Some of the questions you could ask about each reading include:
Who wrote this article? Is it the researchers themselves, or is it a journalist writing about their findings?
Where was it published? Is it a scholarly publication like an academic journal, or is it for a popular audience? If the publication is for a popular audience, how would you characterize the audience?
Do they have an academic affiliation? Are the researchers sociologists, or are they of a different discipline?
When was the research conducted?
What question were the researchers attempting to answer?
How does this question/topic relate to my question/topic?
What methods did they use to study their question?
What conclusions did they draw from their results?
How do their conclusions impact my research question, hypothesis, or research plan?
As you did for your first Touchstone, you will include five key elements for each source, with each element separated by a period:
Publisher and publication date
Title of the source, in quotation marks
Page numbers (if applicable)
Source’s location for web-based texts (URL)
EXAMPLE Alireza Behtoui. Journal of Sociology, 2015. “Beyond social ties: The impact of social capital on labour market outcomes for young Swedish people.” p. 711-724. journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1440783315581217
Step 3: Formulate a Hypothesis, State Your Operational Definitions, and Choose a Research Method
Next, formulate a hypothesis for your research question and choose a sociological research method appropriate for testing your hypothesis. While you won’t be conducting the research, you will write up a descriiption of how you plan to conduct your research. (HINT: Refer back to Lesson 1.3.5: Formulating a Hypothesis, Lesson 1.3.6: Collecting Data: Quantitative Approaches , and Lesson 1.3.6: Collecting Data: Quantitative Approaches for help.)
A formal hypothesis states the relationship between two variables—one is independent (IV) and one is dependent (DV). It must also be formatted as an If/Then statement, for instance:
If people eat chocolate (IV), then they will get pimples (DV).
If people go to the gym (IV), then they will be fit (DV).
Operational definitions identify important concepts related to the research. For example, If your community organization includes students, are they K-12? College? Medical? Or are students defined as: young adults between the ages of 18-21 who are attending a particular college or university?
Deciding on a research method will also take some thought and planning:
Will you use qualitative or quantitative research or a combination?
How will you engage subjects or find your data?
What kinds of tools and assessments will be used to gather the data?
Step 4: Prepare Your Notecards
Finally, incorporate Steps 1-4 to prepare a set of notecards for your proposed research study. Use the template provided to create 8-11 notecards that present the work you completed in Steps 1-4.
Introduction Your introduction notecard should introduce your audience to the community group being studied.
Research question Your second notecard will state your research question.
Literature Review (4-6 cards) Now that you’ve introduced your community group and research question, it’s time to add information to your literature review notecards. Each source should have one notecard. The notecard should describe the information and analysis you performed in Step 2.
Hypothesis Your hypothesis notecard should describe your hypothesis.
Operational definitions Your operational definitions notecard should include and explain any operational definitions you developed for your study. You may skip this card if you have none.
Research method Your research method notecard should introduce your proposed research method and explain how you propose to conduct your research.
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