Theory depicts “casual relationships showing connections among phenomena stating why acts, events, structure and thoughts occur” (Sutton & Staw.1995). A theory is a general statement regarding ideas and concepts that either predict, assert or explain a relationship or association between two or more phenomena (Kivunja. 2018). Furthermore, the concepts, themes or ideas make up a broad base of knowledge in the relevant field, which in turn creates a theory. Through the usage of empirical data, assertions are made based on inductive or deductive analysis of the said data and a theory thus comes forth from a lengthy process of research. A theory provides a new way to understand, analyze and design a concept or an idea.
2. Why theory is important in research
Theory is important in research as it provides the main guidelines regarding research work through highlighting the areas that are the most relevant and in which meaningful relationships between the variables under study can be found easily. Moreover, a theory framework also helps in narrowing the facts and ideas that need to be studied. A theory highlights the areas that have not been investigated as much and details the existing facts thus, a theory indicates towards where our existing knowledge is deficient. Additionally, a theoretical framework helps add depth to the data analysis by supporting your claims through existing theories (Research Guides, 2021).
What will be considered when start making theoretical choices
When making theoretical choices, I would conduct a thorough literature review so that the relevant theoretical framework could to emerge. Other considerations include reviewing whether there is a particular theory that make sense of the data that will be collected for the sturdy for the purpose of answering the relevant research questions. Furthermore, I would look for any theories that are relevant to my research topic or similar topics that could be tailored to the requirements of my study. When making theoretical choices I would also consider what the experts of the field suggest about the problem and research questions under study from a theoretical point of view. I will further consider whether the choices and framework would be applicable to the analysis of my data and whether it would help me discuss the findings of my study. I would also look for ways to make the ideas and concepts, already proposed, relevant to my problem statement, data analysis and research questions (Kivunja, 2018).
3. Assume your research project will be based on empirical data. Justify what method(s) you will utilize.
The methodology that I would use for the analysis of empirical data include:
1. Quantitative research method
2. Qualitative Research method
Quantitative method is employed when the information regarding the research is gathered through numerical data and is deductive in nature (QuestionPro, 2018). It helps in quantifying the behaviors under observation, opinions or other defined variables. Such research methods usually have a set structural format and employ methods such as longitudinal studies, polls, surveys etc.
Qualitative research on the other hand gathers information through non-numerical data and is inductive in nature. It helps in finding opinions and underlying reasons regarding a phenomenon or variables under study from people. Qualitative research involved methodologies that are either unstructured or is semi structured. The methodology is usually conversational type and involves a small sample. The conversational type of this type of research method helps in gathering in depth information from the participants regarding the problem in hand. Experiments, interviews, focus groups are some of the most common ways of gathering information in qualitative research methodology. By utilizing any of these methods, the data collected could be analyzed which would further help in answering empirical questions in a clearly defined manner (QuestionPro, 2018).
5. Explain how you will try to implement in your work the knowledge you have accumulated regarding the fit between research question, prior state of research, and method.
I would try to implement the methodological fit in my work in order to ensure research quality. The model refers to internal consistency between the key elements of field research project: research question, prior work, research design and contribution to literature (Edmondson & Mcmanus, 2007). As we know that the key to good research doesn’t lie in choosing the right method but rather in inquiring the right and appropriate questions and then selecting the best method for it. Thus, I would first begin with the appropriate research question. Research question helps in focusing the study, narrows the area to be studied and highlight theoretical and practical issues. Then I would move on to prior work which refers to the existing work done relevant to the current topic. It is the state of the literature. This would serve as a starting point for achieving methodological fit in my research work and would ultimately influence all the other elements in the research project. It aids in identifying the unanswered questions, the areas that haven’t been explored yet and the areas of study that have low level of agreement. Prior work points towards the gaps in the knowledge. I would then work on the research design which would involve the method to be used. Method employed for the research would depend on the type of data that needs to be collected and the research questions that need to be answered. Furthermore, I would also opt for appropriate data collection tools based on the method selected and then plan the analysis for the data. Lastly I would examine the outcome of the study and any new unconventional ideas that have been generated as a result of the study which challenge the prior work. I would make practical insights from the findings that may enhance the understanding of any existing relevant phenomenon. Through this logical pairing of the theoretical framework and the method of research, I would be able to achieve fit during my research work (Edmond son & Mcmanus, 2007).
6. Outline potential challenges you may encounter in regard to research ethics when conducting your intended research project.
There are various challenges that one may face during research work that revolve around research ethics. One of the main ethical challenge is maintaining the confidentiality of the participant. Confidentiality refers to maintaining the identity and information provided by the participant secure which cannot be revealed except under certain scenarios. Furthermore, the researcher must also ensure to reduce the smallest of possibilities that may intrude the autonomy of the participants of the study. It is highly recommended having an advocate present at the initial stages of the research for highly sensitive issues. Moreover, informed consent is another ethical challenge while conducting research and it requires a negotiation of terms of agreement through the progression of the research project (Shanjari et al., 2014).
Another challenge in conducting a research project is completion of the research ethics committee’s application form as it is a formality (Gullemin & Gillam, 2004). The form has to be filled in a jargon free language which could be understood by the committee but would at the same ensure the members that the researchers are experienced and competent who can ultimately be trusted with the work. This phase also provides a challenge in explaining the methodology to the ethics committee who are not that familiarized with qualitative methodologies and may even oppose this type of method. Furthermore, it is also considered okay to gloss over details in the application form that may raise a concern in the ethics committee such the mention of an external transcriber, i.e. an individual who is given tapes of the interviews for transcription purposes and is mostly from outside the research team without the direct consent of the participants involved.
Furthermore, an additional challenge that the researchers face while conducting their work pertains to everyday ethical problems in practice. If something concerning and of sensitive nature is disclosed while conducting interviews etc. the dilemma arises whether to keep the confidentiality of what is discussed or to breach it in order to prevent any future harm. Furthermore, other ethical challenges arise as well on part of the refresher regarding how to respond to the participant, whether to keep recording or stop the interviewing process etc. These are a few issues regarding the ethical obligations of a researcher towards their participants that arise when dealing with the participants in a non-exploitative way while also maintaining their role as the researcher (Gullemin & Gillam, 2004).
Other issues with respect to research ethics may revolve around the relationship between reflexivity and ethics. Such issues relate to the ultimate purpose of the research. The researcher might consider whether the purpose of the study is to gather knowledge, advance one’s career, help the participants reach specific goal or whether it is to enable community life to proper which is More of a theoretically based purpose. The researcher would then consider whether this purpose is ethical or not, whether the interactions between the participants and the researcher would adhere to the relevant ethical dimensions. These interactions include the possibility of the researcher respecting the privacy, autonomy etc, of the participants or failing to do so as well which would ultimately have adverse consequences for the participant (Gullemin & Gillam, 2004).
Six main roles of theory for research. (2016). Your Article Library. https://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/social-research/6-main-roles-of-theory-for-research/92818
Edmondson, A. C., & Mcmanus, S. E. (2007). Methodological fit in management field research. Academy of Management Review, 32(4), 1246-1264. https://doi.org/10.5465/amr.2007.26586086
Empirical research: Definition, methods, types and examples. (2018). QuestionPro. https://www.questionpro.com/blog/empirical-research/#Types_and_methodologies_of_empirical_research
Guillemin, M., & Gillam, L. (2004). Ethics, reflexivity, and “Ethically important moments” in research. Qualitative Inquiry, 10(2), 261-280. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077800403262360
Kivunja, C. (2018). Distinguishing between theory, theoretical framework, and conceptual framework: A systematic review of lessons from the Field. International Journal of Higher Education, 7(6), 44. https://doi.org/10.5430/ijhe.v7n6p44
Research guides: Organizing your social sciences research paper: Theoretical framework. (1240, June). Research Guides at University of Southern California. https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/theoreticalframework
Shanjari, M., Bahrannezhad, F., Fomani, F. K., Shoghi, M., & Cheraghi, M. A. (2014, August 4). Ethical challenges of researchers in qualitative studies: The necessity to develop a specific guideline. PubMed Central (PMC).