Capella Research Plan Section 4.1: Research Design


Posted December 7, 2017

Section 4.1 of the Capella Research Plan (RP) expands on the information you provided in section 2.4. Where Section 2.4 provided an aerial view of your research design, Section 4.1 gives detail and justification regarding your selected research design. Your reviewers will expect you to discuss your design and the rationale for the design. Much of the information you will tie in to 4.1 will come from your research problem, purpose, and research questions, which can be found in Sections 1 and 2.

Identical to the Section 2.4, you will begin this section with an intro sentence that restates your purpose and succinctly states your methodology and design (e.g., quantitative, quasi-experimental ex post facto). This is crucial to this section and maintaining your focus throughout Section 4.1, therefore I strongly suggest identifying this at the start of Section 4.1.

Following this statement, you should give a brief overview of your study. This section should be no more than a paragraph long. Inform your reader of the variables of interest and what instruments you intend to use to assess these variables. Describe who will be in your sample and how you will collect data from your sample. Briefly tell how you will access your participants, and name the analysis you will conduct to address your research questions.

The next paragraphs will describe your methodology (e.g., quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods). Similar to Section 2.4, you will need to justify why you have opted to use your selected methodological approach. You will tie this conversation into your problem, purpose, and research questions. To keep this narrative fresh, you will also speak to how your selected methodology and design align with the information you provided in the paragraph describing the structure of the study (above).

After you have justified your research methodology and design, you will move on to describe the assumptions related to your design. The RP specifies that you must address ontological, epistemological, and methodological assumptions. Ontological assumptions relate to the nature of reality, or how reality is constructed or known. An ontological assumption for quantitative studies would be that there is a ‘truth’ that can be known or measured, independently of other factors, while an ontological assumption of qualitative research would be that context influences the ‘truth’ as described by individuals. Epistemological assumptions relate to the how data can be obtained and the subjectivity of results. Finally, methodological assumptions pertain to how data collection and data analysis come together to yield findings. More specifically, your methodological assumptions address why the methods you selected (e.g., implementing surveys, using a specific analysis) are suited to your study.


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