Generally speaking, there are four types of commonly asked questions in that lead to inferential analyses in quantitative research. Those questions examine differences between groups, differences over time, relationships between variables, and prediction of outcomes. We’ll look further at the construction of some group difference questions, keeping in mind that many reviewers don’t like research questions that can be answered with a yes or no. Oftentimes, researchers seek to determine if there are differences between groups. These could be any type of group. Some examples may include treatment and control groups, gender (men vs women), or age groups (generation X vs generation Y vs baby boomers). When examining group differences, you can have as few as two groups or as many groups as your sample size will allow, keeping empirical validity in mind.
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You can also have different sets of groups in a single question, such as gender (male vs female) and age (generation X vs generation Y vs baby boomers). The appropriate analysis will vary depending on the number of groups, number of dependent variables, and the levels of measurement of the variables included in the analysis. In order to be able to appropriately assess group differences, each group should be measured on the same, continuous variable(s), the dependent variable(s). Some examples of possible continuous dependent variables are GPA, scores on the subscales of the MLQ, or time it took to run a mile. Using these variables, we can identify some research questions that look a group differences.
What are the statistically significant differences in GPA by gender (men vs women)?
What are the statistically significant differences in the time it takes to run a mile by group (treatment vs control)?
What are the statistically significant differences in MLQ subscale scores by age group (generation X vs generation Y vs baby boomers)?
What are the statistically significant differences in GPA by gender (men vs women) and age (generation X vs generation Y vs baby boomers)?
In summary, if the goal of research is to develop questions that examine group differences, identify the independent or grouping variable in the analysis, identify the dependent variable(s) in the analysis, and use the following format:
What are the statistically significant differences in dependent variable(s) by independent grouping variable?