When approaching your dissertation, there are many ways to begin. No matter which way you choose, at some point, you will need to choose an instrument and a Theoretical Framework if you are conducting a quantitative study. The best piece of advice that I can offer in this matter is to remember that instruments are rooted in theories.
Instruments are literally created because of theories. For instance, if you want to conduct a quantitative study to discover the leadership styles of crayon factory managers, you may choose to use the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) to do so. The researchers, Bass and Avolio, who developed the MLQ were researchers well versed in leadership. James MacGregor Burns pioneered transformational leadership theory in the 1970s, and Bernard Bass further explored and expanded upon the theory in the 1980s. As such, transformational leadership theory is often the best theory in which to ground a study using the MLQ. It can also offer an extra level of clarification of the use of the instrument. Understanding transformational leadership theory allows a researcher insight into how and why it is important to understand leadership styles and how they affect those in direct subordination of certain types of leaders.
This relationship between instrument and theory goes both ways. If you are clear on the framework that you want to use, it can often lead you to the proper instrument for your study. Please keep in mind that the above scenario may not apply to all studies, especially those with a qualitative approach; those will take a bit more leg work…
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