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Research Question(s), Purpose Statement, and Literature Review
The instructions for the assignment are as follows:
You are required, to send a message (in the course messaging system) to me stating your two selected extremist groups, so I can approve of them and, if necessary, make suggestions to assist you. These extremist groups will be the subjects of your research paper. This choice is due by the end of Week 1. The longer you take to decide which extremist groups to use, the more difficult it makes the completion of the assignment. Once I approve of your group selections you may begin your definitive research and draft writing for the assignment. This assignment is due at the end of Week 2. Once you have completed the assignment, it is to be uploaded as a .doc or .docx attachment to this assignment area.
WHAT YOU ARE TO DO FOR THIS ASSIGNMENT:
Select two extremist groups that will form the basis of your comparative case study. Any two groups of your choice will work. Submit your choices to your instructor in a course message for approval by the end of Week 1. Note: These first 3 stages are also included in the Research Paper instructions with more detail as to what ethnography and a case study involves. You may refer to that document in the Assignments section for details. Completion of the research study question(s), purpose statement, and literature review are paramount for you having success on the final research paper.
Begin gathering resources for your study. There are six types of data collected in case studies:
2. Archival records.
4. Direct observation.
5. Participant observation.
You may or may not have the opportunity for interviews, direct observation, or participant observation. If you do then that is terrific. You will have the opportunity to forensically research documents, archival records, and artifacts through the online library and open source of the Internet. Further down in these assignment instructions I have included for your benefit some description of various types of sources used in research. The key for success will be in your ensuring the validity of the sources you use. The world is literally at your fingertips.
Complete the research study question(s), purpose statement, and literature review by the due date in the Syllabus, which is the end of Week 2. Completion of these areas helps to firmly set the parameters of your study and will greatly assist you in its final composition. You are being asked to compare, contrast, and evaluate the past and present attempts to counter the extremism practiced by two different extremist groups. In order to do that, you must learn and understand the organizational culture and composition of the selected groups. Ask yourself, what would I like to know about them? How are they alike? How are they different? Why? What makes them who they are? Hint: do some Internet exploration on qualitative research.
Final Stage (Assignment Components):
Prepare this assignment for submission to include at a minimum the following components:
1) Title Page of the Paper: The title of your paper should be brief but should adequately inform the reader of your general topic and the specific focus of your research. Keywords relating to parameters, population, and other specifics are useful. ALWAYS use a Title Page for graduate work! Your title page will include the title, name, course name and number, and Professor’s Name.
2) Purpose Statement: The purpose statement orients the reader to the central intent of the study and from it all other aspects of the research project follow. While there are a number of differing formats for purpose statements, in general the statement should present the central controlling idea in the study, focus on the central issue or “puzzle” under study. The purpose statement should be a concise paragraph that describes the intent of the study, specifically addresses the reason for conducting the study, and reflects the research questions. Begin the purpose statement with a succinct sentence that indicates the study method and overarching goal. “The purpose of this [quantitative, qualitative] study is to… (describe the study goal that directly reflects and encompasses the research questions). Follow with a brief, but clear overview of how, with what instruments/data, with whom and where (as applicable). This information will be presented in greater detail under the Research Method heading within your final research paper.
3) Research Question(s): Present here the specific research question(s) which will be addressed in the study.
Crafting a Research Question
The Research Question serves two purposes: (1) it determines where and what kind of research the writer will be looking for and (2) it identifies the specific objectives the study or paper will address. Therefore, the writer must first identify the type of study — Qualitative, Quantitative, or Mixed — before the Research Question is crafted. For our purposes in this course we will be using Qualitative Study Research Questions. I felt as a learning opportunity and for context I would also expose you to what comprises the basis for Quantitative and Mixed Method Study Research Questions:
Qualitative Study: A Qualitative study seeks to learn why or how, so the writer’s research must be directed at determining the why and how of the research topic. Therefore, when crafting a Research Question for a Qualitative study, the writer will need to ask a why or how question about the topic. For example: How did the Ku Klux Klan develop its organizational handbook the Kloren and why is it important to the functioning of the group? The sources needed for qualitative research typically include print and Internet texts (written words), audio and visual media, or more direct involved methods such as the participant observer or interview approaches.
Quantitative Study: A Quantitative study seeks to learn what, where, or when, so the writer’s research must be directed at determining the what, where, or when of the research topic. Therefore, when crafting a Research Question for a Quantitative study, the writer will need to ask a what, where, or when question about the topic. For example: Where should the company market its new product? Unlike a Qualitative study, a Quantitative study is mathematical analysis of the research topic, so the writer’s research will consist of numbers and statistics.
Quantitative Studies also fall into two categories: (a) Correlational Studies and (b) Experimental Studies:
A Quantitative-Correlational study is non-experimental, requiring the writer to research relationships without manipulating or randomly selecting the subjects of the research. The Research Question for a Quantitative-Correlational study may look like this: What is the relationship between long distance commuters and eating disorders?
A Quantitative-Experimental study is experimental in that it requires the writer to manipulate and randomly select the subjects of the research. The Research Question for a Quantitative-Experimental study may look like this: Does the consumption of fast food lead to eating disorders?
Mixed Studies: A Mixed Method study integrates both Qualitative and Quantitative studies, so the writer’s research must be directed at determining the why or how and the what, where, or when of the research topic. Therefore, the writer will need to craft a Research Question for each study required for the assignment. Note: A typical mixed method study may be expected to have between 1 to 6 Research Questions.
Once the writer has determined the type of study to be used and the specific objectives the paper will address, the writer must also consider whether the Research Question passes the ?�so what’ test. The ?�so what’ test means the writer must construct evidence to convince the audience why the research is expected to add new or useful knowledge to the literature. In short, is the Research Question worth asking? Also, the Research Question must also be interesting to grab the audience’s attention. The writer who personally finds an interesting Research Question will serve two purposes: getting the attention of the targeted audience and more consistently communicating that interest throughout the research project.
4) Literature Review: In the literature review, you will need to analyze critically a segment of a published body of knowledge through summary, classification, and comparison of prior research studies, reviews of literature, and theoretical articles. Your literature review must contain a minimum of 6 reference sources with at least 2 of them being peer-reviewed journals. Honestly, for a substantive research paper I would expect more research sources than just 6, however, it is a start.
The format of a review of literature may vary from discipline to discipline and from assignment to assignment. A review may be a self-contained unit — an end in itself — or a preface to and rationale for engaging in primary research. A review is a required part of grant and research proposals and often a chapter in theses and dissertations.
Writing the introduction, you should:
Define or identify the general topic, issue, or area of concern, thus providing an appropriate context for reviewing the literature. Point out overall trends in what has been published about the topic; or conflicts in theory, methodology, evidence, and conclusions; or gaps in research and scholarship; or a single problem or new perspective of immediate interest. Establish the writer’s reason (point of view) for reviewing the literature; explain the criteria to be used in analyzing and comparing literature and the organization of the review (sequence); and, when necessary, state why certain literature is or is not included (scope).
Writing the body, you should:
Group research studies and other types of literature (reviews, theoretical articles, case studies, etc.) according to common denominators such as qualitative versus quantitative approaches, conclusions of authors, specific purpose or objective, chronology, etc. Summarize individual studies or articles with as much or as little detail as each merits according to its comparative importance in the literature, remembering that space (length) denotes significance. Provide the reader with strong “umbrella” sentences at beginnings of paragraphs, “signposts” throughout, and brief “so what” summary sentences at intermediate points in the review to aid in understanding comparisons and analyses.
Writing the conclusion, you should:
Summarize major contributions of significant studies and articles to the body of knowledge under review, maintaining the focus established in the introduction. Evaluate the current “state of the art” for the body of knowledge reviewed, pointing out major methodological flaws or gaps in research, inconsistencies in theory and findings, and areas or issues pertinent to future study. Conclude by providing some insight into the relationship between the central topic of the literature review and a larger area of study such as a discipline, a scientific endeavor, or a profession.
Besides enlarging your knowledge about the topic, writing a literature review lets you gain and demonstrate skills in two areas:
Information Seeking: the ability to scan the literature efficiently, using manual or computerized methods, to identify a set of useful articles and books
Critical Appraisal: the ability to apply principles of analysis to identify unbiased and valid studies.
A literature review must do these things:
1. be organized around and related directly to the thesis or research question you are developing
2. synthesize results into a summary of what is and is not known
3. identify areas of controversy in the literature
4. formulate questions that need further research
Ask yourself questions like these:
What is the specific thesis, problem, or research question that my literature review helps to define?
What type of literature review am I conducting? Am I looking at issues of theory? methodology? policy? quantitative research (e.g. on the effectiveness of a new procedure)? qualitative research (e.g., studies )?
What is the scope of my literature review? What types of publications am I using (e.g., journals, books, government documents, popular media)? What discipline am I working in (e.g., nursing psychology, sociology, medicine)?
How good was my information seeking? Has my search been wide enough to ensure I’ve found all the relevant material? Has it been narrow enough to exclude irrelevant material? Is the number of sources I’ve used appropriate for the length of my paper?
Have I critically analysed the literature I use? Do I follow through a set of concepts and questions, comparing items to each other in the ways they deal with them? Instead of just listing and summarizing items, do I assess them, discussing strengths and weaknesses?
Have I cited and discussed studies contrary to my perspective?
Will the reader find my literature review relevant, appropriate, and useful?
Ask yourself questions like these about each book or article you include:
Has the author formulated a problem/issue?
Is it clearly defined? Is its significance (scope, severity, relevance) clearly established?
Could the problem have been approached more effectively from another perspective?
What is the author’s research orientation (e.g., interpretive, critical science, combination)?
What is the author’s theoretical framework (e.g., psychological, developmental, feminist)?
What is the relationship between the theoretical and research perspectives?
Has the author evaluated the literature relevant to the problem/issue? Does the author include literature taking positions she or he does not agree with?
In a research study, how good are the basic components of the study design (e.g., population, intervention, outcome)? How accurate and valid are the measurements? Is the analysis of the data accurate and relevant to the research question? Are the conclusions validly based upon the data and analysis?
In material written for a popular readership, does the author use appeals to emotion, one-sided examples, or rhetorically-charged language and tone? Is there an objective basis to the reasoning, or is the author merely “proving” what he or she already believes?
How does the author structure the argument? Can you “deconstruct” the flow of the argument to see whether or where it breaks down logically (e.g., in establishing cause-effect relationships)?
In what ways does this book or article contribute to our understanding of the problem under study, and in what ways is it useful for practice? What are the strengths and limitations?
How does this book or article relate to the specific thesis or question I am developing?
Important Final Notes on the Literature Review:
A literature review is a piece of discursive prose, not a list describing or summarizing one piece of literature after another. It’s usually a bad sign to see every paragraph beginning with the name of a researcher. Instead, organize the literature review into sections that present themes or identify trends, including relevant theory. You are not trying to list all the material published, but to synthesize and evaluate it according to the guiding concept of your thesis or research question.
How Your Assignment Will Be Evaluated
STYLE AND CONVENTION:
All written submissions should be in a font and page set-up that is described below. Additionally, a rubric will be used to grade your paper that is posted in a link at the beginning of this assignment and below for your additional convenience. It shows you how I subdivide the criteria for grading the various components of your paper. The rubric is a requirement of the university.
• Typewritten in double-spaced format and submitted inside the electronic classroom within the correct Assignments Forum folder (unless classroom access is not possible and other arrangements have been approved by the instructor).
• Times New Roman style in 12-point font.
• Page margins Top, Bottom, Left Side and Right Side = 1 inch, with reasonable accommodation being made for special situations and online submission variances.
• Include a completed title page in line with Turabian format as the first page of your paper.
• Complete an appropriate page header with page number for each page.
• Papers are required to be written in the parenthetical citation and reference list style established by Kate L. Turabian, in which case students should follow the guidelines set forth in A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations ( 7th ed). Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press format. Specifically refer to sections 18 and 19 in the manual from p. 216 through p. 280.
• Points will be deducted for the use of Wikipedia or encyclopedic type sources. It is highly advised to utilize: books, peer reviewed journals, articles, archived documents, etc. (may be electronic of course and the A Manual for Writers of Research Papers lists all the types of possible resources and reference formats, hint…hint), and valid open source web sites (use caution with these due to validity concerns).
• Your literature review must contain a minimum of 6 reference sources with at least 2 of them being peer-reviewed journals.
• Remember you are a prestigious Graduate Student and expectations are high for quality work! All papers are submitted to Turn It In for validation.
• I have a saying and it goes like this: I do not give students grades they earn them; however, I will give students the grades they earn. I think you know what I mean.
• Above all…please have fun and learn, learn, learn with this endeavor.
This assignment will be evaluated based on the following rubric.
Criteria Exemplary 16-20 Accomplished 11-15 Developing 6-10 Beginning 0-5 Total
Synthesis of Knowledge
Foundation of Knowledge
Application of Knowledge
Organization of Ideas/Format
Writing and Research Skill
Simply look at the rubric and under each category across the table you will see the different levels of evaluation such as Exemplary, Accomplished, Developing, and Beginning. With each of these categories there is a point range value assigned. I will assign a level to your work for each category as noted above then tally a percentage based on a simple mathematical calculation combined with qualitative evaluation. That percentage then assists in determining how many of the 15 maximum possible points you received for the overall assignment score.
The APUS Library offers many resources for you. I encourage you to continue to develop yourself as a graduate student and a writer.
IMPORTANT FOR RESEARCH PAPERS:
Research papers written for graduate courses at APUS should rely primarily on scholarly, peer-reviewed source materials. Information from non-reviewed sources may be useful for background information and may lead to finding other scholarly materials related to the topic. However, non-reviewed sources (1) may contain serious errors or (2) may only provide summary information on a topic. Information from these sources must be carefully evaluated, and there should be a substantive reason for including such information in a paper. Examples of non-reviewed materials include Wikipedia, textbooks (unless edited or original research work), self-help books, popular press articles, and websites that appear to be biased regarding a particular controversial issue. Instructors may stipulate that certain sources such as Wikipedia are not acceptable in research papers submitted in their courses.
At APUS, most assignments require the writer to make an argumentative claim about a topic or to propose a solution to a problem or question. To achieve this purpose, the writer must conduct research to develop knowledge about a topic. In short, conducting research allows the writer to make an informed decision about the topic. By locating, evaluating, and using various sources to support her or his thesis/purpose, the writer establishes authority, credibility, and reliability as a researcher, all of which are important for persuading or convincing an audience to accept or adopt the writer’s claims and conclusions.
Many reliable sources of information are available from various locations: books, scholarly journals, databases, catalogs, and websites on the Internet. To obtain the best knowledge about a subject, the writer should never limit research to a single type of source, but there are a few important differences in sources the writer should consider:
Print sources such as scholarly books, journals, magazines, and newspapers. These sources are usually most reliable since the facts and data are routinely reviewed and validated before publication. Many of these sources are also available as Electronic Sources, so the writer’s citation will need to properly identify if the source used is an electronic version of a print source.
Internet sources are websites or articles found on websites. These sources can be less reliable since the facts and data may not have been reviewed and validated before publication. Sometimes personal articles are posted by individuals who are merely stating biased or unsupported opinions. (Note: A “~” in a URL usually indicates that a web page is personal one and, therefore, has no official affiliation to the host site.) Moreover, sources on the Internet can be changed, updated, or removed without notice. Therefore, the writer should be careful to determine the actual date of an Internet source to verify the source’s relevancy to contemporary developments in research and its permanence as a source to be located in the future.
Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Sources
To assure that accurate information is being retrieved about a topic, the writer should also be aware of the difference between a primary source, a secondary source, and a tertiary source:
Primary sources are the original sources of information, reports, studies, experiments or interviews. For example, a primary source would be a period text (e.g., a Victorian medical journal) or a classic text (e.g., M.H. Abrams’ work of literary-criticism, The Mirror and the Lamp) in a field of study.
Secondary sources are descriptions or interpretations of primary sources. For example, a secondary source would be a book or article that is based on primary sources or data.
Tertiary sources are books or articles based on secondary sources. For example, a tertiary source would be a magazine article that explains current research in a field.
Most research projects will credibly employ primary, secondary, and tertiary sources. However, to assure that a main idea or argument is credible and relevant, the writer should be careful to seek scholarly sources from authorities in the field. If examining a recent problem or question, then the writer should seek recent contemporary sources to validate historical sources.
When conducting research for APUS writing assignments, the writer will need to make important decisions about which sources to use. The writer relies on sources for several purposes:
1. To help define the topic and any complicated concepts associated with the topic;
2. To provide the background and information necessary for the writer’s argument to be understood;
3. To support all claims with relevant and credible evidence (textual and visual);
4. To provide depth and perspective, including opposing viewpoints and evidence;
5. To establish credibility and reliability to convince an audience;
To achieve all of these purposes, the writer needs to establish the value of all sources. The following guidelines will help the writer determine the value and credibility of each source to be considered for a paper:
Accuracy and Citation of Sources: Is the source accurate and complete? Are the author’s sources reliable? Are the author’s sources cited? Is there an accompanying reference list to substantiate the author’s sources? Is the source published on a reputable website?
Publisher reputation and authority: Is the publisher a respected source of academic scholarship? (Note: academic databases generally have a high standard of accountability and accuracy.) Does the publisher have any professional or religious affiliations that could affect objectivity?
Author reputation and authority: Is the author an expert or reputable scholar on the topic? Does the author have any professional or religious views that could affect objectivity? Is the author affiliated with a special-interest group? Does the author only present one side of the debate? If alternate views are presented and addressed, does the author portray them fairly? Does the author’s language show signs of bias?
Purpose and Relevance: What will this source add to the paper? How will that source emphasize or support the main idea? Is the source relevant to the topic and the writer’s thesis statement (main idea)? How will the evidence support the writer’s credibility?
Date of Publication: Is the source new or old? If the source is older, are there any newer sources that validate or invalidate this source? If the source is from the Internet, can the date of publication be accurately certified?
Primary and Secondary Sources: Is this the original (primary) source, or is this a secondary interpretation or description of the primary source? Would the primary source add more validity to the paper?
Audience: Who is the source’s audience? Proponents or opponents? Other scholars? The general public?
Cross-Reference: Is the source cited in other primary or secondary sources? How is this source used by other authors? Is the source respected and valued in the field?
Active and Passive Voice
Definition: Good writers prefer active voice because it is more direct than passive. Active voice means the subject of the sentence is performing the action; while in the passive voice, the subject is being acted upon.
Active voice: The candidate [subject] crisscrossed the state, shaking hands and kissing babies.
Passive voice: The state was crisscrossed by the candidate, shaking hands and kissing babies [The true subject of this sentence, the candidate, is receiving the action about crisscrossing the state].
Still, passive voice is important. Academic journals are models for students’ reports and research papers so edit your writing accordingly. Writers in formal, nonacademic publications (e.g., Harvard Business Review) use passive voice even less often. Since formal, nonacademic publications are models for students’ essays and personal perspective papers, your papers should contain as little passive voice as possible.
When to use passive voice?
Passive voice is useful when the doer of the action is considerably less important than the action—or for a change of pace. Just be careful not to use passive in more than several clauses consecutively. The example below is an example of a good passive voice sentence because the action of the verb is emphasized about the research.
The subsequent research was improved by randomizing.
The following paragraph, on the other hand, contains too much passive voice and leads to awkward and less concise language (the passive verbs are underlined).
The subsequent research was improved by randomizing. The new subjects were assigned to a control or treatment group, and the process was monitored by a researcher who had been hired by a neutral committee and who had been awarded a master’s degree in 2002.
The table below is an example summary of active and passive voice of the verb to see:
Tense Active Voice Passive Voice
Past Perfect Had seen (I had seen it) Had been seen (it had been seen)
Past Saw (I saw it) Was seen (it was seen)
Present perfect Have seen (I have seen it) Has been seen (it has been seen)
Present See (I see it) Is seen (it is seen)
Future perfect Will have seen (I will have seen it) Will have been seen (it will have been seen)
Future Will see (I will see it) Will be seen (it will be seen)
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