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Statistics Final: Plan Some Research

                This semester, you have learned many ways to analyze and interpret data and come up with meaningful results. For this final project, you are going to combine those skills with critical thinking and talk about what numbers and analyses you might use if you were going to research a topic you personally find interesting. I will be especially interested in seeing your thought process as you think critically about applying statistics to the problem you choose.

Step 1: Topic Selection

                Anything that you find interesting is fair game. There are a few of you in here who have expressed interest in going into a field related to education (teacher, school psychology, etc). Maybe you want to look at something relevant to students. Many of you have a history in the military. Maybe you want to look at something related to mental health among military members or their families, or best practices for adjustment after getting out of the military or adjustment for families when a military family member is deployed. Maybe there is a controversial topic you have always found interesting that you would like to dive into. Seriously, anything that you find interesting. Make sure you state the issue/problem clearly and describe some of its details in a way that someone without any background knowledge could fully understand it!

Step 2: Find an Article

                You are going to use Drury’s journal article search system through the library to find a research article about the topic you chose (dont worry, you will know what I am talking about when we get there!). Say you are wanting to research depression among military spouses. You would type in depression among military spouses in the search. Find a research article among your search results to read. Dont worry if they used an advanced statistical analysis that we did not cover yet this semester. The point is not to analyze their statistics, it is to use their article as a jumping off point of what you would propose to analyze. For example, maybe they only looked at Army spouses and you want to see if you would get different results looking at Marine or Air Force spouses. Maybe they only considered heterosexual marriages and you would want to look at same-sex spouses. Maybe they looked only at marriages without children, and you would want to consider those who had children. Basically, you will look at their research sample and results and use that to form your own research question. Many articles give ideas for future research stemming from their findings in the limitations and conclusions sections– some will even include a section titled something like implications for future research. Start by reading the entire article. If they used a statistical analysis that we did not cover in class, you can skip the analysis and results section and drop down to the discussion section.

Step 3: Summarize the Article

I want you to include, at minimum, the following information:

A summary of what they were researching, including their research question.
Descriptive statistics about their sample (if they gave you information about age, gender, religion, etc, make sure to include these!). You will find this in a section labeled either Sample or Participants. Rememberthe sample largely sets the context for the study! Discuss how this sample influences the context of this study.
A brief summary of their findings as given in their Discussion section.
Step 4: State Your Position

Hopefully, you learn something new and interesting about the topic of your choice just by reading the article. Include information about something interesting you learned.
Did the author of the article make a conclusion or express a viewpoint that inspired further questions or that you disagree with? Question any relevant viewpoints!
Considering anything new you learned, your prior knowledge on the topic, and any questions/challenges you would have to the viewpoints expressed in the article you read, summarize your specific position on this topic. Consider the complexities of this issue. Recognize the limits of your position and knowledge on the topic.
Step 5: Propose Your Study

What would be your research question?
What would be your population 1 and population 2?
What would be an appropriate wording of your null hypothesis and research hypothesis?
What would be your goal descriptive statistics of your sample (you could, for example, include age, relationship status, education level, place of residence, etc).
Which variables of interest would be nominal? Would there be any ordinal variables? Which of your variables would be interval/ratio?
Which statistical analysis would you use? Why would this one be the most appropriate?
What conclusions could you make if you arrived at statistically significant results? What would be the implications of these conclusions?
How would these conclusions give us additional knowledge about the issue/problem at hand to add to or challenge the ones found by the article that you read?

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