Encyclopedia of Social Measurement, Vol 3, pp. 385-395 (2005)
11 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2014
Date Written: 2005
The methodology of research design hinges on the choices made with regard to four core questions: How is the value of the independent variable(s) assigned? How are units selected? How many units are selected? And how are comparisons organized (i.e., whether temporally and/or spatially)? These choices can be assessed in terms of their direct impact but also their indirect impact — due their requirements and contributions vis-a`-vis theory and data — on the prospects of making causal inferences. Three research traditions — experimental and quasi-experimental, quantitative, and qualitative — represent distinct responses to these methodological choices and each has important strengths but also significant weaknesses. Thus, the need for choices about research design to be explicitly addressed and justified, and the need to actively construct bridges across research traditions, is emphasized.
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