Chapter 3: Research Design

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					             Chapter 3: Research Design
Research Design – a plan that shows how (methods and
      data) and why (literature review and theory
      background) a researcher intends to study an
      empirical question.
I. Selection of RDs shaped by:
A. Purpose – exploratory, descriptive, or explanatory?
B. Practical limitations – unethical, lack of data, time,
      or money
C. RDs to testing hypotheses have at least one of the
      following objectives:
1. Establish relationships between _______________
2. Demonstrate that the results are ___________ true
      in the real world
3. Reveal the time order of phenomena
4. Eliminate __________ hypotheses or explanations
II.  Causality and Controlled Experiments
A.   Correlation or Causation? Example: Negative Ads and
     Turnout (Table 3-1)
1.   There is a relationship; is it causal? Could be that the
     unexposed are more educated and have a stronger sense
     of civic duty. If true, then we observe a noncausal
     relationship only (outlawing negative ads would have no
     effect on turnout).
2.   ____________ relationships (joint causation) – when two
     things are both affected by a third factor and only appear to
     be related. When the third factor is taken into account
     (controlled for), the relationship weakens (example: # of fire
     trucks causes greater fire damage?)
B.   Requirements for Causal Design
1.   Covariation: X (cause) does in fact vary with Y (effect) in
     either a positive or negative direction.
2.   Time order: X occurs before Y in time (cause must always
     precede effect).
3.   Elimination of alternative causes (confounding factors and
     spurious relationships).
How we design research helps us establish causal relationships.
III.   Randomized Controlled Experiments
A.     Experimentation (greater certainty of causality) – research
       that allows the researcher to control exposure to an
       experimental variable (test factor or independent variable),
       the assignment of subjects to different groups, and the
       observation or measurement of responses and behavior.
       Not common in Political Science, but adapted in survey
       research
1.     Subjects:
a.     Experimental group (exposed or tested to “treatment”
       variable).
b.     Control group – group not exposed to treatment/program
2.     Randomization – chance process of assigning subjects to
       each group (or using precision matching to assure group
       similarities). Goal = groups are same except for treatment.
3.     Researcher determines when, where and under what
       conditions treatment stimulus occurs.
4.  Researcher measures the treatment impact or response
    (often referred to as pre and post-test results). Shows if and
    how much of an experimental effect there is.
5. Research controls environment and is able to exclude or
    control the effect of extraneous factors (contamination).
B. Application Questions: how could we conduct this type of
    research on negative ads and voting? (p. 56-57).
1. Identification of variables (dependent and independent)
2. Randomized group assignment (coin flipping)
3. Questionnaire for demographic and political factors as well as
    dv question (averages should be same)
4. Pretest – both groups view 15 minute news report.
5. Treatment – Experimental group views negative commercials
6. Posttest – all subjects view another 15 minute news report.
7. Experimental effect = change in experimental group’s
    intention to vote % (E = Mexp2 – Mexp1)
How has this satisfied our requirements for causality?
C.   Problems with Internal Validity of Experimentation (Internal
     Validity is the extent to which the research procedure
     demonstrated a true cause and effect relationship and was
     not due to some other factor).
1.   History – allowing events or conditions to change in between
     pre and post testing.
2.   Maturation – change in the subjects themselves in between
     pre and post testing (may change reaction to treatment too).
3.   Testing – sometimes the treatment itself may change the
     predisposition of the subject (e.g., effect of a political debate
     on political awareness; pretest question may sensitize them
     to politics suddenly).
4.   Selection biases – subjects may be picked according to some
     nonrandom process (e.g., smoking program).
5.   Experimental mortality or attrition – subjects may leave one
     group or another and change the comparability of the groups.
D.   Problems with ___________ Validity and Experimentation
     (External Validity is the extent to which the obtained results
     can be generalized to other populations, times, and settings).
1.   Population from which pool is drawn may only be in one area,
     from one age group, from one race, etc.
2.    Artificial treatments may not reflect “real world” (e.g., are
      groups exposed to one negative ad or hundreds? In the
      context of a room or filtered through comments of friends).
IV.   Nonexperimental Designs (use of survey data, focus groups,
      aggregate data or collectivities, content or document analysis,
      case studies)
A.    Interrupted Time Series Analysis – Repeated measures of a
      dependent variable (e.g., # of conservative SC Decisions).
      Then, an event in time is identified (say change in party
      control of Congress). Observe changes in dv
B.    Continuous Time Series Analysis – repeated measures of
      both dv and iv (conservative SC decisions and “public mood”
      p. 79).
C.    Cross-sectional design – measurements of dv and iv at a
      particular point in time (e.g., Survey and question: were
      evangelicals more likely to vote Republican in the 2004
      election? Or compare two school districts science test scores;
      one with no instruction in evolutionary theory). No
      randomization and no trend observation.
D.    Panel Studies – cross-sectional design that introduces time.
      Same subjects or units measured repeatedly over time.
E.  Case study – researcher examines one or a few cases in
    detail, typically using data collection methods such as
    personal interviews, document analysis, and observation
    (distinctive from empirical inquiry; not quantitative typically but
    qualitative). Example: Do countries that adopt popular
    election methods have greater public trust of government.
    Case study vs Large-case # (n) study.
F. ______________ modeling – simple and abstract
    representation of reality that purports to show how variables
    or parts of a system fit together. Assumes people are rational
    or “utility-maximizers” meaning they have preferences and
    make choices that always increase their well-being.
For example, a simple formal model of vote choice is UAvB= UA –
    UB where U is expected utility and A/B are candidates or
    parties (0 means you abstain, + number means you vote for
    A, - means you vote for B). But, if the absolute value of UAvB
    is less than the value of another factor C (information and
    transaction costs of voting), then one abstains still. Also, we
    must consider E, the intangible benefits of voting. Called
    paradox of voting because of another factor P (probability of
    casting a decisive vote). So, we get P|UAvB|+E </> C

				
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