CHARACTERISTICS OF A GOOD REPORT OF AN EMPIRICAL RESEARCH STUDY
Conte xt and Style
1. Appro priate, info rmative title for the c ontent o f report.
2. Explicit statement of research auspices (i.e., funding sources).
3. Crisp, specific, unbiased writing with minimal jargon.
4. Adequa te analys is of prio r releva nt resea rch, puttin g this stud y in
perspective (with theoretical context if a theory-building study).
Questions/Hypotheses (and Construct Validity)
5. Clearly stated questions/hypotheses (including X, Y, and whether
the research is causal or not).
6. Thorough operational definitions of key concepts (with va lidation if
questionable), plus exact wording/measurement of key variables.
7. Full and clear description of the research design.
8. Explana tion of ste ps taken to obtain participan ts/subjects (e.g.,
sampling system/frame, recruitmen t, informed consent).
9. Demographic profile of the participants/subjects.
10. Specific data-gathering procedures (inc., where/when con ducted).
Issues for Causal Research (Internal Validity)
11. Ideally, no (or minimal) threats to internal validity – thanks to a
good control group and avoiding mortality/attrition and intra-
group history – or thanks to adroit use of other techniques (like
time series) to help rule out alternative explanations. If other
threats e merge d, (e.g., history, maturation, regression, practice/testing,
instrumentation, regression to the mean, selection, reactivity), a candid
discussion of the extent to which those threats were controlled.
12. Successfully addr essing (implicitly or e xplicitly) all three elements
of causal inference (time order, correlation , nonspuriou sness).
Data An alysis (Statistical Conclusion Validity)
13. Appropriate inferential statistics for sa mple or ex perimental data
– and appropriate use of descriptive statistics.
14. Clear, reasonable interpretation of the statistical findings, accom-
panied by effective tables and figures.
Summary (including External Validity)
15. Fair assessment of the implications and limitations of the findings
(i.e., its external validity).
16. Effective commentary on the overall implications of the findings
for theory and/or policy.