Reliability, Validity and the Dissertation
The results of a research project should both be reliable and valid. Reliability refers to the consistency of the results of a test in spite of repeated conduct of such test. In saying that a research measurement or method is reliable, it means that the results yielded are consistent even after several repetitions of the test. If not, then it means that the measurements are not reliable and that the integrity of the research findings may be put into question (Beck & Polit, 2003).
Validity, on the other hand, is achieved by a research measurement if it measures the variable that it was supposed to measure. In other words, the measurement should be appropriate for the variable being measured. Face validity is established if a measurement looks as if it is measuring the variable it is supposed to measure. Content validity, on the other hand, refers to the sufficiency of the sample in measuring the variable. In achieving content validity, all the important aspects of the variable should be measured, otherwise, there would be important aspects of the variables of the research that will be overlooked (Beck & Polit, 2003). Whether quantitative or qualitative research methods are used for any study, establishing the reliability and validity of the instruments are very important. Reliability allows other people to replicate the study while validity ensures that the features and aspects of the variables being measured are covered completely.
This dissertation, in order to be successful, will aim for attaining reliability and validity. In designing the instruments of the dissertation, it will draw upon the literature already written on the subject and look at the measurements used for similar studies conducted before. There will also be pre-testing of the measurement to ensure reliability. As to the validity of the instruments, all the aspect of the variables and the measures will be explored so as to achieve maximum validity.
Interview with a Researcher
A friend of this author referred him to a University Professor who has had considerable experience in research. Although the field of Professor Rey Johnson is in the Social Sciences, the insights that can be gathered in research tools and methods are still worth considering.
According to the Professor, there are a number of ways that prompts a research project. It may be because of a newspaper or a journal article he read; it may be because of a recent event; or a disagreement over the conclusions of fellow researcher. No matter what the source of the research project maybe, as long as there is curiosity and a willingness to pursue and investigate the matter, a research project will be born. After identifying the topic, the main question of the research is formulated and refined. That way, the research has focus and direction.
After identifying the research question, the Professor usually summarizes the issues surrounding the issue and looks up related topics in the library and in the Internet. He gets books and journal articles from the library. He then identifies the debates going on in the topic and tries to understand gray areas, as well as the unclear matters in the debate. Consulting books and recent journals helps clarify the issue and presents what has been found out in the last few months or year.
Statistics are also helpful in seeking trends in the society, according to the Professor. Since his profession is tied up with the social sciences, statistics such as population growth rate, perceptions of people about certain politicians, and other statistics are helpful for him. This way, he can get a feel of what is going on in the society.
Using the library, browsing through books and journal articles have become almost second nature to the professor. If there is one thing that he does not want to lose his years of teaching, it is the love for knowledge and the hunger for it. Although it may be difficult to sustain such passion as the years go by, the Professor is a certified bibliophile and reads book and articles very quickly. He says that such habit comes out of years of practice. As he continues to complete research project after research project, his facility in handling the research tools he utilizes grows. He also pointed out to the Internet as another tool which greatly enhanced his research. However, there is a danger in using the Internet, he said. It has become very easy for students nowadays to take whatever they find in the Internet, paste those information on their word processors and call them research papers. It is important to be critical of information coming from the internets. What is the source? Who wrote it?
For beginning researchers, he only had three advices. The first is for them to read a lot. Most of the topics that interest people nowadays have been explored by philosophers and researchers in the past. Books and journals can greatly enhance the knowledge of a researcher. Secondly, researchers should develop a curious mind. There are a great deal of issues in the world worthy of a researcher’s eyes and tools. Lastly, they should be critical—they should ask about the source, the measurement and whether the findings of the research are consistent with the methodology and design. As a budding researcher, the advice of the Professor is for this author to spend his time in the library, reading and discovering new takes on old ideas and talking with professional researchers on their way of doing research and the problems they encounter in their fields of work and research.
Application to the Dissertation
As a result of the interview with the Professor, this researcher will then make extensive use of the library through its books and the research findings published in recent journals. This is to take a look at what have been said in the research question before as well as the debates and gray areas. This way, this research project will be situated adequately and will not simply repeat what has already been found out before. This exposure to previous literature will also give important knowledge to the researcher in ensuring the reliability and validity of the research measurements.
The researcher will also become more critical of the sources that he will consult. This is because it is very tempting to get information in the Internet and lift information there without proper citation. In some instances, information from the Internet is not reliable and the source may not be verified. Hence, the temptation for plagiarism will be there. Plagiarism in any instance and in any field of study is never acceptable (De Voss & Rosati, 2002).
Research is not always easy. In fact, in order to successfully arrive at the truth or solution of the research problem, the researcher should display rigor, competency, excellence in gathering data and analyzing them, and care in citing ideas borrowed from other authors and researchers. Through these efforts, the body of knowledge of the researcher’s field of specialization will grow. Consequently, the understanding of humans of the particular topic he has chosen to investigate will also grow.
Beck, C. T. & Polit, D. F. (2003). Nursing Research: Principles and Methods. Wolters Kluwer Health.
De Voss, D. & Rosati, A. C. “It Wasn’t Me, Was It?” Plagiarism and the Web. Computers and Composition, 19 (2), 191-203.
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