Evaluating Scientific Merit



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Write a 6–8-page evaluation in which you describe a research topic that is an important aspect of your professional life or an issue related to your specialization that could benefit from research. This may be a topic that you can use later for the research project in your capstone course. Use five research articles you found on the topic as support, discuss why this research is needed from professional, practical, and scientific standpoints.

Note: Demonstrating your understanding of the research process requires specific steps that need to be executed in a sequence. The assessments in this course are presented in sequence and must be completed in order.

By successfully completing this assessment, you will demonstrate your proficiency in the following course competencies and assessment criteria:

Competency 2: Evaluate the characteristics, purposes, benefits, strengths, and weaknesses of research methods.
Analyze how the research advances the scientific knowledge base in a selected research study.
Summarize how the selected research study contributes to research theory and the field of study.
Explain the hallmarks of good research in a research study.
Competency 5: Examine the appropriate application of scientific research methodology.
Develop a logical conclusion of the overall scientific merit of the research study.
Competency 6: Communicate in a manner that is scholarly, professional, and consistent with expectations for members of the identified field of study.
Communicate in a manner that is scholarly, professional, and consistent with expectations for members of the identified field of study.

Scientific merit refers to the overall quality and the value of a research study. Even though there are many ways in which researchers can solve research problems with different approaches and designs, there is one thing that all good scientific research has in common: scientific merit.

Read the Assessment 1 Context [PDF] document for important information on scientific merit.

Questions to Consider
As you prepare to complete this assessment, you may want to think about other related issues to deepen your understanding or broaden your viewpoint. You are encouraged to consider the questions below and discuss them with a fellow learner, a work associate, an interested friend, or a member of your professional community. Note that these questions are for your own development and exploration and do not need to be completed or submitted as part of your assessment.

Why must research contribute to the scientific knowledge base to have scientific merit?
How do you make certain that the research utilizes acceptable practices for the discipline?
What are some critical questions that can assist researchers who design a study with scientific merit?
What role does theory play in evaluating a study for scientific merit?

APA Resources
You must format this assessment according to APA guidelines. Additional resources about APA can be found in the Research Resources in the left navigation menu of your courseroom. Use the resources as needed to guide your work.

American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author. Available from the bookstore.

Suggested Resources
The resources provided here are optional. You may use other resources of your choice to prepare for this assessment; however, you will need to ensure that they are appropriate, credible, and valid. The Supplemental Resources and Research Resources, both linked from the left navigation menu in your courseroom, provide resources to help support you.

Finding a Topic
Programs of Research – Library Companion Guides.
Find and review the research guide for your area of study.
Program Guides.
?Find the guide for your area of specialization, which may be helpful in topic selection, as well.
Doctoral Resources and Support: PhD.
????This page provides resources about types of research, the research process, and data analysis. Explore the links on this page. Clicking a program within the PhD area provides more information about that program. The Research & Scholarship link has a Topic Selection link which might be helpful.
Finding Research Articles
As you begin to search for articles related to your topic, pay attention to the theoretical orientation of the research articles you select. The assessment requires that you summarize how the research study contributes to theory and the field of study.

Library Guides Home Page.
Navigate to the Library Guide that best fits your topic. The guides provide general library information and library-related information about specific classes.
Finding Articles by TYPE.
This page has an index of broadly defined different types of articles.
Theory/Theoretical-Finding Articles by TYPE.
This page, reached via the index on the previous page, focuses specifically on articles linked to theory.
Library Research and Information Literacy Skills.
This resource and each of its linked subsections (Find Scholarly and Peer Reviewed Resources, Improve Your Topic, Get Critical Search Skills, and Think Critically About Source Quality) explain how to identify and narrow a general topic into a research topic that can be searched through a review of the research literature.
Reviewing the Literature.
This resource and each of the linked subsections (Preliminary Search, Defining a Search Strategy, Cited Literature, Analyze Results, Tests and Methods Searching, and Using Dissertations) explain the specific processes involved in searching the research literature.
Search by Methodology.
This resource can help you limit your searches to quantitative or qualitative articles.
Identifying Theory
The assessment requires you to identify how the research you evaluate contributes to or relates to a particular theory in your area of specialization. It is possible to find articles where the relevant theory is identified explicitly. For other studies, the following resources suggest how to identify theory in articles where the theory is not explicitly stated.

Leedy, P. D., & Ormrod, J. E. (2019). Practical research: Planning and design (12th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson. Available from the bookstore.
Chapter 1, “The Nature and Tools of Research,” pages 1–29.
This chapter is a good general resource and includes information about theory building on pages 23–24.
Cited Literature.
?This resource includes information about how to “mine” a bibliography and information about how theory can be addressed in different types of articles.
These reference volumes provide details about multiple psychological theories.

van Lange, P. A. M., Kruglanski, A. W., & Higgins, E. T. (2012). Handbook of theories of social psychology: Volume 1. London: Sage Publications Ltd.
van Lange, P. A. M., Kruglanski, A. W., & Higgins, E. T. (2012). Handbook of theories of social psychology: Volume 2. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.
Wenzel, A. (Ed.). (2017). The Sage encyclopedia of abnormal and clinical psychology. (Vols. 1–7). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Ltd.
The search function in this resource can help you find theory related to different topics. Search for (without quotes) “theory” or “theoretical”.
Theory in Research
Role of Theory in Research | Transcript.
This resource explains the role of theory in research. Use this as background to identify the theoretical framework of articles you find in your research.
Higgins, E. T. (2004). Making a theory useful: Lessons handed down. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 8(2), 138–145.
This article discusses the characteristics of useful theories. It also discusses the limitations of theories (what they are not), how theories guide discoveries, and building theories.
Ellemers, N. (2013). Connecting the dots: Mobilizing theory to reveal the big picture in social psychology (and why we should do this). European Journal of Social Psychology, 43(1), 1–8.
In this article, the author claims that publication of bits of knowledge without theoretical grounding hinders progress in the field.
Hawley, P. H., & Williford, A. (2014). Articulating the theory of bullying intervention programs: Views from social psychology, social work, and organizational science. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 37, 3–15.
This article provides an example of potential problems that are produced by failure to use supported theories in research and in practice—in this case, bullying intervention programs. The lack of effectiveness in these programs may be due to the failure to utilize appropriate theories. The authors suggest how to rethink the strategies of bullying intervention programs by using different theories.
Research Designs
Research designs can have qualitative or quantitative orientations, or complex combinations of these. Ideally, a study will exhibit the hallmarks of good research in its choice of research design. Use these resources to prepare and discuss the research procedures that would be best in investigating the research topic you chose.

Glossary of Research Terms | Transcript.
This multimedia piece will introduce you to some of the most commonly used research terms, so you can use them in the correct context for research. Note that there is a tab at the top of the page where you can also view the terms in a flashcard format or take an ungraded quiz. Also note that the second set of tabs allows you to view terms for either quantitative or qualitative research.
Leedy, P. D., & Ormrod, J. E. (2019). Practical research: Planning and design (12th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson. Available from the bookstore.
These chapters provide information on quantitative methods and designs.
Chapter 6, “Descriptive Research,” pages 146–191.
Chapter 7, “Experimental, Quasi-Experimental, and Ex Post Facto Designs,” pages 182–227.
These chapters provide information on qualitative methods and designs.
Chapter 8, “Qualitative Research Methods,” pages 228–258.
Trochim, W. M. K. (2006). The qualitative debate. Retrieved from http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/qualdeb.php
This page provides some general comparisons of qualitative and quantitative research.
The following resource focuses on quantitative designs and methods.

Trochim, W. M. K. (2006). Types of designs. Retrieved from http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/destypes.php
The following resources focus on qualitative designs and methods.

Davies, M. M., & Mosdell, N. (2006). Practical research methods for media and cultural studies: Making people count. Edinburgh, Scotland: Edinburgh University Press.
Chapter 3 of this resource provides information about qualitative designs and methods.
Trochim, W. M. K. (2006). Qualitative methods. Retrieved from http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/qualmeth.php
Quantitative Examples
Okimoto, T. G., & Heilman, M. E. (2012). The “bad parent” assumption: How gender stereotypes affect reactions to working mothers. Journal of Social Issues, 68(4), 704–724.
This article describes research that used an experimental approach. Note, the authors of this article do NOT clearly identify their theoretical framework.
Kossek, E. E., Roberts, K., Fisher, S., & DeMarr, B. (1998). Career self-management: A quasi-experimental assessment of the effects of a training intervention. Personnel Psychology, 51(4), 935–962.
This article describes research that used a quasi-experimental approach. Note, the authors of this article clearly identify the theoretical framework.
Torok, M., Darke, S., & Kaye, S. (2012). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and severity of substance use: The role of comorbid psychopathology. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 26(4), 974–979.
This article describes research that used a nonexperimental approach. Note, the authors of this article do NOT clearly identify their theoretical framework.
Qualitative Examples
Hill, D. A., Belcher, L., Brigman, H. E., Renner, S., & Stephens, B. (2013). The Apple iPad™ as an innovative employment support for young adults with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities. Journal of Applied Rehabilitation Counseling, 44(1), 28–37.
This article describes case study research. Note, the authors of this article do NOT clearly identify their theoretical framework.
Krupa, T., Kirsh, B., Cockburn, L., & Gewurtz, R. (2009). Understanding the stigma of mental illness in employment. Work, 33(4), 413–425.
This article describes a grounded theory study. Note that grounded theory is being used to develop theory in this article, so there is no theoretical framework.
Sampson, J. M. (2013). The lived experience of family members of persons who compulsively hoard: A qualitative study. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 39(3), 388–402.
This article describes a study that used a phenomenological approach. Note, the author of this article clearly identifies the theoretical framework.
Scientific Merit
The assessment requires you to develop a logical conclusion of the scientific merit of the research you examine. The following resources provide information on the definition and the components of scientific merit.

Assessment 1 Context.
This course file summarizes scientific merit.
Scientific Merit | Transcript.
This resource explains Capella University’s interpretation of scientific merit.
Think Critically About Source Quality.
This resource addresses the assessment of scientific merit.
Additional Resources for Further Exploration
Some programs have opted to provide program-specific content designed to help you better understand how the subject matter is incorporated into your particular field of study. Check below to see if your program has any suggested readings for you.

School of Psychology Learners

Frost, N. (2011). Qualitative research methods in psychology: Combining core approaches. Berkshire, England: Open University Press.
Marshall, M. N. (1996). Sampling for qualitative research. Family Practice, 13(6), 522–525.
School of Business and Technology Learners

Crouch, M., & McKenzie, H. (2006). The logic of small samples in interview-based qualitative research. Social Science Information, 45(4), 483–499.
Guest, G., Bunce, A., & Johnson, L. (2006). How many interviews are enough?: An experiment with data saturation and variability. Field Methods, 18(1), 59–82.
Assessment Instructions
Note: Complete Assessment 1 before beginning any other assessments in this course; complete subsequent assessments in the sequence in which they are presented.

Identify a research topic related to your specialization, professional life, or area of interest, and locate at least five recent (within the past five years) research articles on your selected topic.

In 6–8 pages, write an evaluation in which you complete the following:

Begin your paper with an introduction that explains the purpose of the paper and its contents.
Identify and describe your research topic.
Synthesize your professional experience and the articles you found on your topic to justify the importance of doing research on this topic.
Discuss some of the limitations in the findings of the research articles you identified and how future research could add meaningful information to the knowledge base.
Identify one or more theories used by researchers of your research topic.
Discuss how future research could help advance theories in your field of study.
Based on the designs used by researchers in the articles you found, discuss the research procedures that you think would be best in investigating the research topic.
Explain why each component of scientific merit is important in determining the quality of research.
End your paper with a summary and a conclusion.

Additional Requirements *IMPORTANT*
As much as possible, the assessment should be written in your own words; it may include paraphrased information that is properly cited in the current APA style.
If you need to quote, do so sparingly, and make sure you have cited quoted material according to the current APA style.
Your assessment needs to demonstrate your understanding of the material, not how well you can quote someone else’s work.
Write in a professional tone, without writing errors.
Include a title page and references page, using the current APA style and format.
Write 6–8 pages with 1-inch margins, plus a title page and references page. An abstract is not required.
Include at least 5 current scholarly or professional resources.
Use APA-style headings to organize your paper.
Use Times New Roman font, 12 point.
Double space.

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