Doctoral research is a phenomenon often misrepresented in mainstream society. Leedy& Ormrod (2010) suggests that the word research itself has been so widely used in everyday speech that few people have any idea of its true meaning. The purpose of this analysis is to explore the definition of true doctoral research and uncover a few misconceptions about research and how it is misrepresented in society. Furthermore, this analysis will explore the topic of increasing elementary school students reading achievement through the use of a reading
rewards program and the doctoral research process associated with it.
Leedy & Ormrod (2010) debunks four common ways in which doctoral
research is misrepresented in mainstream society: research is not mere
information gathering; research is not mere transportation of facts from one
location to another; research is not merely rummaging for information; and
finally, research is not a catch word used to get attention. For
example, if students are assigned a project in school which requires them to go
to the library and gather information about a particular topic, the teacher
often refers to this as“research”, but in fact, this is mere information
gathering. Another example is the college student who reads a few articles on a
particular reading literacy program and its implications for student learning
gains, then writes a paper summarizing and citing the data. Although this is one
process of doctoral research, merely “transporting facts from one location to
another” alone is not true doctoral research. Another example of how doctoral
research is misused in mainstream society is when one wants to buy a new home. He or she may find a listing of interest and call their agent to get some
“research” on the home. The agent then begins rummaging through files on the
property to find out information they did not know previously. While the agent
is finding out specific unknown information about the particular house, this is
mere collecting or “rummaging (Leedy & Ormrod, 2010, p. 2)” for
information-not true doctoral research. The final example of a misuse of
research is when one reacts to a television, internet or radio advertisement
based on the catch phrase “years of research has produced”.This is often a
marketing strategy used to lure the consumer, but there is always a fine print
written towards the bottom of the screen about the validity and reliability of
the claims. As a doctoral learner, it is very critical to recognize and
disseminate these common misuses of the term research in mainstream society.
While research is often misrepresented in mainstream society, in academic
circles, doctoral research can be precisely defined and practiced.
According to Leedy & Ormrod (2010) research can be defined as a
systematic process of collecting, analyzing, and interpreting information (data)
in order to increase our understanding of a phenomenon about which we are
interested or concerned. The main difference between scientific research and the research commonly misused in society is the formal collecting and interpretation of information or data for the use of communicating it with the larger scientific community. To help clarify how scientists conduct true research, Leedy & Ormrod (2010) offers eight distinct research
1. Research originates with a question or
2. Research requires clear articulation of a
3. Research requires a specific plan for
4. Research usually divides the principal problem into more
5. Research is guided by the specific research problem, question, or
6. Research accepts certain critical
7. Research requires the collection and interpretation of data in an
attempt to resolve the problem that initiated the
8. Research is, by its nature, cyclical or, more exactly, helical (p. 2-3).
The topic of increasing elementary school students reading achievement
is an example of how the eight research characteristics can be used in practice.
The problem is the continued decline in reading literacy in America. The
questions that can be asked is how can you increase student reading achievement? The goal would then be to find a way increase student reading achievement, in this example it would be through the use of reading rewards program. A specific plan for proceeding could include picking a particular reading rewards program and implementing it within a controlled setting. One possible hypothesis can be that either the reading rewards program will increase student reading achievement scores or have no effect at all. With this problem, comes certain assumptions about the students, family lives, teachers, and even the way in which the program is implemented with the classroom. These are all sub-problems that can be accounted for during the process. One could then collect data on student reading achievement scores while using the program and compare it to a control group of students not using the program, or even compare different reading rewards programs to find which produces higher learning gains. After interpreting the data, one may be lead to find ways to best implement a particular reading rewards program inside the classroom, and the cycle of research and data collecting can begin all over again.
Finally, making sure research is valid and reliable is very important
when conducting doctoral research. The validity and reliability of the
measurement instrument used may influence the extent to which one can learn something about the phenomenon they are studying, the probalility that one will obtain statistical significance in their data analysis, and the extent to which one can draw meaningful conclusion from their data (Leedy & Ormrod, 2010,p. 28). In the example used above, the use of a reading rewards programs
already being utilized by major school districts will help to cement the
programs validity. Furthermore, conducting a study in which the results can be replicated can help contribute to its reliability.
In conclusion, doctoral research is a systematic way of solving or
explaining phenomenon about the world around us. Leedy & Ormrod (2010)
cautions that whenever one uses statistics, they must remember that the
statistical values obtained are never the end of a research endeavor or the
final answer to a research problem.
The entire body of data collected is what ultimately must be used to
resolve the research problem. Thus, the topic of increasing students’
achievement though the use of reading rewards programs will only help contribute a small portion of data to the over arching problem of
declining reading literacy in America.
P. D., & Ormrod, J. E. (2010). Practical Research Planning and Design.
Upper Sadle River, NJ: Merrill.