Based on our many years of experience in teaching, project supervision and private consultancy in research and digital statistics, we came up with these conclusions. It is believed that when young researchers in our network are aware of these mistakes, the quality of their research work will improve and they will hit our page to testify about their excellent performance in research activities. Haha, that gives us joy!
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THE COMMON MISTAKES
Most research scholars including postgraduate students conducting empirical studies fail to consider the inclusion of the independent and dependent variables in their topics. The major problem is that so “many” researchers (at all levels of education) are ignorant of this specific anomaly and the rest is a story to be told in the next episode.
We suggest that every postgraduate student should be serious with advanced research and statistics taught in their departments. Every scholar in the academe should endeavor to take a course in basic statistics, maybe inferential statistics.
At least this will aid them to:
i). Understand the dependence of one variable on the other,
ii). Know how these variables interact,
iii). Study the importance of types of data and how they influence the method statistical tools used.
iv). Study the rationale for the use of any statistics and the assumptions of the parametric statistics and when violated what to do.
v). Identify topics that are not researchable and to make corrections accordingly where necessary.
The above problem cuts across almost all tertiary institutions…
1.1: Background to the study:
It has been observed with dismay that some students just go to the Internet and copy information related to their study and paste it in the background section of the research work just to occupy the space provided. They do not consider the vital elements of the background to the study. Ideally, this section is supposed to be where the student briefly writes about the variables of the study(an overview) while systematically linking up the ideas to form a story-line. The ideas in paragraph-1 should be linked to the ideas in paragraph -2. In fact, towards the end of each paragraph, what is supposed to be discussed in the next paragraph should be mentioned. But they don’t do it. There is usually a disconnection between paragraphs. No flow of events!
1.2. Statement of the problem.
This section is supposed to be the rationale for the study or the research justification. The researcher writes about the enormity of the problem, what has been done by others to solve the problem and what the present study intends to explore, in three paragraphs. Young researchers just copy and paste disjointed ideas. The gap worthy of plugging remains unknown until the end of the justification.
1.3: Aim and Objectives of the study.
This section is where the researcher holistically writes about the overarching goal of the study and goes on to itemize the specific objectives of the study in measurable terms. But most students itemize objectives that are not measurable. For instance, they include specific objectives without the dependent(or its measures ) and independent variable(or its dimensions) in each objective, even when they are trying to determine a difference or relationship between the two variables. These researchers also fail to check whether the terms used are measurable or not.
1.4: Research Questions
The study is guided by research questions. Nevertheless, we know it’s not in every field you find research questions in an empirical paper. Some make do with the research objectives. Educational researchers use both research objectives and research questions. The research question is supposed to be a direct transformation of the research objective. Although, not all research questions must have the stimulus and response variables. The number of research questions must be equal to the number of specified objectives.
The hypothesis is stated to guide the study. In education, it is better stated in the null form. The common mistakes the students make in stating the hypothesis are itemized below:
i). Trying to transform all research questions into a hypothesis. Hey!…the research questions without the factor and criterion variables might be difficult to convert to a research hypothesis. You can have five research objectives, five research questions, and three null hypotheses.
ii). Some students erroneously include more than two factors and/or criterion variables in one hypothesis. Eg. Gender has no significant influence on the mathematics performance of the students based on school location. Just imagine!… I jump and pass. Kindly recast it to read: There is no significant mean difference in the performance scores of students in mathematics based on a) gender and b) school location. You can use FANOVA for the analysis if the performance score is quantified in an interval/ continuous data format.
1.6. Scope of the study
You write about the delimitation of the study. It’s about the study coverage, in terms of geographical location, unit of analysis, the key variables studied and the extraneous variables to the study. Extraneous variables are mentioned for further studies. This is written in a prose form. Some students mix up delimitation with the limitations of the study, please they are different. Delimitation is not the same as a limitation. The former is the scope/coverage whereas the later is the impediments to the study (not financial and time constraints).
1.7 Significance of the study.
The researcher is expected to write about how this study will be beneficial to the subjects, other researchers in the same field, stakeholders, the society at large, etc. You are to mention them first and write in paragraphs how each group will specifically benefit from the study. Some students write about how the findings of their study will be of benefit to even people unconnected to their study…
© Datarmatics, Contributed by Dr. Nduka Wonu