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Theories play a vitally important role in guiding research and organizing and making sense of research findings. In spite of the great importance of theory-building and theory testing within your field of specialization, there is no generally accepted conception of what a theory is. Because your dissertation must contribute to theory, you must have a clear understanding of the variety of conceptions of theory, types of theories, and ways of contributing to theory and be able to justify how, exactly, your study contributes to theory.
Using Gelso (2006), Harlow (2009), Stam, H. (2007, 2010), Wacker (1999), and five additional peer-reviewed articles from your specialization, discuss scholarly views on the nature and types of theory. Compare and contrast at least three views of what constitutes a theory, including the view you will use in Part 3 of this question. Be sure to distinguish theory from related concepts, such as hypothesis, paradigm, model, and concept.
Using Ellis & Levy (2008), Harlow, E. (2009), and five additional peer-reviewed articles, review the scholarly literature on the relationship between theory and research and the ways research (quantitative and qualitative) can contribute to theory. Discuss at least three ways research can contribute to theory.
Pick a theory (in one of the views of what constitutes a theory that you identified in Part 1) of current interest directly related to the topic area of your dissertation. A theory is currently of interest if there are articles published on it in the past five years. Using at least 10 published, peer-reviewed research articles:
1. Explain how the theory adds or may add to our understanding of your field and/or research topic.
2. Discuss and analyze the literature on two areas of controversy or unanswered questions related to the theory.
The structure of your paper should be as follows:
Body (10-15 pages, no more or less; APA Style; use appropriate headings for organization of the paper)
References (APA Style)
1. Compose a theoretically sound and conceptually rich essay that demonstrates knowledge of fundamental subject areas of a student’s academic discipline and specialization.
Question 2: Practical Application
Your dissertation research must contribute to theory. Your research and the theory to which it contributes may or may not have a practical benefit or application. There is no doubt, however, that there is a theory in your dissertation topic area that does have a practical application.
Referencing at least five peer-reviewed journal articles or scholarly books, discuss views on the relationship between theory and application or practice. How can a theory guide or inform practice? What are the issues involved in translating theory into practice? Be sure to keep in mind the various conceptions of theory you discussed in Question 1.
Referencing at least five peer-reviewed journal articles, fully describe a theory of current interest in your topic area. A theory is currently of interest if there are articles published on it in the past five years. This theory may or may not be the same as the one you examined in Question 1, Part 3. Describe a current view of the theory, not the founder’s view or a classic view. Your answer should be no more than three pages long.
Identify at least five scholarly articles (published in the last 5 years) that address how the theory you discussed in Part 2 has actually been applied. (Draw on your response to Part 1 in order to define what you mean by an application of a theory to an actual problem or situation.) Critically evaluate the appropriateness of the uses to which the theory has been applied. Consider, for example: Are the applications premised upon an accurate understanding of the theory and its scope? Do the applications “go beyond” what the theory claims? Is the reasoning linking application and theory sound?
2. Critique existing research and design a methodologically sound approach to research in the student’s academic specialization(s).
Question 3: Research
The ability to read, understand, critique, and integrate research studies and to design a study to address a gap in the research literature is a vital tool for a doctoral student. As you write your dissertation, you may be reading hundreds of studies, many of which you will evaluate as part of a coherent literature review.
Select five empirical articles from peer-reviewed journals that:
• you consider critical to your understanding of your area of dissertation research
• all address a particular phenomenon and attempt to contribute to theory about it
1. Describe each study, including:
• the research problem, questions, or hypotheses
• the research purpose
• type of design and elements of the design (e.g., sample, data analysis, operationalization of constructs)
• threats to validity and if and how they were addressed
• the findings and their implications
2. Critically evaluate each study: Does the author make a compelling case for the meaning and significance of the findings?
Write a literature review that explains what is known and not known about the phenomenon based on a critical evaluation of the five studies.
Develop a research question that addresses one of the unknowns you identified in Part 2 and sketch a quantitative or qualitative study that can answer the question about what is unknown and contribute to theory (in some sense of theory you discuss in Question 1).
• type of design and elements of the design (e.g., sample, the type of data you need to collect and how you will collect it, data analysis)
• the strengths and weaknesses of your envisioned design and methods
• quantitative: threats to validity and how your design will address them
• quantitative: the constructs you will measure and what you will do in order to determine how to operationalize them (you need not identify specific measures)
• qualitative: your means of ensuring the quality of your findings
• justification for why your chosen design and methods are more appropriate for your research question than alternatives you have considered
• your methods of data analysis
• how the data you collect will enable you to answer your research question and contribute to theory
Draw on the additional resources for this course for guidance in understanding the concepts (e.g., internal validity, threats to validity, and operationalization) needed to address this question.
3. Apply relevant theory and research from the student’s specialization coursework to real life situations where he or she solves specific problems and discusses implications.
Question 4: Ethics
As you know, scientific research must be conducted in accordance with ethical principles. The ethical principles of research are defined in:
Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct
Standard 8: Research and Publication
The National Academy Of Sciences, National Academy Of Engineering, and Institute Of Medicine Of The National Academies have a more detailed and comprehensive set of ethical guidelines for scientific research:
Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (U.S.), National Academy of Sciences (U.S.), National Academy of Engineering., & Institute of Medicine (U.S.). (2009) On being a scientist: A guide to responsible conduct in research, (3rd ed.). Washington, D.C: National Academies Press.
Write a paper in which you discuss how you will ensure that all aspects of your doctoral research, from literature review to conducting research, to writing the dissertation manuscript will be done with care and integrity and will meet the ethical standards of scientific research. Reference the two publications above and at least five additional peer-reviewed articles.
You must justify all the steps you will take to ensure the ethical integrity of your dissertation project and not simply describe standard practice. You must show that you have your own clear set of ethical principles and that you know how to apply them to your work. You must do more than just paraphrase ethical guidelines. You must explain specifically how you will apply published ethical guidelines and concepts to what you will do in your research (as you envision it at this point).
Be sure to address the following:
• Risk assessment
• Informed consent
• Privacy and confidentiality
• Data handling and reporting
• Mistakes and negligence
• Working with a Mentor
• Northcentral University requirements for IRB approval
Conclude your paper with your thoughts on the following statement:
Ethical scientific researchers have a commitment to all who are touched by their research—participants who share their lives and time, mentors and advisors, reviewers, future readers, and supporters and cheerleaders on the journey—to take care and do their work well.
4. Integrate knowledge of ethical practices with principles of professional practice as it applies to specific scenarios within the student’s academic discipline and specialization.