Comprehensive Exam 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

Part 1

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?

Part 2 Write a literature review that explains what is known and not known about the phenomenon based on a critical evaluation of the five studies.

Part 3 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).


• the research purpose

• 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.

The structure of your paper should be as follows:

Title page

Body (10-15 pages, no more or less; APA Style; use appropriate headings for organization of the paper)

References (APA Style)

Learning Outcomes:

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.

This is the third of four questions all relevant to the first two questions previously answered.

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