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Empiricism Scientific research is based on observable and measurable findings. For instance, are you going to measure the amount of sleep or the quality of sleep? For example: self-rating scores on a social anxiety scale number of recent behavioral incidents of avoidance of crowded places intensity of physical anxiety symptoms in social situations. For example, asking consumers to rate their satisfaction with a service on a 5-point scale will tell you nothing about why they felt that way. Choose a variable to represent each of the concepts. Before collecting data, its important to consider how you will operationalize the variables that you want to measure. Research question example Is there a relation between sleep and social media behavior in teenagers?
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Whats the difference between concepts, variables, and indicators? Identify the main concepts you are interested in studying. And are you going to measure how often teenagers use social media, which social media they use, or when they use it? To measure your variables, decide on indicators that can represent them numerically. Operational definitions break down intangible concepts into recordable characteristics.
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Reductiveness Operational definitions can easily miss meaningful and subjective perceptions of concepts by trying to reduce complex concepts to numbers. Lack of universality Context-specific operationalizations help preserve real-life experiences, but make it hard to compare studies if the measures differ significantly. Without transparent and specific operational definitions, researchers may measure irrelevant concepts or inconsistently apply methods. Although some concepts, like height or age, are easily measured, others, like spirituality or anxiety, are not. Operationalization example, the concept of social anxiety cant be directly measured, but it can be operationalized in many different ways. If other people measure the same thing using your operational definition, they should all get the same results. For example, corruption can be operationalized in a wide range of ways (e.g., perceptions of corrupt business practices, or frequency of bribe requests from public officials but the measures may not consistently reflect the same concept. Limitations of operationalization Operational definitions of concepts can sometimes be problematic.
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For example, poverty is a worldwide phenomenon, but the exact income-level that determines poverty can differ significantly across countries. Average ratings of the originality of uses of an object that participants come up with in 3 minutes. Hypothesis example Based on your literature review, you choose to measure the variables quality of sleep and night-time social media use. You can come up with practical ideas for how to measure variables based on previously published studies. Alternate hypothesis: Lower quality of sleep is related to higher night-time social media use in teenagers. The difference between where people rank themselves compared to others and where they actually rank ( overplacement ). Variables are properties or characteristics of the concept (e.g., performance at school while indicators are ways of measuring or quantifying variables (e.g., yearly grade reports). Sometimes these indicators will be obvious: for example, the amount of sleep is represented by the number of hours per night.
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For example, an experimental intervention for social anxiety may reduce self-rating anxiety scores but not behavioral avoidance of crowded places. What is data collection? Underdetermination Many concepts vary across different time periods and social settings. In scientific research, concepts are the abstract ideas or phenomena that are being studied (e.g., educational achievement). Participants reaction times after being presented with threatening images. This means that your results are context-specific, and may not generalize to different real-life settings. You can evaluate how your choice of operationalization may have affected your results or interpretations in the discussion section. If you test a hypothesis using multiple operationalizations of a concept, you can check whether your results depend on the type of measure that you use. But a variable like sleep quality is harder to measure. Creativity, the number of uses for an object (e.g., a paperclip) that participants can come up with in 3 minutes.
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Examples of operationalization, overconfidence, the difference between how well people think they did on a test and how well they actually did ( overestimation ). After operationalizing your concepts, its important to report your study variables and indicators when writing up your methodology section. The process of turning abstract concepts into measurable variables and indicators is called operationalization. Null hypothesis: There is no relation between quality of sleep and night-time social media use in teenagers. Generally, abstract concepts can be operationalized in many different ways. Concept Variable Indicator Sleep Amount Average number of hours of sleep per night Quality Sleep activity tracker of sleep phases Social media behavior Frequency Number of logins during the day Preference Most frequently used social media platform Night-time.
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How to operationalize concepts There are 3 main steps for operationalization: Identify the main concepts you are interested in studying. These may include established scales or questionnaires that you can distribute to your participants. If your results dont vary when you use different measures, then they are said to be robust. Operationalization means turning abstract conceptual ideas into measurable observations. There are two main concepts in your research question: Sleep Social media behavior.
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It is used in many different contexts by academics, governments, businesses, and other organizations. Here's why students love Scribbr's proofreading services Trustpilot Discover proofreading editing Strengths of operationalization Operationalization makes it possible to consistently measure variables across different contexts. Customer loyalty Customer ratings on a questionnaire assessing satisfaction and intention to purchase again. Your choice of operational definition can sometimes affect your results. If none are available that are appropriate for your sample, you can develop your own scales or questionnaires. Objectivity A standardized approach for collecting data leaves little room for subjective or biased personal interpretations of observations. Operationalization reduces subjectivity and increases the reliability of your study. Reliability A good operationalization can be used consistently by other researchers. Through operationalization, you can systematically collect data on processes and phenomena that arent directly observable.
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Data collection is the systematic process by which observations or measurements are gathered in research. Based on your research interests and goals, define your topic and come up with an initial research question. This will highlight any gaps in the existing literature that your research study can fill. To measure night-time social media use, you create a questionnaire that asks participants to track how much time they spend using social media in bed. Concept Variables Sleep Amount of sleep Quality of sleep Social media behavior Frequency of social media use Social media platform preferences Night-time social media use To decide on which variables to use, review previous studies to identify the most relevant or underused variables. For example, the concept of social anxiety isnt directly observable, but it can be operationally defined in terms of self-rating scores, behavioral avoidance of crowded places, or physical anxiety symptoms in social situations. Operationalization means turning abstract concepts into measurable observations.