developing a conceptual framework
Experience suggests that when developing the research questions it is very beneficial to also diagram the problem or topic. This is often called a conceptual framework. According to Miles and Huberman (1994), “A conceptual framework explains, either graphically or in narrative form [diagrams are much preferred], the main things to be studied - the key factors, constructs or variables - and the presumed relationships among them” (p. 18). A diagram of the topic is literally worth more than 10,000 words. The task here is to create a diagram of the topic that includes clearly defined variables (independent, dependent, etc.) along with the relationships of those variables and key factors that influence the variables and the relationships. This task is often done in conjunction with the development of the research questions and it is an iterative process.
(Second from the top - right side bar)
- Which factors do users and developers believe cause misunderstandings about the requirements for information systems?
- Which factors do users and developers believe have the most impact on misunderstandings?
- What is the difference between users’ and developers’ perceptions of these factors?
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Research Questions (selected):
- How does the level of employee involvement affect the level of employee empowerment?
- How does the level of employee empowerment affect the level of employee satisfaction?
- How does the level of employee satisfaction affect the level of intention to leave the company?
- How does job-type—hourly, salary non-management, engineers, and managers—affect the respective components or employee involvement, employee empowerment, and employee satisfaction?
(Bottom diagram - right side bar)
I will often use mind mapping to identify and explore the key variables, relationships, and contextual factors associated with my research project. Read more on mind mapping....
- Identify and graphically depict the key variables in the research questions.
- Identify and graphically depict the key relationships between the variables.
- Identify and graphically depict the key context factors.
- Support your discussion with solid peer-reviewed references.
- Miles, M. B. & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis: An expanded sourcebook (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage.