Individual Research Report

Individual Research Report

Individual Research Report

Use a large secondary dataset (e.g., ICPSR, PSID, GSS ) and develop the research project using that data. Develop a research question, develop a conceptual model with at least three independent variables, conduct the appropriate statistical analyses to test their hypotheses, and interpret the meaning of their results for policymakers or public administrators.

Worksheet for Class Paper Due: March 10

Class paper instructions Due: April 12


First: Worksheet for Class Paper instructions: Page 1-5

Name of Student:



Please enter the information indicated in the following boxes (answer the questions) and return this document to the course instructor, as indicated in the course syllabus and lesson.

Part 1 Introduction: Topic, Population, and Sample



What is the topic you want to conduct your research on? Why are you interested in it? (Summarize in a few sentences.)



What is the population of your study?




What is the sample of your study (how was the information collected from the sample?)





Part 2 Method: Model and Variables


What is your model? What is your dependent variable? What are your four independent variables? Here is an example.

     Independent variables                                             Dependent variable


Attendance of own children at public schools Opinion on the quality of public schools Race/Ethnicity 

Place of residence (inside or outside city)outside 









Fill out the following boxes for your own model. Variable must be named properly. Remember the rules for naming variables.

     Independent variables                                            Dependent variable












Part 3 Research Questions and Hypotheses


What is your research question (or research questions)?


Type your hypotheses here. You should construct one hypothesis for each dependent and independent variable pair. Follow the instructions on how to write hypotheses.


Hypothesis 1:




Hypothesis 2:




Hypothesis 3:





Hypothesis 4:







Part 4 Measurements: Database, Variables, and Operational Definition in the Database


What is the name of the database that has all your variables (one dependent and four independent variables) in it?


Type the link to the database here:


Note: We are recommending that you use either the General Social Survey database at the University of California at Berkeley’s Survey Documentation and Analysis Databases or the Panel Study of Income Dynamics at the University of Michigan). If you wish to use a different dataset, you need to seek the direct approval of the course instructor before completing this worksheet.



Variables and Operational Definitions in the Database


Enter the following information from your model above and the database you gathered the information from. If there is no relevant information, enter “N/A” in the cell.


Variable name


(These names are the ones you gave them.)

Variable type (dependent, independent)


(Identify the type of the variable here.)

Conceptual definition


(Conceptual definitions usually are not available in the dataset. Do your best to conceptually define each variable here. This is the link between the name and the operational definition. )

Operational definition (Procedure to measure/observe or the wording of the question asked in the survey)

Literature support for using this variable (Cite the sources that used this or a similar variable in their studies.)
































Final paper instructions (Due April 12)

Second: Class Paper instructions: Page 6-17





Step 1: Decide on your research topic and formulate your research question(s), model, and hypotheses. 3

Step 2: Find a suitable dataset for your analyses. 4

Step 3: Download Excel file with data. 4

Step 4: Open and get to know your data. 4

Step 5. Verify the accuracy of your data. 5

Step 6. Decide what statistical test to use and conduct your analyses. 5

Step 7. Report the analysis results. 5


A Brief Summary of the Contents of Each Section in a Research Paper 7








  • You will write a research paper based on your analyses of a set of variables that you will find in a secondary data set


  • In this assignment your aim should be to demonstrate that you have learned the concepts and procedures covered in the course and that you can apply them to specific cases. 


  • The maximum length allowed for this paper is 3,000 words (only the main text of the paper, excluding the title page and references). The paper should be double-spaced. You should use one of the common fonts (Times New Roman, Calibri) and 12-point font size. 


·       Read the annotated sample student paper at the course website as many times as necessary. This is a very important source of instructions and an example for you. If you have any questions, ask the course instructor.


  • When you write your paper, you should be clear, concise, and coherent in your writing (for details, see “Guidelines for Writing Class Papers” on the course website). 


  • Do not forget to include your name in your paper. 


  • Paginate your paper.


  • Upload your assignment to the Class Paper Submission in Canvas.



General Note


This guide will walk you through the process for doing your final paper, but Sage Research Methods also has an excellent resource that can guide you through developing a research project. On the bottom right of the Sage Research Methods site, you will see “Project Planner.” 



Step 1: Decide on your research topic and formulate your research question(s), model, and hypotheses.


See the course lessons information about this step.


For this example, we will use the following model. The data for this model can be found at the General Social Survey (GSS) database at the Berkeley website (see Step 2.)




Sex Opinion on space exploration expenditures 















·       Variables must be named properly.


·       Exact wording of the question asked in a questionnaire and the response categories are the operational definitions of the variable (see Lesson 1). 

·       You must identify the level of measurement of each variable correctly. This correct identification is necessary to be able to conduct analyses with correct tests (see Lesson 1).





·       Review the information in Lesson 3 carefully.


·       Remember that the way you should formulate a hypothesis depends on the level of measurement of a variable and the specific value categories in categorical variables (nominal and ordinal).


·       Every word you use in a hypothesis matters. Choose your words carefully and follow the rules listed in Lesson 3.



·       The hypothesis for the first independent variable and dependent variable pair in the model displayed above would be as follows.


Age                      Opinion on space exploration expenditures


“Older individuals are more likely to have a negative opinion about space exploration expenditures, compared to younger individuals.”




“As age increases, negative opinion on space exploration expenditures increases.”



Step 2: Find a suitable dataset for your analyses.


You should use either the GSS database, which contains a cumulative data file for all versions of the GSS since 1972, or the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID)


If you have another dataset that you would rather use for this assignment, you must have that approved by the instructor before completing and submitting the Paper Planning Sheet.


Step 3: Download Excel file with data.


There is a video in Lesson 2 for extracting data from the GSS and using it in Excel. Instructions for extracting data from PSID can be found at its Data Center. Make sure you download the data dictionary for your data or access the larger dictionary that is often published with the datasets.


Step 4: Open and get to know your data.


It is always important to get to know your data before jumping into analysis. You should be able to determine a few things from the files you downloaded. First, the sample size will be the number of rows of data that you are using. Note that not every observation has complete data for each variable that you decide to use, so your sample size may vary depending on the analysis you are conducting. It is important to know both the overall sample size (meaning all of the data you have downloaded) and the specific sample size (n) that you have for any statistics you estimate.


The top row should include variable names. If not, you can create them!


You can determine the operationalization of your variables with the codebook. It is very important to understand how your variables were measured and if any values were assigned for “missing,” “don’t know,” “no answer,” etc. As the course discusses, including these values instead of making them truly missing (i.e., blank) in Excel will mess up any analysis you perform with your data. Calculating some quick contingency tables for each variable can be useful for figuring out how many of these values exist.



Step 5. Verify the accuracy of your data.


Calculating descriptive statistics (Lesson 4) and plotting your data (Lesson 5) will help you identify possible problems in your data set (e.g., outliers or extreme values that may skew the results). If you find any problems, you should try to fix them and report what you did in your paper. If they are not fixable, report in your paper that you encountered these problems but could not fix them and discuss how they may affect the results of your analyses. Sometimes it is appropriate to eliminate extreme values before the analyses, for example (see Lesson 11 for a discussion of outliers and linear regression).


Step 6. Decide what statistical test to use and conduct your analyses.


This decision depends on the levels of measurement (scale/ordinal/nominal) of your dependent and independent variables. You should remember all the information that was presented in the course lessons and the relevant book chapters to make the correct decisions about the levels of measurement of your variables. Once you decide which test to use, run the analysis in your chosen statistical software (e.g., Excel).


If the findings are statistically significant, then calculate the measure of association. Refer to Lessons 6–12 to review all the methods we have learned in PADM 504.


Step 7. Report the analysis results.


Present the findings of the analyses for all the hypotheses. The sample paper will provide a complete guide on how to present these findings. Try to replicate the sample paper for structure and content presentation. Keep your research as simple and straightforward as possible. Once you become more skilled, you can conduct complex studies in the future.


See the following research paper outline. This will help you organize your paper.


After drafting your paper, use the following checklist to verify that you have done all that is required for this assignment.







Your paper should include the following sections and components.


Title Page


a)                   Title of the report

b)                  Name(s) of the author(s)

c)                   Institutional affiliation(s) of the author(s)

d)                  Names of the course and professor (for student papers); or name, date, and location of the conference at which paper is to be presented


I.                    Introduction


a)                   Purpose of the study, research question(s), and their significance

b)                  Theory or model (expected relationships between variables and reasons

for those expectations)

c)                   Literature review (discussion of previous research as it relates to the

theory or model; organize your literature discussion around key variables) [refer to Lesson 5]

              d)           Hypothesis or hypotheses [refer to Lesson 3]


II.                  Method(s)

(Information about this can be obtained from the data source website and data codebook.)


a)                   Research design (experimental, survey, etc.)

b)                  Description of data collection procedures, operationalization of variables (e.g., survey questions, description of experimental procedures)

c)                   Sample selection, participants, recruitment, etc.

d)                  Data analysis methods [refer to Lessons 6–12 based on the choice of your technique]


III.                Results


a)                   Descriptive statistics, sample characteristics (frequency tables, range of values, means, standard deviations, etc.) [refer to Lesson 4]

b)                  Reliability and validity tests

c)                   Relationships between variables [refer to Lesson 6–12]


IV.                Discussion, Conclusion(s), and/or Recommendation(s)


a)                   Interpretation of the results

b)                  Limitations of the research

c)                   Policy implications

d)                  Suggestions for future research


V.                  References


VI.                Appendix or Appendices (if applicable)

A Brief Summary of the Contents of Each Section in a Research Paper


This section introduces the topic. It provides background about the research topic in general in the beginning and develops the research objective. I typically think of the introduction as a funnel. It starts with a broader framing of the topic and then narrows towards the more specific focus of the current study and then finishes with a brief outline of the paper.

A literature review is presented in this section. Literature reviews are conducted to share the existing knowledge on the topic. The author should identify the gaps in the literature. This identification leads to the presentation of research questions that the report is intended to address. Note that many longer form research papers will have separate literature review and/or theory sections that come after the introduction.

The three types of literature reviews are the following:

1.       Present previous research in chronological order.

2.       Organize discussion around key variables (use this model for your papers).

  1. Organize discussion around theoretical approaches.

Note:In your class papers organize your literature discussion around key variables (number 2 in the list above). See the sample student paper at the course website for an example of this literature review type.


This section contains details on the data collection process. Information presented includes

  • sampling,
  • operational definitions of variables,
  • procedures of data collection, and
  • data analysis methods used.


This section is where the findings are presented. The first paragraph indicates briefly what the major findings are and how they are organized. Next, a detailed description of the findings is presented. Make sure to present important findings in a way that readers are not overwhelmed. Use tables and graphs for clarity of presentation.

Discussion, Conclusion(s), and/or Recommendation(s)

This section contains specific recommendations that have been developed based on findings.





Make sure that you have answered the following questions satisfactorily once you are ready to submit your paper for grading at the end of the semester.



ü  Is relevant scholarly (academic, peer-reviewed) literature cited in the paper?


ü  Is the literature cited directly relevant to the topic? Are sources cited related to the (dependent and independent) variables used in the study?


ü  Are the variables named properly (e.g., “income” vs. “opinions on income distribution”)?


ü  Are hypotheses formulated properly (levels of measurement, etc.)?


ü  Are the analyses conducted consistent with the hypotheses (levels of measurement, categories of variables that are analyzed)?


ü  Are proper statistical analyses conducted (tests appropriate for levels of measurement; specific options like Pearson’s chi-square, linear-by-linear, etc.)


ü  Are the results of the tests used interpreted correctly (significance level, measures of association, etc.)?


ü  Are the tables interpreted correctly (percentages, etc.)?


ü  Are the results presented in the results section, without discussion or speculation?


ü  Are the results interpreted properly and is their relevance discussed in the discussion section?


ü  General/Stylistic Issues:


§  Is the paper written clearly and coherently?


o   Are sentences clear? Are there any awkward, grammatically incorrect, or semantically problematic sentences?

o   Are paragraphs constructed properly?


§  Are the materials used described, summarized, or discussed in their proper sections (introduction, methods, results, and discussion)?


§  Are there any unnecessary or irrelevant sentences or paragraphs in the paper?


§  Is a citation style (APA, Chicago, or MLA) used and used properly and consistently?


§  Are the references listed properly (according to the style guidelines adopted by the author: APA, Chicago, or MLA)?


§  Does the paper exceed the page limit?