Review Paper, Technical Approaches & Proposal

In the process of reviewing the academic paper a few weeks ago for assignment 3, I encountered quite a few new terms relating research methods that I was not familiar with. The first is an approach to define your data set prior to conducting research. The second is an analysis approach used to determine themes from the data collected. I believe that both require specialized computer software, which may not be something that we can easily apply to independent student research. However, given that we need to explore analysis approaches for the proposal assignment, I thought I would share my understanding of the techniques I encountered in this paper.

"Factor Analysis" :

My understanding of this technique is that it is a mathematical process of separating a small set of variables from a much larger data set, which are loosely connected, in order to scale-down your possible elements of comparison and analysis. Once a smaller set is indexed, it is easier to measure and analyze the similar components ... What I have read about the process indicates that there are two approaches to doing a factor analysis. The first is what is deemed 'exploratory' and applies to a researcher that does not have any preconceptions about how many 'dimensions' will be determined from the set of variables. The second approach is 'confirmatory.' This approach applies to a researcher who already has an idea of how many dimensions they wish to define, but needs to verify this through the factor analysis.

This analysis was done through the use of speciality computer software designed for the purpose. I wonder if such an approach could be suggested in our proposals even if we do not have access to this software? Or is the same term applied to the approach of it is somehow done manually?

The second “approach” I encountered was the implementation of what was simply called “qualitative data analysis software.” The researcher used a software model to input the transcripts of interviews and determine themes that arise throughout the text. Due from the lack of detailed offered in the paper regarding the technicalities of this process, it seems curious. Maybe the term is only referring to the same approach we have discussed in class - the researcher created an excel spreadsheet and determined the themes based on a visual representation? Or is there a miracle program that exists that will determine the trends in your research data for you? If so, I think this is the way to go! How accurate the results from this would be is definitely up for debate. Regardless, I thought I would share what I encountered in case anyone is stuck on exploring different approaches for their proposal and would like to look into these approaches further.

Good luck to everyone with their proposals!


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