A research question is a highly focused question that addresses one concept or component of the hypothesis whereas the hypothesis itself is used to state the relationship between two variables.
The purpose of the study I am undertaking is to present non-experimental research and analysis on how an employee’s relationship with their supervisor(s) has an effect on overall morale. To this end, the central research question is “what effect does the supervisory environment in the workplace on overall employee morale?" While it should be noted that this is a topic that is still undergoing refinement and fine-tuning, the supporting, the supporting questions, that may be integrated with this still-broad research question will include more specific issues, for instance, “are incentives more valuable than a positive relationship with a supervisor in terms of motivating employees" or, as another example, “how does environment shape leadership styles?" The research question is one that can provide basis for an argument and some of the supporting questions lead to more focused answers to that question.
Historical – A historical method involves an attempt to recreate the past objectively and accurately, often in relation to the tenability of a hypothesis. This method is often highly reliant on the work and/or observations of others and involves “detective work" (Isaac 45) as the researcher pieces together evidence to support the hypothesis. In gathering this evidence, the researcher must be diligent in making sure there is integrity in the data used through a systematic and disciplined approach to the primary and secondary sources, which provide the material. This method has much in common with a critical review of literature as it addresses many materials as the source of support for the hypothesis, with an internal and external critical structure that examines issues related to (and not limited to) motivations of the authors, limitations to the study, and other aspects of contamination to the materials used.
Descriptive – As its name suggests, this requires accurately presenting a full description of facets and features of the topic of interest or the population in question. Unlike many other forms of research methodologies, description is limited in that it does not make attempts to draw connections, parallels, and form predictions; it merely describes or makes a full compilation of the issue at hand. These can include reports, surveys, and other data that can be collected, analyzed and accurately and without conjecture or the need for argument, described.
Developmental – These studies examine patterns and trends that demonstrate growth, declines, or general change across time. It examines not only the patterns and associated correlations between time and the declines or patterns of growth, but also looks at rates of change, general trends, and the factors that prompt the changes. These can include longitudinal and cross-section studies as well as more general developmental/change over time studies.
Case and Field – As Isaac most succinctly puts it, these studies seek “to study intensively the background, current status, and environmental interactions of a given social unit: an individual, group, institution, or community" (49). Case and field studies take a broad approach to their subject and seek to explore nearly every facet that has any influence on the subject, from a detailed history to an exhaustive analysis of the environment or context. While this is ideal for a broad examination of topic as it can allow for chronological structure, it can also be streamlined to fit with a narrowed-down hypothesis and become a highly detailed study of one sole issue. Isaac notes that despite the similarity between the two, a survey study looks at many variables across a small sample, whereas a case and field study is large in scope, encompassing numerous variables and possibilities.
Correlational – Correlational studies examine how variations across factors correspond to one other with the basis being on correlation coefficients. This is a valuable format for a study that seeks to examine many variables and relationships at once and is used for complex studies with large amounts of data to synthesize. It allows for a more nuanced set of results that does not simply prove or disprove something, but demonstrates the nuances by showing how far or distantly related (or not) variables are. It should be noted that this method tends to ignore cause and effect relationships and lends itself to ambiguous results.
Cause-Comparative or “Ex Post Facto" – This method seeks to define potential causal relationships by observation and then research into the factors that might lead to this cause and effect paradigm. One of the most important aspects of this research is that it relies upon data that has been formulated after all events in question are complete and requires the researcher to go back to prior studies or data to look for relationships, connections, and conclusions.
True Experimental – This type of study examines causal relationships through experimental and control groups; the experimental group receives the treatment (or other application) while the control, to test for effectiveness, for example, does not get this treatment/application. Random assignment is a crucial component to research of this type.
Quasi-Experimental – To approximate the conditions of the true experiment in a setting which does not allow the control and/or manipulation of all relevant variables. The researcher must clearly understand what compromises exist in the internal and external validity of his design and proceed within these limitations.
Action – “To develop new skills or new approaches and to solve problems with direct application to the classroom or other applied setting".. In essence, this is research with an immediate practical application.
My research methodology will be causal-comparative/Ex Post Facto, which will allow me to explore the relationship between how environment affects a leadership style and/or the supplemental issues of what impact a supervisor has on overall morale. Since the events have already transpired, I will go back through the data and, using external sources that explore similar possible connections, attempt to draw upon parallels that do or do not exist, depending on the final results.