scholar must review similar studies that have been conducted which relate to those research questions. Known as a literature review, this research is essential to providing a clearer understanding of where the gaps in the current literature lie, as well as what previous studies have revealed about the topic across a wide range of variables. The literature review will therefore help guide the scholar toward developing a research design that is unique and adds something of value to the chosen topic. For example, if the scholar has decided to use the research question: "How do mudslinging political campaigns affect voter apathy?" he will need to come up with specific variables that will make the research unique. By examining previous literature, the scholar can begin to identify areas where more research is needed. So if, perhaps, the majority of the studies done on this topic focus on urban adults 25-49, the scholar can use these as a guide, but then make his own study about a less discussed group, such as the rural elderly.
The sources that are chosen for the literature review should be studies published in scholarly, peer-reviewed publications. Books by experts are also acceptable, but in general, websites and encyclopedias are not. Also, with the exception of classical theories and experiments, the sources used should be no later than 5-10 years old, depending on the topic. Technologically-oriented studies need to be even more up-to-date because technology changes so rapidly.
A literature review differs from an article report in the sense that instead of merely listing the sources and then providing brief descriptions of each article's content, the literature review integrates the findings into a comprehensive presentation. It also includes the scholar's critical review of the articles, such as areas where the research was lacking validity or generalizability. The literature review may also include other researchers' published critiques of the articles being reviewed, and the scholar may critically comment upon those assessments as well.
Ultimately, the literature review will provide a critical look at studies that have been performed within the topic area. The scholar will integrate his findings within the literature review itself, as well as within the other aspects of the study design. The findings of the literature review can then later be compared to the findings of the scholar's primary research, so that patterns, discrepancies and needs for further research can be identified.
Essay Question Two:
Validity is a critical aspect of any research study. In its most general sense, validity refers to the extent which a measurement tool (for example, a self-assessment survey) measures what it was intended to measure. In other words, are the questions relevant to the purpose of the instrument? Validity, in conjunction with reliability serve the purpose of establishing credibility.
There are two types of validity with which scholars need to be concerned. These are: internal validity and external validity. Internal validity refers to the level to which true causality is achieved. In other words, it measures how accurate a causation statement between the dependent and independent variables is likely to be. The internal validity of a study is strongest when both the measure of the dependent and independent variables is reliable, and when a strong justification exists for the causal link between the dependent and the independent variable. One of the biggest threats to internal validity is rival hypotheses.
External validity is measured by the study's ability to be generalized to other populations other than the actual experimental and control groups. It is primarily concerned with inferences about how well the findings of the study can be applied to other populations in different settings. One of the biggest threats to external validity is changing the variables.
Threats to external validity are difficult to control because the moment one alters one of the variables (i.e., time, place, and demographics) he takes the chance of altering how that variable will affect the outcome. Internal validity is easier to control because the more superfluous variables that are ruled out, the stronger the causal link (and in turn, the internal validity) is…