The theoretical discipline of philosophy is broken down into five facets. (1) Logic, that details the rules of an argument, and distinguishing valid from invalid forms of argument; (2) Ethics, and its distinction between right and wrong, good or evil, moral or immoral; (3) Epistemology, which is the nature of knowledge, what it is, how we know, and what is the truth? (4) Aesthetic, that takes into account the nature of beauty and art; and (5) Metaphysics, reality and what we consider to be real, and does it exists? What does it mean to say that something exists or does not exist? How can we refer to something that does not exist?
To satisfy the requirements of completing the discipline of philosophy and other disciplines at Northcentral University, Doctoral students must prepare a dissertation. Part of the dissertation process is to inquire and solve a hypothesis using some form of research method. This paper compares and contrasts NCU’s concept paper requirements for qualitative and or quantitative papers.
Both qualitative and quantitative concept designs share design elements. Sampson (2012) states that a good or enriched qualitative and or quantitative concept paper is a product of forethought. Northcentral University (NCU) provides its Doctoral students with writing resources that are not limited to the concept template to enhance their knowledge about the development of their dissertations.
Primarily, qualitative and quantitative papers should always have a title, a table of content, an introduction, problem statement, the purpose of the study, and research questions (Northcentral University – School of Education, 2010). Secondly, the concept paper should also offer a hypothesis, define key terms, offer literature reviews, and provide research methods used in the paper (Northcentral University – School of Education, 2010). Moreover, any concept paper should always specify data collection methods and analysis and offer an operational definition of variables. Additionally, the concept paper should provide measurable variables used and a summary of the report. Lastly, the concept paper should always provide a list of references, bibliographies, and annotated bibliography whenever possible.
Different elements of the concept paper should be specific as per the Northcentral University’s requirements. The introduction section should not exceed two paragraphs; the researcher should provide a brief description of the research topic and use scholarly resources to support his or her ideas (Northcentral University, 2013). Still under the introduction, the researcher should provide the statement of the research problem; the researcher should use current not older than 5 years from time of publication scholarly resources to support his or her arguments (Northcentral University, 2013). The introduction section should also provide one paragraph description of the purpose of the study; the purpose statement provides the goal of the study.
The purpose statement should also reflect the research questions, the research design, the participants and data sources used, and the geographic position of the study (Northcentral University, 2013). The introduction section should further highlight the research question. Qualitative research questions should match the purpose statement and be open-ended. Qualitative research questions should reflect the qualitative research design. On the other hand, quantitative research questions should be testable, specific, and be directly answerable based on experimental/research data. Nonetheless, the researcher should decide on the research methodology he/she is going to use and state it in the purpose statement as early as possible. This would allow for unique style and choice of component for a specific design.
The quantitative research methodologies demand the inclusion of sample sizes and the definition of variables that are used in the research. The researcher should align the sample size to the purpose and the objectives to be met in the long-run. The researcher should identify and associate each variable with research questions and hypotheses (Northcentral University, 2013). The paper should further have a brief description of how each variable will operate in the research. However, the descriptions should be based on reliable and valid published research materials such as peer reviewed journal articles (Northcentral University, 2013).
In addition, the introduction section should also provide a hypothesis sub-section. The hypothesis sub-section for quantitative research design should correspond to the research question (Northcentral University, 2013). The hypothesis for the quantitative paper must be presented in a testable, but potentially negatable form with each of its variables operationalized (Northcentral University, 2013). Lastly, the introduction may have a subjection meant for definition of core terms. Nonetheless, the definition of core terms is optional for both qualitative and quantitative concept papers. In other words, both qualitative and quantitative concept papers may or may not have a “definition of key terms” sub-heading in the introduction.
Qualitative and quantitative designs often differ in their data collection/study. Qualitative research uses words and point of view of the research subjects (participants) (Bryman, 2012). However, in qualitative research designs, the research uses words to isolate the main points of view of the research subjects. In other words, qualitative research designs encourage direct contact between the researcher and participants during the study. Flexibility is important in qualitative research designs because the researcher should always ascertain the context of the observations that is made. As such, qualitative research designs require the research to conduct investigations in the participants’ natural settings.
On the contrary, the researcher may use numbers to measure the variables in quantitative research designs. Quantitative research often originates from the researcher’s point of view; however, the researcher uses numbers or codes to distance himself/herself from the variables. The researcher further uses theory to inform the research method; the researcher mixes theory and data to make meaning out of the codes or numbers. In most cases, quantitative research design is only applicable in artificial settings; the research process in such cases is often static. As such, quantitative research deigns are meant to generate generalizations about a given theory in the context of a particular context (Bryman, 2012). In other words, quantitative approach often manipulates variables in the context of certain condition to convey change as defined by a particular theoretical framework.
However, qualitative and quantitative research designs are similar in a number of ways. First and foremost, both methods employ reductionist method in their interaction with data (Bryman, 2012). As such, the researcher collects large volumes of data which he/she reduces to a reasonable format for interpretation. Secondly, qualitative and quantitative research designs demand the use of research questions to guide the research process. Thirdly, quantitative and qualitative research designs should have a strong correlation with the available literature (Bryman, 2012). Researchers using qualitative and quantitative approaches should focus on the variations exemplified in the literature. As such, qualitative and quantitative research designs are meant to reveal feelings, facts, similarities, and differences in order to support or reject a certain theory. The variations determine the conclusions that are made by the researcher (Bryman, 2014). In other words, researchers using quantitative and/or qualitative research designs conduct literature reviews to enable other researchers realize the importance of the study.
The discussion component of the concept paper should always identify the concept or idea studied. The discussion for qualitative research method should use a single idea and or phenomenon, idea or concept (Northcentral University, 2010). The researcher should also define and specify the population he/she is studying. For example, qualitative studies may offer description about the number of participants as well as their geographical location.
Qualitative studies should exploit interview guide. The researcher should describe the type of interview he or she is using and provide a sample of questions used in the research. In other words, the researcher should avail enough information to prevent duplication of the research conducted by other individuals or readers (Northcentral University, 2010).
In conclusion, concept papers applying qualitative and or quantitative research approaches adhere to the standards set by NCU. The institution often offers the concept paper template to help Doctoral students improve their skills in writing dissertation. Qualitative and quantitative research designs are similar in outline, but unique in the way they approach the research process. The major difference between qualitative and quantities research approaches is in the treatment of variables and data collection. Qualitative approaches use the participants’ words and feelings to generate conclusions; the research is set in natural settings. However, quantitative research approaches often manipulate numbers and codes in the participants’ unnatural settings to determine researcher’s conclusions. Northcentral University expects Doctoral students to be familiar with the differences and similarities of either qualitative and or quantitative research approaches when writing their final dissertations.
Bryman, A. (2012). Social research methods. 4th Ed. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Northcentral University – School of Education. (2010). Best practices for concept paper development. Version 1.0, released Dec, 2010
North Central University. (2013). Ph. D. degree concept paper template. Version: January 2013.
Northcentral University. (2010). Best practices for concept paper development. School of Education Resources: Concept Paper Best Practices. Retrieved 28 April, 2014 from http://learners.ncu.edu/ncu_diss/default.aspx?attendance=Y
Sampson, J. P. Jr. (2012). A guide to quantitative and qualitative dissertation research. Educational Psychology and Learning Systems Faculty Publications. Retrieved 28 April, 2014 from http://diginole.lib.fsu.edu/edpsy_faculty_ publications/1