Articulating a Question

Perhaps the most significant feature of research is the identification and articulation of a passionate and worthwhile question. Pacifica’s commitment to counseling and depth psychology makes special demands of students:

The Institute assumes that students’ research questions will grow out of important domains of their private and professional lives. Students are required to examine the autobiographical origins of their research questions and their predispositions or transferences to their topics.

The self-assessment involves both identifying and managing predispositions and transferences for the purpose of maximizing openness and minimizing distortion and bias. Another important aspect of articulating a question is establishing and clarifying its potential significance for the field of psychology. Developing a research question involves, first and foremost, establishing how the research question is germane.

Gathering Data Having selected a relevant research question, students’ next concern is to decide what kind of data they will draw upon to answer their questions. Psychological research is based on three general kinds of data: participant-based data, text-based data, and artsbased data. Participant-based data. Participant based data are data that are gathered directly from selected research participants, sometimes referred to as co-researchers. The particular kind of data provided by such participants depends on the research methodology. All participant-based studies deal with empirical data, that is, the actual, concrete responses in behavior, gesture, and language of real persons.

Naturally, because these data are obtained from the responses of human participants, all such studies must adhere to specific ethical procedures and guidelines established by The American Psychological Association, Pacifica Graduate Institute, and any other institution directly involved in the research project.

Two different kinds of data are used in participant-based studies: quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative data. Quantitative, participant-based data are generally used in studies designed, for example, to demonstrate the relationship between two or more psychological variables; to prove a specific psychological hypothesis; to compare similarities or differences between particular social, ethnic, or developmental populations; or to evaluate certain psychological interventions

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