MPA thesis questions

Purpose of the
Study 2-3 pages

Limitations
of the Study 1-2 pages 

Purpose of The Study

 
What and why you
wish to pursue this topic.

 
A. “The purpose
statement should provide a specific and accurate synopsis of the overall
purpose of the study” (Locke, Spirduso, & Silverman, 1987, p. 5). If the
purpose is not clear to the writer, it cannot be clear to the reader.

 
B. Briefly define
and delimit the specific area of the research. You will revisit this in greater
detail in a later section.

 
C. Foreshadow the
hypotheses to be tested or the questions to be raised, as well as the
significance of the study. These will require specific elaboration in
subsequent sections.

 
D. Key points to
keep in mind when preparing a purpose statement.

 
1. Try to
incorporate a sentence that begins with “The purpose of this study is . .
.”This will clarify your own mind as to the purpose and it will inform the
reader directly and explicitly.

 
2. Clearly
identify and define the central concepts or ideas of the study. Some committee
Chairs prefer a separate section to this end. When defining terms, make a
judicious choice between using descriptive or operational definitions.

 
3. Identify the
specific method of inquiry to be used.

 
4. Identify the
unit of analysis in the study.

Limitations of The Study

 
All studies
have limitations
. However, it is
important that you restrict your discussion to limitations related to the
research problem under investigation. For example, if a meta-analysis of
existing literature is not a stated purpose of your research, it should not be
discussed as a limitation. Do not apologize for not addressing issues that
you did not promise to investigate in your paper.

 
Here are examples
of limitations you may need to describe and to discuss how they possibly
impacted your findings. Descriptions of limitations should be stated in the
past tense.

Possible Methodological
Limitations

 
Sample size — the number of the units of analysis you use in your
study is dictated by the type of research problem you are investigating. Note
that, if your sample size is too small, it will be difficult to find
significant relationships.from
the data, as statistical tests normally require a larger sample size to ensure
a representative distribution of the population and to be considered
representative of groups of people to whom results will be generalized or
transferred.

 
Lack
of available and/or reliable data
— a lack of data or of reliable data will likely require you
to limit the scope of your analysis, the size of your sample, or it can be a
significant obstacle in finding a trend and a meaningful relationship. You need
to not only describe these limitations but to offer reasons why you believe
data is missing or is unreliable. However, do not just throw up your hands in
frustration; use this as an opportunity to describe the need for future
research.

 
Lack
of prior research studies on the topic
— citing prior research studies forms the basis of your
literature review and helps lay a foundation for understanding the research
problem you are investigating. Depending on the currency or scope of your
research topic, there may be little, if any, prior research on your topic. Before assuming this to be true, consult
with a librarian!
In cases when a
librarian has confirmed that there is a lack of prior research, you may be
required to develop an entirely new research typology [for example, using an
exploratory rather than an explanatory research design]. Note that this
limitation can serve as an important opportunity to describe the need for
further research.

 
Measure used
to collect the data
— sometimes it
is the case that, after completing your interpretation of the findings, you
discover that the way in which you gathered data inhibited your ability to
conduct a thorough analysis of the results. For example, you regret not
including a specific question in a survey that, in retrospect, could have
helped address a particular issue that emerged later in the study. Acknowledge
the deficiency by stating a need in future research to revise the specific
method for gathering data.

 
Self-reported
data
— whether you are relying on
pre-existing self-reported data or you are conducting a qualitative research
study and gathering the data yourself, self-reported data is limited by the
fact that it rarely can be independently verified. In other words, you have to
take what people say, whether in interviews, focus groups, or on
questionnaires, at face value. However, self-reported data contains several
potential sources of bias that should be noted as limitations: (1) selective
memory (remembering or not remembering experiences or events that occurred at
some point in the past); (2) telescoping [recalling events that occurred at one
time as if they occurred at another time]; (3) attribution [the act of
attributing positive events and outcomes to one’s own agency but attributing
negative events and outcomes to external forces]; and, (4) exaggeration [the
act of representing outcomes or embellishing events as more significant than is
actually suggested from other data].

Possible Limitations of the
Researcher

 
Access — if your study depends on having access to people,
organizations, or documents and, for whatever reason, access is denied or
otherwise limited, the reasons for this needs to be described.

 
Longitudinal
effects
— unlike your professor, who
can literally devote years [even a lifetime] to studying a single research
problem, the time available to investigate a research problem and to measure
change or stability within a sample is constrained by the due date of your
assignment. Be sure to choose a topic that does not require an excessive amount
of time to complete the literature review, apply the methodology, and gather
and interpret the results. If you are unsure, talk to your professor.

Cultural
and other type of bias
— we all have biases, whether we are conscience
of them or not. Bias occurs when a person, place, or thing is viewed or shown
in a consistently inaccurate way. It is usually negative, though one can have a
positive bias as well. When proofreading your paper, be especially critical in
reviewing how you have stated a problem, selected the data to be studied, what
may have been omitted, and the manner in which you have ordered events.
Consider how you have chosen to represent a person, place or thing, to name a
phenomenon, or to use possible words with a positive or negative connotation.
Note that if you detect bias in prior research, it must be acknowledged and you
should explain what measures were taken to avoid perpetuating bias.

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