From Theory to Empirical Research

The ‘typical’ structure of quantitative research 57 From theory to hypotheses 59 From concepts to variables 64 Units of analysis 66 Variables 68 Nominal, ordinal and interval variables 70 Concepts, indicators and indexes 75 Total error 78 A final note: reliability and validity 81 The central topic of this chapter is operationalization – that is, the transformation of theoretical hypotheses into empirical research operations. The meaning of ‘theory’, ‘hypothesis’ and ‘concept’ are clarified. Then the notion of variable – a key theme in empirical social research – is introduced, and the various types of variable are described. Finally, the chapter addresses the general issue of errors which inevitably occur along the road from theory to empirical research. Before going into the details of the individual research techniques, it is advisable to provide a general picture of the logical structure of the entire process of empirical research and the stages into ...

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