Draft Description of Target Population
In this section of the methodology, you will describe the study participants, how they provide data, how they will be recruited into the study, and any ethical considerations important to the planning of the proposed investigation.
Write your research question at the top of the post. Include the following sections:
- Describe identifying characteristics and number of individuals, dyads, groups, or units in the study.
- Describe your inclusion and exclusion criteria.
- Describe your recruitment strategy.
- Describe your sampling strategy.
- Describe ethical considerations pertinent to the protection of subject or participant vulnerabilities.
- When writing about the target population, imagine that you are trying to convince a panel of experts to fund your proposed research. Have you thought about contingencies regarding the nature of the population? Do you have criteria that will support your effort to get data that is clean, free of unnecessary variables or distractions? For instance, if you are collecting data from single mothers, will it help or hinder your study to include single mothers who have a history of major depression? This kind of decision making characterizes the planning of inclusion and exclusion strategies.
- Quantitative and qualitative studies have different sampling designs: randomized sampling strategies are typically quantitative; purposive strategies are typically qualitative. Be sure that you know which strategies suit your research question.
- Recruitment refers to how participants are invited into the study. Explain your plans in a way that other researchers could follow; if the study is quantitative, others should be able to replicate your study like a recipe. If the study is qualitative, the goal is to provide a trail of evidence that another researcher could follow. The trail is presented as a resource that takes subsequent researchers through the steps that led to interpretations of findings.
- Ethical considerations are built on the principle that a researcher must do no harm. Privacy needs of participants, including secure data storage, must be addressed. Depending on the type of research planned, contingencies must be considered. Employees’ jobs must not be jeopardized; pseudonyms are recommended and other support strategies may be needed.