PARAMETERS IN DEPTH

The choices you make in one parameter may reduce your options in the other parameters. In order to understand this system better, let's look at each parameter in a little greater depth.

GENERAL APPROACH
Synthetic
(Holistic)
Analytic
(Constituent)

A synthetic approach to research looks at the research question or topic from a holistic point of view. The researcher tries to understand the parts of the problem by looking at the whole. An analytic approach to research would look at a topic from a constituent point of view. The researcher tries to understand the whole phenomenon by looking at the separate parts.

RESEARCH AIM
Deductive
(Hypothesis
Testing)
Heuristic
(Hypothesis
Generating)

The deductive approach is driven by a particular hypothesis. The researcher has a specific, focused statement in mind and his/her objective is to prove or disprove that specific hypothesis. A heuristic approach starts with few preconceived notions or hypotheses about the focus of the research. The researcher observes a phenomenon in order to generate questions or hypotheses for subsequent research.

CONTROL OVER THE RESEARCH CONTEXT
Low
High

A low degree of control would exist in a situation where the researcher does little to affect the context in which the research is carried out. The researcher may observe classes that are already set up. The researcher does not introduce any kind of treatment to the testing group. In a study with high control, the researcher manipulates the research context in various ways. The researcher could choose and arrange the groups to be tested, or a specific treatment could be administered to the subjects.

EXPLICITNESS OF DATA COLLECTION PROCEDURES
Low
High

Many kinds of data are collected by language researchers. Sometimes the data collection procedures or instruments are relatively "loose" or open. Subjects have more latitude in the ways they can respond. Also, there is more room for the personal judgements of the researcher to enter in. Other data-collection procedures or instruments are highly explicit. They follow carefully controlled, objective procedures which allow for little variation in subjects' responses or researchers' interpretations.