Welcome to the Research step! You will now design a study to answer your research question and draw original conclusions.
There are many ways to do research for a case study. Depending on your question, different types of research may be more appropriate than others.
Types of studies:
*A survey about garden use and location might be the best method of research if your question was “Where in my town would a community garden be most utilized?” Choose a population to study (ex. women, students, restaurants, etc.). Write questions for your participants that will inform your research question.
*A retrospective study might be a good idea if your question was “Do paper or plastic bags generate more greenhouse gases over their life cycle?” Look at other studies (reports, peer-reviewed papers, etc.) that have related questions and combine data from each to draw conclusions about your own question.
*An experiment might be the best option if your question was “How does pH level affect the rate of shell deterioration?” Get the proper materials to conduct an experiment. Set up different trials, changing the value or property of the independent variable. Measure the dependent variable in each trial.
*A cost-benefit analysis might be the best course of action if your question was “Is it more cost-effective to switch all our cities’ streetlights to LED bulbs immediately or as the current non-LED light bulbs burn out?” Compare the monetary, environmental, or social costs of each option by measuring all of your variables in a common unit. Analyze the options you are studying to identify the best one.
These are four common types of studies, but you may decide that none of these work for your research question. You should feel free to research other types of studies and/or design one that will work for you.
Now it is time to design a study to answer your question.
Use the Study Design Worksheet below to plan your research. We have included an example worksheet in the link "Example Variables and Study Design Worksheets" above and a blank one for you to fill out below.
Carry out your study and collect your data!
Now begin analyzing and interpreting your data.
You will need to organize the data you have collected and clearly show your results in order to draw conclusions. Your method of analysis will differ depending on the type of data you have collected. Graphs can be a really good tool to visually represent your findings so they are easier to interpret. Commonly used graphs are bar graphs, pie charts, and trend lines. Other analysis options include interpreting and tallying survey results, making a table to organize data, calculating statistics or percentages from your data, and observing patterns in your findings.
Look closely at the data you have analyzed. Does it make sense? Are you making any assumptions? Did you have a large enough sample size or data pool? Often, the first time you run a study, you will discover mistakes in your design. Studies typically need to be redesigned and repeated in order to be accurate. If you are not confident in your results, make changes to your study design and try it again!
Draw conclusions from your research. Use the information you found to answer your research question. Write a few sentences summarizing your findings, the process that led you to these findings, and what they mean.
Once you have your conclusions, move on to the Create Step.