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Research Methods in Africana Studies | Revised Edition


Serie McDougal III

The revised edition of Research Methods in Africana Studies is a major contribution to the discipline of Africana studies and social science involving people of African descent in general. The first edition was the first of its kind, offering instruction on how to conduct culturally relevant critical research on Africana communities in the American context, in addition to the African diaspora. The revised edition contains a collection of the most widely used theories and paradigms designed for exploring, explaining, and advancing Africana communities through science. The relevance, strengths, and weaknesses of every major method of data collection are explained as they relate to the lived experiences of the Black world. It stands alone as the only textbook that details empirical methods in the service of the collective advancement of Africana peoples.

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Chapter 5: Choosing a Topic, Writing a Question, Reviewing the Literature


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You may have heard someone ask the question, “What is your research question?” The answer is critical. Novice researchers may struggle against the temptation to begin by saying something to the effect of “I want to prove that. …” It is enticing, I know—the chance to achieve some desired outcome and prove that you were right all along. This is the wrong way to begin a research project! You should never, ever, ever begin a research project with the intention of trying to prove something. This self-centered way of thinking will lead you into a swamp of roadblocks to critical thought, taking away the validity and reliability of your work. What is the benefit of reading about how some researcher went about attempting to prove a preconception? Even a hypothesis or educated guess is not certain. A researcher who begins with a hypothesis wants to find out whether or not it is true, not to prove that he or she was right all along. A professional researcher never begins with a conclusion. Instead, your objective is to answer a question and let the chips fall where they may. Not just any question—a question with an answer that could conceivably bring clarity to a challenge, illuminate a new way of thinking, or provide a solution to a problem.

Africana Studies’ mission centralizes three things: academic excellence, social responsibility, and cultural grounding...

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