Role of Research in Counseling

Introduction
The main purpose of this course is to help you become a critical consumer of research so you can read and evaluate the validity of studies found in the literature and draw upon this knowledge base in ways that inform your professional effectiveness. Learning about research methods in the social and behavioral sciences involves exploring the culture of research, including its language and standards of conduct. This will help you to better understand and evaluate the core theories, concepts, and practices that form the knowledge base in your profession. The activities in this course are designed to help you discover the connection between counseling research and your current or anticipated work in the field of counseling.
Research as a method of inquiry involves the systematic collection, organization, analysis, and interpretation of data to address a problem or question. In this course, you will conduct library research in order to review the literature on a topic of your choice as part of your Unit 9 Pre-Proposal Assignment. You will not be conducting a research study in this course. In this unit, you will explore the purpose of research, some of the key terms associated with research in the social sciences, and how to access and understand published research studies in the literature.
The Purpose of Research
The purpose of research is to answer relevant questions in a systematic and logical way, which moves the profession forward in ways that tradition and unsupported assumptions cannot. Basic research is used to build, test, or validate theory. Applied research serves a more immediate and practical role in a specific situation (Erford, 2015).
Empirical Research Articles
While there exists several types of articles in the scholarly, peer-reviewed journals, this course will focus on empirical studies, which are reports of original research. Not all peer-reviewed articles are empirical. If there is not a methodology section in the article, then it almost certainly is not an empirical article. Empirical articles typically take the following structure:
• Introduction: development of the problem under investigation, including its historical antecedents, and statement of the purpose of the investigation.
• Method: description of the procedures used to conduct the investigation.
• Results: report of the findings and analyses.
• Discussion: summary, interpretation, and implication of the results (APA Manual, 2010, p. 10).
The Quantitative and Qualitative Methodological Approaches
Quantitative and qualitative are two broad approaches to conducting research. One is not better than the other. They have different philosophical foundations, have their own rigorous procedures, and are used to answer very different types of research questions. Each broad methodological approach is associated with numerous specific research designs, several of which you will cover in this course.
Quantitative research uses data collection methods that result in numerical data, which are often translated into descriptive statistics, such as the mean, standard deviation, tallies, and frequencies, which may be presented in tables, charts, or graphs. In contrast, qualitative research is based on non-numerical data, most often words. For instance, the data resulting from interviews or direct observations would likely include written transcripts of the interviews and the written notes of the observer. Although numbers may be used to communicate demographic information such as the ages and incomes of participants, numbers are not used to answer the research question in qualitative studies.
Where Research Is Published: Scholarly Journals
Journals are periodicals devoted to publishing scholarly articles that have undergone a rigorous peer review, or juried, process. In this course, it is important to focus on empirical articles in the counseling fields that are from juried professional journals rather than non-juried sources such as government agencies and university reports. You will locate peer-reviewed journals through the Capella University Library, which offers access to several databases, including Academic Search Premier, LexisNexis, ERIC, PsycARTICLES, and others. With practice, you will become efficient at locating journal articles of interest.
Understanding Scholarly Articles
As a scholar-practitioner, an important part of your development is learning where different types of information are presented in the journal articles you read. Here is a summary of some of the key pieces of an article which will help you as you begin formulating your own pre-proposal in this course. In that pre-proposal, you will articulate a research purpose statement, research problem, and research question for a proposed study.
• The research purpose statement declares the intent of the study. An example is: The purpose of the study is to determine the effectiveness of computer-mediated counseling in treating depression.
• Problem statements indicate the gap in knowledge that the researcher seeks to examine. In other words, it identifies what is missing or unknown about a topic. An example is: Depression is a ubiquitous and multifaceted disorder contributing to reduced workforce productivity, less-than-ideal parenting, drains on public health resources as well as human suffering. Numerous counseling interventions exist for the treatment of depression, but there is insufficient research documenting the effect of computer-mediated counseling on reducing depressive symptoms.
• Research questions are more focused versions of the research problem. An example is: Does computer-mediated cognitive behavioral counseling reduce depression symptoms in clients? Together the problem statement and research question determine the methodological approach and research design a researcher uses.
• If a quantitative design is chosen, one or more hypotheses will be crafted to indicate the researcher’s educated guess as to the answer to the research question. An example is: Clients who experience computer-mediated cognitive behavioral counseling will score lower on the Beck Depression Inventory II.
References
American Psychological Association (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
Erford, B. T. (2015). Research and evaluation in counseling (2nd ed.). Stamford, CT: Cengage.
Objectives
To successfully complete this learning unit, you will be expected to:
1. Analyze the role of research in the counseling field.
2. Locate and review two peer-reviewed empirical journal articles.
3. Compose a research problem statement.

Learning Activities
Unit 1 Study 1
Counseling Research and Scholarly Journals
Readings
Use your Counseling Research: Quantitative, Qualitative, and Mixed Methods text to read the following:
• Chapter 1, “Contemporary Issues in Counseling Research,” pages 1–5.
• Chapter 2, “Getting Started,” pages 6–14.
• Chapter 3, “Reviewing the Literature,” pages 15–22.
Article Search
For your discussion question, you will identify two peer-reviewed articles about a topic of interest for your future professional goals.
NOTE: My future professional goals of study is Addiction counseling.

Discussion 1: 1 page needed with 350 words and two references.
Describing a Research Problem
Utilizing the introduction to this unit and text readings, describe a research problem that you are considering as the focus for your Pre-proposal Assignment. While it is too early to have necessarily identified a true gap in the literature, the two journal articles you located will stimulate your thinking about a possible research problem related to your topic of interest. While you may decide to modify your research problem later, this discussion assignment is the first step toward developing your course pre-proposal assignment. In the description of your research problem, be sure to:
• Explain why this is an important problem that deserves study.
• Cite two empirical journal articles to demonstrate that you have begun exploring the literature related to your topic.
• Cite the course text to demonstrate that you have incorporated an authoritative source on research methods.
• Describe how it might benefit you as a counselor if studies addressing this research problem were conducted.
NOTE: All discussion posts are expected to be written at a graduate level, be free from writing errors, follow Standard English grammar, and incorporate correct APA format for citations and references. The suggested length for this posting is 350.

 

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