MIN9902-V01-S121AssignmentsAssignment 4c: Identified Empirical Unknowns Submission
Summer 1 2021 – Full-term Courses
Assignment 4c: Identified Empirical Unknowns Submission
Due Jun 26 by 11:59pm Points 60 Submitting a file upload
Develop and write 3-4 Empirical Unknowns with the corresponding research context.
Empirical Unknowns: If precedent research is the homework which qualifies the researcher to address the dissertation-project topic, then empirical unknowns constitute the task to be engaged. Having identified what we already know about the topic (i.e., what already is known within the community of ministry scholarship, and thus by the well-qualified ministry researcher), the task becomes to identify and obtain that information which still is lacking–what we need to know. Experimental research deals with hypotheses, but descriptive and evaluative research is pursued best by identifying and addressing empirical unknowns.
When an appropriate topic has been defined, empirical unknowns can be identified by asking, “What does one still need to know in order to address this topic?” There may be several things one would like to know, but empirical unknowns relate to “need to know.” Thus, the statement of the research problem (i.e., the dissertation-project topic) disciplines the identification of empirical unknowns requisite to the problem.
Empirical unknowns identify areas of investigation related to specific concrete or theoretical contexts. As we bring the accumulated wisdom of the discipline field to those contexts, the research task is clarified (i.e., it becomes obvious what we still need to know). Depending on the nature of the research problem, the researcher may be required to reflect deeply and knowledgeably on the missiological or ministry context, on ministry theory, on biblical and theological understandings, on organizational (e.g., church or mission) history and structures, or on pertinent theory developed in cognate discipline fields. In doing so, he or she should ask, Does this identify an area of investigation related to the dissertation-project topic which, if explored, would enable one to address the research problem? A positive answer to that question indicates an empirical unknown.
Each empirical unknown should be framed as a separate question posed by the theological or theoretical foundations of the research, its missiological or ministry context, or from the nature of the topic itself. Statement of the empirical unknown should be introduced by summarizing the context out of which it arises. This is the function of the opening section of the dissertation. One-by-one, the contexts which give rise to each empirical unknown should be identified, leading to a statement of the empirical unknown. Presentation of the context should be succinct, yet sufficiently full to enable the reader to recognize the relevance and importance of the unknown.
The concept empirical unknown may be new but the term is descriptive: An empirical unknown is, first of all, empiricali.e., it can be observed and measured. Furthermore, an empirical unknown is unknowni.e., it is a factor relevant to the research problem that is not currently known, it has not been documented nor is it the object of prior research.
Empirical unknowns always grow out of a particular context. Often presentation of the context which gives rise to a research problem also will point to one or more empirical unknowns. Sometimes other empirical unknowns arise from Biblical, theological, theoretical (i.e., social science theory), historical, social, or institutional contexts.
Step 1: Consider your research problem in question form. What knowledge or information do you need to know to be able to answer that question?
Step 2: List 3-4 empirical unknowns that you have identified in your research problem. State each empirical unknown clearly and specifically in question form.
Provide a context for each unknown by identifying its significance to your problem and to the overall goal to which this research seeks to contribute.
Step 3: Each empirical unknown will be listed with a research context as an introductory sentence and then the empirical unknown sentence, in the format indicated below.
Research context: Before informed curriculum decisions can be made, theological educators need to know:
Empirical Unknown: How is training for servanthood presently incorporated into seminary curricula?
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