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Research Glossary

The research glossary defines terms used in conducting social science and policy research, for example those describing methods, measurements, statistical procedures, and other aspects of research; the child care glossary defines terms used to describe aspects of child care and early education practice and policy.

The process of assigning values, typically numeric values, to the different levels of a variable. The process of assigning values to behaviors observed in parent-child interactions and assigning numeric values to responses to open-ended survey questions are examples of coding.
Coefficient of Determination
A coefficient, ranging between 0 and 1, that indicates the goodness of fit of a regression model.
Cognitive Interviewing
A research method used to pretest interview questions or items on a questionnaire. Cognitive interviews collect information on how respondents answer questions, their interpretation of the questions asked and their reasons for responding in a particular way. Additional verbal information is collected to evaluate whether respondents understand a question or series of questions, if the response categories are appropriate and if the question is measuring the construct it was designed to measure. The information gathered from the cognitive interview is used to make adjustments to questions before they are administered to the full sample.
A group of people sharing a common demographic experience who are observed through time. For example, all the people born in the same year constitute a birth cohort. All the people married in the same year constitute a marriage cohort.
The quality of two or more objects that can be evaluated for their similarity and differences.
Completion Rate
In survey research, this is the number of people who answered a survey divided by the number of people in the sample. It is sometimes used interchangeably with response rate.
Conditional Probability Models
Conditional probability models are a class of statistical models that are used to study the probability of an outcome given some prior event(s) or characteristic(s). For example, researchers might use such a model to examine the probability that children attend an early education program at age three given their prior child care history (attended child care program at age 2) and their mothers' employment (employed full-time versus part-time).
Confidence Interval
A range of estimated values that is the best guess as to the true population's value. Confidence intervals are usually calculated for the sample mean. In behavioral research, the acceptable level of confidence is usually 95%. Statistically, this means that if 100 random samples were drawn from a population and confidence intervals were calculated for the mean of each of the samples, 95 of the confidence intervals would contain the population's mean. For example, a 95% confidence interval for IQ of 95 to 105, indicates with 95% certainty that the actual average IQ in the population lies between 95 and 105.
Confidence Level
The percentage of times that a confidence interval will include the true population value. If the confidence level is .95 this means that if a researcher were to randomly sample a population 100 times, 95% of the time the estimated confidence interval for a value will contain the population's true value. In other words, the researcher can be 95% confident that the confidence interval contains the true population value.
The protection of research subjects from being identified. A common standard in social science research is that records or information used for research should not allow participants to be identified and that researchers should not take any action that would affect the individual to whom the information pertains.
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