The Use of Operational Definitions in Social Work PhD Theses in India.
Keywords:Operational definitions, concepts, measurement, social work, PhD theses
This article intends to present the way operational definitions are being defined in social work Ph.D. theses in India. Operational definitions are normally conceived as concepts being defined in operations that are observable characteristics of the definiendum for measurement. The operations of a definiendum should possess reliability and validity, and that it needs to be different from other concepts. Operational definitions in studies provide the operations of the concepts measured and the procedures of measurement. Deviations from the above-mentioned understanding of operational definitions are observed in Ph.D. theses, and hence the present study attempted to explore how operational definitions are used in Ph.D. theses. The study observed 44 social work Ph.D. theses uploaded (between 1999-2019) in Shodhganga, a reservoir of Indian theses, for their use of operational definitions using a concurrent mixed methods design. The findings indicate that operational definitions are conceived and used in various ways, most of which are not even meeting the purposes intended by operational definitions indicating a lack of understanding of what operational definitions are meant. This poses questions regarding the translation validity of the operational definitions, which have implications for the internal validity of the studies. The findings also indicate the need for rigorous research methodology coursework for Ph.D. scholars before commencing their research.
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