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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Confirmatory Factor Analysis
Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) is a special form of factor analysis that is used to test whether the data fit a hypothesized measurement model. It tests how well the data fits a predetermined factor structure. For example, a researcher might use CFA to test whether the data from his/her sample fit the factor structure of an existing measure of parental stress.
A variable that is not of interest, but which distorts the results if the researcher does not control for it in the analysis. For example, if a researcher is interested in the effect of education on political views, the researcher must control for income. Income is a confounding variable because it affects political views and education is related to income.
Answers to a set of questions are consistent if they do not contain any logical contradictions.