Concepts and Operationalizations

Marisa Meizlish inquired:

Q. In the research design and hypth. section of the handout about the paper, you mention to indicate the "operational measures of your theoretical concepts." I'm not sure if that's something that happens implicitly in describing the variables and how I hypothesize they corelate or if it's something explicit you're looking for. Could you help me out?

A Very early in the term and then somewhat later, I lectured about the relationship between concepts, which are abstract ideas, and indicators, which are concrete manifestations of those ideas. In social analysis, researchers are said to "operationalize" concepts by specifying the indicators (variables) they will use to measure the concepts. That term (operationalization) is used because the measurement often involves a series of "operations" (like drawing up a set of survey questions) to produce a proper indicator.

So in your papers, if "crime" is the concept you are studying, your operational measures might be violent crimes per capita, burglaries per 1,000, and so on.