Assessing the Methodological Quality of Aviation Research: A Content Analysis of Articles Published in Subscription and Open Access Aviation Journals 2014-2016
The purpose of the study was to determine to what extent aviation research articles were consistent with commonly recommended research protocols. Using a purposive sampling strategy, two subscription and five open access journals published from 2014to 2016 were targeted, and 139 articles were reviewed using a category based, researcher-developed coding form grounded in commonly accepted research practices presented in educational research methods textbooks. The form reflected models from the medical research community and employed a 3-point scoring rubric: 0 = Not Reported, 1 = Inadequate, and 2 = Adequate. At least two coders reviewed each article, and corresponding Krippendorff alpha coefficients confirmed moderate interrater reliability. Overall mean scores were M= 1.21 for subscription journals and M=1.26 for open access journals. Results from an independent samples t test showed no significant difference in overall methodological quality between journal types. The data were disaggregated by major sections across all journals. Problem Statement: There was adequate attention for study purpose, but corresponding operational definitions, research questions, and hypotheses were inadequate. Background: The literature review was adequate but lacked an adequate critical analysis and need for the study. Methodology: There was less than adequate attention for describing the target/accessible populations, sampling strategy, and group assignment, and little-to-no attention to sample size and sample representativeness. There also was inadequate attention to research methodology/design, threats to internal validity, and instrumentation validity/reliability, but sufficient attention to instrument description. Results: There was adequate attention for descriptive and inferential statistics, but inadequate reporting of corresponding statistical measures such as effect size and power. Discussion: There was adequate attention for conclusions, but inadequate attention for external validity, recommendations, and limitations/delimitations. Findings indicate that the methodological quality of published aviation research, regardless of journal type, should be of concern to the aviation research community. Recommendations include giving attention to research questions, sample size, sample representativeness, instrumentation issues, internal and external validity, and research methodology/design.