“news,” “entertainment,” etc., are (possible) dimensions of this concept
Now define the concept operationally
What indicators to look for? How do you know one when you encounter one?
Each dimension could have more than one indicator (e.g., TV news: morning, noon, local, national, etc.)
Each dimension of a concept should be observable
What are the results of past operations: Range of values, what affects it, or does it affect?
For what units of analysis?
Explication – Steven Chaffee’s steps:
Preliminary identification of concept. What is it, unit of analysis, what kind of variable?
Literature search: How have others used this concept, both conceptually and operationally? What other terms have been used for this concept? (e.g., “need for cognition,” “curious,” “thoughtful”)
Empirical description: What are the results of past operations (measurements): Range of values, what affects it, or does it affect? For what units of analysis?
Develop a conceptual definition for your research: First work at the most abstract level, and then ask what lower order dimensions the general concept subsumes? (e.g., TV viewing = highly abstract, with news, entertainment, etc, dimensions of this). All indicators within a dimension will most likely be internally consistent (i.e., reliable).
Define operationally: Identify what indicators to look for. Each dimension of a concept should be observable. Each dimension could have more than one indicator (e.g., TV news: morning, noon, local, national, etc.). Not always easy to find indicators for concepts
Data gathering: Observe your concepts; refine definitions based on results.
Things to remember:
All these steps are necessary
A concept without an operation is not observable,
An operation without a concept is not very informative.
Common mistake: confusing the operation (measure) for the concept itself
IQ is what the IQ test measures, rather than the IQ test is one way of operationalizing the concept of intelligence.