Researcher Sample Materials

Sample Research Proposal

Discipline: Religious Studies
Topic: Immigration

We are researchers from the Canadian Institute for Religious Studies – CIRS. Professors Anthony and Gordan are from the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Waterloo, Dr. Lily is currently the Director of the Centre for Therapeutic Uses of Spiritual Practices, and Dr. Samantha is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Chester’s Religious Studies Department and the lead researcher for the Immigrant Religion Project. 

PILLAR A — DISCIPLINE CONTEXT

What is Religious Studies?

Religious studies is one of the oldest of the social science disciplines, with roots reaching back to ancient philosophy and theology. It was in the 19th century, however, when the systematic study of religious belief systems and practices got underway in the universities.

Misconceptions abound about us as researchers. One such misconception is that we are not researchers, but rather proselytizers trying to convert people to a particular faith. This is not at all true, as we aim to illuminate not the eyes of people’s souls, but the scientific understanding of phenomena we consider to be religious.

We study the migration and immigration of peoples of many faiths. Our approach is both historical – by looking to past events, especially religious persecution and genocides – and comparative.

As scientists, we frequently compare different belief systems, practices and behaviours across time and socio-demographic factors. To do this, we typically use surveys (questionnaires, interviews…), fieldwork, case studies and the analysis of available statistics. Our focus on religion, as a discipline of science, has given us very tangible insight into major issues affecting immigrants, across time and geographical locations.

Many immigrants are known to have religion-based adjustment issues in host countries, and religious studies can help to identify and address these adjustment issues.

 

PILLAR B — THE method PLAN

Problem formulation

After reviewing the research on religion and immigration, we found a Statistics Canada report on the “healthy immigrant effect” that we would like to build on. Edward Ng (2011) and the Longitudinal Health and Administrative Data research team analysed the health characteristics of immigrants and non-immigrants and found that immigrants, especially those with strong religious and traditional values, suffer fewer instances of chronic disease, disability, depression, suicide and drug addiction.

The Ng (2011) study challenges the conventional wisdom that immigrants are a strain on the medical system, yet it does not seek explanations: Why/how might religion factor into the “healthy immigrant effect”?

Therefore, we would like to address the following as-yet unanswered questions:

  • Which immigrant characteristics generate positive health outcomes?
  • How does “religious belief” factor into the “healthy immigrant effect”?

Finding answers to these questions could benefit agencies and social and religious community networks that have regular contact with immigrant groups. A better understanding of how and which religious factors contribute to healthier outcomes could provide more targeted and cost-efficient policies and programs for immigrant groups.

What we want to do is to systematically conduct two hypothesis tests:

  • H1 Religious factors contribute to the “healthy immigrant effect” in Canada’s immigrant population.
  • H2 The levels of religious belief and traditional values of recent immigrants to Canada positively correlate to levels of well-being and health.

The approach will be descriptive in orientation. The goal is to develop a more accurate understanding of how religious belief and values impact on the immigrant experience.

Data collection design

We are seeking funding to support our investigation into how religion factors into the “healthy immigrant effect.”

There is no need to directly source the data ourselves with reactive methods requiring us to go out to collect raw data, as fortunately there is an abundance of quantitative data already available in Statistics Canada and Health Canada datasets. This data is readily available, free of charge, via the Internet.

The units studied will be recent Canadian immigrant groups. The sampling strategy is to purposively select non-representative Statistics Canada data sources for the past decade on recent Canadian immigrants by religious belief and health status. Thus far, we are aware of two major datasets. The selection strategy used by Statistics Canada for each data set will be clearly indicated. It should be noted that in some cases, the data were collected from the entire target population, not a sample proportion of the population.

We may have some trouble finding more than basic information related to religious factors. We will therefore need to consult with some specialists at Statistics Canada and Health Canada for some assistance in getting access to more detailed datasets. The sampling strategy is therefore open-ended and somewhat theoretical in orientation.

Secondary analysis will be the technique used to systematically collect and process the data. Using data that have already been gathered by reputable agencies such as Statistics Canada and Health Canada is cost-effective and allows for valid testing of the hypotheses.

A standardized plan is in place to use the data processing tools in a spreadsheet program, Microsoft Excel. The data will be entered into Excel spreadsheets and the appropriate statistical tables and graphic displays will be generated to reflect the two planned hypothesis tests.

Analysis, limitations and ethics

A variety of deductive types of analyses will be used to test the two hypotheses. We intend to enter the available medical and socio-demographic data into Excel and run the following statistical tests: chi-square and independent samples t-test to test for differences in religious groups, and linear regression to test for strength, direction and predictive value of associations. Some more inductive types of analysis will also be used, mostly in the form of the descriptive statistical analysis of differences based on measures of central tendency and spread.

There are several sources of bias and limitations inherent in this study design. Firstly, illegal immigrants and immigrants awaiting formal status recognition, especially recent refugees, will not be properly accounted for in the datasets and as such could produce a systematic underrepresentation of this group in the results. As well, since we have opted to not collect the data ourselves and rather use available data, we are not able to fully manipulate the data according to our needs. For instance, we may not be able to obtain information for specific aspects of religious adherence such as degree of religiosity and specific forms of religious beliefs. We find these limitations to be acceptable as the costs and time required to conduct our own lengthy survey of a large country-wide target population are prohibitive.

In terms of ethics, there will be no need to obtain voluntary consent from the research subjects as the data were already collected by reputable government agencies and medical staff. The sources of information will be fully credited.


PILLAR C — WHAT IS THE BUDGET AND TIMEFRAME?

The four of us expect to complete the gathering, processing, analysis and reporting of the data in 12-16 months. At $70 per hour with all four of us working on a part-time basis, we estimate salary expenses to amount to about $145,000 over the year. We will require some support ($50,000) for data software, computer units and Internet access for the four of us. Some travel to Ottawa and other data centres will be necessary on occasion. We may even have to purchase some datasets which, combined with the travel, could account for roughly $5,000. All of this will come to a GRAND TOTAL of $200,000 CDN.


PILLAR D — CLOSING STATEMENT

Too many misconceptions surround immigration and immigrants. Immigrants are often considered to be expensive dependents, costing Canadian taxpayers more than the immigrants are expected to contribute to the Canadian economy. Ng (2011) has already demonstrated this to be a misconception and the idea needs to be challenged further. Such misconceptions contribute to a dangerous climate of anti-immigration and should be countered with a cold, hard look at the facts.

  • This religious studies research team can make positive contributions to the existing body of knowledge on immigrants and immigration – give us the chance!
  • Say thank you in five languages.

Sample Cue Cards

LEGEND

Anthony / Gordan / Sam / Lily 

PILLAR A


4 qualified applicants from CIRS:

  • Professors Anthony and Gordan, Department of Religious Studies, University of Waterloo
  • Dr. Lily, Director, Centre for Therapeutic Uses of Spiritual Practices
  • Dr. Samantha, Senior Lecturer, Department of Religious Studies, University of Chester, and lead researcher for the Immigrant Religion Project. 

One of oldest disciplines: Goes back to ancient philosophy and theology, more recently in 19th century

We are scientists; not trying to spread faith or religious belief

Use many techniques: survey method, fieldwork, available statistics …


IMMIGRATION important – religious studies compare across time & socio-demographic factors of religious belief, practices & behaviours of different IMMIGRANT groups.



PILLAR B


Edward Ng (2011) and the Longitudinal Health and Administrative Data research team: healthy immigrant effect.

  • Lower incidence of chronic disease, drug abuse, depression
  • Misconception that costly to Canadian taxpayers
  • Needs systematic analysis
  • Draw on Ng’s original research and address WHY questions

Questions:

  • Which immigrant characteristics generate healthy outcomes?
  • How does “religious belief” factor into the “healthy immigrant effect”?

Hypotheses:

  • H1 Religious factors contribute to the “healthy immigrant effect” in Canada’s immigrant population.
  • H2 The levels of religious belief and traditional values of recent immigrants to Canada positively correlate to levels of well-being and health.

Main variables in H1:

  • health status of immigrant groups
  • religious affiliation and groupings of recent immigrants

Main variables in H2:

  • intensity of religious belief
  • physical and mental well-being

Adopting linear path


Decided not to use direct/reactive methods – no need. Lots of data already available as shown in Ng (2011) study that we are building on.

Secondary analysis of available statistical data is the strategy. Statistics Canada/Health Canada datasets from the years 2000-2010. Data collected from medical files and cross-referenced with socio-demographic information relating to country of origin, religious denomination.



Cost-effective and valid way to test our hypotheses.


Enter the data into reputable data processing software – Excel. 

Run the following statistical tests: chi-square and independent samples t-test to test for differences in groups, and linear regression to test for strength of associations.


The target population will be recent immigrants to Canada in the past decade. There is no sample as the data collected by StatsCan is the available target population.




PILLAR C



12-16 months to gather, process, analyse & report



4 of us at $70 per hr part-time = $145,000



$50,000 for data software, computer units and Internet access for the four of us



$5,000 for occasional travel to Ottawa and other data centres



GRAND TOTAL $200,000




PILLAR D



Lots of misconceptions: immigrants as costly, lazy, nothing to contribute…Leads to hatred, distrust.


Current perceptions are not based on facts.Requires scientific evidence and Religious Studies understands the value of religious beliefs and traditional values.



Accentuate the positive …



Say thank you in five languages.