SHRM Research Project – MGT 5610

We will start by discussing human behavior and the empirical research process to get familiar and comfortable with the terminology, expectations, timeline and deliverables of your SHRM Project. As a class, we will investigate and utilize a large, free, public database for our research project variables (GSS Database – link in Modules). Students will then complete a research paper using the SHRM Project Template. The final grade for the project will include a typed-up, well-formatted research manuscript (175 points) as well as a digital presentation of the project results (50 points) for a total of 225 points.



GSS Database:;jsessionid=EB648CC32E7868756B6A741103078A83?dataset=gss14nw

Find variables that are applicable to the workplace:  For example, the folder “1989 ISSP MODULE: WORK ORIENTATION” contains many variables that are suitable for this project.  Other folders have interesting work-related variables as well.  Do some searching and explore the database. 

  • Approximately 5 variables of interest
  • Find 1 Outcome variable
  • Find 3 or 4 Predictor variables
  • Keep track (write down) where your variables are in the database and any important information about the variable – easily done with the “View” button when you select your variable in the “Variable Selection” area. 
  • These variables should be from the same folder (year) – this is how data is ‘matched’ so that it makes some sense! 
  • These variables need to be measured in similar ways – Continuous variables are what we are going to focus on.  These variables use Likert scales:
1 Strongly Disagree2 Disagree3 Slightly Disagree4 Slightly Agree5 Agree6 Strongly Agree

Build a Model using your variables: Below is an example from a previous graduate student.



SHRM Research Project – MGT 5610

Give your variables sensible names (RECOGN = Recognition).  Aim for symmetry and make it look sharp! 

Place your Model into the SHRM Project Template along with details about your variables (what folder/year, how they are measured, what their GSS name is, what the measure/question is)…all of this info will be helpful as we progress. 

*Read the “Job_Embedd_Stress_Research_Example” on Canvas in the project Module.


  • Insert your Theoretical Model – Figure 1:

Give your model a descriptive name and add it to the text.  Let your model take up a whole page if needed. 

  • Check to see if you get Correlations:

Using the “Correl. matrix” tab on the right-hand side of the database, enter all of your variables by selecting your variable in the folder it is contained in and in the “Variable Selection” area, Copy the variable to the “Correl. matrix” area by clicking “Vars to Correlate”…you will see it move over to the “Variables to Correlate” list…the grid allows for 8 variables at a time.  Once all your variables are in the grid, click the “Run Correlations” button at the bottom of the screen. 

  • Craft logical Hypotheses:

Write them out based on the positive or negative relationship you think the two variables will have.  Develop a hypothesis for each predictor with the outcome.  This is challenging, but fun.  You may find you have to re-write them, but keep it simple to start with.  Students may also find that a predictor they initially thought was made logical sense, does not make sense.  That is OK.  You can search the GSS folder you utilized for your other variables for a new one – again, these models can and should be refined during this process.

It may also be the case that you end up with (or seek out) Control variables – things that rule out alternative explanations for your hypotheses (for example, in my Job Embeddedness à Work stress article, I controlled for Job Satisfaction so I could say my results hold true above and beyond an employee’s attitude toward their job).  Having control variables is not mandatory, but sometimes researchers end up with them or it is convenient to measure them and use them later (like demographics).

  • Search, download, read and summarize relevant research articles

I suggest no less than 10 empirical articles to be included in your project. Keywords are critical! Conduct key word searches on Google Scholar or the Library Database – there is much published on your topics & variables.  Download, save and name each PDF accordingly (something like “Johnson & Murphy 2002 Job Sat & workplace outcomes”)…this helps later when you are looking for things or trying to remember what is what – researchers end up with many files!  Make sure to stay organized. 

Start by reading the Abstract & Discussion section.  This will give you a good summary of the article and let you know how it fits with your hypothesis development.  That is, you must craft strong arguments as to why you believe your hypotheses are correct.  What supporting evidence can you show the reader to convince them your logic and reasoning is sound and supported by the literature. 

  • Start developing and organizing your Methods section:

In Step 1, it was suggested that you extract as much information on your variables of interest – this is helpful for several reasons.  Attempt to assess how your predictors & outcome are measured in the literature that you researched and downloaded.  Write down the name of all of your variables as well as the phrasing of the measure - how is it worded?  What scale was used?  What name did you give the variable (e.g., RECGN = Recognition in the workplace).

To set up your Methods section, review the Job Embeddedness paper provided and also use one of the empirical articles you have downloaded.  There are different ways to organize a Methods section, but you will notice some similarities – Authors need to tell the reader as much as they can about the Procedures, Sample, Measures, Data analysis (we will get to that)…but students will notice that the more information provided, the better. 

Explore the GSS website for information regarding descriptions of the sample, procedure & data collection. Alternatively, search (Google Scholar) for empirical articles that have used the GSS and use that as a template to organize your Methods section.


  • Check to see if you get Correlations:

**If you get an error message, the data you are analyzing likely does not match (for some reason) and you may have to test one predictor at a time (with your outcome variable) to see which one is ‘problem’…explore the folder of origin for useful variables – and ask for help if needed.

  • Hypotheses

Each predictor will have a hypothesis with your outcome.  You have to propose what direction (positive or negative) the relationship will be, with the assumption that will be statistically significant.

EXAMPLE: As (perceptions of) coworker relationships improve and are appreciated, job satisfaction increases (goes up).

ALTERNATIVE: There is a positive relationship between Coworker Relationships and Job Satisfaction.

Check the language and Likert scale of each variable (predictoràoutcome) to make sure you word your hypotheses correctly – this may be difficult, but again the learning occurs during the struggle. 

  • Start your theory building:

This is the ‘meat’ of the paper and demonstrates to the reader that you did your homework and understand (some of) the literature surrounding your variables.  This is the text before each hypothesis which convinces the reader that your hypothesis makes sense and has some logical arguments and research support/evidence. 

  • Start your Reference section:

Keep track of your research articles and develop a proper reference section using APA style.  This is easily done using Google Scholar and also by using an example article (like my Job Embeddedness study) and copying what you see in certain detail.

  • Run Regression model:  More to come!


  • Run regression model & test your hypotheses

To start, using the GSS Database, choose the “Regression” option in the right-hand tab list (where the “Correl. matrix” choice is).  Find your outcome variable in the topic folder it is located in and select it so it appears in the “Variable Selection” area where you can ‘Copy to’ to “Regression” area using the “Dep” button – this indicates that your outcome variable is the Dependent Variable and it ‘depends’ on your predictors, or Independent variables.

Next, find each of your predictor (independent variables) in their respective folders and copy them to the “Regression” area using the “Indep” button in the “Variable Selection” area.  As you can see in the “Regression” area grid, to run a regression analysis on this database you only get to choose 1 outcome/dependent variable & 8 predictors/independent variables.  If you make a mistake you can click the “Clear grid” button under the Independent variable grid and start over. 

In the “Output Options” drop-down menu, directly under the “Regression” grid, there are several boxes to check that improve your analysis and provides researchers with helpful data.  *See class recording (Panopto) on 3/25 for regression details and output options using the GSS database.

Below are various links to help explain Linear regression & t-tests, the type of analysis we are doing.

  • Add an ‘Analysis’ & ‘Results’ subheading in the ‘Methods’ section

Here authors describe the analyses they used (Linear regression & correlations) and what assumptions they worked under.  Also, the results of the hypothesis testing are typed out and described in detail – was Hypothesis 1 supported?  Not supported?  What is the Beta-coefficient and p-value for each variable in the regression output? 

  • Work on and add to your theoretical arguments:

The research articles you have downloaded, read and summarized should complement your own ideas, experience and arguments that correspond to your hypotheses.  These sections always need improvement by way of edits, additional details and information.  Re-reading the manuscript is always a good idea!

  • Start to prepare research presentation:

Below is a link to an example research presentation using VoiceThread. 

STEP 5: 

  • Discussion Section:

The ‘Discussion’ section is the area of the manuscript where the author covers the following topics:

  • A summary of what you did, why you did it and what you found.
  • Contributions that your research findings make to the management literature you cited.  What value is added from completing your research? 
  • Managerial and/or Organizational implications – how do your findings impact practicing managers?  What should organizations do with the knowledge of your results?
  • What sort of limitations does your study have?  Are your measures the best they could be?  Given your model, are there better ways to gather and analyze data?  For example, scientific results are typically more ‘robust’ if the Predictors are measured before the Outcome (in the GSS, they are measured at the same time – this is called ‘common method bias’). Are your results generalizable – that is, given your sample, can you generalize your results to ALL practicing managers in ANY organization?  Why or why not?  Any control variables that should have been included (e.g., personality traits)?
  • Any ideas for ‘Future Research’?  What sort of studies should be done to further our understanding of your model and the topics involved?  Studies done over time to sort out causality?  Studies done in different contexts or situations?  Studies with improved measures or research designs? 
  • A ‘Conclusion’ paragraph that sums up your findings.
  • Introduction Section:

Introductions are not always done at the end, but it is easier to do it this way with your first empirical paper because students do not know what exactly they will end up investigating & analyzing.

  • Typically, Introductions start out quite broad – your Outcome variable is important!  It is important to study this (e.g., Job Satisfaction, Work Stress) because it helps (or hurts) organizational effectiveness, individual performance, turnover…or anything else you can relate your outcome to.  Then start to narrow down the language in the Introduction by specifying why the Independent (predictor) variables that you choose are important to focus on – in general, what are you focusing on and why? 
  • The last few sentences are devoted to outlining how your manuscript is set up in order to let the reader know what to expect.

A General Explanation of the GSS Sample and Procedures – FROM GSS Website:  

“The GSS aims to gather data on contemporary American society in order to monitor and explain trends and constants in attitudes, behaviors, and attributes; to examine the structure and functioning of society in general as well as the role played by relevant subgroups; to compare the United States to other societies in order to place American society in comparative perspective and develop cross-national models of human society; and to make high-quality data easily accessible to scholars, students, policy makers, and others, with minimal cost and waiting.

The target population of the GSS is adults (18+) living in households in the United States. The GSS sample is drawn using an area probability design that randomly selects respondents in households across the United States to take part in the survey. Respondents that become part of the GSS sample are from a mix of urban, suburban, and rural geographic areas. Participation in the study is strictly voluntary. However, because only about a few thousand respondents are interviewed in the main study, every respondent selected is very important to the results.

The survey is conducted face-to-face with an in-person interview by NORC at the University of Chicago. The survey was conducted every year from 1972 to 1994 (except in 1979, 1981, and 1992). Since 1994, it has been conducted every other year. The survey takes about 90 minutes to administer. As of 2014, 30 national samples with 59,599 respondents and 5,900+ variables have been collected.

GSS results are freely made available to interested parties over the internet, and are widely used in sociological research. The GSS Data Explorer on the General Social Survey website allows any user to download GSS data and search for information about GSS questions, variables, and publications, as well as conduct basic analyses directly on the website for free and without the need for statistical software.

The GSS is the most frequently analyzed source of information in the social sciences after the US Census. Information collected in the GSS is used by policy makers, scientific researchers, government officials, and students to better understand Americans, and better meet their changing needs. The GSS is a major teaching tool in colleges and universities: more than 25,000 journal articles, books and other research uses are based on the GSS and over 1,000 have been appearing annually in recent years. In addition, about 400,000 students use the GSS in their classes each year. The GSS webpage on the NORC website keeps a current list of the most recent major news reports and media coverage that references GSS data.”

A continuous variable is a way of organizing distributions which can have any range of values in between differing values. An example of a continuous variable is weight or height - a person doesn't have to be either 150 pounds or 151 pounds. They could be 150.6 or 150.99999 pounds. This is opposed to a discrete or categorical variable which uses a distinct label instead of a continuous one. For example, eye color or gender can be considered a discrete variable because individuals are either part of a category or they aren't - there is no range of answers in between.

Continuous variables are variables that can take on any value within a range. Continuous variables are also considered metric or quantitative variables, where the variable can have an infinite number or value between two given points. A variable is continuous if it is theoretically possible for members of the group to fall anywhere on a spectrum with small amounts of a characteristic on one end and large amounts of a characteristic on the other end. Continuous variables are often measured in small units.

Many physical traits are considered continuous variables, along with psychological and perceptual characteristics such as intelligence, extroversion, creativity, emotions, attitudes.