operational definition, operationalization
The transformation of an abstract, theoretical concept
into something concrete, observable, and measurable in an empirical research project. Operational definitions are pragmatic and realistic indicators of more diffuse notions. For example, one way of operationalizing the concept of social class might be to ask people what type of job they do, and code their replies as either ‘working class’ or ‘middle class’. An alternative operationalization of the same concept would be to ask respondents to which class (if any) they felt they belonged. As will be seen from this example, operational definitions are crucial to the process of measurement
, and are often the most controversial aspect of any research design.
Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.
Learn more about citation styles
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.