Q: What does it mean for a topic to be measurable?

1 Answer to this question

Although you have asked about a measurable topic, we understand that what you mean is how to ensure that the results or outcomes of research on a given topic are measurable. This is as should be, because if there is one thing that sets research apart from other endeavors, it is the emphasis on numbers, on measuring and counting. You may have come across the acronym SMART, coined to encapsulate the features of an ideal objective: a ‘smart’ objective is one that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

Thus, you need to take the analytical approach in defining measurable outcomes. Imagine that you have thought of some intervention – let us call it intervention X – to promote the use of public transport. To know whether the intervention is successful, you need some way of measuring the use of public transport. Will it be the total fare collected, in dollars, averaged over a week or a month? Will it be the number of tickets sold? Will it be the average occupancy of each bus trip? All these are measurable but measure different things. What you need to do is to describe the outcomes in concrete terms.

Here are some fictitious examples.

  • Instead of saying that Drug A is effective, you need to say that Drug A will bring down the fever by 1°C within two hours.
  • Instead of saying that Form A is better designed, you must say that using Form A will ensure that at least 90% of the forms are correctly filled in.
  • Instead of saying that Material A is a better insulator than Material B, you should say that Material A will keep the liquid at a given temperature at least two hours longer than Material B can.

Hope that helps. For more information, you may find the following related queries helpful.

All the best for your paper/project!