Tag Archives: academic research tips

Research Goal: Its Importance in Designing a Study

Why is there a need to have a clear-cut research goal? Why is a goal important and how can it influence the research process? This article provides answers to these questions.

Have you found a research topic worthy of investigation? What studies have been done so far about it? What questions have not been answered by those studies?

These are just some of the basic questions you will have to ask yourself while contemplating and narrowing down your research topic. It is a must that the issue or concern is clear enough in your head such that you are able to figure out specific questions for your own study. Ultimately, you need to ask yourself the question:

“What is the goal of my research?”

The Importance of the Research Goal

You will be facing a very tedious task of doing a lot of unnecessary things, or find that your research results are unusable unless the research goal is well-defined. All efforts boil down to a particular purpose, i.e., towards fulfilling a desired effect. A clear picture of your research goal will help you steer your research work towards satisfactory completion.

Once the research goal is clear enough, the rest of the things you need to do will fall into place. Having a clear goal in mind, you can work backwards and design your study with greater confidence.

How the Goal Relates to the Research Process

The following fish bone diagram created using X-Mind, a mind mapping software, shows how the goal relates to the other components of the research process.

mind map to reach research goal
Fish bone diagram to realize a research goal.

The above diagram shows that to arrive at your research goal, you should list down a set of specific objectives to fully realize it. You also need to write specific research questions to reach that goal. Here is an example of a research goal and its set of objectives.

Second, to fulfill the objectives, appropriate research methods should be employed. There should be a one-to-one correspondence between objectives and method. For objective 1, method one will have to be employed; for objective 2, method two will be employed; for objective 3, method three will be employed, and so on, and so forth.

In coming up with the method, you may ask yourself the following questions:

  • What should I do to reach objective one (two, three, …)?
  • What things do I need to meet objective one (two, three, …)?

Third, designing the method entails defining the specific activities to be done and the time-frame to perform those activities. For example, a focus group discussion will require the participation of different sectors in the village. Thus, this will need coordination with the local leaders, identifying the participants of the discussion, looking for a conducive place to hold a meeting, preparing refreshments, and so on.

How long will all these preparations take? A GANTT chart will be helpful to achieve this end.

The following questions will prove handy in preparing your GANTT chart:

  • Will your study require travel? Who will travel and how frequent will this be?
  • Do you need to conduct meetings? Who will be involved in the meetings?
  • Will you be getting the response of a significant number of people in the study area?
  • How long will each of the activities take?

Fourth, you will need to identify those people who will help you do those activities. Applying the power of delegation is a must so you will be able to finish your research project within a reasonable time. You cannot do all the interviewing yourself especially if your random sampling estimate for the population requires at least 200 respondents. Also, you will need to find out how much all your transactions will cost.

Finally, you will have to identify the specific equipment or materials required to carry out your field work. Do you need a camera, recorder, measuring scale, LED projector, among others.

You might be tempted to request a lot of things for your research project especially if you have a generous funding source. But it’s good practice to purchase only those which you must really use. Your sponsoring funding agency will truly appreciate your management of scarce resources.

© 2014 April 24 P. A. Regoniel

How to Write a Good Thesis Introduction: From General to Specific

How do you about writing a thesis introduction? Is there a way to do it to ensure that you put across the message more effectively? This article discusses one of the ways to make the introduction a logical explanation of the contents of a thesis. Writing the introduction follows a deductive approach. Read on how the general to specific method works.

My previous tip on how to write the introduction explained the importance of and provided an example of how to write a good hook. A good hook prompts the readers to go on and read the thesis. This time, I will detail another feature of a good thesis introduction that works well with the hook, that is, writing from general to specific.

Writing a Thesis Introduction: General to Specific

Many seasoned writers or researchers adopts writing from general to specific as the way to go.  Although this may seem common sense to those who write a lot and who have a way with words, professors or mentors need to guide their students or mentees. Mentoring provides at least the basic skills required for better composition.

If you are a student just finding your way in the scientific world for the first time by engaging yourself in thesis writing, writing a thesis introduction is quite a challenge. If you believe this is so, then you must go on and read my attempt to clarify this approach more fully.

The Inverted Pyramid Approach to Writing a Thesis Introduction

Let me illustrate the deductive writing method using an illustration to guide your thinking. I call this the inverted pyramid of writing a thesis introduction. It follows the general to the specific approach.

I figured out the situation in class while evaluating students’ interpretation of the inverted pyramid writing method. Incisively looking into draft compositions submitted to me, I thought that the concept at best gives just a gist or the tip of the iceberg. Many students find themselves at a loss on how to do it. Concept wise, it’s easy to understand, but applying it is another thing. There is a need to explain the idea further to make it more systematic.

So here it is. I will make the inverted pyramid or general to specific writing approach more detailed and doable. I present below my inverted pyramid concept.

writing a thesis introduction

As you will see in Figure 1 at right, there are three stages to be considered as you write from general to the specific concerns of the phenomenon.

Three Stages of the Inverted Pyramid Approach

1. Contextualization

First, there should be a contextualization of the situation or phenomenon. Contextualization provides details about the phenomenon being investigated or researched on. A simple way to do this is by applying the 5Ws and 1H technical writing approach. You will not miss important details using that method as you address the What, When, Where, Who, Why, and How questions. Make it as brief as you can.

2. Conceptualization

You should do some conceptualization based on the issue or concern at hand that you have introduced in the contextualization stage. Conceptualization is a product of reflective and analytical thinking. And thinking is best done when you have gained a lot of experience about the phenomenon you are trying to understand. The primary purpose at this stage is to point out the gap in knowledge about the event in question.

Further, notice that as you figure out the specific items in your study, there are many unknowns. Realize the limits of the mind. Many questions start to crop up in your head. There are many other important things to know.

The following questions can help clarify issues:

Some Questions to Clarify Issues
  • What things are already known about the phenomenon? 
  • Where will I get more information about the phenomenon?
  • How will I ensure that I am not duplicating another person’s work?
  • Have I read enough?
  • Do I have enough experience to say I am already thoroughly familiar with the subject?

Now, how will you go about this quandary? If you are asking some of these questions, this just means that you are not yet well-informed about your subject of inquiry. This situation requires more readings or a thorough review of literature.

Thus, it makes sense that many veteran researchers prefer or opt to write the introduction later, after a thorough review of the literature. Some researchers even defer writing the introduction at the end of the study.

It is during the conceptualization stage that you attempt to explain the phenomenon by presenting your hypothesis – your thesis or main argument. The hypothesis reflects what you believe is the best explanation of the phenomenon based on what you have read so far and your own reflective, analytic thinking.

Thus, the hypothesis is called an “educated guess.” It is here where theories as explanations of phenomenon come into play. You will need to be familiar with what plausible explanations there are available that you might want to adopt or modify.

3. Resolution

The last stage is an attempt at resolution, meaning, after formulating your hypothesis to explain the phenomenon. How will you go about it?

Now comes the point where you will ask the research questions that will serve as your guide in verifying your hypothesis. You must then present a systematic approach to testing your hypothesis – the method, which you will write in a separate chapter.

Now, I do hope that writing a thesis introduction is no longer an issue. You can now write with greater confidence. Develop your style.

© 2014 March 7 P. A. Regoniel

Reducing the Items in the Research Instrument

There are instances that you need to reduce the items in your research instrument. If the items in the instrument that you have prepared are too many, chances are, your respondents would not read it thoroughly and eventually give you a poor result. Let’s admit that nowadays, respondents don’t like to answer too many questions. For them, it is a waste of time. With this in mind, how can you lessen the number of items in your questionnaire? Here are your options:

1. Validate the contents of your research instrument.

Aside from measuring the validity of the instrument, content validity can help you decide which items must be deleted, thus reducing the items in your questionnaire. Content validity can be done by the experts in that field that you are trying to investigate. But who are considered “experts?” These are the people who have doctorate degrees in that field and have practiced their profession for many years. Usually, a minimum of three persons must take a look at your instruments.

master student

However, if your paper is towards fulfilling a master’s degree requirement and there is no one who has a PhD in that area, those who have master’s degree can be taken as experts. If master’s degree holders are still unavailable, the panel of examiners may allow you to avail the help of those who have been practicing their profession for not less than ten years as “experts” in that field.

These people are knowledgeable as to the depth of the contents of the subject area that you want to investigate in and must be adept as to which items should be included to determine a particular variable (construct) and its sub-variable (sub-construct) in your study. They can also tell you which of the items from your questionnaire could be deleted.

2. Do factor analysis for data reduction.

If you choose to do a factor analysis, this will help you determine the construct validity of your instrument and help you decide, with the help of your statistician, which items are to be culled out from your instrument. To know more on this, see What are the Psychometric Properties of a Research Instrument?

3. Have both content and construct validity.

Having the two types of validity, I believe, will make your instrument better. As a researcher, you are the one to decide or with the help of your research adviser, which items must be deleted using the results of content and construct validity.

Generally, instruments which underwent the content and face validity are much shorter and can give more accurate results than one which did not. Thus, this gives you more confidence in the interpretation of your data.

How to Write a Good Thesis Introduction: The Hook

How do you write a good introduction such that your readers will read the rest of your paper? You need to have a good hook. What is a hook and how is it used? This article explains this concept and provides an example.

After reading a lot of articles, essays, narrations, accounts, among other things, I would say I have had a good deal of experience to say how good introductions must be written. I say this not only in reference to writing a thesis, but for any other composition for that matter.

I encountered many tips on how to write introductions. All those tips make sense, but the bottom line of it all is that the one concerned has to develop his or her own style of writing the introduction. A common goal is such that the reader of the introduction should be able to thoroughly understand and appreciate what the researcher wants to do.

So, what really matters in writing the introduction, in this case, to be specific – the thesis introduction? I’m fond of simplifying things so I set forth the vital elements of a good introduction based on introductions I have read that catch my attention. I will start with those elements that really matter. Foremost among those that researchers must consider in writing the introduction is how to write a good “hook.”

How to Write a Good Hook

Have you ever read something that holds your attention after reading just a few lines of words? Things that push you to read on to find out what’s next?  And even read it all the way to the end?

If that’s the case, then you’re hooked! You have read an introduction that has a good “hook.” The “hook” is the writer’s way to attract your attention. It’s not an empty hook. It is something that pulls you around to follow what the author wants you to follow closely, i.e., without you consciously knowing that you were captivated by what you have just read.

Well, how do you write a good “hook?” It’s a matter of style. You can start with something that’s intriguing or an issue that is timely and appealing to people so that they would want to know more about it.

Examples are good ways to demonstrate how things work so here is an example of a “hook” just to give you an idea to help you get started. This is about a true case that occurred about a decade ago. I often use this example in my environmental science class to illustrate the link between the use of pesticides and human health.

Example of a Good Hook

Here is an example of how a good hook should be written:

young mango

The high rate of albinism among newly born babies in a mango-growing community alarmed concerned government agencies. A task force from the Department of Health was dispatched to the area to find out the reason behind the occurrence of such condition. Initial queries among the affected families revealed that all mothers who gave birth to albinos ate young mangoes while they were pregnant. Is there something wrong with the mangoes? The group explored further and tried to see if mango consumption is a good lead to undertake an investigation. They asked questions about anything related to mango production.

Several key informants noted that the abnormality started to occur since the mango farmers switched to a new pesticide formula introduced by a well-known manufacturer of consumer chemicals to their community. Is there something in the new pesticide that caused albinism among children in the recent years?

After this hook, you may then proceed and introduce what you intend to do to verify if indeed there is a link between pesticides and albinism.

Don’t you think the above account will spark your curiosity to go on and read what’s next? Well, I hope you do agree with me because the reason there was a high rate of albinism is quite interesting. What did the researchers find in the more rigorous investigation that followed the scoping or exploratory survey?

To cut the story short, the culprit of albinism among children are the contaminated young, green mangoes which pregnant mothers crave to eat while conceiving. In our local vernacular, we call this “paglilihi sa hilaw na mangga.” As a result, mothers consume mangoes laced with pesticide, which, incidentally, has an ingredient that prevents the production of melanin. Melanin is a natural substance produced by the body that gives color to hair, skin, and the iris of the eye. It is produced by cells in the skin called melanocytes.

Now, that’s something that will make you think. If you are quite mindful of your health and consume lots of fruits and/or vegetables, you need to make sure that those are free of pesticides that can be harmful to your health. It is disturbing to know that many of the common fruits and veggies that we eat have pesticide residues in them.

Is this a good hook for writing a good introduction? Did it spark your curiosity to know more? Write your thoughts below.

Read a related article that I wrote in Ezinearticles for more tips on writing the introduction by clicking the link below.

5 Tips For Writing Introductions For Research Papers

© 2014 March 1 P. A. Regoniel

Generating Your Research Topic: How to Look for the Knowledge Gap

One of the most difficult things associated with thesis writing is coming up with a good research topic. How can you generate one? What should you do? This article provides a simplified approach to this common concern of those new in the field of research.

You may find writing the literature review confusing, and feel that you don’t know where to start, as this part of research writing requires familiarity with the research topic being investigated. Familiarity will not happen unless you have read a great deal about what work or progress has been done to shed light to or understand why things happen the way they do, which in science is referred to as a phenomenon.

The ultimate aim of a review of literature is to provide background information about a phenomenon using existing relevant and reliable or credible literature. Scientists attempt to explain phenomenon, which, as expected, will always show a dearth of information on some aspects and fall short of your expectations. Along the way, as you examine the literature, there will always be questions in your mind, which you try to resolve by reading more – hoping that there will be answers to your questions somewhere. In the end, you will find yourself still looking for answers to your set of questions but find nothing that addresses your curiosity. Have you read enough? There’s a possibility that you might have not read everything, that there may be some literature that you have missed somewhere, somehow.

So, when should you stop reading relevant literature and conclude that indeed you have reached that point where you are convinced that no one has ever done anything or failed to answer adequately the questions that you have in mind? How can you ensure that you have exhausted available literature such that you are able to declare that there is a GAP in knowledge, and come up with your unique research topic? In reality, this is not an easy task, especially if you are new to the field of inquiry you are in.

beauty

This is the reason scientists specialize or stick to a particular study, research endeavor, or research topic for many years, trying to synthesize all work and fill in the gaps that will help explain phenomenon. The idea is to bring together all work there is available for scrutiny and get useful insights and hindsights – what has been done and what has been left undone. These initiatives should be made known to everyone concerned through peer-reviewed publications. Why peer-reviewed? That is because, persons working along those lines of inquiry will recognize that indeed, what you are doing is something that they do not know about and which they would want to know.

For all intents and purposes then, your gauge in saying that there is a GAP in knowledge, is to read the work of those scientists or researchers who are recognized authority on those research topics you want to explore. These scientists or researchers publish their findings in reputable scientific journals. What they are saying or have done so far, will serve as benchmark or springboard for further inquiry.

How will you know that a person is knowledgeable or the authority on a certain topic of inquiry given that you are new in that field? Well, one way to do so is to see if he has other research papers on the same topic available for examination, or probably see his credentials. After all, those in authority in a given field are those who can convince everyone that what he is doing, his arguments, are the most sensible explanation of a phenomenon. But if you have a better idea, then show your evidence. Who knows, your suggestions or propositions are better than anyone else’s.

© 2014 February 8 P. A. Regoniel

Five Techniques to Review Related Literature

A well written, comprehensive and logical literature review demonstrates good scholarship. But many students usually find themselves with only a few articles to figure out their research topic. How will they approach this problem? Here are five techniques to review related literature.

Greetings to all subscribers!

The past month had been a hectic one for me as I adjust to my new schedule after a long leave from academic work. I need to handle subjects which require intensive gathering of materials for both syllabus preparation as well as lecture sessions. I was assigned two classes of third year undergraduate students enrolled in Research 01, many of whom have not had any experience on doing research in their high school years. As I introduce the subject to them, bug-eyed students wonder on what the heck I was talking about. Honing research skills such that students are able to do independent research poses a challenge to anyone handling this subject.

Simplyeducate.me proved to be a useful site for them, as I encouraged them to visit the site and learn the ropes of research. They were just glad to read something from someone they are familiar with, and even get that opportunity to ask me personally about their concerns. They need not surf and spend so much time online just to get some ideas useful in working out their thesis.

I asked them to come up with their respective topics, that is, related to their respective fields. This is not easy as it would require a lot of observations and readings to pin down what specific topics they are interested in. To narrow down their frame of mind on what specific topics they need to look into, I gave them the university’s research agenda to guide them along the way. These agenda include climate change concerns for those enrolled in environmental science and alternative approaches to common ailments for those taking biology.

To get a better view of the topics the students are interested in within the agenda mentioned, they should read related literature about those topics. So how should they go about it? Below are five tips that can prove helpful.

Five Techniques to Review Literature

1. Visit open access journals.

One of my favorite open access site where I can download literature on many topics in environmental science is www.doaj.org. In this site, there are full papers available for free download. You just need to be patient as you browse the site using your keyword. Elsevier also has a list of open access journals here.

There are many other open access journals if you have the time and the patience to do surfing. While these may be free, you will notice that your choices are limited. And you also need to be aware that there are open access journals which are predatory, meaning, it seeks to exploit or oppress others. Beal provides a comprehensive list of these questionable journals. It will always help if you read some reviews before spending your valuable time on those listed, especially if you intend to publish your research output.

impostor

If you have no better choice and can spend ample time to look for those articles which you believe can help you develop your research topic, open access journals are the default choice at least for a start. Verify if your library has paid subscriptions to popular scientific journals which offer more choices. This will cut down time for you to be able to understand current research and establish the state of the art.

 2. Ask a professor for copies of their article collections.

One MS student approached me the other day asking if I have literature on community based resource management. Indeed, her inquiry bore fruit as I subscribe to a biannual environmental science journal. I lent her six issues and she was so grateful for the help.

Don’t hesitate to approach someone who might be working on something similar to your line of interest. Almost always, there’s a pile of literature he can share with you so you can quickly browse the topics.

3. Join sites where scientific articles are shared.

One of the growing websites that many scientists join is academia.edu. A colleague reminded me that is a good source of scientific articles, because some generous scientists upload and share their articles for everyone to peek into and possibly include in their list of related literature. You may also write those scientists who might be interested in your proposed investigation. I uploaded an article in portable document format (PDF) myself and I noticed high traffic on that single article alone. Now, academia.edu boasts 7,133,903 member researchers.

4. Visit relevant government offices.

A trip to government offices who usually have mini-libraries store information on office programs, projects, and activities plus other informative materials for public use can help you enhance the quality of information in your study area’s profile. Statistics on demographics, detailed maps, and recent public service initiatives are commonly found in these offices.

Research is meant to improve the quality of human life, and the government is tasked to provide welfare to the general public. Thus, you can orient your research to address issues and problems that were already identified in such government offices.

If your study is about the environment, then the sensible choice is the environment agency of the government. You can help improve on or enhance current environmental policy using identified issues and concern on the environment as government employees interact directly with local communities. Surely, your research will be appreciated by policy makers.

5. Replicate yourself.

Why do the literature by yourself when you can engage the help of others — for a fee, of course. I did this when I was conceptualizing my research topic. I learned that there was a group of graduate students who offered to do the literature review for a fixed rate. They do all the legwork, i.e., scrounging the libraries and finding relevant materials based on my set of keywords and problem statement. That surely saved me a lot of time while I narrow down my research topic using my collection of related literature. The added material will strengthen my arguments and/or redefine the direction of my investigation.

If you prefer to do things online, see the most common types of sources in a research paper.

© 2014 February 17 P. A. Regoniel

What is a Good Research Problem?

Are you still unsure what thesis topic to pursue in the course of honing your skills in research? Or maybe you have already one but you are in doubt if it is a good research problem at all? Read on to find out if you’re on the right track.

One of the difficulties that graduating undergraduate and graduate students encounter in the course of preparing their thesis involve the proper selection of their research problem. If you are one of them, how should you go about it? How will you know that the research problem is good enough for you to spend your time, money, and effort?

A Good Research Problem

You will find out that a good research problem is a good one if you have critically assessed and satisfied at least two things:

  1. Are there available methods to carry it out?
  2. Do you have the resources to pursue it?

Take a look and see if you have these things at your disposal. If not, then, you are not yet ready to do anything at all.

Methods

In doing any kind of research, you need to use a standardized method so that other researchers can confirm your findings or you are able to compare your results with someone who pursued the same topic as yours.What methods have been used so far to allow the resolution of the research problem?

impostor

This requires you to browse the literature and look for appropriate methods on the topic at hand. Reviewing the literature will also help you keep up with current topics, identify which ones need more information or lack data for better understanding of a given phenomenon.

Reviewing the literature doesn’t mean reading one or two scientific papers but several, or a lot, so that you are able to synthesize or point out what has been missed, inconsistent findings, or different conclusions between authors. This just means that studies on that topic has not yet matured and that further studies need to be conducted to resolve pertinent issues.

Resources

Resources refer to things such as available time to complete the research, the amount of money you will need to do the activities associated with your research, your capacity as a researcher, availability of equipment needed for data collection and analysis, among others.

Attending conferences and talking with experts on a current issue can also guide you in your thinking. Is there local interest to pursue the research issue? If there is, then you can take off from where others have left and discover new relationships between variables.

Once you find a good research problem where you are able to state it clearly and well, you can consider half of your work done. You are well on your way towards becoming an accomplished researcher.

© 2013 December 20 P. A. Regoniel

Using Mixed Methods in Research

Using either quantitative or qualitative methods of research is insufficient in addressing many research questions. This article explains the merits of combining both methods.

Most of us are all too familiar with the terms quantitative and qualitative research methods. The quantitative research method, as the term connotes, focuses on the analysis of a discrete set of ideas. Discrete, in this sense, means distinct ideas that can be subjected to the four statistical scales of variable measurement namely nominal, ordinal, interval, and ratio. The quantitative approach is commonly used in the hard sciences such as the biological and the physical sciences, where the subjects being studied can be amassed in great quantities. This research method, however, could not be used more effectively in situations that require an in-depth understanding of the subject being scrutinized, particularly humans, who are regarded as complex beings whose behavior cannot be simply explained by numbers or simple quantification. It is viewed that the quantitative method provides a superficial answer to the issues at hand. The qualitative method, thus, comes into play.

scientist

Purpose and Scope of the Study

The above explanation boils down to the realization that what really matters in the performance of research is for you as a researcher to be very clear about your purpose in doing research. What are your objectives in your investigation? What, really, is the purpose of your study?

The purpose or objectives of research define the direction of literature review, research design and data collection. You cannot afford to study all aspects of a phenomenon. It makes sense to limit your scope on those items that you can adequately answer with the resources you have at hand.

Two major questions arise that will help you shape your objectives:

  1. Are you competent enough to pursue the topic, and
  2. Do you have the time, money, and willingness to work towards the completion of your research?

Why Mixed Methods?

In every phenomenon, the 5Ws and 1H of reporting symbolizing the What, Why, When, Who, Where and How of a phenomenon, provides a complete picture for a thorough understanding of a point of interest. Applying the quantitative method answers the What, When, Where, and How Many of data in the form of numbers. It does not answer the Why‘s and How‘s of the phenomenon. Hence, the qualitative method comes in. Combining these two methods give rise to the recently getting popular research approach termed as Mixed Methods, which captures both the breadth and depth of information. Mixed Methods is more encompassing; a more comprehensive answer to research questions is arrived at.

Quantitative and qualitative research methods complement each other. thus, the use of Mixed Methods is a recommended approach especially when dealing with human behavior.

© 2013 December 17 P. A. Regoniel

Using a Matrix to Prepare Your Research Proposal

Is there a way to simplify the preparation of your research or thesis proposal without leaving out the important items to include in its preparation? Try the matrix approach described here and reap the benefits.

You may find yourself getting into the trouble  of writing and rewriting your thesis proposal because you tend to miss important details pertinent to what you intend to investigate on and how you are going to go about it. Research or thesis proposal preparation is very time-consuming and can cause undue worry especially if you have set a fixed time frame to finish your thesis. If your desire is to have your research proposal approved soonest so you can start gathering the data you need, this is for you.

A systematic way of ensuring that everything is well addressed or covered fully in your research paper is possible with the use of a matrix. This technique is most appropriate when you want to make sure that you have adequate preparation, especially the appropriate methods to use, to answer the research questions.

What is a matrix?

My students would mull at me every time I tell them about using a matrix to do their research work in a more ordered, straightforward or effective manner. This is a not-so-common technical term to most of them. Although they usually wouldn’t ask, I follow-up with an explanation of what a matrix means.

I would then scrounge for a clean sheet of paper or anything that can serve the purpose to illustrate how a matrix can be used to set one’s mind into focus. A matrix is basically a table with rows and columns. The technique works this way:

1. Prepare a table with the following headings for each column:

  • research question,
  • methodology, and
  • statistical analysis.

You may fold the sheet of paper into three equal-sized columns or draw a line downwards to separate each column.

2. List the research questions

Under the heading “Research Question,” write the series of research questions that you intend to pursue in their logical order. Logical order means that you arrange research questions chronologically. It is ordered in such a way that answering the first question will facilitate the resolution of the next question.

3. Supply the required methods to answer the research questions

Under the heading “Methodology,” look at the left column and think how you would go about answering the research question. What shall you use to provide the information required in the first question, the second one, third, and so on. As you finish writing the method to use, place a line beneath to separate the questions and their corresponding methods from each other.

4. Select the appropriate statistical tool

Under the third column with the heading “Statistical Analysis,” recall your statistics lessons or consult a statistician about the correct statistical tool to analyze the facts to be gathered in the study. Does the research question need simple descriptive statistics such as mean, median, mode or percentages? Or do you need to apply a correlation analysis, a test of difference between means, or a multivariate analysis? You can also add under this column the corresponding graphs or tables that you will need for better discussion of the findings.

Now, guided by your matrix, you will be able to answer your research questions with confidence. You make sure that everything is covered by setting a one-to-one correspondence in the crucial elements of the research proposal, i.e., the research questions, the methodology, and the corresponding statistical analysis.

An example is given below to show it should look:

example matrix

That wraps it up. Try it and be more systematic in preparing your research proposal.

© 2013 December 4 P. A. Regoniel

How to Write the Abstract

This article provides guidance on how to write a good abstract. See how it’s done.

After you have written fully your research paper, thesis, or scientific paper, there is a need for you to write the abstract. How is the abstract written? What are the important elements of a good abstract?

If this is the first time or you do not feel confident about the abstract that you have written, here are important points to remember and adhere to in writing the abstract. An example is provided for your guidance.

Definition of an Abstract

An abstract is a short summary of your research paper, thesis, or scientific paper. How short should it be? If you are submitting it for inclusion in a conference presentation, the convention is to limit its length from 250 to 300 words. It is possible, however, to capture the essence of the paper in less number of words. This means that you will really have to make it as short as possible without leaving out the important items that will cause readers to read the paper. The abstract serves as a teaser, a taste of the pie for readers to decide whether they will read the whole piece.

Elements of a Good Abstract

A good abstract is a mini-version of the whole research paper. Therefore, it should contain

  • the aim or purpose of the research paper,
  • the methodology or the procedures used in the conduct of the study,
  • the major findings, and
  • the conclusion or conclusions.

Recommendations are not included in the abstract.

In writing a good abstract, therefore, the critical sections of a research paper should be present. How is this achieved? You can simply start off by writing each of the above mentioned sections in only one sentence. This means that your abstract can be written in four sentences.

All right. So how should the different sections be written in such a way that they are concise while at the same time meaningful? Be guided by the following descriptions of each critical section:

  1. Aim or purpose – state why the study was undertaken and what are its objectives
  2. Methodology – give a brief description of how the study was conducted
  3. Major findings – only state the significant results or highlights of the study
  4. Conclusion – after those findings were obtained, what conclusions can be drawn?

Example of an Abstract

This report discusses a two-year study on the effect of exposing four to six-year old children to violent computer games. The study involved 200 children in nursery schools whose aggressive tendencies and anti-social behavior were observed with their teachers’ cooperation. The computer games they played at home were likewise assessed with the help of their parents. A strong correlation between violent computer game use and aggressive tendencies was obtained. Violent computer games, especially the interactive ones, caused greater aggressiveness and anti-social behavior among children.

flash games

I hope that should get you started. Have your own style by deviating a little from the convention. The point is, the abstract should be interesting enough such that the reader will want to read your investigation and learn from it.

© 2013 November 16 P. A. Regoniel