In the last five years I started researching subjects of my personal interest but later I enhanced my research to support my arguments during business proposals at work. I had to present the problem I am trying to resolve and find the advantages and disadvantages of working with the problem existence, then present a solution to the problem. I had good experience in researching the Behavior-based Safety topic for my MBA thesis. Emmanuel & Gray (2003) list the research experience, along with the area of expertise in the researched subject, as the most important conditions for a good PhD student. The researcher’s skills like his training and earlier research experience are an important indicator of a research practicality according to Creswell (2002, p. 64). Cooper & Schindler (2002) consider the researcher experience (in research) as the best indicator to his professional competence.
The Problem Statement
The purpose of academic research is to give new knowledge to the field of study that was researched in. Academic research is more complex when compared with other research according to Cooper & Schindler (2002, p. 98). The academic research should be original research supported with primary data which is not interpreted data generated directly from the source through interviews or surveys (Cooper & Schindler, 2002). The academic research is also supported by a literature review or secondary data (articles, encyclopedia and textbooks). Normal research is mostly depending on the secondary data review and sometimes supported with primary data.
The problem statement should have enough information to describe the situation it is going to investigate and solve by stating what kind of effect the problem is causing. The problem statement should point out who is affect by the problem (which part of the society or specifically on which profession). The Good description of the data collection method and is required in the problem statement to tell the reader which population will be interviewed / surveyed, what is the size of the population and what kind of data analysis will be used to understand the reason of the problem and find a solution to it. Betckerur (2008) stresses the problem statement importance by stating liking the clarity of the problem to the researcher’s ability to build a good research proposal and formulate a clear hypothesis.
A good problem statement, is a statement that include a descriptions of the solution (or what should be done) to solve the problem and who should care about this problem and the solution it is going to offer. The problem should be general enough to draw the reader attention and give overview but specific enough to tell the reader which part of the big problem is going to be studied.
Creswell (2002) state that “[the problem statement] set the stage for the entire study.” (p. 61). The research problem state the key issues of the study like identifying what is the problem and where does it exists and who is affected by this problem. The researcher crystallizes his aim and target a specific population. The problem statement has the type of research method the research going to use and how the researcher is going collect and analyze the data. “The formulation of a problem statement says much about the quality of the research itself” (Jacobs, 1997, p.1). A well written statement guide the researcher, and the mentor, through the research and act as reference for the researcher and the mentor during the research.
The researcher would base the research questions on the problem statement and formulate the hypothesis on those research questions which are guided by the problem statement (Betkerur, 2008). The problem statement point out the deficiency in the current knowledge and the need to fulfill this deficiency (Creswell, 2002). In addition, the statement raises the reader’s interest to read and explore the discussed problem.
The Purpose Statement
The purpose statement is “a concise, clear statement of the aim of the study, the type of the study, variables, sample and setting” (Engle & Graney, 2001, p. 680). The purpose statement, according to Creswell (2002), is a statement that in general leads the study direction. The purpose of the purpose statement is to declare the research objective and show why the author is conducting the study. The purpose statement should guide the study hypotheses and research questions (Engle & Graney, 2001). The purpose statement should show the research data collection method and how suitable is that method for this study. The statement should declare the research design method and match it to the problem statement and ensure that it is suitable for this study. The purpose statement should briefly show the research variables and specify the study population and location.
Preparing Research Proposal
- Select an interesting topic that needs investigation. The literature review will help in assessing the topic originality and wither a investigating the subject is important to the researcher and the research sponsor.
- Problem background presentation will be conducting by researching the available literature and decoding witch sources are reliable, pear reviewed or researched based.
- Present the significance of the study and show why researching this subject is important. Literature review in step 1 and 2 above will help presenting the study significance.
- Define the concepts and spell out the research terms to clarify any misinterpretation or misunderstanding.
- Establish the research aim by stating the research problem as a question or hypothesis. The research should state if the research method would be quantitative or qualitative.
- Decide on the research structure since qualitative research deals with the quality and description of the problem and emphasize the holistic and each aspect of the human experience. However, quantitative research deals with quantity and numbers to collect measurable information and statistics.
- Find a theoretical framework to give a structure for examining the problem.
- Choose the data collection method. Set sample size and population and state clearly what will be unclouded in the research or excluded. The preferred method for qualitative research is interviews or observations and the preferred method for quantitative research is the use of questioner.
- Plan data collection to avoid unforeseen problems. Use pilot study (questioner) to check if the participant understands the questions and if the questions will yield the required information from the participant. The researcher will be familiar with the study and the interview atmosphere (for qualitative study) during the pilot study. Further modification and enhancement to the data collection method is usually done after the pilot study.
- Describe data analysis procedure. For example if data analysis software like the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) is used for the quantitative study data or Non-numerical Unstructured Data Indexing Researching and Theorizing (NUDIST) is used for qualitative study.
- Enhance data quality by checking the data credibility, transferability, dependability and conformability. Credibility is the data authenticity, transferability is the ability to use the study and it results in similar situations, research repeatability (giving the same results) is the called dependability. Finally, conformability is objectivity of the study results.
- Report ethical issues in the research to seek the research sponsor or research population approval.
- Present study limitations since each study covers part of the community with preset conditions. For example, the study may represent day workers but do not cover night workers or the study interviewed workers after receiving the extraordinary yearly bonus that altered their moral and job satisfaction.
- Plan a realistic time frame for the research.
- Conclude the proposal by summing up the main elements and crucial issues.
Betkerur, J. (2008). Guidelines for writing a research project synopsis or protocol. Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology & Leprology, 74(6), 687-690.
Cooper, D. R., & Schindler, P. S. (2002). Business research methods (8th ed.). Boston: Irwin.
Creswell, J. (2002). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (2nd ed.). NJ, New York: Pearson.
Emmanuel, C., & Gray, R. (2003). Preparing a research proposal for a student research dissertation: a pedagogic note.Accounting Education, 12(3), 303-312.
Engle, V., & Graney, M. (2001, May). Designing a Study for Success. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 49(5), 680.
Jacobs, R. (1997). HRD Is Not the Research Problem. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 8(1), 1-3.
Vivar, C., McQueen, A., Whyte, D., & Armayor, N. (2007). Getting started with qualitative research: developing a research proposal. Nurse Researcher, 14(3), 60-73.