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Chapter 2. Research Design

Getting started.

When I teach undergraduates qualitative research methods, the final product of the course is a “research proposal” that incorporates all they have learned and enlists the knowledge they have learned about qualitative research methods in an original design that addresses a particular research question. I highly recommend you think about designing your own research study as you progress through this textbook. Even if you don’t have a study in mind yet, it can be a helpful exercise as you progress through the course. But how to start? How can one design a research study before they even know what research looks like? This chapter will serve as a brief overview of the research design process to orient you to what will be coming in later chapters. Think of it as a “skeleton” of what you will read in more detail in later chapters. Ideally, you will read this chapter both now (in sequence) and later during your reading of the remainder of the text. Do not worry if you have questions the first time you read this chapter. Many things will become clearer as the text advances and as you gain a deeper understanding of all the components of good qualitative research. This is just a preliminary map to get you on the right road.


Research Design Steps

Before you even get started, you will need to have a broad topic of interest in mind. [1] . In my experience, students can confuse this broad topic with the actual research question, so it is important to clearly distinguish the two. And the place to start is the broad topic. It might be, as was the case with me, working-class college students. But what about working-class college students? What’s it like to be one? Why are there so few compared to others? How do colleges assist (or fail to assist) them? What interested me was something I could barely articulate at first and went something like this: “Why was it so difficult and lonely to be me?” And by extension, “Did others share this experience?”

Once you have a general topic, reflect on why this is important to you. Sometimes we connect with a topic and we don’t really know why. Even if you are not willing to share the real underlying reason you are interested in a topic, it is important that you know the deeper reasons that motivate you. Otherwise, it is quite possible that at some point during the research, you will find yourself turned around facing the wrong direction. I have seen it happen many times. The reason is that the research question is not the same thing as the general topic of interest, and if you don’t know the reasons for your interest, you are likely to design a study answering a research question that is beside the point—to you, at least. And this means you will be much less motivated to carry your research to completion.

Researcher Note

Why do you employ qualitative research methods in your area of study? What are the advantages of qualitative research methods for studying mentorship?

Qualitative research methods are a huge opportunity to increase access, equity, inclusion, and social justice. Qualitative research allows us to engage and examine the uniquenesses/nuances within minoritized and dominant identities and our experiences with these identities. Qualitative research allows us to explore a specific topic, and through that exploration, we can link history to experiences and look for patterns or offer up a unique phenomenon. There’s such beauty in being able to tell a particular story, and qualitative research is a great mode for that! For our work, we examined the relationships we typically use the term mentorship for but didn’t feel that was quite the right word. Qualitative research allowed us to pick apart what we did and how we engaged in our relationships, which then allowed us to more accurately describe what was unique about our mentorship relationships, which we ultimately named liberationships ( McAloney and Long 2021) . Qualitative research gave us the means to explore, process, and name our experiences; what a powerful tool!

How do you come up with ideas for what to study (and how to study it)? Where did you get the idea for studying mentorship?

Coming up with ideas for research, for me, is kind of like Googling a question I have, not finding enough information, and then deciding to dig a little deeper to get the answer. The idea to study mentorship actually came up in conversation with my mentorship triad. We were talking in one of our meetings about our relationship—kind of meta, huh? We discussed how we felt that mentorship was not quite the right term for the relationships we had built. One of us asked what was different about our relationships and mentorship. This all happened when I was taking an ethnography course. During the next session of class, we were discussing auto- and duoethnography, and it hit me—let’s explore our version of mentorship, which we later went on to name liberationships ( McAloney and Long 2021 ). The idea and questions came out of being curious and wanting to find an answer. As I continue to research, I see opportunities in questions I have about my work or during conversations that, in our search for answers, end up exposing gaps in the literature. If I can’t find the answer already out there, I can study it.

—Kim McAloney, PhD, College Student Services Administration Ecampus coordinator and instructor

When you have a better idea of why you are interested in what it is that interests you, you may be surprised to learn that the obvious approaches to the topic are not the only ones. For example, let’s say you think you are interested in preserving coastal wildlife. And as a social scientist, you are interested in policies and practices that affect the long-term viability of coastal wildlife, especially around fishing communities. It would be natural then to consider designing a research study around fishing communities and how they manage their ecosystems. But when you really think about it, you realize that what interests you the most is how people whose livelihoods depend on a particular resource act in ways that deplete that resource. Or, even deeper, you contemplate the puzzle, “How do people justify actions that damage their surroundings?” Now, there are many ways to design a study that gets at that broader question, and not all of them are about fishing communities, although that is certainly one way to go. Maybe you could design an interview-based study that includes and compares loggers, fishers, and desert golfers (those who golf in arid lands that require a great deal of wasteful irrigation). Or design a case study around one particular example where resources were completely used up by a community. Without knowing what it is you are really interested in, what motivates your interest in a surface phenomenon, you are unlikely to come up with the appropriate research design.

These first stages of research design are often the most difficult, but have patience . Taking the time to consider why you are going to go through a lot of trouble to get answers will prevent a lot of wasted energy in the future.

There are distinct reasons for pursuing particular research questions, and it is helpful to distinguish between them.  First, you may be personally motivated.  This is probably the most important and the most often overlooked.   What is it about the social world that sparks your curiosity? What bothers you? What answers do you need in order to keep living? For me, I knew I needed to get a handle on what higher education was for before I kept going at it. I needed to understand why I felt so different from my peers and whether this whole “higher education” thing was “for the likes of me” before I could complete my degree. That is the personal motivation question. Your personal motivation might also be political in nature, in that you want to change the world in a particular way. It’s all right to acknowledge this. In fact, it is better to acknowledge it than to hide it.

There are also academic and professional motivations for a particular study.  If you are an absolute beginner, these may be difficult to find. We’ll talk more about this when we discuss reviewing the literature. Simply put, you are probably not the only person in the world to have thought about this question or issue and those related to it. So how does your interest area fit into what others have studied? Perhaps there is a good study out there of fishing communities, but no one has quite asked the “justification” question. You are motivated to address this to “fill the gap” in our collective knowledge. And maybe you are really not at all sure of what interests you, but you do know that [insert your topic] interests a lot of people, so you would like to work in this area too. You want to be involved in the academic conversation. That is a professional motivation and a very important one to articulate.

Practical and strategic motivations are a third kind. Perhaps you want to encourage people to take better care of the natural resources around them. If this is also part of your motivation, you will want to design your research project in a way that might have an impact on how people behave in the future. There are many ways to do this, one of which is using qualitative research methods rather than quantitative research methods, as the findings of qualitative research are often easier to communicate to a broader audience than the results of quantitative research. You might even be able to engage the community you are studying in the collecting and analyzing of data, something taboo in quantitative research but actively embraced and encouraged by qualitative researchers. But there are other practical reasons, such as getting “done” with your research in a certain amount of time or having access (or no access) to certain information. There is nothing wrong with considering constraints and opportunities when designing your study. Or maybe one of the practical or strategic goals is about learning competence in this area so that you can demonstrate the ability to conduct interviews and focus groups with future employers. Keeping that in mind will help shape your study and prevent you from getting sidetracked using a technique that you are less invested in learning about.

STOP HERE for a moment

I recommend you write a paragraph (at least) explaining your aims and goals. Include a sentence about each of the following: personal/political goals, practical or professional/academic goals, and practical/strategic goals. Think through how all of the goals are related and can be achieved by this particular research study . If they can’t, have a rethink. Perhaps this is not the best way to go about it.

You will also want to be clear about the purpose of your study. “Wait, didn’t we just do this?” you might ask. No! Your goals are not the same as the purpose of the study, although they are related. You can think about purpose lying on a continuum from “ theory ” to “action” (figure 2.1). Sometimes you are doing research to discover new knowledge about the world, while other times you are doing a study because you want to measure an impact or make a difference in the world.

Purpose types: Basic Research, Applied Research, Summative Evaluation, Formative Evaluation, Action Research

Basic research involves research that is done for the sake of “pure” knowledge—that is, knowledge that, at least at this moment in time, may not have any apparent use or application. Often, and this is very important, knowledge of this kind is later found to be extremely helpful in solving problems. So one way of thinking about basic research is that it is knowledge for which no use is yet known but will probably one day prove to be extremely useful. If you are doing basic research, you do not need to argue its usefulness, as the whole point is that we just don’t know yet what this might be.

Researchers engaged in basic research want to understand how the world operates. They are interested in investigating a phenomenon to get at the nature of reality with regard to that phenomenon. The basic researcher’s purpose is to understand and explain ( Patton 2002:215 ).

Basic research is interested in generating and testing hypotheses about how the world works. Grounded Theory is one approach to qualitative research methods that exemplifies basic research (see chapter 4). Most academic journal articles publish basic research findings. If you are working in academia (e.g., writing your dissertation), the default expectation is that you are conducting basic research.

Applied research in the social sciences is research that addresses human and social problems. Unlike basic research, the researcher has expectations that the research will help contribute to resolving a problem, if only by identifying its contours, history, or context. From my experience, most students have this as their baseline assumption about research. Why do a study if not to make things better? But this is a common mistake. Students and their committee members are often working with default assumptions here—the former thinking about applied research as their purpose, the latter thinking about basic research: “The purpose of applied research is to contribute knowledge that will help people to understand the nature of a problem in order to intervene, thereby allowing human beings to more effectively control their environment. While in basic research the source of questions is the tradition within a scholarly discipline, in applied research the source of questions is in the problems and concerns experienced by people and by policymakers” ( Patton 2002:217 ).

Applied research is less geared toward theory in two ways. First, its questions do not derive from previous literature. For this reason, applied research studies have much more limited literature reviews than those found in basic research (although they make up for this by having much more “background” about the problem). Second, it does not generate theory in the same way as basic research does. The findings of an applied research project may not be generalizable beyond the boundaries of this particular problem or context. The findings are more limited. They are useful now but may be less useful later. This is why basic research remains the default “gold standard” of academic research.

Evaluation research is research that is designed to evaluate or test the effectiveness of specific solutions and programs addressing specific social problems. We already know the problems, and someone has already come up with solutions. There might be a program, say, for first-generation college students on your campus. Does this program work? Are first-generation students who participate in the program more likely to graduate than those who do not? These are the types of questions addressed by evaluation research. There are two types of research within this broader frame; however, one more action-oriented than the next. In summative evaluation , an overall judgment about the effectiveness of a program or policy is made. Should we continue our first-gen program? Is it a good model for other campuses? Because the purpose of such summative evaluation is to measure success and to determine whether this success is scalable (capable of being generalized beyond the specific case), quantitative data is more often used than qualitative data. In our example, we might have “outcomes” data for thousands of students, and we might run various tests to determine if the better outcomes of those in the program are statistically significant so that we can generalize the findings and recommend similar programs elsewhere. Qualitative data in the form of focus groups or interviews can then be used for illustrative purposes, providing more depth to the quantitative analyses. In contrast, formative evaluation attempts to improve a program or policy (to help “form” or shape its effectiveness). Formative evaluations rely more heavily on qualitative data—case studies, interviews, focus groups. The findings are meant not to generalize beyond the particular but to improve this program. If you are a student seeking to improve your qualitative research skills and you do not care about generating basic research, formative evaluation studies might be an attractive option for you to pursue, as there are always local programs that need evaluation and suggestions for improvement. Again, be very clear about your purpose when talking through your research proposal with your committee.

Action research takes a further step beyond evaluation, even formative evaluation, to being part of the solution itself. This is about as far from basic research as one could get and definitely falls beyond the scope of “science,” as conventionally defined. The distinction between action and research is blurry, the research methods are often in constant flux, and the only “findings” are specific to the problem or case at hand and often are findings about the process of intervention itself. Rather than evaluate a program as a whole, action research often seeks to change and improve some particular aspect that may not be working—maybe there is not enough diversity in an organization or maybe women’s voices are muted during meetings and the organization wonders why and would like to change this. In a further step, participatory action research , those women would become part of the research team, attempting to amplify their voices in the organization through participation in the action research. As action research employs methods that involve people in the process, focus groups are quite common.

If you are working on a thesis or dissertation, chances are your committee will expect you to be contributing to fundamental knowledge and theory ( basic research ). If your interests lie more toward the action end of the continuum, however, it is helpful to talk to your committee about this before you get started. Knowing your purpose in advance will help avoid misunderstandings during the later stages of the research process!

The Research Question

Once you have written your paragraph and clarified your purpose and truly know that this study is the best study for you to be doing right now , you are ready to write and refine your actual research question. Know that research questions are often moving targets in qualitative research, that they can be refined up to the very end of data collection and analysis. But you do have to have a working research question at all stages. This is your “anchor” when you get lost in the data. What are you addressing? What are you looking at and why? Your research question guides you through the thicket. It is common to have a whole host of questions about a phenomenon or case, both at the outset and throughout the study, but you should be able to pare it down to no more than two or three sentences when asked. These sentences should both clarify the intent of the research and explain why this is an important question to answer. More on refining your research question can be found in chapter 4.

Chances are, you will have already done some prior reading before coming up with your interest and your questions, but you may not have conducted a systematic literature review. This is the next crucial stage to be completed before venturing further. You don’t want to start collecting data and then realize that someone has already beaten you to the punch. A review of the literature that is already out there will let you know (1) if others have already done the study you are envisioning; (2) if others have done similar studies, which can help you out; and (3) what ideas or concepts are out there that can help you frame your study and make sense of your findings. More on literature reviews can be found in chapter 9.

In addition to reviewing the literature for similar studies to what you are proposing, it can be extremely helpful to find a study that inspires you. This may have absolutely nothing to do with the topic you are interested in but is written so beautifully or organized so interestingly or otherwise speaks to you in such a way that you want to post it somewhere to remind you of what you want to be doing. You might not understand this in the early stages—why would you find a study that has nothing to do with the one you are doing helpful? But trust me, when you are deep into analysis and writing, having an inspirational model in view can help you push through. If you are motivated to do something that might change the world, you probably have read something somewhere that inspired you. Go back to that original inspiration and read it carefully and see how they managed to convey the passion that you so appreciate.

At this stage, you are still just getting started. There are a lot of things to do before setting forth to collect data! You’ll want to consider and choose a research tradition and a set of data-collection techniques that both help you answer your research question and match all your aims and goals. For example, if you really want to help migrant workers speak for themselves, you might draw on feminist theory and participatory action research models. Chapters 3 and 4 will provide you with more information on epistemologies and approaches.

Next, you have to clarify your “units of analysis.” What is the level at which you are focusing your study? Often, the unit in qualitative research methods is individual people, or “human subjects.” But your units of analysis could just as well be organizations (colleges, hospitals) or programs or even whole nations. Think about what it is you want to be saying at the end of your study—are the insights you are hoping to make about people or about organizations or about something else entirely? A unit of analysis can even be a historical period! Every unit of analysis will call for a different kind of data collection and analysis and will produce different kinds of “findings” at the conclusion of your study. [2]

Regardless of what unit of analysis you select, you will probably have to consider the “human subjects” involved in your research. [3] Who are they? What interactions will you have with them—that is, what kind of data will you be collecting? Before answering these questions, define your population of interest and your research setting. Use your research question to help guide you.

Let’s use an example from a real study. In Geographies of Campus Inequality , Benson and Lee ( 2020 ) list three related research questions: “(1) What are the different ways that first-generation students organize their social, extracurricular, and academic activities at selective and highly selective colleges? (2) how do first-generation students sort themselves and get sorted into these different types of campus lives; and (3) how do these different patterns of campus engagement prepare first-generation students for their post-college lives?” (3).

Note that we are jumping into this a bit late, after Benson and Lee have described previous studies (the literature review) and what is known about first-generation college students and what is not known. They want to know about differences within this group, and they are interested in ones attending certain kinds of colleges because those colleges will be sites where academic and extracurricular pressures compete. That is the context for their three related research questions. What is the population of interest here? First-generation college students . What is the research setting? Selective and highly selective colleges . But a host of questions remain. Which students in the real world, which colleges? What about gender, race, and other identity markers? Will the students be asked questions? Are the students still in college, or will they be asked about what college was like for them? Will they be observed? Will they be shadowed? Will they be surveyed? Will they be asked to keep diaries of their time in college? How many students? How many colleges? For how long will they be observed?


Take a moment and write down suggestions for Benson and Lee before continuing on to what they actually did.

Have you written down your own suggestions? Good. Now let’s compare those with what they actually did. Benson and Lee drew on two sources of data: in-depth interviews with sixty-four first-generation students and survey data from a preexisting national survey of students at twenty-eight selective colleges. Let’s ignore the survey for our purposes here and focus on those interviews. The interviews were conducted between 2014 and 2016 at a single selective college, “Hilltop” (a pseudonym ). They employed a “purposive” sampling strategy to ensure an equal number of male-identifying and female-identifying students as well as equal numbers of White, Black, and Latinx students. Each student was interviewed once. Hilltop is a selective liberal arts college in the northeast that enrolls about three thousand students.

How did your suggestions match up to those actually used by the researchers in this study? It is possible your suggestions were too ambitious? Beginning qualitative researchers can often make that mistake. You want a research design that is both effective (it matches your question and goals) and doable. You will never be able to collect data from your entire population of interest (unless your research question is really so narrow to be relevant to very few people!), so you will need to come up with a good sample. Define the criteria for this sample, as Benson and Lee did when deciding to interview an equal number of students by gender and race categories. Define the criteria for your sample setting too. Hilltop is typical for selective colleges. That was a research choice made by Benson and Lee. For more on sampling and sampling choices, see chapter 5.

Benson and Lee chose to employ interviews. If you also would like to include interviews, you have to think about what will be asked in them. Most interview-based research involves an interview guide, a set of questions or question areas that will be asked of each participant. The research question helps you create a relevant interview guide. You want to ask questions whose answers will provide insight into your research question. Again, your research question is the anchor you will continually come back to as you plan for and conduct your study. It may be that once you begin interviewing, you find that people are telling you something totally unexpected, and this makes you rethink your research question. That is fine. Then you have a new anchor. But you always have an anchor. More on interviewing can be found in chapter 11.

Let’s imagine Benson and Lee also observed college students as they went about doing the things college students do, both in the classroom and in the clubs and social activities in which they participate. They would have needed a plan for this. Would they sit in on classes? Which ones and how many? Would they attend club meetings and sports events? Which ones and how many? Would they participate themselves? How would they record their observations? More on observation techniques can be found in both chapters 13 and 14.

At this point, the design is almost complete. You know why you are doing this study, you have a clear research question to guide you, you have identified your population of interest and research setting, and you have a reasonable sample of each. You also have put together a plan for data collection, which might include drafting an interview guide or making plans for observations. And so you know exactly what you will be doing for the next several months (or years!). To put the project into action, there are a few more things necessary before actually going into the field.

First, you will need to make sure you have any necessary supplies, including recording technology. These days, many researchers use their phones to record interviews. Second, you will need to draft a few documents for your participants. These include informed consent forms and recruiting materials, such as posters or email texts, that explain what this study is in clear language. Third, you will draft a research protocol to submit to your institutional review board (IRB) ; this research protocol will include the interview guide (if you are using one), the consent form template, and all examples of recruiting material. Depending on your institution and the details of your study design, it may take weeks or even, in some unfortunate cases, months before you secure IRB approval. Make sure you plan on this time in your project timeline. While you wait, you can continue to review the literature and possibly begin drafting a section on the literature review for your eventual presentation/publication. More on IRB procedures can be found in chapter 8 and more general ethical considerations in chapter 7.

Once you have approval, you can begin!

Research Design Checklist

Before data collection begins, do the following:

  • Write a paragraph explaining your aims and goals (personal/political, practical/strategic, professional/academic).
  • Define your research question; write two to three sentences that clarify the intent of the research and why this is an important question to answer.
  • Review the literature for similar studies that address your research question or similar research questions; think laterally about some literature that might be helpful or illuminating but is not exactly about the same topic.
  • Find a written study that inspires you—it may or may not be on the research question you have chosen.
  • Consider and choose a research tradition and set of data-collection techniques that (1) help answer your research question and (2) match your aims and goals.
  • Define your population of interest and your research setting.
  • Define the criteria for your sample (How many? Why these? How will you find them, gain access, and acquire consent?).
  • If you are conducting interviews, draft an interview guide.
  •  If you are making observations, create a plan for observations (sites, times, recording, access).
  • Acquire any necessary technology (recording devices/software).
  • Draft consent forms that clearly identify the research focus and selection process.
  • Create recruiting materials (posters, email, texts).
  • Apply for IRB approval (proposal plus consent form plus recruiting materials).
  • Block out time for collecting data.
  • At the end of the chapter, you will find a " Research Design Checklist " that summarizes the main recommendations made here ↵
  • For example, if your focus is society and culture , you might collect data through observation or a case study. If your focus is individual lived experience , you are probably going to be interviewing some people. And if your focus is language and communication , you will probably be analyzing text (written or visual). ( Marshall and Rossman 2016:16 ). ↵
  • You may not have any "live" human subjects. There are qualitative research methods that do not require interactions with live human beings - see chapter 16 , "Archival and Historical Sources." But for the most part, you are probably reading this textbook because you are interested in doing research with people. The rest of the chapter will assume this is the case. ↵

One of the primary methodological traditions of inquiry in qualitative research, ethnography is the study of a group or group culture, largely through observational fieldwork supplemented by interviews. It is a form of fieldwork that may include participant-observation data collection. See chapter 14 for a discussion of deep ethnography. 

A methodological tradition of inquiry and research design that focuses on an individual case (e.g., setting, institution, or sometimes an individual) in order to explore its complexity, history, and interactive parts.  As an approach, it is particularly useful for obtaining a deep appreciation of an issue, event, or phenomenon of interest in its particular context.

The controlling force in research; can be understood as lying on a continuum from basic research (knowledge production) to action research (effecting change).

In its most basic sense, a theory is a story we tell about how the world works that can be tested with empirical evidence.  In qualitative research, we use the term in a variety of ways, many of which are different from how they are used by quantitative researchers.  Although some qualitative research can be described as “testing theory,” it is more common to “build theory” from the data using inductive reasoning , as done in Grounded Theory .  There are so-called “grand theories” that seek to integrate a whole series of findings and stories into an overarching paradigm about how the world works, and much smaller theories or concepts about particular processes and relationships.  Theory can even be used to explain particular methodological perspectives or approaches, as in Institutional Ethnography , which is both a way of doing research and a theory about how the world works.

Research that is interested in generating and testing hypotheses about how the world works.

A methodological tradition of inquiry and approach to analyzing qualitative data in which theories emerge from a rigorous and systematic process of induction.  This approach was pioneered by the sociologists Glaser and Strauss (1967).  The elements of theory generated from comparative analysis of data are, first, conceptual categories and their properties and, second, hypotheses or generalized relations among the categories and their properties – “The constant comparing of many groups draws the [researcher’s] attention to their many similarities and differences.  Considering these leads [the researcher] to generate abstract categories and their properties, which, since they emerge from the data, will clearly be important to a theory explaining the kind of behavior under observation.” (36).

An approach to research that is “multimethod in focus, involving an interpretative, naturalistic approach to its subject matter.  This means that qualitative researchers study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of, or interpret, phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them.  Qualitative research involves the studied use and collection of a variety of empirical materials – case study, personal experience, introspective, life story, interview, observational, historical, interactional, and visual texts – that describe routine and problematic moments and meanings in individuals’ lives." ( Denzin and Lincoln 2005:2 ). Contrast with quantitative research .

Research that contributes knowledge that will help people to understand the nature of a problem in order to intervene, thereby allowing human beings to more effectively control their environment.

Research that is designed to evaluate or test the effectiveness of specific solutions and programs addressing specific social problems.  There are two kinds: summative and formative .

Research in which an overall judgment about the effectiveness of a program or policy is made, often for the purpose of generalizing to other cases or programs.  Generally uses qualitative research as a supplement to primary quantitative data analyses.  Contrast formative evaluation research .

Research designed to improve a program or policy (to help “form” or shape its effectiveness); relies heavily on qualitative research methods.  Contrast summative evaluation research

Research carried out at a particular organizational or community site with the intention of affecting change; often involves research subjects as participants of the study.  See also participatory action research .

Research in which both researchers and participants work together to understand a problematic situation and change it for the better.

The level of the focus of analysis (e.g., individual people, organizations, programs, neighborhoods).

The large group of interest to the researcher.  Although it will likely be impossible to design a study that incorporates or reaches all members of the population of interest, this should be clearly defined at the outset of a study so that a reasonable sample of the population can be taken.  For example, if one is studying working-class college students, the sample may include twenty such students attending a particular college, while the population is “working-class college students.”  In quantitative research, clearly defining the general population of interest is a necessary step in generalizing results from a sample.  In qualitative research, defining the population is conceptually important for clarity.

A fictional name assigned to give anonymity to a person, group, or place.  Pseudonyms are important ways of protecting the identity of research participants while still providing a “human element” in the presentation of qualitative data.  There are ethical considerations to be made in selecting pseudonyms; some researchers allow research participants to choose their own.

A requirement for research involving human participants; the documentation of informed consent.  In some cases, oral consent or assent may be sufficient, but the default standard is a single-page easy-to-understand form that both the researcher and the participant sign and date.   Under federal guidelines, all researchers "shall seek such consent only under circumstances that provide the prospective subject or the representative sufficient opportunity to consider whether or not to participate and that minimize the possibility of coercion or undue influence. The information that is given to the subject or the representative shall be in language understandable to the subject or the representative.  No informed consent, whether oral or written, may include any exculpatory language through which the subject or the representative is made to waive or appear to waive any of the subject's rights or releases or appears to release the investigator, the sponsor, the institution, or its agents from liability for negligence" (21 CFR 50.20).  Your IRB office will be able to provide a template for use in your study .

An administrative body established to protect the rights and welfare of human research subjects recruited to participate in research activities conducted under the auspices of the institution with which it is affiliated. The IRB is charged with the responsibility of reviewing all research involving human participants. The IRB is concerned with protecting the welfare, rights, and privacy of human subjects. The IRB has the authority to approve, disapprove, monitor, and require modifications in all research activities that fall within its jurisdiction as specified by both the federal regulations and institutional policy.

Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods Copyright © 2023 by Allison Hurst is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Doing Research in the Real World

Student resources, chapter 2: theoretical perspectives and research methodologies.

  • Checklist for Using Theory

Here is the abstract of a 2014 article in the journal Psychological Science.

Taking notes on laptops rather than in longhand is increasingly common. Many researchers have suggested that laptop note taking is less effective than longhand note taking for learning. Prior studies have primarily focused on students’ capacity for multitasking and distraction when using laptops. The present research suggests that even when laptops are used solely to take notes, they may still be impairing learning because their use results in shallower processing. In three studies, we found that students who took notes on laptops performed worse on conceptual questions than students who took notes longhand. We show that whereas taking more notes can be beneficial, laptop note takers’ tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning. (Mueler & Oppenheimer, 2014, p. 1159) [1]

In this abstract, the researcher has identified a research question—about the effect of taking notes on a laptop on learning—and identified why it is worthy of investigation—because the practice is ubiquitous and may be harmful to learning. In this chapter, we give you a broad overview of the various stages of the research process. These include finding a topic of investigation, reviewing the literature, refining your research question and generating a hypothesis, designing and conducting a study, analyzing the data, coming to conclusions, and reporting the results.

  • Mueller, P. A., & Oppenheimer, D. M. (2014). The pen is mightier than the keyboard: Advantages of longhand over laptop note taking. Psychological Science, 25 (6), 1159-1168. ↵

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2.3 Reviewing the Research Literature

Learning objectives.

  • Define the research literature in psychology and give examples of sources that are part of the research literature and sources that are not.
  • Describe and use several methods for finding previous research on a particular research idea or question.

Reviewing the research literature means finding, reading, and summarizing the published research relevant to your question. An empirical research report written in American Psychological Association (APA) style always includes a written literature review, but it is important to review the literature early in the research process for several reasons.

  • It can help you turn a research idea into an interesting research question.
  • It can tell you if a research question has already been answered.
  • It can help you evaluate the interestingness of a research question.
  • It can give you ideas for how to conduct your own study.
  • It can tell you how your study fits into the research literature.

What Is the Research Literature?

The research literature in any field is all the published research in that field. The research literature in psychology is enormous—including millions of scholarly articles and books dating to the beginning of the field—and it continues to grow. Although its boundaries are somewhat fuzzy, the research literature definitely does not include self-help and other pop psychology books, dictionary and encyclopedia entries, websites, and similar sources that are intended mainly for the general public. These are considered unreliable because they are not reviewed by other researchers and are often based on little more than common sense or personal experience. Wikipedia contains much valuable information, but the fact that its authors are anonymous and its content continually changes makes it unsuitable as a basis of sound scientific research. For our purposes, it helps to define the research literature as consisting almost entirely of two types of sources: articles in professional journals, and scholarly books in psychology and related fields.

Professional Journals

Professional journals are periodicals that publish original research articles. There are thousands of professional journals that publish research in psychology and related fields. They are usually published monthly or quarterly in individual issues, each of which contains several articles. The issues are organized into volumes, which usually consist of all the issues for a calendar year. Some journals are published in hard copy only, others in both hard copy and electronic form, and still others in electronic form only.

Most articles in professional journals are one of two basic types: empirical research reports and review articles. Empirical research reports describe one or more new empirical studies conducted by the authors. They introduce a research question, explain why it is interesting, review previous research, describe their method and results, and draw their conclusions. Review articles summarize previously published research on a topic and usually present new ways to organize or explain the results. When a review article is devoted primarily to presenting a new theory, it is often referred to as a theoretical article .

Figure 2.6 Small Sample of the Thousands of Professional Journals That Publish Research in Psychology and Related Fields

A Small sample of the thousands of professional journals that publish research in psychology and related fields

Most professional journals in psychology undergo a process of peer review . Researchers who want to publish their work in the journal submit a manuscript to the editor—who is generally an established researcher too—who in turn sends it to two or three experts on the topic. Each reviewer reads the manuscript, writes a critical review, and sends the review back to the editor along with his or her recommendations. The editor then decides whether to accept the article for publication, ask the authors to make changes and resubmit it for further consideration, or reject it outright. In any case, the editor forwards the reviewers’ written comments to the researchers so that they can revise their manuscript accordingly. Peer review is important because it ensures that the work meets basic standards of the field before it can enter the research literature.

Scholarly Books

Scholarly books are books written by researchers and practitioners mainly for use by other researchers and practitioners. A monograph is written by a single author or a small group of authors and usually gives a coherent presentation of a topic much like an extended review article. Edited volumes have an editor or a small group of editors who recruit many authors to write separate chapters on different aspects of the same topic. Although edited volumes can also give a coherent presentation of the topic, it is not unusual for each chapter to take a different perspective or even for the authors of different chapters to openly disagree with each other. In general, scholarly books undergo a peer review process similar to that used by professional journals.

Literature Search Strategies

Using psycinfo and other databases.

The primary method used to search the research literature involves using one or more electronic databases. These include Academic Search Premier, JSTOR, and ProQuest for all academic disciplines, ERIC for education, and PubMed for medicine and related fields. The most important for our purposes, however, is PsycINFO , which is produced by the APA. PsycINFO is so comprehensive—covering thousands of professional journals and scholarly books going back more than 100 years—that for most purposes its content is synonymous with the research literature in psychology. Like most such databases, PsycINFO is usually available through your college or university library.

PsycINFO consists of individual records for each article, book chapter, or book in the database. Each record includes basic publication information, an abstract or summary of the work, and a list of other works cited by that work. A computer interface allows entering one or more search terms and returns any records that contain those search terms. (These interfaces are provided by different vendors and therefore can look somewhat different depending on the library you use.) Each record also contains lists of keywords that describe the content of the work and also a list of index terms. The index terms are especially helpful because they are standardized. Research on differences between women and men, for example, is always indexed under “Human Sex Differences.” Research on touching is always indexed under the term “Physical Contact.” If you do not know the appropriate index terms, PsycINFO includes a thesaurus that can help you find them.

Given that there are nearly three million records in PsycINFO, you may have to try a variety of search terms in different combinations and at different levels of specificity before you find what you are looking for. Imagine, for example, that you are interested in the question of whether women and men differ in terms of their ability to recall experiences from when they were very young. If you were to enter “memory for early experiences” as your search term, PsycINFO would return only six records, most of which are not particularly relevant to your question. However, if you were to enter the search term “memory,” it would return 149,777 records—far too many to look through individually. This is where the thesaurus helps. Entering “memory” into the thesaurus provides several more specific index terms—one of which is “early memories.” While searching for “early memories” among the index terms returns 1,446 records—still too many too look through individually—combining it with “human sex differences” as a second search term returns 37 articles, many of which are highly relevant to the topic.

Depending on the vendor that provides the interface to PsycINFO, you may be able to save, print, or e-mail the relevant PsycINFO records. The records might even contain links to full-text copies of the works themselves. (PsycARTICLES is a database that provides full-text access to articles in all journals published by the APA.) If not, and you want a copy of the work, you will have to find out if your library carries the journal or has the book and the hard copy on the library shelves. Be sure to ask a librarian if you need help.

Using Other Search Techniques

In addition to entering search terms into PsycINFO and other databases, there are several other techniques you can use to search the research literature. First, if you have one good article or book chapter on your topic—a recent review article is best—you can look through the reference list of that article for other relevant articles, books, and book chapters. In fact, you should do this with any relevant article or book chapter you find. You can also start with a classic article or book chapter on your topic, find its record in PsycINFO (by entering the author’s name or article’s title as a search term), and link from there to a list of other works in PsycINFO that cite that classic article. This works because other researchers working on your topic are likely to be aware of the classic article and cite it in their own work. You can also do a general Internet search using search terms related to your topic or the name of a researcher who conducts research on your topic. This might lead you directly to works that are part of the research literature (e.g., articles in open-access journals or posted on researchers’ own websites). The search engine Google Scholar is especially useful for this purpose. A general Internet search might also lead you to websites that are not part of the research literature but might provide references to works that are. Finally, you can talk to people (e.g., your instructor or other faculty members in psychology) who know something about your topic and can suggest relevant articles and book chapters.

What to Search For

When you do a literature review, you need to be selective. Not every article, book chapter, and book that relates to your research idea or question will be worth obtaining, reading, and integrating into your review. Instead, you want to focus on sources that help you do four basic things: (a) refine your research question, (b) identify appropriate research methods, (c) place your research in the context of previous research, and (d) write an effective research report. Several basic principles can help you find the most useful sources.

First, it is best to focus on recent research, keeping in mind that what counts as recent depends on the topic. For newer topics that are actively being studied, “recent” might mean published in the past year or two. For older topics that are receiving less attention right now, “recent” might mean within the past 10 years. You will get a feel for what counts as recent for your topic when you start your literature search. A good general rule, however, is to start with sources published in the past five years. The main exception to this rule would be classic articles that turn up in the reference list of nearly every other source. If other researchers think that this work is important, even though it is old, then by all means you should include it in your review.

Second, you should look for review articles on your topic because they will provide a useful overview of it—often discussing important definitions, results, theories, trends, and controversies—giving you a good sense of where your own research fits into the literature. You should also look for empirical research reports addressing your question or similar questions, which can give you ideas about how to operationally define your variables and collect your data. As a general rule, it is good to use methods that others have already used successfully unless you have good reasons not to. Finally, you should look for sources that provide information that can help you argue for the interestingness of your research question. For a study on the effects of cell phone use on driving ability, for example, you might look for information about how widespread cell phone use is, how frequent and costly motor vehicle crashes are, and so on.

How many sources are enough for your literature review? This is a difficult question because it depends on how extensively your topic has been studied and also on your own goals. One study found that across a variety of professional journals in psychology, the average number of sources cited per article was about 50 (Adair & Vohra, 2003). This gives a rough idea of what professional researchers consider to be adequate. As a student, you might be assigned a much lower minimum number of references to use, but the principles for selecting the most useful ones remain the same.

Key Takeaways

  • The research literature in psychology is all the published research in psychology, consisting primarily of articles in professional journals and scholarly books.
  • Early in the research process, it is important to conduct a review of the research literature on your topic to refine your research question, identify appropriate research methods, place your question in the context of other research, and prepare to write an effective research report.
  • There are several strategies for finding previous research on your topic. Among the best is using PsycINFO, a computer database that catalogs millions of articles, books, and book chapters in psychology and related fields.
  • Practice: Use the techniques discussed in this section to find 10 journal articles and book chapters on one of the following research ideas: memory for smells, aggressive driving, the causes of narcissistic personality disorder, the functions of the intraparietal sulcus, or prejudice against the physically handicapped.

Adair, J. G., & Vohra, N. (2003). The explosion of knowledge, references, and citations: Psychology’s unique response to a crisis. American Psychologist, 58 , 15–23.

Research Methods in Psychology Copyright © 2016 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

Project Writers in Nigeria BSc. MSc. PhD

Research Project Writing Website


A practical guide to research writing – chapter two.

Historically, Chapter Two of every academic Research/Project Write up has been Literature Review, and this position has not changed. When preparing your write up for this Chapter, you can title it “Review of Related Literature” or just “Literature Review”.

This is the chapter where you provide detailed explanation of previous researches that has been conducted on your topic of interest. The previous studies that must be selected for this chapter must be academic work/articles published in an internationally reputable journal.

Also, the selected articles must not be more than 10 years old (article publication date to project writing date). For better organization, it has been generally accepted that the arrangement for a good literature review write up follows this order:

2.0     Introduction

2.1     Conceptual Review

2.2     Theoretical Framework

2.3     Empirical review

Summary of Literature/Research Gap


This serves as the preamble to the chapter alone or preliminary information on the chapter. All the preliminary information that should be provided here should cover just this chapter alone because the project already has a general introduction which is chapter one. It should only reflect the content of this chapter. This is why the introduction for literature review is sometimes optional.

Basically here, you should describe the contents of the chapter in few words



This section can otherwise be titled “Conceptual Framework”. It must capture all explanations on the concepts that are associated with your research topic in logical order. For example, if your research topic is “A study of the effect of advertisement on firm sales”, your conceptual framework can best follow this order:

2.1     Conceptual Framework

2.1.1  Advertisement        Types of Advertisement      Advantages of Advertisement

2.1.2  Concept of Firm Sales        Factor determining Firm Sales

These concepts must be defined and described from the historical point of view. Topical works and prevailing issues globally, in your continent and nation on the concepts should be presented here. You must be able to provide clear information here that there should be no ambiguity about the variables you are studying.


This can be otherwise titled “Theoretical Review”. This section should contain all previous professional theories and models that have provided explanations on your research topic in the recent past. Yes, related theories and models also falls within the category of past literature for your research write up. Professional theories that are most relevant to your topic should be separately arranged in this section, as seen in the example below:

2.2.1  Jawkwish Theory of Performance

2.2.2  Interstitial Theory of Ranking

2.2.3  Grusse Theory of Social Learning

But the most important thing to note while writing this part is that, apart from making sure that you must do a thorough research and ensure that the most relevant theories for your research topic is selected, your theoretical review must capture some important points which should better reflect in this order for each model:

The proponent of the theory/model, title and year of publication, aim/purpose/structure of the theory, contents and arguments of the theory, findings and conclusions of the theory, criticisms and gaps of the theory, and finally the relevance of the theory to your current research topic.


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Academic project or thesis or dissertation writing is not an easy academic endeavor. To reach your goal, you must invest time, effort, and a strong desire to succeed. Writing a thesis while also juggling other course work is challenging, but it doesn't have to be an unpleasant process. A dissertation or thesis is one of the most important requirements for any degree, and this book will show you how to create a good research write-up from a high level of abstraction, making your research writing journey much easier. It also includes examples of how and what the contents of each sub-headings should look like for easy research writing. This book will also constitute a step-by-step research writing guide to scholars in all research fields.


This can be otherwise titled “Empirical Framework”. This is usually described as the critical review of the existing academic works/literature on your research topic. This can be organized or arranged in two different alternative ways when developing your write up:

  • It can be arranged in a table with heading arranged horizontally in this order: Author name and initials, year and title of publication, aim/objectives, methodology, findings, conclusions, recommendations, research gap. Responses for the above should be provided in spaces provided below in the table for up to 40 articles at least.
  • The second option excludes the use of tables but still contains the same information exactly as above for tables. The information is provided in thematic text format with appropriate in-text references. Note that all these points to be included can be directly gotten from the articles except the research gap which requires your critical thinking. Your research gap must identify an important thing(s) the previous research has not done well or not done at all, which your current research intends to do. Although, you should criticize, but constructively while acknowledging areas of perfections and successes of the authors.

Note that every research you critically review must have evident/obvious gaps that your research intends to fill.


This is the concluding part of every literature review write up. It provides the summary of the entire content of the whole Chapter. Sometimes, some institutions require that you bring the analysis of all the gaps of the existing literature under review here. Conclusions on the whole existing literature under review should briefly be highlighted in this section.

I trust that this article will help undergraduates and postgraduate researchers in writing a very good Literature Review for your Research/Project/Paper/Thesis, and will also meet the needs of our esteemed readers who has been requesting for a guide on how to write their Chapter Two (Literature Review).

Enjoy, as you develop a good Literature Review for your research!


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2 Chapter 2 (Introducing Research)

Joining a Conversation

Typically, when students are taught about citing sources, it is in the context of the need to avoid plagiarism. While that is a valuable and worthwhile goal in its own right, it shifts the focus past one of the original motives for source citation. The goal of referencing sources was originally to situate thoughts in a conversation and to provide support for ideas. If I learned about ethics from Kant, then I cite Kant so that people would know whose understanding shaped my thinking. More than that, if they liked what I had to say, they could read more from Kant to explore those ideas. Of course, if they disliked what I had to say, I could also refer them to Kant’s arguments and use them to back up my own thinking.

For example, you should not take my word for it that oranges contain Vitamin C. I could not cut up an orange and extract the Vitamin C, and I’m only vaguely aware of its chemical formula. However, you don’t have to. The FDA and the CDC both support this idea, and they can provide the documentation. For that matter, I can also find formal articles that provide more information. One of the purposes of a college education is to introduce students to the larger body of knowledge that exists. For example, a student studying marketing is in no small part trying to gain access to the information that others have learned—over time—about what makes for effective marketing techniques. Chemistry students are not required to derive the periodic table on their own once every four years.

In short, college classes (and college essays) are often about joining a broader conversation on a subject. Learning, in general, is about opening one’s mind to the idea that the person doing the learning is not the beginning nor the end of all knowledge.

Remember that most college-level assignments often exist so that a teacher can evaluate a student’s knowledge. This means that displaying more of that knowledge and explaining more of the reasoning that goes into a claim typically does more to fulfill the goals of an assignment. The difference between an essay and a multiple choice test is that an essay typically gives students more room to demonstrate a thought process in action. It is a way of having students “show their work,” and so essays that jump to the end without that work are setting themselves up for failure.

Learning, Not Listing

Aristotle once claimed “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” Many students are familiar with the idea of search . The internet makes it tremendously easy to search for information—and misinformation. It takes a few seconds to find millions of results on almost any topic. However, that is not research. Where, after all, is the re in all of that? The Cambridge Dictionary offers the following definition:

Research (verb): to study a subject in detail, especially in order to discover new information or reach a new understanding.

Nothing about that implies a casual effort to type a couple of words into search engine and assuming that a result on the first screen is probably good enough. Nor does that imply that a weighted or biased search question, like “why is animal testing bad” will get worthwhile results.  Instead, research requires that the researcher searches, learns a little, and then searches again . Additionally, the level of detail matters. Research often involves knowing enough to understand the deeper levels of the subject.

For example, if someone is researching the efficacy of animal testing, they might encounter a claim that mice share a certain percentage of their DNA with human beings. Even this is problematic, because measuring DNA by percentage isn’t as simple as it sounds. However, estimates range from 85% to 97.5%, with the latter number being the one that refers to the active or “working” DNA. Unfortunately, the casual reader still knows nothing of value about using mice for human research. Why? Because the casual reader doesn’t know if the testing being done involves the 97.5% or the 2.5%, or even if the test is one where it can be separated.

To put it bluntly, Abraham Lincoln once had a trip to the theater that started 97.5% the same as his other trips to the theater.

In order for casual readers to make sense of this single factoid, they need to know more about DNA and about the nature of the tests being performed on the animals. They probably need to understand biology at least a little. They certainly need to understand math at a high enough level to understand basic statistics. All of this, of course, assumes that the student has also decided that the source itself is worthy of trust. In other words, an activist website found through a search engine that proclaims “mice are almost identical to humans” or “mice lack 300 million base pairs that humans have”. Neither source is lying. Just neither source helps the reader understand what is being talked about (if the sources themselves even understand).

Before a student can write a decent paper, the student needs to have decent information. Finding that information requires research, not search. Often, student writers (and other rhetors) mistakenly begin with a presupposed position that they then try to force into the confines of their rhetoric.  Argumentation requires an investigation into an issue before any claim is proffered for discussion.  The ‘thesis statement’ comes last; in many ways it is the product of extensive investigation and learning. A student should be equally open to and skeptical of all sources.

Skepticism in Research

Skepticism is not doubting everyone who disagrees with you. True skepticism is doubting all claims equally and requiring every claim to be held to the same burden of proof (not just the claims we disagree with). By far, the biggest misconception novice writers struggle with is the idea that it is okay to use a low-quality source (like a blog, or a news article, or an activist organization) because they got “just facts” from that source.

The assumption seems to be that all presentations of fact are equally presented, or that sources don’t lie. However, even leaving aside that many times people do lie in their own interests, which facts are presented and how they are presented changes immensely. There’s no such thing as “just facts.” The presentation of facts matters, as does how they are gathered. Source evaluation is a fundamental aspect of advanced academic writing.

“Lies” of Omission and Inclusion:  One of the simplest ways to misrepresent information is simply to exclude material that could weaken the stance that is favored by the author. This tactic is frequently called stacking the deck , and it is obviously dishonest. However, there is a related problem known as observational bias , wherein the author might not have a single negative intention whatsoever. Instead, xe simply only pays attention to the evidence that supports xir cause, because it’s what’s relevant to xir.

  • Arguments in favor of nuclear energy as a “clean” fuel source frequently leave out the problem of what to do with the spent fuel rods (i.e. radioactive waste). Similarly, arguments against nuclear energy frequently count only dramatic failures of older plants and not the safe operation of numerous modern plants; another version is to highlight the health risks of nuclear energy without providing the context of health risks caused by equivalent fuel sources (e.g. coal or natural gas).
  • Those who rely on personal observation in support of the idea that Zoomers are lazy might count only the times they see younger people playing games or relaxing, ignoring the number of times they see people that same age working jobs or—more accurately—the times they don’t see people that age because they are too busy helping around the house or doing homework.

A source that simply lists ideas without providing evidence or justifying how the evidence supports its conclusions is likely not a source that meets the rigor needed for an academic argument. While later chapters will go into the subject in greater detail, these guidelines suggest that in general, news media are not ideal sources. Neither are activist webpages, nor are blogs or government outlets. As later chapters will explore, all of these “sources” are not in fact sources of information. Inevitably, these documents to not create information, they simply report it. Instead, finding the original studies (performed by experts, typically controlled for bias, and reviewed by other experts before being published) is a much better alternative.

Examining Sources Using the Toulmin Model

On most issues, contradictory evidence exists and the researcher must review the options in a way that establishes one piece of evidence as more verifiable, or as otherwise preferable, to the other.  In essence, researchers must be able to compare arguments to one another.

Stephen Toulmin introduced a model of analyzing arguments that broke arguments down into three essential components and three additional factors. His model provides a widely-used and accessible means of both studying and drafting arguments.

chapter 2 and 3 research

The Toulmin model can be complicated with three other components, as well: backing, rebuttals, and qualifiers. Backing represents support of the data (e.g. ‘the thermostat has always been reliable in the past’ or ‘these studies have been replicated dozens of times with many different populations’). Rebuttals, on the other hand, admit limits to the argument (e.g. ‘unless the thermostat is broken’ or ‘if you care about your long-term health’). Finally, qualifiers indicate how certain someone is about the argument (e.g. ‘it is definitely too cold in here’ is different than ‘it might be too cold in here’; likewise, ‘you might want to stop smoking’ is a lot less forceful than ‘you absolutely should stop smoking’).

At a minimum, an argument (either one made by the student or by a source being evaluated) should have all three of the primary components, even if they are incorporated together. However, most developed arguments (even short answers on tests or simple blog posts) should have all six elements in place. If they are missing, it is up to the reader to go looking for what is missing and to try to figure out why it might have been left out.

Here is an example of an underdeveloped argument that is simply phrased like an absolute claim of fact. It is a poor argument, in that it offers none of the rationale behind what it says—it just insists that it is correct:

“Other countries hate the United States for a reason.”

What other countries? What reason? Is it just one reason, or is it one reason per country?

By contrast, here is an argument that has at least some minimal development:

“In the eyes of many (Qualifier), the United States has earned the hatred of other countries (Claim). The U.S. involvement in Iranian politics alone has earned the country criticism (Data). By helping to overthrow a democratically elected leader in favor of a monarch in 1953, the U.S. acted in a manner that seemed hypocritical and self-interested (Backing). While many countries do act in favor of their own interests (Rebuttal), the U.S. publicly championing democracy while covertly acting against it serves to justify criticism of the country (Warrant).”

Is there room to disagree with this argument? Yes. However, this argument provides its rationale, it offers at least some sort of evidence for its claims, and it provides a place to begin engagement. A researcher who wishes to know more about this argument can go looking into the history of U.S.-Iran relations, for example.

When reviewing a source, or making their own arguments, researchers should consider the following questions. Is there evidence that can be verified and examined by others (in the same spirit as the scientific method)? More specifically:

  • What is the claim?
  • What data backs up this claim?
  • What assumptions do I have to make to consider this evidence to be adequate support?

The various pieces of data which support claims in the Toulmin model are often called into question.  Studies are refuted, statistics countered with rival numbers, and their applicability to the claim in question is often murky.  Evidence—whether offered as matters of fact or as subjective considerations—does not exist in a vacuum.  Data are themselves claims.  If the supporting data are accepted as true, the argument has a generally accepted conclusion.  Such pieces of ‘evidence’ are contentions .

Although Toulmin distinguishes between qualifiers and rebuttal conditions, such a distinction is difficult to maintain in practice.  The important consideration—the one acknowledged by both terms—is that unconditional or absolute claims are difficult to support.  Specific fields have their own ways of hedging their bets.  Science has its error bar (Sagan) and the terminology of probability.  Statistics and polling have a margin of error.  Ethnography has its confrontation of personal bias.  When a rhetor expresses the limitations of a given claim, when the unconditional becomes conditional, claims become more than categorical propositions or thesis statements.  They become arguments.

Example 1:  Here is a minimalistic overview of one claim on the topic of traffic cameras.

  • Claim = Traffic cameras increase minor accidents
  • Evidence = David Kidwell and Alex Richards of The Chicago Tribune performed a study that was later cited by ABC News.
  • Assumptions = This study was conducted honestly and reasonably represents the reality of accidents around these cameras (i.e. I can trust the agenda and the methods of the Chicago Tribune staff).

Example 2 : And here is a second claim on the same subject.

  • Claim = The types of accidents by traffic cameras tend to be less severe
  • Evidence = The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety examined national trends and compared medical reports, police reports, and various bills, posting the results on their website.
  • Assumptions = If the IIHS has a bias, it would be toward fewer accidents, or at least less severe accidents (because this means they have to pay less money out).

As an Essay Fragment : According to some, traffic cameras actually increase accidents. A study conducted by the Chicago Tribune found that rear-end collisions increased when traffic cameras were installed, meaning that they make things worse, not better (Kidwell and Richards). However, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety points out that while there are sometimes increases in minor collisions, the number of crashes resulting in injuries actually decreases.

  • “According to…not better (Kidwell and Richards).” This uses a parenthetical source citation to provide a “link” to the evidence and to invite readers to examine both the data and the warrants.
  • “However, the…decreases.” This uses a signal statement to introduce the source of the evidence first, often because the source has so much credibility the author is hoping to impress the reader.

Note that this is not a particularly powerful fragment–it is simply the  minimum level of rigor that a student should offer (or look for) in an academic essay or in an academic source.

Academic arguments typically make concessions.  These concessions help define the scope of the argument and the range of the inquiry.  In Section 1, I mentioned a relatively straightforward value claim: “Plan X is bad.”  Argumentation engages such value claims and defines their scope and limits.  Who is plan X bad for?  By what standards?  Why then is anyone in favor of plan X?  A more practical approach could be “If you favor Y, then Plan X is bad.”  This is a concession, of sorts—Plan X is only bad if you favor Y.  The argument admits that if you do not, then Plan X might not be all that bad, after all.

Such a concession, worded in such a way, has added merit.  It functions as what Aristotle would have called an artistic proof, although maybe not an enthymeme.  It establishes a bond between the rhetor and the audience through the shared favoring of Y; it nurtures consubtantiality—the basis of what Burke calls identification.  Clearly, concessions can be made in a way that both prevents some counterarguments from applying and still furthers a rhetorical point.

Such phrasing is practical, and only truly cynical interrogators would consider it sinister.  An inversion of this approach is possible.  “Unless you favor Y, Plan X is bad.”  So long as Y is sufficiently negative in the minds of the audience, the rhetor loses no actual impact here.  Here, connecting Y to X might require substantiation on the part of the rhetor, because the concession has become, itself, a justification of why X is bad (it is related to or involves Y).  The additional rhetorical power—gained through positive and negative associations—often compensates for such additional effort.

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Chapter 2 Synopsis: The Organization of a Research Article

This chapter outlined the organizational structure of a research article, which is commonly referred to as IMRD/C. Each of those sections has specific goals and strategies that writers can use to optimize their ability to communicate research successfully. One way to envision the relationships between each of the IMRD/C sections is with the image of an hourglass.

Visual depiction of the sections of a research article in the shape of an hourglass. The beginning (introduction) and end (discussion/conclusion) sections are the broader parts of the hourglass while the Methods and Results constitute the more specific middle sections.

The hourglass demonstrates the generality of the Introduction and the Discussion/Conclusion sections in contrast to the more specific nature of the middle two sections — Methods and Results. In the next four chapters, you’ll learn about each of those sections, respectively.

Key Takeaways

Each research article will contain distinct sections that tend to be rather consistent across disciplines, but could contain some individual variation within your discipline or even academic journal. The argument in an overall research article moves from being general to specific then back to more general again.

Preparing to Publish Copyright © 2023 by Sarah Huffman; Elena Cotos; and Kimberly Becker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Introducing Research project chapters – How to write chapters 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 introductions in a thesis and dissertation

  • October 28, 2022
  • Posted by: IGBAJI U.C.
  • Category: Academic Writing Guide

Introducing Research project chapters

Every research project, thesis or dissertation is organised in chapters. Research project chapters range from 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, 6 or 7 depending on the school, department and study level.

Content Outline

An introduction is the first section of a research project , an essay, or a book. It is a section that set the tone for the entire project as it gives a reader an insight into the essence of the project. Every research paper requires context, which is the foundation on which the research is based so that readers can comprehend why it was created.

Thus, it introduces the reader to what the research is about. A research project generically consists of five chapters. Thus, here you will discover how to compose an introduction of the various chapters that make up a research project.

A chapter is a separate section of a research report or thesis that must be read as such. Chapter introductions serve a similar orienting purpose as they expose the reader to the chapter’s foci, goals, technique, and argument, as well as any other pertinent reader information.

You will need to compose an introduction chapter while writing a thesis . The introduction of every research thesis or dissertation is crucial since it is the first part the supervisor or examiner will read, thus making a strong first impression is crucial.

How to write chapters 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 introductions in a thesis and dissertation

Introducing chapter one (1) research project, thesis or dissertation.

Chapter one is the first chapter of a research project . It is often titled “Introduction” because it introduces the entire project and the scope of the project. In addition to providing a foundation for other chapters, it provides a framework for their construction.

When writing the introduction of your research project, you should ensure giving a broad overview of the topic you are writing on and then narrow it down to a particular context or aspects of the topic that your research will focus on.

You should also make effort at providing a brief clarification of the key terms of the project while eliciting an understanding of why your research is worthwhile. However, the following tips can help you introduce your chapter appropriately:

  • Provide background information on the title of your project
  • Make reference to vital findings of previous studies
  • Specify your study objectives and questions
  • State the rationale for your study
  • State the scope of your study

Although the introduction of your chapter does not have a word limit unless specified, it must be written in a clear and concise manner. However, it is quite tricky writing the introduction of your project, thus, it is mostly recommended that you write your introduction last to ensure that all the necessary information is captured.

Introducing Chapter Two (2) Research Project, Thesis or Dissertation

Chapter two of a research project is often tagged literature review”. The chapter basically provides a review of scholarly studies related to the topic you are researching on. The essence of this chapter is to identify a gap in the literature on your topic of research .

However, introducing this chapter in research projects has not been a common practice among scholars. But this does not take away the necessity of doing so. Generically, chapter two of a research project contains three major sections. These are conceptual literature, theoretical literature, and empirical literature. Thus, when introducing this chapter, is necessary you highlight the various sections as contained in the main body of the review.

Chapter two (2) Introduction Sample:

This is the second chapter of this study. The goal of this chapter is to provide of review of conceptual, theoretical, and empirical literature in the topic area in order to identify gaps in the existing literature. The chapter concludes by providing a summary of the literature review and with a clear statement of the study gap and how the present study intends to occupy the gap .

Introducing Chapter three (3) Research Project, Thesis or Dissertation

The Third chapter of a research project, thesis, or dissertation is often tagged research methodology . It is a chapter where a researcher offers a description of the various methods he intends to adopt in ensuring that the research questions are addressed and the research objectives met.

Although there is no generic way of writing this chapter, there are some sections which are very important to include in your research methodology. These are sections that describe your research design, the population of the study, your sample and sample selection technique, the method of data collection , and the method of data analysis .

Thus, when introducing this chapter you have to give the reader a rundown of the content of the chapter and why it is necessary. A typical example of how to do this is presented below.

Chapter three (3) Introduction Sample:

This is the third chapter of this study. It contains a description of the different methods adopted by the researcher in order to address the research question and achieve the research objectives. The chapter provides a detailed description of the research design, research population, sample and sampling technique, method of data collection, and method of data analysis.

By doing this, a reader will be able to know what the chapter is all about and the scope of the chapter.

Introducing Chapter Four (4) Research Project, Thesis or Dissertation

This is the fourth chapter of a research project. Although the title of this chapter varies greatly, is a chapter that is generically used to present the study analysis. Thus, it is often tagged as “data presentation, analysis, and discussions” or “analysis and result”.

Whichever way, the goal of this chapter is to present and discuss the result of the various analyses carried out in the study. Thus, when introducing this chapter you should try to ensure that you tell the reader what the chapter is meant for.

Chapter four (4) Introduction Sample:

This is the fourth chapter of this study. The chapter presents the results and findings of the various methods of analysis adopted in ensuring that the study data are properly analyzed in order to ensure that the objectives of the study are achieved. The presentation of the study findings is done according to the study objectives stated in the first chapter of the study. The chapter also presents a discussion of the study findings in relation to similar past studies in the topic area.

By doing this you have the research and insight into the content of the chapter. Thus, whetting his/her appetite to delve in fully to see what you have done and how they have been able to address the research question and objectives.

Introducing Chapter Five (5) Research Project, Thesis or Dissertation

This is the final chapter of your research project. It is often tagged “summary of findings or study, conclusion and recommendation”. This is the chapter where you summarize your study by giving s rundown of what you did in prior chapters.

Based on this, you draw the conclusion (s) regarding what you discovered in the study and then make recommendations. Thus, when introducing this chapter you should try and ensure that you give the reader an insight into what the chapter is all about.

Chapter five (5) Introduction Sample

This is the final chapter of the study. The chapter provides a summary of the study, a conclusion, and a recommendation based on the study findings presented in the fourth chapter of the study.

However, while summarizing the study, you have to clearly restate the title of your research, your objective, the method you adopted, and your findings. Also, your conclusion and recommendation should be strictly based on your study findings.

Things to note while introducing chapters in a Research Project, thesis and dissertation

Capture the reader’s interest -introducing research project chapters.

When writing a chapter opening, you must first grab the reader’s interest with a discussion of a larger subject related to your study. Use research, statistics, and quotations from worldwide or national professional groups, governmental organizations, or prominent writers on the study’s issue to enhance impact.

The employment of a hook is another approach to pique the reader’s attention. A hook is a sentence or combination of lines that grab the reader’s attention and piques their interest in the essay’s substance. A fascinating hook may be used in any type of writing.

Furthermore, there are a number of techniques to pique a reader’s interest, ranging from making a bold, aggressive declaration to offering a provocative inquiry.

Give an overview of your research topic -Introducing Research project chapters

Your talk should then begin by delving further into the issue’s larger features before focusing on your research’s specific topic. When doing this, it’s a good idea to pretend the reader has no prior knowledge of the subject. As a result, terminology must be defined and explained, based on significant studies.

Alternatively, if you are dissatisfied with current definitions after reading relevant material for the literature review chapter, draw on these to create your own (but make sure this has been done).

Detail how your research is going to make a contribution -Introducing Research project chapters

You must sell your study subject suggestion by outlining the major reasons why the research will contribute significantly to the present body of knowledge. This may be done by presenting a gap or restriction in existing research and then illustrating how your study will fill that gap or constraint.

Explain what your interest is in the topic -Introducing Research project chapters

After that, you must explain why you choose the issue for yourself. These might be related to prior studies, employment, or experiences. Make a list of the broad research questions and issues that pique your attention.

Make a list of your passions that you may use as a starting point. Following that, you should be able to summarize your interests in a sentence, or at most a paragraph. What contribution will your study make to the field?

List your research objectives -Introducing Research project chapters

In each chapter of your academic writing , you must state the goal you want to attain. What do you hope to accomplish at the conclusion of each chapter? This will let readers get a head start on the chapter’s topic. The precise definition of each chapter’s aims and objectives is one of the most crucial components of a thesis, dissertation, or research paper .

This is because the breadth, depth, and direction of the chapter will ultimately be determined by your goals and objectives. With your aims stating what is to be accomplished and your objectives suggesting how it will be accomplished, a successful set of aims and objectives will provide your study emphasis and clarity to your reader.

Give a forthcoming chapter overview -Introducing Research project chapters

The introduction concludes with a summary of the remaining chapters of the thesis. The remaining sections can be placed in any order as long as they are in a logical order. Discuss the other chapters briefly. Make your writing enjoyable to read.

Make connections between the current chapter and the next chapters you will be working on. This will give the readers a foreknowledge of what your research intends to achieve.

Chapter writing discusses many sorts of hooks and how the writer should choose the one that best meets the paper’s aim. The chapter illustrates how a background section may be a beneficial supplement to the introduction, but it also warns that its content, focus, and length are all dependent on the writer’s assessment of its contribution to the paper’s persuasiveness.

It illustrates how the Reader’s Introduction should have all of the parts in the Writer’s Introduction, as well as a hook and a background section. The chapter discusses many sorts of hooks and how the writer should choose the one that best meets the paper’s aim.

Conclusion -Introducing Research project chapters

Introducing the various chapters of a research project is similar to the generic way of writing an introduction because they all perform the same function which is to give a reader an insight into what the chapter is all about. Although, in some cases, the content structure of research projects of most institutions or as prescribed by the project supervisor may or not permit the inclusion of an introduction of each chapter of the project.

But when not clearly specified by the content structure or project guideline you can make effort at introducing each chapter of your research project as you proceed. Also, try ensuring that you introduce each chapter in a precise and brief manner as a long or bulky introduction may discourage readers from reading your project.

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An Introduction to Research Methods for Undergraduate Health Profession Students Copyright © 2023 by Faith Alele and Bunmi Malau-Aduli is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

2024 Theses Doctoral

Microeconomic Heterogeneity and Macroeconomic Policy

Morrison, Wendy A.

This dissertation is part of a growing body of research studying the implications of micro heterogeneity - differences between different types of households and workers - for macro economic policy. By incorporating heterogeneity into monetary and fiscal policy frameworks, I am able to study both the distributional consequences of policy and uncover ways in which differences between households change policy transmission mechanisms. In the first chapter, I show that growing differences across the income distribution in workers' substitutability with capital alters the strength of a key monetary policy transmission mechanism. In the second chapter, I highlight and measure a new trade-off between redistribution policies and long-run investment stemming from differences in households' propensity to save out of permanent income. In the third chapter, joint with Jennifer La'O, we show that when the degree of labor income inequality changes over the business cycle, and fiscal policy is unable to respond to these changes, optimal monetary policy should take this inequality into account. Chapter 1 examines how heterogeneity in worker substitutability with capital affects the labor income channel of monetary policy. Empirically, I show that workers performing routine tasks see smaller labor income gains than other workers following a monetary expansion and have higher marginal propensities to consume (MPC). I show that this relationship dampens the role that the labor market plays in monetary policy transmission. I embed capital-task complementarity in a medium-scale HANK model calibrated to match the respective capital-labor elasticities and labor shares of routine and non-routine workers. This worker heterogeneity reduces the size of the labor income channel 25 percent. Chapter 2 studies the trade-offs associated with income redistribution in an overlapping generations model in which savings rates increase with permanent income. By transferring resources from high savers to low savers, redistribution lowers aggregate savings, and depresses investment. I derive sufficient conditions under which this savings behavior generates a welfare trade-off between permanent income redistribution and capital accumulation in the short and long run. I quantify the size of this trade-off in two ways. First, I derive a sufficient statistic formula for the impact of this channel on welfare, and estimate the formula using U.S. household panel data. When redistribution is done with a labor income tax, the welfare costs associated with my channel are around 1/3 the size of those associated with labor supply distortions. Second, I solve a quantitative overlapping generations model with un-insurable idiosyncratic earnings risk in which savings rates increase with permanent income calibrated to the U.S. in 2019. In this setting, I find that around 17 percent of the trade-off between labor income redistribution and average consumption can be attributed to my channel. In Chapter 3, joint with Jennifer La'O, we study optimalmonetary policy in a dynamic, general equilibrium economy with heterogeneous agents. All heterogeneity is ex-ante: workers differ in type-specific, state-contingent labor productivity, yet markets are complete. The fiscal authority has access to a uniform, state-contingent lump-sum tax (or transfer), but linear taxes are restricted to be non-state contingent. We derive sufficient conditions under which implementing flexible-price allocations is optimal. We show that such allocations are not optimal when the relative labor income distribution varies with the business cycle; in such cases, optimal monetary policy implements a state-contingent mark-up that co-moves positively with a sufficient statistic for labor income inequality.

Geographic Areas

  • United States
  • Employment (Economic theory)
  • Employees--Economic conditions
  • Saving and investment
  • Income distribution--Econometric models
  • Fiscal policy
  • Households--Economic aspects--Econometric models

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Introduction of Application Cases of Conference Matrices to Quality Improvement Research

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  • Teruo Mori 2  

Using the conference matrices reduces the number of experiments to 1/3 to 1/2 of the mixed orthogonal array. About 90% of the research subjects are quality improvement and process improvement such as new product development, productivity improvement, elimination of pollutants, and defective product countermeasures by changing conditions. This chapter explains quality improvement research with the case studies related to 90%.

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Mori, T. (2005). Easy application and mathematics of the Taguchi method . Mori Consulting Office.

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Taguchi, G. (1984). Parameter design in new product development . Japanese Standards Association.

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Sahota O, Narayanasamy M, Bastounis A, et al. Bisphosphonate alternative regimens for the prevention of osteoporotic fragility fractures: BLAST-OFF, a mixed-methods study. Southampton (UK): National Institute for Health and Care Research; 2024 Apr. (Health Technology Assessment, No. 28.21.)

Cover of Bisphosphonate alternative regimens for the prevention of osteoporotic fragility fractures: BLAST-OFF, a mixed-methods study

Bisphosphonate alternative regimens for the prevention of osteoporotic fragility fractures: BLAST-OFF, a mixed-methods study.

Chapter 6 research priorities regarding the use of bisphosphonates for osteoporosis: a united kingdom priority-setting exercise.

Some text in this chapter has been reproduced from Bastounis A, et al . Osteoporos Int 2022; 33 :1223–3. This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt and build upon this work, for commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited. See https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ . The text below includes minor additions and formatting changes to the original text.

  • Introduction

In order to enhance adherence to BP , and thus contribute to addressing the osteoporosis care gap, it is important to understand perspectives of all relevant stakeholders in using these drugs. There are many possible research agendas to pursue and, traditionally, researchers have identified health research priorities. However, PPI in research, including the prioritisation of research agendas, is now well established. 185 – 191 Involving patients and the public ensures that research is grounded in patient relevance, research questions are meaningful and important research topics are identified that researchers may not have previously considered. 192 Over the last decade, a number of initiatives, such as INVOLVE, part of the NIHR, have been established to facilitate and promote active public involvement in all aspects of research, including priority setting. The James Lind Alliance (JLA) was formed in 2004 and aimed to bring patients and clinicians together in a new way to identify and address important uncertainties about the effects of care and treatments. 193

Despite the apparent revolution in patient engagement, evidence suggests the mismatch between the research that is conducted and the research patients want still persists. A previous report commissioned by the JLA established that the majority of charitable funders in the UK funded research in a responsive mode, with only a minority funding research that met pre-identified priorities. 194 With respect to BP as a treatment for osteoporosis, no studies have investigated the research priorities of stakeholders. Paskins et al. (2017) conducted the first national study of public and patient research priorities in osteoporosis and fracture. 195 Participants were asked to indicate their top priority for research across 40 different research items. Understanding the safety and benefit of osteoporosis drug treatments was identified as the second priority research area. However, a need was identified for more refinement to translate this research focus into specific research questions. This paper aims to address this gap by conducting a research prioritisation exercise to understand priorities relating to BP treatment regimens for prevention of osteoporotic fractures in adults.

We used a three-step approach based on the JLA methodology for identification and prioritisation of research questions. 196 An overview of the methods is shown in Figure 11 . This prioritisation study did not require ethics approval as per the JLA guidance.

Overview of methods.

Step 1: gathering uncertainties

Uncertainties were gathered from (1) Chapters 2 – 5 and (2) existing published research recommendations. Over a series of four group meetings, the group study team reviewed and discussed the findings from (1) Chapters 2 – 5 and generated a list of potential arising uncertainties. A final meeting involved a patient advisory group (PAG) to further inform the process. Separately, a systematic search of relevant electronic databases and websites of professional organisations was conducted to identify (2) research recommendations highlighted within recent clinical guidelines. Databases searched included Epistemonikos, NICE , SIGN, Guidelines international network, Guidelines.co.uk and TRIP database. Inclusion criteria were (1) international guidelines from non-low- or middle-income country (LMIC), (2) about osteoporosis (including glucocorticoid osteoporosis), (3) published since 2016 and (4) developed on behalf of a professional organisation. Exclusion criteria were: (1) guidelines from LMIC, (2) about osteoporosis only in the context of another specific health condition, (3) published before 2016 and (4) written by individuals not representing a broader organisation. Attempts were made to translate guidelines that were not in the English language. Relevant sections on recommendations for research were extracted, and a list of research recommendations was produced. Subsequently, research recommendations were considered as in- or out-of-scope initially by two members of the study team (ZP, NC) and then approved by the whole team, with in-scope recommendations defined as relating to the use of BP . This generated a list of research recommendations.

Step 2: processing and refining uncertainties

Using stakeholder input, we refined the list of uncertainties from (1) and research recommendations (2) into research questions. One 3-hour stakeholder meeting was convened with patients and carers, clinicians (medical and non-medical) and academics to include representatives from primary and secondary care. Potential participants were invited from the ROS Effectiveness Working Group of the Bone Research Academy, Nottingham osteoporosis patient support group and clinical networks of the study team. We recorded the professional role and sex of attendees, but we did not collect data on age or ethnicity. The list of uncertainties and list of research recommendations [outputs from (1) and (2)] were circulated to attendees before the meeting. In the meeting, within small groups, the list of uncertainties were discussed and refined, with some uncertainties combined as appropriate. Attendees and study team members had the opportunity to suggest additional uncertainties during this process. The uncertainties were also categorised into groups. Each uncertainty was then refined into a research question with particular attention to defining the population and setting, intervention, comparison and outcomes of interest. 197 These were then combined with (2) forming a final list of research questions (3).

In order to validate that the research questions (3) were true research questions and not already answered, a search was subsequently conducted of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, PubMed and references of NICE guidelines, SIGN clinical guidelines, NOGG guidelines and ROS guidance for any relevant systematic reviews. If no systematic review was found to exist, the research question proceeded to Step 3.

Step 3: prioritisation

A full-day online workshop was convened in February 2022, aiming for between 12 and 30 participants to include a mix of patients, carers and primary and secondary care clinicians. Potential participants were invited as per the Step 2 workshop; in addition, the workshop was advertised on Twitter and via the Keele research User Group to particularly target lay, non-medical and primary care representatives. People were allocated on a first-come, first-served basis with the aim of achieving a balance of attendees across professional and lay groups. Study team members attended and acted as facilitators but did not vote or discuss ranking. Information on participant interests and disclosures was collected and reviewed to ensure balance across the group. Participants were sent the research questions in advance and asked to rank their top twenty questions before the workshop. Participants were permitted to send in pre-ranking if interested but unable to attend the workshop. In the workshop, an adapted nominal group technique was used. As per updated JLA guidance for online workshops, a four-step approach was used (removing a fifth plenary step, which has been difficult to operationalise online). 198 The workshop started with a plenary session to introduce the task and explain the background. Thereafter, four small groups compared and discussed their initial pre-workshop rankings. After a break, the same groups then produced their own combined ranking of at least the top 20 questions. The ranking of the four small groups was then combined and shared with the group in a plenary session. Finally, a second round of group prioritisation took place, to revise the shared ranking, in new small groups. These small group rankings were combined, reviewed and agreed as the final prioritised list.

Patient and public involvement

Members of the Nottingham ROS (NotROS) Support Group were involved in a series of meetings to discuss the design of the BLAST-OFF research programme and confirmed that understanding acceptability of BP from a range of perspectives was important. A PAG helped the study team identify the research uncertainties emerging from BLAST-OFF and public contributors were involved in both stakeholder groups (Steps 2 and 3).

The study team and PAG identified 22 uncertainties. Eleven uncertainties were informed by Chapter 2 , 9 by Chapter 3 , 11 by Chapter 4 and 7 by Chapter 5 . The PAG talked about the importance of outcomes other than fracture, for example, meeting people’s information needs. They discussed and particularly informed uncertainties relating to how patients could be supported to make decisions, how treatment could be made easier and how effectiveness could be monitored.

Sixty-nine potential clinical guidelines were identified, of which 17 included relevant research recommendations ( Figure 12 ).

Search for clinical guidelines results.

Sixteen research recommendations were informed from the clinical guidelines; six of these overlapped with uncertainties from our study. In addition, the clinical guideline research recommendations highlighted populations in need of specific study, including men, people without BMD-defined osteoporosis, frail older adults, those with cognitive impairment and those with glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis.

Eleven people attended Workshop 1. Characteristics of those attending are listed in Table 17 .

Characteristics of workshop attendees

The group was asked to consider the specific populations highlighted in the research recommendations when rewording and refining all the research uncertainties; younger adults emerged as a further group from discussion where further research was needed. Following the workshop, the uncertainties and research recommendations were finalised into 33 distinct research questions.

Thirty-three questions went forward for prioritisation, organised into five categories relating to patient factors and patient support; clinical support and policy; safety; effectiveness and delivery. Twenty people attended Workshop 2, with a further individual (a GP) submitting individual rankings for consideration in the first small group work without attending. Characteristics of attendees were similar to those shown in Table 17 .

The final top 10 priorities are shown in Box 1 . Research questions 11–20 were also ranked, with the remainder unranked (attached in Appendices 6 and 7 , Boxes 2 – 3 ).

Finalised top 10 research priorities

This chapter reports, for the first time, topics of importance to stakeholders in the research of BP treatment regimens for the prevention of osteoporotic fracture in adults, refining previously identified priority areas into specific questions. We identified a number of previously undescribed priority areas relating to BP regimens for people with osteoporosis, including research into the best regimen for people aged under 50 and research comparing the safety, clinical and cost-effectiveness of IV treatment given in peoples’ homes versus hospitals. Furthermore, there was also a particular call to research patient factors influencing treatment selection and effectiveness, highlighting the importance of this research being underpinned by the ethos of personalised care.

The top research priority ‘Which people with osteoporosis should be offered IV BP first line to optimise medicine effectiveness?’ could be influenced by a range of different patient factors, which, in turn, would influence treatment selection and effectiveness. Patients are typically not given a choice between oral or IV BP . While clinicians may choose to offer IN BP on the basis of tolerability and safety issues, more empirical evidence is needed which specifically investigates which patients would benefit most from first-line IV treatment. Published research recommendations and previous prioritisation exercises largely focus on safety and optimal duration of drug treatment, 199 – 201 both of which were included within the top 10 research priorities identified in this study. However, the top 10 list also highlights the importance of developing a long-term model of care, providing more support for ongoing medicine optimisation and researching the role of monitoring (bone turnover markers). These areas have been highlighted in a recent rapid realist review exploring the effective characteristics of interventions to support medicine optimisation in osteoporosis, which identified a need for a person-centred model of long-term care for osteoporosis; 202 interestingly, this review also highlighted the need and role of providing primary care practitioners with decisional support to improve patient outcomes – also highlighted in our top 10. The question relating to ensuring quality standards are met highlights the importance of knowledge mobilisation and applied health services research, which addresses barriers to implementation of clinical guidelines.

The previous prioritisation exercise in this area identified that ‘having easy access to advice and information from health professionals’ was the highest rating research priority. This top 10 includes the more specific question ‘supporting people with osteoporosis to make decisions about taking BP ’. Our preceding qualitative research identified that people reported the benefits of BP to be ambiguous; previous research studies have investigated the role of decision support in osteoporosis, and ongoing development work and trials will hopefully provide further evidence to support this area over the coming years. 203 , 204

Our findings highlight the importance of conducting priority-setting exercises which involve all stakeholders and to not solely focus on guideline recommendations. Of the top 10 identified research priorities in this study, only 3 were derived from guideline recommendations (research priorities 3, 4 and 8). Particularly novel questions relate to the use of ZOL in the community and the best BP regimen for young adults. Research has shown that the majority of guidelines do not include the views of public and patients 205 and, when mentioned, their views were only conceptualised as preferences for one medication over another.

  • Strengths and limitations

While the study provided some important insights, it is subject to some limitations. Patient and caregiver responses within the workshops may have been influenced by the presence of HCPs. Furthermore, the stakeholders involved might not be entirely representative of the wider population. The study may not have adequately represented underserved populations, and stakeholders’ ethnicity data were not collected; this may have affected the final questions prioritised. Employing survey methods may have identified a more representative sample of stakeholders; however, qualitative research to inform priority setting is well-established and useful. The strengths of the study included the comprehensive guideline search, which ensured existing, relevant and published research recommendations were included and discussed when gathering uncertainties to discuss within the workshops. The depth of research in the BLAST-OFF study was also a strength, particularly the qualitative interview study, which included in-depth, rich descriptions from 78 patients receiving BP regimens.

  • Conclusions

In summary, this prioritisation exercise highlights the importance of including stakeholders when setting research priorities and provides a more in-depth understanding of the priorities of stakeholders in BP regimens. While some research priorities, such as supporting people with osteoporosis to make decisions about their treatment, are being addressed, the findings illustrate a need for further research to address the issues relating to patient factors influencing treatment selection and effectiveness and how to optimise long-term care. In addition, these findings have implications for research into implementation to address the care gap and education of HCPs.

This work was produced by Sahota et al. under the terms of a commissioning contract issued by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. This is an Open Access publication distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution CC BY 4.0 licence, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, reproduction and adaptation in any medium and for any purpose provided that it is properly attributed. See: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ . For attribution the title, original author(s), the publication source – NIHR Journals Library, and the DOI of the publication must be cited.

Some text in this chapter has been reproduced from Bastounis A, et al . Osteoporos Int 2022; 33 :1223–3. This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt and build upon this work, for commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited. See https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ . The text below includes minor additions and formatting changes to the original text.

  • Cite this Page Sahota O, Narayanasamy M, Bastounis A, et al. Bisphosphonate alternative regimens for the prevention of osteoporotic fragility fractures: BLAST-OFF, a mixed-methods study. Southampton (UK): National Institute for Health and Care Research; 2024 Apr. (Health Technology Assessment, No. 28.21.) Chapter 6, Research priorities regarding the use of bisphosphonates for osteoporosis: a United Kingdom priority-setting exercise.
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Chapter 1 – A Star is Born

Chapter | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 |

A Star Is Born

It all begins with an unimaginably cold cloud. This cloud contains the seeds of whole new worlds – stars and planets about to be born.

Molecules of hydrogen and helium gas, which normally zip around at high speeds, slow down and clump together because of gravity. Tiny grains of silicates, iron and carbon-rich material — together classified simply as "dust" — send some of the gas’s energy back out into space, making the cloud even colder. The dust grains spiral into the central knot of matter, like water running down a drain.

As this pocket of the cloud contracts and thickens, a bright, hot ball begins to form at the center as more gas and dust are pulled in. Gravity is waging a battle against the pressure of gas and magnetic fields, and gravity is winning.

While the infant star takes shape, the material spiraling inward flattens into a pancake-like structure known as an accretion disk.

Why does this happen? The gravitational tugs of the galaxy’s billions of stars may have accelerated and shocked the gas. Or, maybe two clouds are bumping into each other, causing pockets of gas to coalesce. But sometimes, the catastrophic explosion of a massive star drives strong winds of material into a star-forming cloud — a death resulting in a new birth.

Q. How do we know what kind of star will form?

A. that depends on the material that is available..

Mysteriously, in our galaxy and probably most others, the likeliest type of star to form is almost too small to sustain itself. Red dwarfs, which can be between one-thirteenth to one-half the mass of the Sun, represent three-quarters of the stars in the Milky Way. Any smaller than this, and hydrogen cannot fuse in its core – the dominant process powering most stars. Red dwarf stars burn so slowly that their lifetimes will be longer than that of the present-day universe.

The lives of stars infographic

Sun-like stars are more rare, although still represent 8 percent of the galaxy. Most rare are the very massive stars, which can weigh as much as 150 suns and only live a few million years. "Those stars are so big, so luminous and so short-lived, that astronomers are observing these stars in their pulsating, mass-ejecting death throes, while their low-mass stellar siblings are still in the process of forming," Mamajek said.

A young star is called a "protostar" until it can power itself with hydrogen fusion reactions, and high temperature is crucial to that transition. As matter falls in faster and faster, and the ball of gas at the center gets smaller and more compact, the tug-of-war between gravity and other pressures heats up the infant star. Even hundreds of thousands of degrees is not enough. The core of the star must get to about 10 million degrees before it becomes a hydrogen-burning machine. To be a bona fide star, it must spontaneously fuse hydrogen atoms to form helium, releasing enormous amounts of energy. This energy stabilizes the star's core, such that it stops contracting. This whole process can take about 40 million years.

'Raining' Stars

The same process may be happening in dozens, hundreds or even thousands of places in the same molecular cloud, becoming a glittering stellar nursery.

"It's like rain in a cloud on Earth," said Eric Mamajek, deputy program scientist of NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program. "If you've got the combination of physical conditions to form a drop of rain, chances are you're next to parcels of gas that have the similarly ripe conditions right for producing lots and lots and lots of rain."

In this way, molecular clouds are like Earth clouds, and the raindrops are like stars. The gas from these clouds can collapse and fragment, forming big batches of baby stars. So, stars tend to form in big groups.

NEWS FLASH:  A stellar nursery

Cygnus X is one of the most active regions in the Milky Way hatching baby stars. Some 4,500 light-years away, thousands of stars are being cradled in a violently turbulent cloud of gas and dust.

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope captured this image in infrared light that reveals cavities in the cloud, carved out by the violent outbursts of massive stars. The radiation and winds from these massive stars can rip star-forming material apart, but also trigger the birth of new stars. In this image, the color green highlights dust tendrils, while red shows possibly cooler types of dust and ionized gas from nearby massive stars.

Scientists say most stars formed in large regions like Cygnus X, and then move away from each other over time. Our Sun may have similarly grown up close to other new stars before it left the nest.

Star-forming region Cygnus X

Now that we have our stars, how will they get to have planets orbiting them? Check out  Chapter 2  to find out.

< Previous Chapter | Next Chapter >


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Research: Why People Really Buy Upcycled Products

  • Sara Caprioli,
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  • Bram Van den Bergh

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Creativity is more of a selling point than sustainability.

Researchers who analyzed consumer feedback from Etsy discovered that what consumers value most about upcycled products is not their sustainability but their creativity. Their findings offer some guidelines for companies who hope to design and successfully market upcycled products: 1) Designers should consider using components from other industries to enhance the appeal of their products and encourage cross-industry collaboration; 2) Product designers and managers should identify new uses for product components; 3) Marketers should emphasize creativity, as well as sustainability, in their messaging about upcycled products; and 4) Companies can boost the appeal of new products by emphasizing design elements that remind consumers of upcycled products.

Upcycling — the creation of new products by reusing one or more components from ones — is having a moment.

  • SC Sara Caprioli is a postdoctoral researcher at the TUM School of Management in Germany. Her work focuses on the effects of creativity and artificial intelligence on human behavior.
  • CF Christoph Fuchs is a professor of marketing at the University of Vienna in Austria. His research is situated at the interface of marketing, technology, and human behavior.
  • BB Bram Van den Bergh is professor of marketing at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam. His research focuses on decision making and persuasion.

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Fortnite: Best Chapter 5 Season 2 Landing Spots

  • Charon's Crossing offers beginner players plenty of loot and easy access to rotating to other POIs for quick engagements.
  • Summit Temple on the edge of the map provides high rarity loot and natural resources while linking to nearby POIs for rotation.
  • Research Rock in the corner of the map is underrated but a goldmine for loot with 22 chests and farming opportunities.

Fortnite ’s Chapter 5 Season 2 is in full swing, and players are excited to explore the Greek mythology-inspired map. The map is filled with secret corners, cabins, and spots awaiting a player’s discovery. While all these locations have valuable items players can loot, some have more potential than others. This makes picking the best landing spot crucial to surviving the match and claiming a Victory Royale. Players who want to excel should pick locations on the map that suit individual playstyles while providing solid loot.

Fortnite: All Chapter 5 Season 2 Battle Pass Skins

The best landing spots in Fortnite have sufficient loot spawn, are out of the way, and are close to POIs (points of interest). Since there’s no shortage of fantastic landing spots, picking the ideal locations boils down to the player’s preferences. Here’s a list of the best landing spots in Chapter 5 Season 2.

Charon’s Crossing

Optimal location with multiple loot routes.

Charon’s Crossing is located in the Underworld biome, and it's a lowkey landing spot with a good amount of loot. Players can find up to five chests in this location with reliable weapons and shields. The beauty of Charon’s Crossing is that it’s close to other high POIs like Grim’s Gate. So, players can drop, loot chests, and rotate to these POIs quickly and easily .

Charon’s Crossing is ideal for beginner Fortnite players who want a chill landing spot where they can grab sufficient loot. It’s not too contested and is right next to the water, which players can use to get more loot, activate the Underworld Dash, and rotate.

Summit Temple

A good amount of valuable loot and natural resources.

Summit Temple is located near the Mount Olympus POI at the edge of the map. The landing spot has up to eight chests for players to loot and plenty of natural resources for farming. Summit’s Temple is one of the few Fortnite locations with Olympus chests , which contain blue or higher rarity weapons alongside the Wings of Icarus item.

Fortnite: Chapter 5 Season 2 Kickstart Quests

Although Summit Temple is at the edge of the map, it’s close to other POIs, where players can rotate. Players should consider landing at the base camp to obtain loot before branching out towards the building on the slope with 11 slurp barrels and more chests. There are also more chests at the top of the hill in a tent camp, plus a Launch Pad for rotation.

Cliffside Lodge

A deadside region with valuable loot.

Cliffside Lodge is located in Brawler’s Battleground at the south corner of the map. It’s a deadside location, meaning players land here after missing other POI spots near Mount Olympus. So, there’s a chance players may run into a few opponents, but for the most part, it's uncontested.

Cliffside Lodge has plenty of weapon chests for players to loot and several slurp barrels and kegs for shields. Players should know that Cliffside Lodge isn’t close to water, so rotation may be a challenge if they can't find the Wings of Icarus , but it’s close to POIs like Brawler’s Battleground and Mount Olympus. When dropping into this location, land at the top of the house since most chests are on top floors, then work your way down.

Research Rock

Riddled with loot.

Research Rock is located east of Brawler's Battleground, and it’s one of the greatest Fortnite POIs with tons of loot. The region has up to 22 chests with weapons of blue and higher rarities . Many players often underrate Research Rock since it's at the corner of the map, and it's relatively small compared to other POIs in this biome.

Fortnite: Chapter 5 Season 2 Milestone Quests

However, it has large amounts of chests and tons of metal for farming. Players who want locations with sufficient loot should consider landing at Research Rock. Here, they can find enough to loot, eliminating the need to visit other POIs for better weapons and more shields.

Central Location with a Large Amount of Loot

Grim Gate is located in the Underworld biome, and it's a central location with a lot of loot . Players can loot up to 36 chests in this area and farm plenty of materials, including brick. The central location of Grim Gate offers players access to various POIs for rotation, but this means it may be contested, so players should be ready for enemy encounters.

Grim Gate is one of the few Fortnite locations containing Underworld Chests, so players should consider landing here to acquire the Wings of Icarus or Cerberus's Aspect of Agility medallion . Players can also find several slurp barrels and kegs for shields. Even though Grim Gate is a smaller and more concentrated version of Underworld, it’s one of the best landing spots in Fortnite .

Platform(s) Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, Switch, PS5, PC, iOS, Android, Mobile, Xbox One

Released July 25, 2017

Developer(s) Epic Games

Genre(s) Survival, Battle Royale

Multiplayer Online Multiplayer

Fortnite: Best Chapter 5 Season 2 Landing Spots

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  1. যেভাবে সরাসরি ইসরায়েলে হামলা চালায় ইরান

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  4. Practical Research 2 Quarter 1 Module 3: Kinds of Variables and Their Uses

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  1. PDF Guidelines for Writing Research Proposals and Dissertations

    parts: the Introduction (Chapter 1), the Review of Related Literature and/or Research (Chapter 2), and the Methodology (Chapter 3). The completed dissertation begins with the same three chapters and concludes with two additional chapters that report research findings (Chapter 4) and conclusions, discussion, and recommendations (Chapter 5).

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    Chapter 2 Introduction. Chapter 2. Introduction. Maybe you have already gained some experience in doing research, for example in your bachelor studies, or as part of your work. The challenge in conducting academic research at masters level, is that it is multi-faceted. The types of activities are: Writing up and presenting your findings.


    In this episode of the series, A Basic Guide to Doing Research, Dr. Sarah Chidiebere Joe shares relevant information on how to write our first three chapters...

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    Chapter 2. Research Design Getting Started. When I teach undergraduates qualitative research methods, the final product of the course is a "research proposal" that incorporates all they have learned and enlists the knowledge they have learned about qualitative research methods in an original design that addresses a particular research question.

  6. PDF Presenting Methodology and Research Approach

    qualitative research, in general, and in your tra-dition or genre, in particular; hence, it is written in future tense. In the dissertation's chapter 3, you report on what you have already done. You write after the fact; hence, you write in past tense. As such, many of the sections of chapter 3 can be written only after you have

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  13. 2.3 Reviewing the Research Literature

    Describe and use several methods for finding previous research on a particular research idea or question. Reviewing the research literature means finding, reading, and summarizing the published research relevant to your question. An empirical research report written in American Psychological Association (APA) style always includes a written ...

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    2.0 Introduction. 2.1 Conceptual Review. 2.2 Theoretical Framework. 2.3 Empirical review. Summary of Literature/Research Gap. 2.0 INTRODUCTION. This serves as the preamble to the chapter alone or preliminary information on the chapter.

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    Chapter 2 & 3 research methods. Carry out research in a competent manner. Report results accurately. Manage research resources honestly. Fairly acknowledge, in scientific communications, the individuals who have contributed their ideas or their time and effort. Consider the consequences to society of any research endeavor.

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    Chapter 3: Research Design and Methodology. Introduction. The purpose of the study is to examine the impact social support (e.g., psych services, peers, family, bullying support groups) has on ...

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    2. Chapter 2 (Introducing Research) Joining a Conversation. Typically, when students are taught about citing sources, it is in the context of the need to avoid plagiarism. While that is a valuable and worthwhile goal in its own right, it shifts the focus past one of the original motives for source citation. The goal of referencing sources was ...


    CHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE. January 2019; ... Discover the world's research. 25+ million members; 160+ million publication pages; 2.3+ billion citations; Join for free. Public Full-text 1.

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  26. Research priorities regarding the use of bisphosphonates for

    Some text in this chapter has been reproduced from Bastounis A, et al. Osteoporos Int 2022;33:1223-3. This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt and build upon this work, for commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited.

  27. Chapter 1

    A Star Is Born. It all begins with an unimaginably cold cloud. This cloud contains the seeds of whole new worlds - stars and planets about to be born. Molecules of hydrogen and helium gas, which normally zip around at high speeds, slow down and clump together because of gravity. Tiny grains of silicates, iron and carbon-rich material ...

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    Summary. Researchers who analyzed consumer feedback from Etsy discovered that what consumers value most about upcycled products is not their sustainability but their creativity. Their findings ...

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  30. CHAPTER TWO: Pre-Proposal Activities and Support

    Louisville, Ky. 40202. [email protected]. 502.852.6512, 502.852.8361 (Fax) Looking for a unit within the Office of Research and Innovation? Contact information here.