How to do a case study

A case study is a detailed study of a specific subject, such as a person, group, place, event, organization, or phenomenon. Case studies are commonly used in social, educational, clinical, and business research.

A case study research design usually involves qualitative methods, but quantitative methods are sometimes also used. Case studies are good for describing, comparing, evaluating and understanding different aspects of a research problem.

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How to write a research proposal

A research proposal describes what you will investigate, why it’s important, and how you will do the research. The format of a research proposal varies between fields, but most proposals should contain at least these elements:

There may be some variation in how the sections are named or divided, but the overall goals are always the same. This article takes you through a basic research proposal template and explains what you need to include in each part.

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Correlational research

A correlational research design measures a relationship between two variables without the researcher controlling either of them. It aims to find out whether there is either:

Positive correlationBoth variables change in the same directionAs height increases, weight also increases
Negative correlationThe variables change in opposite directionsAs coffee consumption increases, tiredness decreases
Zero correlationThere is no relationship between the variablesCoffee consumption is not correlated with height

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How to write a hypothesis

A hypothesis is a statement that can be tested by scientific research. If you want to test a relationship between two or more things, you need to write hypotheses before you start your experiment or data collection.

Example hypothesis

Daily apple consumption leads to fewer doctor’s visits.

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Research question examples

The research question is one of the most important parts of your research project, thesis or dissertation. It’s important to spend some time assessing and refining your question before you get started.

The exact form of your question will depend on on the length of your project, the type of research, the topic, and the research problem. But all research questions should be focused, specific, appropriately complex, and relevant to a social or scholarly issue.

Once you’ve read our guide on how to write a research question, use these examples to work out if your question is strong enough.

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Developing strong research questions

A good research question is essential to guide your research paper, project or thesis. It pinpoints exactly what you want to find out and gives your work a clear focus and purpose. All research questions should be:

  • Focused on a single problem or issue
  • Researchable using primary and/or secondary sources
  • Feasible to answer within the timeframe and practical constraints
  • Specific enough to answer thoroughly
  • Complex enough to develop the answer over the space of a paper or thesis
  • Relevant to your field of study and/or society more broadly

In a research paper or essay, you will usually write a single research question to guide your reading and thinking. The answer that you develop is your thesis statement — the central assertion or position that your paper will argue for.

In a bigger research project, such as a thesis or dissertation, you might have multiple research questions, but they should all be clearly connected and focused around a central research problem.

There are many types of research question that correspond to different types of research.

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How to define your research problem

A research problem is a specific issue, difficulty, contradiction, or gap in knowledge that you will aim to address in your research. You might look for practical problems aimed at contributing to change, or theoretical problems aimed at expanding knowledge.

Bear in mind that some research will do both of these things, but usually the research problem focuses on one or the other.  The type of research problem you choose depends on your broad topic of interest and the type of research you want to do.

This article helps you identify and refine a research problem. When writing your research proposal or introduction, you will have to formulate it as a problem statement and/or research questions.

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How to write a problem statement

After you have identified a research problem for your project, the next step is to write a problem statement. An effective problem statement is concise and concrete. It should:

  • Put the problem in context (what do we already know?)
  • Describe the precise issue that the research will address (what do we need to know?)
  • Show the relevance of the problem (why do we need to know it?)
  • Set the objectives of the research (what will you do to find out?)

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Choosing a dissertation topic

Deciding on a topic for your thesis, dissertation or research project is the first step in making sure your research goes as smoothly as possible. When choosing a topic, it’s important to consider:

  • Your institution and department’s requirements
  • Your areas of knowledge and interest
  • The scientific, social, or practical relevance
  • The availability of data and sources
  • The length and timeframe of your dissertation

If you have no dissertation ideas yet, it can be hard to know where to start. Follow these steps to begin narrowing down your ideas.

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How to write a thesis conclusion

The conclusion is the very last part of your thesis or dissertation. Its main purposes are to:

  • Clearly state the answer to the main research question
  • Summarize and reflect on the research
  • Make recommendations for future work on the topic
  • Show what new knowledge you have contributed

The conclusion should be concise and engaging. Aim to leave the reader with a clear understanding of the main discovery or argument that your research has advanced.

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