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Research planning: Choose your data and methods

At some point, you'll need to consider which data source and analytical strategy are most likely to give the answers you need.

  • Consider whether your question would be best addressed by qualitative data (interviews, observations, or historical records), quantitative data (surveys or census records) or a combination of both.
  • You might need to collect your own data, or it might be available in an existing database.

The point is to plan research, not to conduct it. The purpose of this step is to think through a feasible approach to answering your research question. You might reevaluate and revise while planning your project as new and unexpected avenues are revealed.

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Your background information should come from scholarly books and journals, or reputable mass media sources. Use search engines such as JSTOR and Google Scholar.

Create an annotated bibliography by providing at least ten sources relevant to your topic.

  • Name of author(s).

A systematic approach will establish the building blocks of your research project.

  • Clearly describe the question you've chosen to study.
  • Summarise the state of the art in knowledge about the question, and where your project could provide novel insight.
  • Identify the ...

Planning research projects requires creativity and sharp analytical skills.

Any research planning uses the same four steps:

  1. Orienting yourself to knowledge-creation
  2. Formulating your research question.
  3. Reviewing ...

The 'literature review' section in academic research demonstrated that researchers have thoroughly and systematically reviewed relevant findings of previous studies on the topic.

  • Your research project should include something similar to a 'literature review.'
  • Wr...

Two basic rhetorical positions can help you frame the novelty-and-importance argument in academic research.

  • Build on or extend a set of existing ideas. 'Person A has argued that X is true. This implies Y, which has not yet been tested. My project will test Y. If I fi...

These questions should drive your analysis.

  • Your question(s) should be phrased in a way that you can't answer 'yes' or 'no.'
  • It should have multiple plausible answers.
  • It should be framed in terms of How? or

Orienting yourself for research planning requires you to stop thinking like a student, which treats knowledge as something created by other people.

  • Instead of consuming information, adjust your thinking to a producer of information.
  • Question previous...

Forming a good question is often the most difficult part of the planning process. This is because the exact language of the question frames the rest of the project. Most researchers do this step repeatedly as they change their question in light of previous research and other cons...

Write a short statement of about 250 words about the kind of data that would help address your research and how you'd analyse it.

  • What are the main concepts or variables in your project? Include brief definitions.
  • Do any data sources exist on those concepts, if ...

Ask yourself:

  1. What will be the general topic of your paper?
  2. What will be the specific topic of your paper?

Write down your answers in bullet points accepting that y...

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