Chapter 3

Chapter 1: Introduction In this chapter, you present an argument for why it is important to study your topic
Background In this section, you should provide a general introduction to the topic of the study. You should build a solid argument for examining the topic you are proposing.
Statement of the Problem In this section, you should present your rationale for why the study should be done.  This is where you suggest that the results of not studying this topic might have negative consequences of not studying this topic, whether to research or practice.
Purpose The purpose statemnt argues briefly what the research will accomplish. There are several key goals or purposes often found in qualitative research studies, as noted by Ritchie (2007):

  • Contextual: Describes the form or nature of what exists
  • Explanatory: Examines the reasons for, or associations between, what exists
  • Generative: Aids the development of theories, strategies or actions.
  • Evaluative: Is done for the purpose of assessment, measurement, or evaluation.
  • Ideological: is done for the purpose of advancing an ideological position.


Example: A template for purpose statement (Adapted from Creswell, 1998: 96)


The purpose of this __________________ (biographical, phenomenological, grounded theory, ethnographic, case) study was to _______________ (contextualise? explain? evaluate?) the _________(topic of the study) for__________(phenomenon of the study: a person? processes? groups?).


Significance In this section, you should argue who might find the study important and why they will find it important.  Will your profession, discipline, body of research benefit?  If so, how so?
Chapter 2: Literature review In this chapter, you synthesize (note: not summarize and describe, but instead synthesize) the current state of the research related to your study. You argue that your study is essential to this current body of literature.
Related Research Thematically Organized In this section, you present 4-5 key areas of empirical research that are relevant to your study.See the following video for a demonstration of how to use ERIC to locate empirical research rather than theoretical or descriptive works.These should demonstrate how the study you are doing is situated within existing literature.  Will your study attempt to refute existing research? Will it attempt to fill a gap in the current research?  Will it attempt to move a current line of research forward?
Conceptual or Theoretical Framework(s) A conceptual framework is a description of 4-5 concepts in the literature that are critical background to set the stage for your study.A theoretical framework is an existing theory that will guide your study.In quantitative research, the theoretical framework helps to identify the dependent and independent variables and to determine the relationship between them that is to be tested. 

In qualitative research, the theoretical framework helps to guide the study design and the interpretation of data.


Chapter 3: Methods In this chapter, you argue that the methods you have selected are the best way to approach to the research that you are proposing 
Statement of and rationale for overall research approach State whether you will be using qualitative, quantitative, historical, or other research approach and explain why it is the best approach to answering your overarching research question.
Proposed design or framework Identify the specific research design and argue for why it is the best approach.Qualitative examples: pragmatic/basic, grounded theory, phenomenology, ethnography (note: I view all qualitative research as “case study research;” for a fuller argument about this, see Savin-Baden and Major 2013).Quantitative examples: experimental, cross-sectional, comparative, longitudinal, case study
Main Research Question and Potential Subquestions State your research questions (how, what, why or other) and subquestions.NOTE: you may want to do this section first in the chapter if the writing flows better that way.  Again, avoid repetition.
Site selection and rationale Describe the site of your research, in terms specific enough for the reader to understand the context (but likely not specific enough to identify the institution/s).  Articulate why the site is the best one to select for your research.
Participant selection and rationale Identify your participants.  Generally you’ll want to indicate the number of participants and how you selected them, and will likely want to indicate demographic characteristics as well as any characteristics that are distinctive and important to your study.
Data collection procedures and rationale Describe the tool(s) you will use to collect data in a research study such as a test, survey, observation protocol, or questionnaire. Explain how you will go about the data collection (including requesting participation, actual data collection, and how you will store the data you collect).
Data analysis techniques The plan for analyzing data in a research study.–      In a quantitative research study, the data-analysis plan provides details on statistical procedures.–      In a qualitative research study, the data-analysis plan provides information about the method you will use (e.g. grounded theory, thematic analysis, or other) and details on coding procedures.
Ethical considerations In this section, you describe what steps you took in order to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the participants.  You might briefly indicate that you have completed the IRB process.
Quality Assurance In this section, you indicate what view of quality you are taking (Validity/reliability, trustworthiness, or other).  You argue for why you have chosen this stance toward quality, and you describe the steps that you have taken to ensure it.
Back Matter  
References A full list of all of the literature you have cited, in APA format.
Appendices Any additional information you have chosen to include, such as a list of terms and definitions, correspondence with participants, etc.
Data collection instrument A copy of the survey, interview protocol, or other.
IRB App (if needed) The completed and approved IRB form.

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