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A research plan outlines your research before it is carried out. This plan serves as a guideline for the execution and report of the research. Central to a research plan is the formulation of a problem. A well-formulated problem forms the framework of any scientific research. A problem arises from a specific question about a certain phenomenon or process and an idea of what the answer to this question could be. Your interest in the phenomenon and the problem are the starting point when developing a research plan.
General Purpose, Content, and Structure of a Research Plan
Forming a research plan entails translating an abstract research topic into a concrete and researchable subject. This will provide a better understanding of the possibilities and limitations of the research. A research plan should be written to prepare for a study as it will help in carrying out and reporting this study by offering a clear guideline.
Method for a Research Plan
Before you write your actual research plan, start off by drafting your preliminary research question and hypothesis and start expanding your research question from there. See below for a step-by-step plan on how to formulate a decent research question:
- Determining a subject: Which specific problem or issue will this research attempt to clarify? Which specific case study is going to guide this research?
- Motivating the investigation: How or why is your research relevant? What will this investigation add to existing theoreticalinsights and what, if any, is its social relevance?
- Establishing a framework: How will this investigation fit the existing scientific debate? From what angle will this investigation be approached? Which scientific theories or models can be used as a starting point for this investigation in order to help describe and analyse the chosen problem as well as interpret and explain the results?
- Developing a method: Which scientifically approved method can be used to generate data? How will these results be analysed and interpreted in order to gain answers to the research question and sub-questions, as well as test the postulated hypothesis?
- Formulating a research question: What is the main research question and what sub- questions follow from this question? Which hypotheses will serve as a guideline for the investigation? What kind of answers is the investigation likely to provide for these questions?
Works Cited or Consulted
The bibliography should list all the literature used for exploring the subject and developing the research plan. Only include relevant titles that have been used demonstrably. The references should be in accordance with the bibliographical conventions used by the undergraduate programme the research is connected to.
Evaluation Criteria Research Plan (only available in Dutch)