This section although relatively short is vitally important. It sets the scene for the whole project it should contain the following elements:
• A general outline of the proposed project (at this stage the full hypothesis, statement or question chosen, is not needed nor are objectives – all these come later).
• A short background to why the project should be carried out including one or two key texts to set the theoretical basis for the study.
• Why this work should be undertaken (ie what is/has happened to make you want to carry out this project/study). It may be that this has been identified by someone else and you have been asked to carry it out. In fact you may have observed an incident that promotes a research question.
• What you intend to do with the results of the project (ie is the project worthwhile, how will the findings be used – for policy planning, to change practice etc).
This is the theoretical background for the study; it results from a thorough search of the available literature/research. It needs to be concise, focussed, logical and should concentrate on key texts. It should:
• Indicate the time span, languages and countries from which information has been gained pointing out any differences in culture.
• Indicate the inclusion/exclusion criteria for the literature that is reviewed
• Present the literature as a logical critical discussion, if necessary use sub-headings for clarification (if sub headings are used this should be indicated at the start of the review). Do Not use 1.1, 1.2 with headings. At this level of study, descriptive accounts of the Literature review does not carry much weighting with the overall marks.
• Critically analyse and appraise the literature in two ways, consider firstly the data/theory proposed, secondly whether the methods used to gather the data where appropriate. If not sure, consult critical appraisal skills programme (CASP) for the type of paper being reviewed.
• Conclude in a way that identifies the issues which arise from the literature and leads into, or suggest the need for the proposed study and justifying your own study aim. At the end of your literature review, you should clearly identify a gap(s) in our knowledge of the topic, so that your own study can (hopefully) then provide this knowledge through its findings
This section is the formal description of how/what you plan to do, it should be sub-divided as follows:
• Hypothesis, Statement or Question.
This is the formal statement of what the study aims to achieve, projects can utilise any one of the above.
• Include at this point any aims and objectives formulated, but take care not to have too many. Once the aim is clear, then consider the most appropriate methodological approach.
• Study Design
This is the theoretical justification for the study. It is important to present a logical argument for the approach chosen. It should identify the epistemological base chosen and the paradigm in which the study is to be situated. Application to practice or specific professional discipline is essential to demonstrate relevance of the study.
• Method of Data Collection
This section discusses and justifies the method of data collection selected. This should include consideration of the strengths and weaknesses of the chosen method(s). Should it be decided that more than one method is necessary, state whether a multi method approach, or triangulation (much more interlinked than multi-method – (see Bryman 2012) will be used. However, for studies that use more than one method it is suggested that the whole study is referred to, but only one method is presented in detail for the assignment.
• Design of the Instrument
This is the logical progression from the previous sub-section. The discussion should develop demonstrating how the instrument for data collection will be devised. A clear understanding of the stages of development and administration must be evident. However, there is no need to append the actual questionnaire, schedule etc. It is strongly recommended that you search for existing measurement instruments first that you can adapt before you go and develop a new instrument.
• Reliability and Validity
For any project to provide acceptable and useful data the issues of reliability and validity must be considered. Whether these concepts are utilised or rejected will depend on the epistemological base of the study. This section should illustrate understanding of both of these concepts and/or alternatives. Application of these theoretical concepts is essential.
For Qualitative studies, the equivalent terms and requirements are also essential.
As with the previous section, sampling strategies are affected by the epistemological base. Justify the choice of sampling frame and sample, both in theoretical terms and in relation to the proposed study.
evaluation of the process and procedures.
• Data Analysis
Indicate how analysis of the data might take place, but remember that in a research assignment like this only the process and procedures can be outlined. It is important to demonstrate an understanding of the type of information that may be collected, and the application of particular type of data sets. Make sure that this section relates to the study’s aim and objectives.
• Ethical Issues
The principles of ethics must be applied to all research projects. Give a short discussion of the main points considered, basing the argument on an ethical model, and how it is to be interpreted in the proposed study. Indicate how and where ethical approval will be sought. (NB You do not need to obtain ethical approval at this stage)
This is a short section reaffirming the need for such a study, justifying the methodology, use of findings from the project and discussing the limitations of the project itself.
• Reference List
All references should be appended to the literature review, please use the Harvard system.