Theses and Dissertations: A Guide to Planning, Research, and Writing

By R. Murray Thomas; Dale L. Brubaker | Go to book overview

Chapter 6
Stating the Problem and Its Rationale

"I'm not quite sure about what I should put in my proposal when I give it to my advisors for their approval. "

Once you've selected the problem you plan to study, you can profit from casting it in a form appropriate for submitting it to your advisors. Although professors may not all agree on exactly what should be in your proposal, most of them will at least want a clear statement of your research problem, your reasons for choosing it, and a concise description of how you hope to find a solution. They also may want to know how you define the key terms that are at the heart of your project. Chapter 6 addresses these matters in the following order: (a) stating the problem to be investigated, (b) defining key terms, (c) supporting your choice of a topic with a convincing line of reasoning, and (d) briefly describing your intended research methods.
STATING YOUR RESEARCH PROBLEM
Two popular ways to state a research problem are as a question and as a hypothesis. To illustrate, consider three graduate student projects. The first concerns academic aptitude, the second family functions, and the third political theory.By casting a problem in the form of a question, the researcher suggests the kind of answer being sought, with that suggestion then serving to guide decisions about the methods of investigation to employ.
What is the comparative effectiveness of four ways to assess high school students' academic ability--(a) high school grades, (b) teachers' letters of recommendation, (c) multiple-choice aptitude tests, and (d) achievement tests that students answer in essay form?

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