Anything you write involves organization and a logical flow of ideas, so understanding the logic of the research process before beginning to write is essential. Simply put, you need to put your writing in the larger context—see the forest before you even attempt to see the trees.
You identify a research problem by first selecting a general topic that’s interesting to you and to the interests and specialties of your research advisor. Once identified, you’ll need to narrow it. For example, if teenage pregnancy is your general topic area, your specific topic could be a comparison of how teenage pregnancy affects young fathers and mothers differently.
Find out what’s being asked or what’s already been done in the area by doing some exploratory reading. Discuss the topic with your advisor to gain additional insights, explore novel approaches, and begin to develop your research question, purpose statement, and hypothesis(es), if applicable.
A good research question is a question worth asking; one that poses a problem worth solving. A good question should:
Once you’ve finalized your research question, purpose statement, and hypothesis(es), you’ll need to write your research proposal—a detailed management plan for your research project. The proposal is as essential to successful research as an architect’s plans are to the construction of a building.
In Practical Research–Planning and Design (2005, 8th Edition), Leedy and Ormrod provide excellent advice for what the researcher does at this stage in the research process. The researcher now
Because research reports differ by discipline, the most effective way for you to understand formatting and citations is to examine reports from others in your department or field. The library’s electronic databases provide a wealth of examples illustrating how others in your field document their research.