13.4  Clarifying your research question

In designing your small-scale research project, it is important to state and define your research question clearly (Box 13.2), so that you and other people involved can be certain that the whole project has been well thought out.

Box 13.2  Benefits of clarifying your research problem

A clearly stated research problem is already ‘half solved’ because it:

  • Helps you narrow down your research study to a manageable size.
  • Forms the essential basis for the development of your research plan, choice of methods of data collection and analysis, etc.
  • Allows you to further clarify and focus on your chosen topic.
  • Allows you to engage community members and other stakeholders in the project.
  • Facilitates the presentation of your research proposal to the relevant authorities, community members and partners.
  • Makes it easier to find information and reports of similar studies from which your own study design can benefit.
  • Look carefully at Box 13.2. What do you think might happen if your research problem is not clarified in the ways stated in the box?

  • It is very unlikely that your research proposal will be accepted or given sufficient resources. People will not cooperate if they are not clear what the purpose of the research will be and how it will affect their lives.

13.3  Choosing which topic to research

13.4.1  What other sources should you consult?