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Types of future research suggestion.
The Future Research section of your dissertation is often combined with the Research Limitations section of your final, Conclusions chapter. This is because your future research suggestions generally arise out of the research limitations you have identified in your own dissertation. In this article, we discuss six types of future research suggestion. These include: (1) building on a particular finding in your research; (2) addressing a flaw in your research; examining (or testing) a theory (framework or model) either (3) for the first time or (4) in a new context, location and/or culture; (5) re-evaluating and (6) expanding a theory (framework or model). The goal of the article is to help you think about the potential types of future research suggestion that you may want to include in your dissertation.
Before we discuss each of these types of future research suggestion, we should explain why we use the word examining and then put or testing in brackets. This is simply because the word examining may be considered more appropriate when students use a qualitative research design; whereas the word testing fits better with dissertations drawing on a quantitative research design. We also put the words framework or model in brackets after the word theory . We do this because a theory , framework and model are not the same things. In the sections that follow, we discuss six types of future research suggestion.
Addressing research limitations in your dissertation
Building on a particular finding or aspect of your research, examining a conceptual framework (or testing a theoretical model) for the first time, examining a conceptual framework (or testing a theoretical model) in a new context, location and/or culture.
- Expanding a conceptual framework (or testing a theoretical model)
Re-evaluating a conceptual framework (or theoretical model)
In the Research Limitations section of your Conclusions chapter, you will have inevitably detailed the potential flaws (i.e., research limitations) of your dissertation. These may include:
An inability to answer your research questions
Theoretical and conceptual problems
Limitations of your research strategy
Problems of research quality
Identifying what these research limitations were and proposing future research suggestions that address them is arguably the easiest and quickest ways to complete the Future Research section of your Conclusions chapter.
Often, the findings from your dissertation research will highlight a number of new avenues that could be explored in future studies. These can be grouped into two categories:
Your dissertation will inevitably lead to findings that you did not anticipate from the start. These are useful when making future research suggestions because they can lead to entirely new avenues to explore in future studies. If this was the case, it is worth (a) briefly describing what these unanticipated findings were and (b) suggesting a research strategy that could be used to explore such findings in future.
Sometimes, dissertations manage to address all aspects of the research questions that were set. However, this is seldom the case. Typically, there will be aspects of your research questions that could not be answered. This is not necessarily a flaw in your research strategy, but may simply reflect that fact that the findings did not provide all the answers you hoped for. If this was the case, it is worth (a) briefly describing what aspects of your research questions were not answered and (b) suggesting a research strategy that could be used to explore such aspects in future.
You may want to recommend that future research examines the conceptual framework (or tests the theoretical model) that you developed. This is based on the assumption that the primary goal of your dissertation was to set out a conceptual framework (or build a theoretical model). It is also based on the assumption that whilst such a conceptual framework (or theoretical model) was presented, your dissertation did not attempt to examine (or test) it in the field . The focus of your dissertations was most likely a review of the literature rather than something that involved you conducting primary research.
Whilst it is quite rare for dissertations at the undergraduate and master's level to be primarily theoretical in nature like this, it is not unknown. If this was the case, you should think about how the conceptual framework (or theoretical model) that you have presented could be best examined (or tested) in the field . In understanding the how , you should think about two factors in particular:
What is the context, location and/or culture that would best lend itself to my conceptual framework (or theoretical model) if it were to be examined (or tested) in the field?
What research strategy is most appropriate to examine my conceptual framework (or test my theoretical model)?
If the future research suggestion that you want to make is based on examining your conceptual framework (or testing your theoretical model) in the field , you need to suggest the best scenario for doing so.
More often than not, you will not only have set out a conceptual framework (or theoretical model), as described in the previous section, but you will also have examined (or tested) it in the field . When you do this, focus is typically placed on a specific context, location and/or culture.
If this is the case, the obvious future research suggestion that you could propose would be to examine your conceptual framework (or test the theoretical model) in a new context, location and/or culture. For example, perhaps you focused on consumers (rather than businesses), or Canada (rather than the United Kingdom), or a more individualistic culture like the United States (rather than a more collectivist culture like China).
When you propose a new context, location and/or culture as your future research suggestion, make sure you justify the choice that you make. For example, there may be little value in future studies looking at different cultures if culture is not an important component underlying your conceptual framework (or theoretical model). If you are not sure whether a new context, location or culture is more appropriate, or what new context, location or culture you should select, a review the literature will often help clarify where you focus should be.
Expanding a conceptual framework (or theoretical model)
Assuming that you have set out a conceptual framework (or theoretical model) and examined (or tested) it in the field , another series of future research suggestions comes out of expanding that conceptual framework (or theoretical model).
We talk about a series of future research suggestions because there are so many ways that you can expand on your conceptual framework (or theoretical model). For example, you can do this by:
Examining constructs (or variables) that were included in your conceptual framework (or theoretical model) but were not focused.
Looking at a particular relationship aspect of your conceptual framework (or theoretical model) further.
Adding new constructs (or variables) to the conceptual framework (or theoretical model) you set out (if justified by the literature).
It would be possible to include one or a number of these as future research suggestions. Again, make sure that any suggestions you make have are justified , either by your findings or the literature.
With the dissertation process at the undergraduate and master's level lasting between 3 and 9 months, a lot a can happen in between. For example, a specific event (e.g., 9/11, the economic crisis) or some new theory or evidence that undermines (or questions) the literature (theory) and assumptions underpinning your conceptual framework (or theoretical model). Clearly, there is little you can do about this. However, if this happens, reflecting on it and re-evaluating your conceptual framework (or theoretical model), as well as your findings, is an obvious source of future research suggestions.
Suggestions for Future Research
Your dissertation needs to include suggestions for future research. Depending on requirements of your university, suggestions for future research can be either integrated into Research Limitations section or it can be a separate section.
You will need to propose 4-5 suggestions for future studies and these can include the following:
1. Building upon findings of your research . These may relate to findings of your study that you did not anticipate. Moreover, you may suggest future research to address unanswered aspects of your research problem.
2. Addressing limitations of your research . Your research will not be free from limitations and these may relate to formulation of research aim and objectives, application of data collection method, sample size, scope of discussions and analysis etc. You can propose future research suggestions that address the limitations of your study.
3. Constructing the same research in a new context, location and/or culture . It is most likely that you have addressed your research problem within the settings of specific context, location and/or culture. Accordingly, you can propose future studies that can address the same research problem in a different settings, context, location and/or culture.
4. Re-assessing and expanding theory, framework or model you have addressed in your research . Future studies can address the effects of specific event, emergence of a new theory or evidence and/or other recent phenomenon on your research problem.
My e-book, The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Dissertation in Business Studies: a step by step assistance offers practical assistance to complete a dissertation with minimum or no stress. The e-book covers all stages of writing a dissertation starting from the selection to the research area to submitting the completed version of the work within the deadline. John Dudovskiy
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The conclusion is intended to help the reader understand why your research should matter to them after they have finished reading the paper. A conclusion is not merely a summary of the main topics covered or a re-statement of your research problem, but a synthesis of key points and, if applicable, where you recommend new areas for future research. For most college-level research papers, one or two well-developed paragraphs is sufficient for a conclusion, although in some cases, more paragraphs may be required in summarizing key findings and their significance.
Conclusions. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Conclusions. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University.
Importance of a Good Conclusion
A well-written conclusion provides you with important opportunities to demonstrate to the reader your understanding of the research problem. These include:
- Presenting the last word on the issues you raised in your paper . Just as the introduction gives a first impression to your reader, the conclusion offers a chance to leave a lasting impression. Do this, for example, by highlighting key findings in your analysis that advance new understanding about the research problem, that are unusual or unexpected, or that have important implications applied to practice.
- Summarizing your thoughts and conveying the larger significance of your study . The conclusion is an opportunity to succinctly re-emphasize the "So What?" question by placing the study within the context of how your research advances past research about the topic.
- Identifying how a gap in the literature has been addressed . The conclusion can be where you describe how a previously identified gap in the literature [described in your literature review section] has been filled by your research.
- Demonstrating the importance of your ideas . Don't be shy. The conclusion offers you the opportunity to elaborate on the impact and significance of your findings. This is particularly important if your study approached examining the research problem from an unusual or innovative perspective.
- Introducing possible new or expanded ways of thinking about the research problem . This does not refer to introducing new information [which should be avoided], but to offer new insight and creative approaches for framing or contextualizing the research problem based on the results of your study.
Bunton, David. “The Structure of PhD Conclusion Chapters.” Journal of English for Academic Purposes 4 (July 2005): 207–224; Conclusions. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Kretchmer, Paul. Twelve Steps to Writing an Effective Conclusion. San Francisco Edit, 2003-2008; Conclusions. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Assan, Joseph. "Writing the Conclusion Chapter: The Good, the Bad and the Missing." Liverpool: Development Studies Association (2009): 1-8.
Structure and Writing Style
I. General Rules
The function of your paper's conclusion is to restate the main argument . It reminds the reader of the strengths of your main argument(s) and reiterates the most important evidence supporting those argument(s). Do this by stating clearly the context, background, and necessity of pursuing the research problem you investigated in relation to an issue, controversy, or a gap found in the literature. Make sure, however, that your conclusion is not simply a repetitive summary of the findings. This reduces the impact of the argument(s) you have developed in your essay.
When writing the conclusion to your paper, follow these general rules:
- Present your conclusions in clear, simple language. Re-state the purpose of your study, then describe how your findings differ or support those of other studies and why [i.e., what were the unique or new contributions your study made to the overall research about your topic?].
- Do not simply reiterate your findings or the discussion of your results. Provide a synthesis of arguments presented in the paper to show how these converge to address the research problem and the overall objectives of your study.
- Indicate opportunities for future research if you haven't already done so in the discussion section of your paper. Highlighting the need for further research provides the reader with evidence that you have an in-depth awareness of the research problem and that further investigations should take place.
Consider the following points to help ensure your conclusion is presented well:
- If the argument or purpose of your paper is complex, you may need to summarize the argument for your reader.
- If, prior to your conclusion, you have not yet explained the significance of your findings or if you are proceeding inductively, use the end of your paper to describe your main points and explain their significance.
- Move from a detailed to a general level of consideration that returns the topic to the context provided by the introduction or within a new context that emerges from the data.
The conclusion also provides a place for you to persuasively and succinctly restate the research problem, given that the reader has now been presented with all the information about the topic . Depending on the discipline you are writing in, the concluding paragraph may contain your reflections on the evidence presented. However, the nature of being introspective about the research you have conducted will depend on the topic and whether your professor wants you to express your observations in this way.
NOTE : If asked to think introspectively about the topics, do not delve into idle speculation. Being introspective means looking within yourself as an author to try and understand an issue more deeply, not to guess at possible outcomes or make up scenarios not supported by the evidence.
II. Developing a Compelling Conclusion
Although an effective conclusion needs to be clear and succinct, it does not need to be written passively or lack a compelling narrative. Strategies to help you move beyond merely summarizing the key points of your research paper may include any of the following strategies:
- If your essay deals with a critical, contemporary problem, warn readers of the possible consequences of not attending to the problem proactively.
- Recommend a specific course or courses of action that, if adopted, could address a specific problem in practice or in the development of new knowledge.
- Cite a relevant quotation or expert opinion already noted in your paper in order to lend authority and support to the conclusion(s) you have reached [a good place to look is research from your literature review].
- Explain the consequences of your research in a way that elicits action or demonstrates urgency in seeking change.
- Restate a key statistic, fact, or visual image to emphasize the most important finding of your paper.
- If your discipline encourages personal reflection, illustrate your concluding point by drawing from your own life experiences.
- Return to an anecdote, an example, or a quotation that you presented in your introduction, but add further insight derived from the findings of your study; use your interpretation of results to recast it in new or important ways.
- Provide a "take-home" message in the form of a succinct, declarative statement that you want the reader to remember about your study.
III. Problems to Avoid
Failure to be concise Your conclusion section should be concise and to the point. Conclusions that are too lengthy often have unnecessary information in them. The conclusion is not the place for details about your methodology or results. Although you should give a summary of what was learned from your research, this summary should be relatively brief, since the emphasis in the conclusion is on the implications, evaluations, insights, and other forms of analysis that you make. Strategies for writing concisely can be found here .
Failure to comment on larger, more significant issues In the introduction, your task was to move from the general [the field of study] to the specific [the research problem]. However, in the conclusion, your task is to move from a specific discussion [your research problem] back to a general discussion [i.e., how your research contributes new understanding or fills an important gap in the literature]. In short, the conclusion is where you should place your research within a larger context [visualize your paper as an hourglass--start with a broad introduction and review of the literature, move to the specific analysis and discussion, conclude with a broad summary of the study's implications and significance].
Failure to reveal problems and negative results Negative aspects of the research process should never be ignored. These are problems, deficiencies, or challenges encountered during your study should be summarized as a way of qualifying your overall conclusions. If you encountered negative or unintended results [i.e., findings that are validated outside the research context in which they were generated], you must report them in the results section and discuss their implications in the discussion section of your paper. In the conclusion, use your summary of the negative results as an opportunity to explain their possible significance and/or how they may form the basis for future research.
Failure to provide a clear summary of what was learned In order to be able to discuss how your research fits within your field of study [and possibly the world at large], you need to summarize briefly and succinctly how it contributes to new knowledge or a new understanding about the research problem. This element of your conclusion may be only a few sentences long.
Failure to match the objectives of your research Often research objectives in the social sciences change while the research is being carried out. This is not a problem unless you forget to go back and refine the original objectives in your introduction. As these changes emerge they must be documented so that they accurately reflect what you were trying to accomplish in your research [not what you thought you might accomplish when you began].
Resist the urge to apologize If you've immersed yourself in studying the research problem, you presumably should know a good deal about it [perhaps even more than your professor!]. Nevertheless, by the time you have finished writing, you may be having some doubts about what you have produced. Repress those doubts! Don't undermine your authority by saying something like, "This is just one approach to examining this problem; there may be other, much better approaches that...." The overall tone of your conclusion should convey confidence to the reader.
Assan, Joseph. "Writing the Conclusion Chapter: The Good, the Bad and the Missing." Liverpool: Development Studies Association (2009): 1-8; Concluding Paragraphs. College Writing Center at Meramec. St. Louis Community College; Conclusions. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Conclusions. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Freedman, Leora and Jerry Plotnick. Introductions and Conclusions. The Lab Report. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Leibensperger, Summer. Draft Your Conclusion. Academic Center, the University of Houston-Victoria, 2003; Make Your Last Words Count. The Writer’s Handbook. Writing Center. University of Wisconsin Madison; Miquel, Fuster-Marquez and Carmen Gregori-Signes. “Chapter Six: ‘Last but Not Least:’ Writing the Conclusion of Your Paper.” In Writing an Applied Linguistics Thesis or Dissertation: A Guide to Presenting Empirical Research . John Bitchener, editor. (Basingstoke,UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), pp. 93-105; Tips for Writing a Good Conclusion. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Kretchmer, Paul. Twelve Steps to Writing an Effective Conclusion. San Francisco Edit, 2003-2008; Writing Conclusions. Writing Tutorial Services, Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. Indiana University; Writing: Considering Structure and Organization. Institute for Writing Rhetoric. Dartmouth College.
Don't Belabor the Obvious!
Avoid phrases like "in conclusion...," "in summary...," or "in closing...." These phrases can be useful, even welcome, in oral presentations. But readers can see by the tell-tale section heading and number of pages remaining to read, when an essay is about to end. You'll irritate your readers if you belabor the obvious.
Assan, Joseph. "Writing the Conclusion Chapter: The Good, the Bad and the Missing." Liverpool: Development Studies Association (2009): 1-8.
Another Writing Tip
New Insight, Not New Information!
Don't surprise the reader with new information in your conclusion that was never referenced anywhere else in the paper and, as such, the conclusion rarely has citations to sources. If you have new information to present, add it to the discussion or other appropriate section of the paper. Note that, although no actual new information is introduced, the conclusion, along with the discussion section, is where you offer your most "original" contributions in the paper; the conclusion is where you describe the value of your research, demonstrate that you understand the material that you’ve presented, and locate your findings within the larger context of scholarship on the topic, including describing how your research contributes new insights or valuable insight to that scholarship.
Assan, Joseph. "Writing the Conclusion Chapter: The Good, the Bad and the Missing." Liverpool: Development Studies Association (2009): 1-8; Conclusions. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina.
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Home » Future Research – Thesis Guide
Future Research – Thesis Guide
Table of Contents
Future research refers to investigations and studies that are yet to be conducted, and are aimed at expanding our understanding of a particular subject or area of interest. Future research is typically based on the current state of knowledge and seeks to address unanswered questions, gaps in knowledge, and new areas of inquiry.
How to Write Future Research in Thesis
Here are some steps to help you write effectively about future research in your thesis :
- Identify a research gap: Before you start writing about future research, identify the areas that need further investigation. Look for research gaps and inconsistencies in the literature , and note them down.
- Specify research questions : Once you have identified a research gap, create a list of research questions that you would like to explore in future research. These research questions should be specific, measurable, and relevant to your thesis.
- Discuss limitations: Be sure to discuss any limitations of your research that may require further exploration. This will help to highlight the need for future research and provide a basis for further investigation.
- Suggest methodologies: Provide suggestions for methodologies that could be used to explore the research questions you have identified. Discuss the pros and cons of each methodology and how they would be suitable for your research.
- Explain significance: Explain the significance of the research you have proposed, and how it will contribute to the field. This will help to justify the need for future research and provide a basis for further investigation.
- Provide a timeline : Provide a timeline for the proposed research , indicating when each stage of the research would be conducted. This will help to give a sense of the practicalities involved in conducting the research.
- Conclusion : Summarize the key points you have made about future research and emphasize the importance of exploring the research questions you have identified.
Examples of Future Research in Thesis
SomeExamples of Future Research in Thesis are as follows:
Although this study provides valuable insights into the effects of social media on self-esteem, there are several avenues for future research that could build upon our findings. Firstly, our sample consisted solely of college students, so it would be beneficial to extend this research to other age groups and demographics. Additionally, our study focused only on the impact of social media use on self-esteem, but there are likely other factors that influence how social media affects individuals, such as personality traits and social support. Future research could examine these factors in greater depth. Lastly, while our study looked at the short-term effects of social media use on self-esteem, it would be interesting to explore the long-term effects over time. This could involve conducting longitudinal studies that follow individuals over a period of several years to assess changes in self-esteem and social media use.
While this study provides important insights into the relationship between sleep patterns and academic performance among college students, there are several avenues for future research that could further advance our understanding of this topic.
- This study relied on self-reported sleep patterns, which may be subject to reporting biases. Future research could benefit from using objective measures of sleep, such as actigraphy or polysomnography, to more accurately assess sleep duration and quality.
- This study focused on academic performance as the outcome variable, but there may be other important outcomes to consider, such as mental health or well-being. Future research could explore the relationship between sleep patterns and these other outcomes.
- This study only included college students, and it is unclear if these findings generalize to other populations, such as high school students or working adults. Future research could investigate whether the relationship between sleep patterns and academic performance varies across different populations.
- Fourth, this study did not explore the potential mechanisms underlying the relationship between sleep patterns and academic performance. Future research could investigate the role of factors such as cognitive functioning, motivation, and stress in this relationship.
Overall, there is a need for continued research on the relationship between sleep patterns and academic performance, as this has important implications for the health and well-being of students.
Further research could investigate the long-term effects of mindfulness-based interventions on mental health outcomes among individuals with chronic pain. A longitudinal study could be conducted to examine the sustainability of mindfulness practices in reducing pain-related distress and improving psychological well-being over time. The study could also explore the potential mediating and moderating factors that influence the relationship between mindfulness and mental health outcomes, such as emotional regulation, pain catastrophizing, and social support.
Purpose of Future Research in Thesis
Here are some general purposes of future research that you might consider including in your thesis:
- To address limitations: Your research may have limitations or unanswered questions that could be addressed by future studies. Identify these limitations and suggest potential areas for further research.
- To extend the research : You may have found interesting results in your research, but future studies could help to extend or replicate your findings. Identify these areas where future research could help to build on your work.
- To explore related topics : Your research may have uncovered related topics that were outside the scope of your study. Suggest areas where future research could explore these related topics in more depth.
- To compare different approaches : Your research may have used a particular methodology or approach, but there may be other approaches that could be compared to your approach. Identify these other approaches and suggest areas where future research could compare and contrast them.
- To test hypotheses : Your research may have generated hypotheses that could be tested in future studies. Identify these hypotheses and suggest areas where future research could test them.
- To address practical implications : Your research may have practical implications that could be explored in future studies. Identify these practical implications and suggest areas where future research could investigate how to apply them in practice.
Applications of Future Research
Some examples of applications of future research that you could include in your thesis are:
- Development of new technologies or methods: If your research involves the development of new technologies or methods, you could discuss potential applications of these innovations in future research or practical settings. For example, if you have developed a new drug delivery system, you could speculate about how it might be used in the treatment of other diseases or conditions.
- Extension of your research: If your research only scratches the surface of a particular topic, you could suggest potential avenues for future research that could build upon your findings. For example, if you have studied the effects of a particular drug on a specific population, you could suggest future research that explores the drug’s effects on different populations or in combination with other treatments.
- Investigation of related topics: If your research is part of a larger field or area of inquiry, you could suggest potential research topics that are related to your work. For example, if you have studied the effects of climate change on a particular species, you could suggest future research that explores the impacts of climate change on other species or ecosystems.
- Testing of hypotheses: If your research has generated hypotheses or theories, you could suggest potential experiments or studies that could test these hypotheses in future research. For example, if you have proposed a new theory about the mechanisms of a particular disease, you could suggest experiments that could test this theory in other populations or in different disease contexts.
Advantage of Future Research
Including future research in a thesis has several advantages:
- Demonstrates critical thinking: Including future research shows that the author has thought deeply about the topic and recognizes its limitations. It also demonstrates that the author is interested in advancing the field and is not satisfied with only providing a narrow analysis of the issue at hand.
- Provides a roadmap for future research : Including future research can help guide researchers in the field by suggesting areas that require further investigation. This can help to prevent researchers from repeating the same work and can lead to more efficient use of resources.
- Shows engagement with the field : By including future research, the author demonstrates their engagement with the field and their understanding of ongoing debates and discussions. This can be especially important for students who are just entering the field and want to show their commitment to ongoing research.
- I ncreases the impact of the thesis : Including future research can help to increase the impact of the thesis by highlighting its potential implications for future research and practical applications. This can help to generate interest in the work and attract attention from researchers and practitioners in the field.
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A Practical Guide to Writing Quantitative and Qualitative Research Questions and Hypotheses in Scholarly Articles
1 Department of General Education, Graduate School of Nursing Science, St. Luke’s International University, Tokyo, Japan.
Glafera Janet Matanguihan
2 Department of Biological Sciences, Messiah University, Mechanicsburg, PA, USA.
The development of research questions and the subsequent hypotheses are prerequisites to defining the main research purpose and specific objectives of a study. Consequently, these objectives determine the study design and research outcome. The development of research questions is a process based on knowledge of current trends, cutting-edge studies, and technological advances in the research field. Excellent research questions are focused and require a comprehensive literature search and in-depth understanding of the problem being investigated. Initially, research questions may be written as descriptive questions which could be developed into inferential questions. These questions must be specific and concise to provide a clear foundation for developing hypotheses. Hypotheses are more formal predictions about the research outcomes. These specify the possible results that may or may not be expected regarding the relationship between groups. Thus, research questions and hypotheses clarify the main purpose and specific objectives of the study, which in turn dictate the design of the study, its direction, and outcome. Studies developed from good research questions and hypotheses will have trustworthy outcomes with wide-ranging social and health implications.
Scientific research is usually initiated by posing evidenced-based research questions which are then explicitly restated as hypotheses. 1 , 2 The hypotheses provide directions to guide the study, solutions, explanations, and expected results. 3 , 4 Both research questions and hypotheses are essentially formulated based on conventional theories and real-world processes, which allow the inception of novel studies and the ethical testing of ideas. 5 , 6
It is crucial to have knowledge of both quantitative and qualitative research 2 as both types of research involve writing research questions and hypotheses. 7 However, these crucial elements of research are sometimes overlooked; if not overlooked, then framed without the forethought and meticulous attention it needs. Planning and careful consideration are needed when developing quantitative or qualitative research, particularly when conceptualizing research questions and hypotheses. 4
There is a continuing need to support researchers in the creation of innovative research questions and hypotheses, as well as for journal articles that carefully review these elements. 1 When research questions and hypotheses are not carefully thought of, unethical studies and poor outcomes usually ensue. Carefully formulated research questions and hypotheses define well-founded objectives, which in turn determine the appropriate design, course, and outcome of the study. This article then aims to discuss in detail the various aspects of crafting research questions and hypotheses, with the goal of guiding researchers as they develop their own. Examples from the authors and peer-reviewed scientific articles in the healthcare field are provided to illustrate key points.
DEFINITIONS AND RELATIONSHIP OF RESEARCH QUESTIONS AND HYPOTHESES
A research question is what a study aims to answer after data analysis and interpretation. The answer is written in length in the discussion section of the paper. Thus, the research question gives a preview of the different parts and variables of the study meant to address the problem posed in the research question. 1 An excellent research question clarifies the research writing while facilitating understanding of the research topic, objective, scope, and limitations of the study. 5
On the other hand, a research hypothesis is an educated statement of an expected outcome. This statement is based on background research and current knowledge. 8 , 9 The research hypothesis makes a specific prediction about a new phenomenon 10 or a formal statement on the expected relationship between an independent variable and a dependent variable. 3 , 11 It provides a tentative answer to the research question to be tested or explored. 4
Hypotheses employ reasoning to predict a theory-based outcome. 10 These can also be developed from theories by focusing on components of theories that have not yet been observed. 10 The validity of hypotheses is often based on the testability of the prediction made in a reproducible experiment. 8
Conversely, hypotheses can also be rephrased as research questions. Several hypotheses based on existing theories and knowledge may be needed to answer a research question. Developing ethical research questions and hypotheses creates a research design that has logical relationships among variables. These relationships serve as a solid foundation for the conduct of the study. 4 , 11 Haphazardly constructed research questions can result in poorly formulated hypotheses and improper study designs, leading to unreliable results. Thus, the formulations of relevant research questions and verifiable hypotheses are crucial when beginning research. 12
CHARACTERISTICS OF GOOD RESEARCH QUESTIONS AND HYPOTHESES
Excellent research questions are specific and focused. These integrate collective data and observations to confirm or refute the subsequent hypotheses. Well-constructed hypotheses are based on previous reports and verify the research context. These are realistic, in-depth, sufficiently complex, and reproducible. More importantly, these hypotheses can be addressed and tested. 13
There are several characteristics of well-developed hypotheses. Good hypotheses are 1) empirically testable 7 , 10 , 11 , 13 ; 2) backed by preliminary evidence 9 ; 3) testable by ethical research 7 , 9 ; 4) based on original ideas 9 ; 5) have evidenced-based logical reasoning 10 ; and 6) can be predicted. 11 Good hypotheses can infer ethical and positive implications, indicating the presence of a relationship or effect relevant to the research theme. 7 , 11 These are initially developed from a general theory and branch into specific hypotheses by deductive reasoning. In the absence of a theory to base the hypotheses, inductive reasoning based on specific observations or findings form more general hypotheses. 10
TYPES OF RESEARCH QUESTIONS AND HYPOTHESES
Research questions and hypotheses are developed according to the type of research, which can be broadly classified into quantitative and qualitative research. We provide a summary of the types of research questions and hypotheses under quantitative and qualitative research categories in Table 1 .
Research questions in quantitative research
In quantitative research, research questions inquire about the relationships among variables being investigated and are usually framed at the start of the study. These are precise and typically linked to the subject population, dependent and independent variables, and research design. 1 Research questions may also attempt to describe the behavior of a population in relation to one or more variables, or describe the characteristics of variables to be measured ( descriptive research questions ). 1 , 5 , 14 These questions may also aim to discover differences between groups within the context of an outcome variable ( comparative research questions ), 1 , 5 , 14 or elucidate trends and interactions among variables ( relationship research questions ). 1 , 5 We provide examples of descriptive, comparative, and relationship research questions in quantitative research in Table 2 .
Hypotheses in quantitative research
In quantitative research, hypotheses predict the expected relationships among variables. 15 Relationships among variables that can be predicted include 1) between a single dependent variable and a single independent variable ( simple hypothesis ) or 2) between two or more independent and dependent variables ( complex hypothesis ). 4 , 11 Hypotheses may also specify the expected direction to be followed and imply an intellectual commitment to a particular outcome ( directional hypothesis ) 4 . On the other hand, hypotheses may not predict the exact direction and are used in the absence of a theory, or when findings contradict previous studies ( non-directional hypothesis ). 4 In addition, hypotheses can 1) define interdependency between variables ( associative hypothesis ), 4 2) propose an effect on the dependent variable from manipulation of the independent variable ( causal hypothesis ), 4 3) state a negative relationship between two variables ( null hypothesis ), 4 , 11 , 15 4) replace the working hypothesis if rejected ( alternative hypothesis ), 15 explain the relationship of phenomena to possibly generate a theory ( working hypothesis ), 11 5) involve quantifiable variables that can be tested statistically ( statistical hypothesis ), 11 6) or express a relationship whose interlinks can be verified logically ( logical hypothesis ). 11 We provide examples of simple, complex, directional, non-directional, associative, causal, null, alternative, working, statistical, and logical hypotheses in quantitative research, as well as the definition of quantitative hypothesis-testing research in Table 3 .
Research questions in qualitative research
Unlike research questions in quantitative research, research questions in qualitative research are usually continuously reviewed and reformulated. The central question and associated subquestions are stated more than the hypotheses. 15 The central question broadly explores a complex set of factors surrounding the central phenomenon, aiming to present the varied perspectives of participants. 15
There are varied goals for which qualitative research questions are developed. These questions can function in several ways, such as to 1) identify and describe existing conditions ( contextual research question s); 2) describe a phenomenon ( descriptive research questions ); 3) assess the effectiveness of existing methods, protocols, theories, or procedures ( evaluation research questions ); 4) examine a phenomenon or analyze the reasons or relationships between subjects or phenomena ( explanatory research questions ); or 5) focus on unknown aspects of a particular topic ( exploratory research questions ). 5 In addition, some qualitative research questions provide new ideas for the development of theories and actions ( generative research questions ) or advance specific ideologies of a position ( ideological research questions ). 1 Other qualitative research questions may build on a body of existing literature and become working guidelines ( ethnographic research questions ). Research questions may also be broadly stated without specific reference to the existing literature or a typology of questions ( phenomenological research questions ), may be directed towards generating a theory of some process ( grounded theory questions ), or may address a description of the case and the emerging themes ( qualitative case study questions ). 15 We provide examples of contextual, descriptive, evaluation, explanatory, exploratory, generative, ideological, ethnographic, phenomenological, grounded theory, and qualitative case study research questions in qualitative research in Table 4 , and the definition of qualitative hypothesis-generating research in Table 5 .
Qualitative studies usually pose at least one central research question and several subquestions starting with How or What . These research questions use exploratory verbs such as explore or describe . These also focus on one central phenomenon of interest, and may mention the participants and research site. 15
Hypotheses in qualitative research
Hypotheses in qualitative research are stated in the form of a clear statement concerning the problem to be investigated. Unlike in quantitative research where hypotheses are usually developed to be tested, qualitative research can lead to both hypothesis-testing and hypothesis-generating outcomes. 2 When studies require both quantitative and qualitative research questions, this suggests an integrative process between both research methods wherein a single mixed-methods research question can be developed. 1
FRAMEWORKS FOR DEVELOPING RESEARCH QUESTIONS AND HYPOTHESES
Research questions followed by hypotheses should be developed before the start of the study. 1 , 12 , 14 It is crucial to develop feasible research questions on a topic that is interesting to both the researcher and the scientific community. This can be achieved by a meticulous review of previous and current studies to establish a novel topic. Specific areas are subsequently focused on to generate ethical research questions. The relevance of the research questions is evaluated in terms of clarity of the resulting data, specificity of the methodology, objectivity of the outcome, depth of the research, and impact of the study. 1 , 5 These aspects constitute the FINER criteria (i.e., Feasible, Interesting, Novel, Ethical, and Relevant). 1 Clarity and effectiveness are achieved if research questions meet the FINER criteria. In addition to the FINER criteria, Ratan et al. described focus, complexity, novelty, feasibility, and measurability for evaluating the effectiveness of research questions. 14
The PICOT and PEO frameworks are also used when developing research questions. 1 The following elements are addressed in these frameworks, PICOT: P-population/patients/problem, I-intervention or indicator being studied, C-comparison group, O-outcome of interest, and T-timeframe of the study; PEO: P-population being studied, E-exposure to preexisting conditions, and O-outcome of interest. 1 Research questions are also considered good if these meet the “FINERMAPS” framework: Feasible, Interesting, Novel, Ethical, Relevant, Manageable, Appropriate, Potential value/publishable, and Systematic. 14
As we indicated earlier, research questions and hypotheses that are not carefully formulated result in unethical studies or poor outcomes. To illustrate this, we provide some examples of ambiguous research question and hypotheses that result in unclear and weak research objectives in quantitative research ( Table 6 ) 16 and qualitative research ( Table 7 ) 17 , and how to transform these ambiguous research question(s) and hypothesis(es) into clear and good statements.
a These statements were composed for comparison and illustrative purposes only.
b These statements are direct quotes from Higashihara and Horiuchi. 16
a This statement is a direct quote from Shimoda et al. 17
The other statements were composed for comparison and illustrative purposes only.
CONSTRUCTING RESEARCH QUESTIONS AND HYPOTHESES
To construct effective research questions and hypotheses, it is very important to 1) clarify the background and 2) identify the research problem at the outset of the research, within a specific timeframe. 9 Then, 3) review or conduct preliminary research to collect all available knowledge about the possible research questions by studying theories and previous studies. 18 Afterwards, 4) construct research questions to investigate the research problem. Identify variables to be accessed from the research questions 4 and make operational definitions of constructs from the research problem and questions. Thereafter, 5) construct specific deductive or inductive predictions in the form of hypotheses. 4 Finally, 6) state the study aims . This general flow for constructing effective research questions and hypotheses prior to conducting research is shown in Fig. 1 .
Research questions are used more frequently in qualitative research than objectives or hypotheses. 3 These questions seek to discover, understand, explore or describe experiences by asking “What” or “How.” The questions are open-ended to elicit a description rather than to relate variables or compare groups. The questions are continually reviewed, reformulated, and changed during the qualitative study. 3 Research questions are also used more frequently in survey projects than hypotheses in experiments in quantitative research to compare variables and their relationships.
Hypotheses are constructed based on the variables identified and as an if-then statement, following the template, ‘If a specific action is taken, then a certain outcome is expected.’ At this stage, some ideas regarding expectations from the research to be conducted must be drawn. 18 Then, the variables to be manipulated (independent) and influenced (dependent) are defined. 4 Thereafter, the hypothesis is stated and refined, and reproducible data tailored to the hypothesis are identified, collected, and analyzed. 4 The hypotheses must be testable and specific, 18 and should describe the variables and their relationships, the specific group being studied, and the predicted research outcome. 18 Hypotheses construction involves a testable proposition to be deduced from theory, and independent and dependent variables to be separated and measured separately. 3 Therefore, good hypotheses must be based on good research questions constructed at the start of a study or trial. 12
In summary, research questions are constructed after establishing the background of the study. Hypotheses are then developed based on the research questions. Thus, it is crucial to have excellent research questions to generate superior hypotheses. In turn, these would determine the research objectives and the design of the study, and ultimately, the outcome of the research. 12 Algorithms for building research questions and hypotheses are shown in Fig. 2 for quantitative research and in Fig. 3 for qualitative research.
EXAMPLES OF RESEARCH QUESTIONS FROM PUBLISHED ARTICLES
- EXAMPLE 1. Descriptive research question (quantitative research)
- - Presents research variables to be assessed (distinct phenotypes and subphenotypes)
- “BACKGROUND: Since COVID-19 was identified, its clinical and biological heterogeneity has been recognized. Identifying COVID-19 phenotypes might help guide basic, clinical, and translational research efforts.
- RESEARCH QUESTION: Does the clinical spectrum of patients with COVID-19 contain distinct phenotypes and subphenotypes? ” 19
- EXAMPLE 2. Relationship research question (quantitative research)
- - Shows interactions between dependent variable (static postural control) and independent variable (peripheral visual field loss)
- “Background: Integration of visual, vestibular, and proprioceptive sensations contributes to postural control. People with peripheral visual field loss have serious postural instability. However, the directional specificity of postural stability and sensory reweighting caused by gradual peripheral visual field loss remain unclear.
- Research question: What are the effects of peripheral visual field loss on static postural control ?” 20
- EXAMPLE 3. Comparative research question (quantitative research)
- - Clarifies the difference among groups with an outcome variable (patients enrolled in COMPERA with moderate PH or severe PH in COPD) and another group without the outcome variable (patients with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH))
- “BACKGROUND: Pulmonary hypertension (PH) in COPD is a poorly investigated clinical condition.
- RESEARCH QUESTION: Which factors determine the outcome of PH in COPD?
- STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: We analyzed the characteristics and outcome of patients enrolled in the Comparative, Prospective Registry of Newly Initiated Therapies for Pulmonary Hypertension (COMPERA) with moderate or severe PH in COPD as defined during the 6th PH World Symposium who received medical therapy for PH and compared them with patients with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH) .” 21
- EXAMPLE 4. Exploratory research question (qualitative research)
- - Explores areas that have not been fully investigated (perspectives of families and children who receive care in clinic-based child obesity treatment) to have a deeper understanding of the research problem
- “Problem: Interventions for children with obesity lead to only modest improvements in BMI and long-term outcomes, and data are limited on the perspectives of families of children with obesity in clinic-based treatment. This scoping review seeks to answer the question: What is known about the perspectives of families and children who receive care in clinic-based child obesity treatment? This review aims to explore the scope of perspectives reported by families of children with obesity who have received individualized outpatient clinic-based obesity treatment.” 22
- EXAMPLE 5. Relationship research question (quantitative research)
- - Defines interactions between dependent variable (use of ankle strategies) and independent variable (changes in muscle tone)
- “Background: To maintain an upright standing posture against external disturbances, the human body mainly employs two types of postural control strategies: “ankle strategy” and “hip strategy.” While it has been reported that the magnitude of the disturbance alters the use of postural control strategies, it has not been elucidated how the level of muscle tone, one of the crucial parameters of bodily function, determines the use of each strategy. We have previously confirmed using forward dynamics simulations of human musculoskeletal models that an increased muscle tone promotes the use of ankle strategies. The objective of the present study was to experimentally evaluate a hypothesis: an increased muscle tone promotes the use of ankle strategies. Research question: Do changes in the muscle tone affect the use of ankle strategies ?” 23
EXAMPLES OF HYPOTHESES IN PUBLISHED ARTICLES
- EXAMPLE 1. Working hypothesis (quantitative research)
- - A hypothesis that is initially accepted for further research to produce a feasible theory
- “As fever may have benefit in shortening the duration of viral illness, it is plausible to hypothesize that the antipyretic efficacy of ibuprofen may be hindering the benefits of a fever response when taken during the early stages of COVID-19 illness .” 24
- “In conclusion, it is plausible to hypothesize that the antipyretic efficacy of ibuprofen may be hindering the benefits of a fever response . The difference in perceived safety of these agents in COVID-19 illness could be related to the more potent efficacy to reduce fever with ibuprofen compared to acetaminophen. Compelling data on the benefit of fever warrant further research and review to determine when to treat or withhold ibuprofen for early stage fever for COVID-19 and other related viral illnesses .” 24
- EXAMPLE 2. Exploratory hypothesis (qualitative research)
- - Explores particular areas deeper to clarify subjective experience and develop a formal hypothesis potentially testable in a future quantitative approach
- “We hypothesized that when thinking about a past experience of help-seeking, a self distancing prompt would cause increased help-seeking intentions and more favorable help-seeking outcome expectations .” 25
- Although a priori hypotheses were not supported, further research is warranted as results indicate the potential for using self-distancing approaches to increasing help-seeking among some people with depressive symptomatology.” 25
- EXAMPLE 3. Hypothesis-generating research to establish a framework for hypothesis testing (qualitative research)
- “We hypothesize that compassionate care is beneficial for patients (better outcomes), healthcare systems and payers (lower costs), and healthcare providers (lower burnout). ” 26
- Compassionomics is the branch of knowledge and scientific study of the effects of compassionate healthcare. Our main hypotheses are that compassionate healthcare is beneficial for (1) patients, by improving clinical outcomes, (2) healthcare systems and payers, by supporting financial sustainability, and (3) HCPs, by lowering burnout and promoting resilience and well-being. The purpose of this paper is to establish a scientific framework for testing the hypotheses above . If these hypotheses are confirmed through rigorous research, compassionomics will belong in the science of evidence-based medicine, with major implications for all healthcare domains.” 26
- EXAMPLE 4. Statistical hypothesis (quantitative research)
- - An assumption is made about the relationship among several population characteristics ( gender differences in sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of adults with ADHD ). Validity is tested by statistical experiment or analysis ( chi-square test, Students t-test, and logistic regression analysis)
- “Our research investigated gender differences in sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of adults with ADHD in a Japanese clinical sample. Due to unique Japanese cultural ideals and expectations of women's behavior that are in opposition to ADHD symptoms, we hypothesized that women with ADHD experience more difficulties and present more dysfunctions than men . We tested the following hypotheses: first, women with ADHD have more comorbidities than men with ADHD; second, women with ADHD experience more social hardships than men, such as having less full-time employment and being more likely to be divorced.” 27
- “Statistical Analysis
- ( text omitted ) Between-gender comparisons were made using the chi-squared test for categorical variables and Students t-test for continuous variables…( text omitted ). A logistic regression analysis was performed for employment status, marital status, and comorbidity to evaluate the independent effects of gender on these dependent variables.” 27
EXAMPLES OF HYPOTHESIS AS WRITTEN IN PUBLISHED ARTICLES IN RELATION TO OTHER PARTS
- EXAMPLE 1. Background, hypotheses, and aims are provided
- “Pregnant women need skilled care during pregnancy and childbirth, but that skilled care is often delayed in some countries …( text omitted ). The focused antenatal care (FANC) model of WHO recommends that nurses provide information or counseling to all pregnant women …( text omitted ). Job aids are visual support materials that provide the right kind of information using graphics and words in a simple and yet effective manner. When nurses are not highly trained or have many work details to attend to, these job aids can serve as a content reminder for the nurses and can be used for educating their patients (Jennings, Yebadokpo, Affo, & Agbogbe, 2010) ( text omitted ). Importantly, additional evidence is needed to confirm how job aids can further improve the quality of ANC counseling by health workers in maternal care …( text omitted )” 28
- “ This has led us to hypothesize that the quality of ANC counseling would be better if supported by job aids. Consequently, a better quality of ANC counseling is expected to produce higher levels of awareness concerning the danger signs of pregnancy and a more favorable impression of the caring behavior of nurses .” 28
- “This study aimed to examine the differences in the responses of pregnant women to a job aid-supported intervention during ANC visit in terms of 1) their understanding of the danger signs of pregnancy and 2) their impression of the caring behaviors of nurses to pregnant women in rural Tanzania.” 28
- EXAMPLE 2. Background, hypotheses, and aims are provided
- “We conducted a two-arm randomized controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate and compare changes in salivary cortisol and oxytocin levels of first-time pregnant women between experimental and control groups. The women in the experimental group touched and held an infant for 30 min (experimental intervention protocol), whereas those in the control group watched a DVD movie of an infant (control intervention protocol). The primary outcome was salivary cortisol level and the secondary outcome was salivary oxytocin level.” 29
- “ We hypothesize that at 30 min after touching and holding an infant, the salivary cortisol level will significantly decrease and the salivary oxytocin level will increase in the experimental group compared with the control group .” 29
- EXAMPLE 3. Background, aim, and hypothesis are provided
- “In countries where the maternal mortality ratio remains high, antenatal education to increase Birth Preparedness and Complication Readiness (BPCR) is considered one of the top priorities . BPCR includes birth plans during the antenatal period, such as the birthplace, birth attendant, transportation, health facility for complications, expenses, and birth materials, as well as family coordination to achieve such birth plans. In Tanzania, although increasing, only about half of all pregnant women attend an antenatal clinic more than four times . Moreover, the information provided during antenatal care (ANC) is insufficient. In the resource-poor settings, antenatal group education is a potential approach because of the limited time for individual counseling at antenatal clinics.” 30
- “This study aimed to evaluate an antenatal group education program among pregnant women and their families with respect to birth-preparedness and maternal and infant outcomes in rural villages of Tanzania.” 30
- “ The study hypothesis was if Tanzanian pregnant women and their families received a family-oriented antenatal group education, they would (1) have a higher level of BPCR, (2) attend antenatal clinic four or more times, (3) give birth in a health facility, (4) have less complications of women at birth, and (5) have less complications and deaths of infants than those who did not receive the education .” 30
Research questions and hypotheses are crucial components to any type of research, whether quantitative or qualitative. These questions should be developed at the very beginning of the study. Excellent research questions lead to superior hypotheses, which, like a compass, set the direction of research, and can often determine the successful conduct of the study. Many research studies have floundered because the development of research questions and subsequent hypotheses was not given the thought and meticulous attention needed. The development of research questions and hypotheses is an iterative process based on extensive knowledge of the literature and insightful grasp of the knowledge gap. Focused, concise, and specific research questions provide a strong foundation for constructing hypotheses which serve as formal predictions about the research outcomes. Research questions and hypotheses are crucial elements of research that should not be overlooked. They should be carefully thought of and constructed when planning research. This avoids unethical studies and poor outcomes by defining well-founded objectives that determine the design, course, and outcome of the study.
Disclosure: The authors have no potential conflicts of interest to disclose.
- Conceptualization: Barroga E, Matanguihan GJ.
- Methodology: Barroga E, Matanguihan GJ.
- Writing - original draft: Barroga E, Matanguihan GJ.
- Writing - review & editing: Barroga E, Matanguihan GJ.
How to write the part scope for further research?
The part scope for further research is essential in every academic study such as a thesis , dissertation or journal paper . The main purpose of this part is to make the readers aware of the findings emerging from the study, and its shortcomings. The shortcomings of the research gap guide future researchers on a domain that they must consider to save time and avoid repetitive outcomes.
Furthermore, this section also gives guidelines to researchers on other dimensions and critical estimations from which the topic can be explored.
Emphasize the significance of further research
There are no specific rules or guidelines for this part. However, since it is expected to be brief and informative, the following format is recommended.
Start this section by reflecting on the significance of the present study in brief. Answering questions such as:
- Whether the research deviated from its initial objectives?
- What was the original idea behind the research?
- From where was the inspiration drawn?
Answering such questions is important because the reader should connect to the idea of the research.
Limitations of the study
Furthermore, briefly explain the limitations of the study. This step proves significant for scholars who wish to address areas that can enrich the research topic further. The limitations can either be presented separately, in an independent section called “Limitations of the research”, or can be integrated within the future scope. Also, the limitations should be scalable and relatable, i.e. something that other researchers feel can be accomplished under different circumstances. This is also the key to setting recommendations for future studies.
Justify the future scope
Furthermore, provide justifications for the reasons why the mentioned areas have not been covered in the current study. Identify the probable bottlenecks other researchers might encounter while considering future research related to the topic. This will help them formulate an achievable or practically applicable plan for their own research, including the scope, aim and methodology.
Finally, the approach of the researcher becomes more direct. To be specific, some direct research suggestions should be given to other scholars for future studies. Be precise so that the reader is confident to undertake future studies in the suggested areas.
Answering the following questions can help:
- What should be explored by others?
- Why is it worth exploring?
- What can be achieved from it?
- Will the suggested study be relevant five to ten years down the line?
- How does it add to the overall body of the literature?
Types of writing a future scope
There are different types of future research scope, based on the kind of writing, such as:
- The future scope is focused solely on study findings.
- The future scope is focused on the theory or theoretical model misused.
- The future scope from lack of literary support.
- The future scope of geographical outreach.
- The future scope of testing methods and statistics.
- The future scope on the complete redesigning of methodology.
Points to keep in mind
The most important aspect of writing the future scope part is to present it in an affirmative way. As identified in the former section, it is crucial to identify if the limitations are methods-based or researcher based. It should be concise and critical to the field of study. Refrain from using a reference in the scope for the future research part.
Make sure the points discussed remain achievable in a proximal time frame. In addition, make sure that they are in relation to the theoretical development of the study in focus.
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- 10 Research Question Examples to Guide Your Research Project
10 Research Question Examples to Guide your Research Project
Published on October 30, 2022 by Shona McCombes . Revised on October 19, 2023.
The research question is one of the most important parts of your research paper , thesis or dissertation . It’s important to spend some time assessing and refining your question before you get started.
The exact form of your question will depend on a few things, such as the length of your project, the type of research you’re conducting, the topic , and the research problem . However, all research questions should be focused, specific, and relevant to a timely social or scholarly issue.
Once you’ve read our guide on how to write a research question , you can use these examples to craft your own.
Note that the design of your research question can depend on what method you are pursuing. Here are a few options for qualitative, quantitative, and statistical research questions.
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If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.
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- Implicit bias
- Hawthorne effect
- Anchoring bias
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McCombes, S. (2023, October 19). 10 Research Question Examples to Guide your Research Project. Scribbr. Retrieved November 10, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/research-process/research-question-examples/
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- How to Write Recommendations in Research | Examples & Tips
How to Write Recommendations in Research | Examples & Tips
Published on 15 September 2022 by Tegan George .
Recommendations in research are a crucial component of your discussion section and the conclusion of your thesis , dissertation , or research paper .
As you conduct your research and analyse the data you collected , perhaps there are ideas or results that don’t quite fit the scope of your research topic . Or, maybe your results suggest that there are further implications of your results or the causal relationships between previously-studied variables than covered in extant research.
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What should recommendations look like, building your research recommendation, how should your recommendations be written, recommendation in research example, frequently asked questions about recommendations.
Recommendations for future research should be:
- Concrete and specific
- Supported with a clear rationale
- Directly connected to your research
Overall, strive to highlight ways other researchers can reproduce or replicate your results to draw further conclusions, and suggest different directions that future research can take, if applicable.
Relatedly, when making these recommendations, avoid:
- Undermining your own work, but rather offer suggestions on how future studies can build upon it
- Suggesting recommendations actually needed to complete your argument, but rather ensure that your research stands alone on its own merits
- Using recommendations as a place for self-criticism, but rather as a natural extension point for your work
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There are many different ways to frame recommendations, but the easiest is perhaps to follow the formula of research question conclusion recommendation. Here’s an example.
Conclusion An important condition for controlling many social skills is mastering language. If children have a better command of language, they can express themselves better and are better able to understand their peers. Opportunities to practice social skills are thus dependent on the development of language skills.
As a rule of thumb, try to limit yourself to only the most relevant future recommendations: ones that stem directly from your work. While you can have multiple recommendations for each research conclusion, it is also acceptable to have one recommendation that is connected to more than one conclusion.
These recommendations should be targeted at your audience, specifically toward peers or colleagues in your field that work on similar topics to yours. They can flow directly from any limitations you found while conducting your work, offering concrete and actionable possibilities for how future research can build on anything that your own work was unable to address at the time of your writing.
See below for a full research recommendation example that you can use as a template to write your own.
The current study can be interpreted as a first step in the research on COPD speech characteristics. However, the results of this study should be treated with caution due to the small sample size and the lack of details regarding the participants’ characteristics.
Future research could further examine the differences in speech characteristics between exacerbated COPD patients, stable COPD patients, and healthy controls. It could also contribute to a deeper understanding of the acoustic measurements suitable for e-health measurements.
While it may be tempting to present new arguments or evidence in your thesis or disseration conclusion , especially if you have a particularly striking argument you’d like to finish your analysis with, you shouldn’t. Theses and dissertations follow a more formal structure than this.
All your findings and arguments should be presented in the body of the text (more specifically in the discussion section and results section .) The conclusion is meant to summarize and reflect on the evidence and arguments you have already presented, not introduce new ones.
The conclusion of your thesis or dissertation should include the following:
- A restatement of your research question
- A summary of your key arguments and/or results
- A short discussion of the implications of your research
For a stronger dissertation conclusion , avoid including:
- Generic concluding phrases (e.g. “In conclusion…”)
- Weak statements that undermine your argument (e.g. “There are good points on both sides of this issue.”)
Your conclusion should leave the reader with a strong, decisive impression of your work.
In a thesis or dissertation, the discussion is an in-depth exploration of the results, going into detail about the meaning of your findings and citing relevant sources to put them in context.
The conclusion is more shorter and more general: it concisely answers your main research question and makes recommendations based on your overall findings.
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George, T. (2022, September 15). How to Write Recommendations in Research | Examples & Tips. Scribbr. Retrieved 9 November 2023, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/thesis-dissertation/research-recommendations/
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How to Write an “Implications of Research” Section
- 4-minute read
- 24th October 2022
When writing research papers , theses, journal articles, or dissertations, one cannot ignore the importance of research. You’re not only the writer of your paper but also the researcher ! Moreover, it’s not just about researching your topic, filling your paper with abundant citations, and topping it off with a reference list. You need to dig deep into your research and provide related literature on your topic. You must also discuss the implications of your research.
Interested in learning more about implications of research? Read on! This post will define these implications, why they’re essential, and most importantly, how to write them. If you’re a visual learner, you might enjoy this video .
What Are Implications of Research?
Implications are potential questions from your research that justify further exploration. They state how your research findings could affect policies, theories, and/or practices.
Implications can either be practical or theoretical. The former is the direct impact of your findings on related practices, whereas the latter is the impact on the theories you have chosen in your study.
Example of a practical implication: If you’re researching a teaching method, the implication would be how teachers can use that method based on your findings.
Example of a theoretical implication: You added a new variable to Theory A so that it could cover a broader perspective.
Finally, implications aren’t the same as recommendations, and it’s important to know the difference between them .
Questions you should consider when developing the implications section:
● What is the significance of your findings?
● How do the findings of your study fit with or contradict existing research on this topic?
● Do your results support or challenge existing theories? If they support them, what new information do they contribute? If they challenge them, why do you think that is?
Why Are Implications Important?
You need implications for the following reasons:
● To reflect on what you set out to accomplish in the first place
● To see if there’s a change to the initial perspective, now that you’ve collected the data
● To inform your audience, who might be curious about the impact of your research
How to Write an Implications Section
Usually, you write your research implications in the discussion section of your paper. This is the section before the conclusion when you discuss all the hard work you did. Additionally, you’ll write the implications section before making recommendations for future research.
Implications should begin with what you discovered in your study, which differs from what previous studies found, and then you can discuss the implications of your findings.
Your implications need to be specific, meaning you should show the exact contributions of your research and why they’re essential. They should also begin with a specific sentence structure.
Examples of starting implication sentences:
● These results build on existing evidence of…
● These findings suggest that…
● These results should be considered when…
● While previous research has focused on x , these results show that y …
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You should write your implications after you’ve stated the results of your research. In other words, summarize your findings and put them into context.
The result : One study found that young learners enjoy short activities when learning a foreign language.
The implications : This result suggests that foreign language teachers use short activities when teaching young learners, as they positively affect learning.
The result : One study found that people who listen to calming music just before going to bed sleep better than those who watch TV.
The implications : These findings suggest that listening to calming music aids sleep quality, whereas watching TV does not.
To summarize, remember these key pointers:
● Implications are the impact of your findings on the field of study.
● They serve as a reflection of the research you’ve conducted.
● They show the specific contributions of your findings and why the audience should care.
● They can be practical or theoretical.
● They aren’t the same as recommendations.
● You write them in the discussion section of the paper.
● State the results first, and then state their implications.
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What are Implications and Recommendations in Research? How to Write It, with Examples
Highly cited research articles often contain both implications and recommendations , but there is often some confusion around the difference between implications and recommendations in research. Implications of a study are the impact your research makes in your chosen area; they discuss how the findings of the study may be important to justify further exploration of your research topic. Research recommendations suggest future actions or subsequent steps supported by your research findings. It helps to improve your field of research or cross-disciplinary fields through future research or provides frameworks for decision-makers or policymakers. Recommendations are the action plan you propose based on the outcome.
In this article, we aim to simplify these concepts for researchers by providing key insights on the following:
- what are implications in research
- what is recommendation in research
- differences between implications and recommendations
- how to write implications in research
- how to write recommendation in research
- sample recommendation in research
Table of Contents
What are implications in research
The implications in research explain what the findings of the study mean to researchers or to certain subgroups or populations beyond the basic interpretation of results. Even if your findings fail to bring radical or disruptive changes to existing ways of doing things, they might have important implications for future research studies. For example, your proposed method for operating remote-controlled robots could be more precise, efficient, or cheaper than existing methods, or the remote-controlled robot could be used in other application areas. This could enable more researchers to study a specific problem or open up new research opportunities.
Implications in research inform how the findings, drawn from your results, may be important for and impact policy, practice, theory, and subsequent research. Implications may be theoretical or practical. 1
- Practical implications are potential values of the study with practical or real outcomes . Determining the practical implications of several solutions can aid in identifying optimal solution results. For example, clinical research or research on classroom learning mostly has practical implications in research . If you developed a new teaching method, the implication would be how teachers can use that method based on your findings.
- Theoretical implications in research constitute additions to existing theories or establish new theories. These types of implications in research characterize the ability of research to influence society in apparent ways. It is, at most, an educated guess (theoretical) about the possible implication of action and need not be as absolute as practical implications in research . If your study supported the tested theory, the theoretical implication would be that the theory can explain the investigated phenomenon. Else, your study may serve as a basis for modifying the theory. Theories may be partially supported as well, implying further study of the theory or necessary modifications are required.
What are recommendations in research?
Recommendations in research can be considered an important segment of the analysis phase. Recommendations allow you to suggest specific interventions or strategies to address the issues and constraints identified through your study. It responds to key findings arrived at through data collection and analysis. A process of prioritization can help you narrow down important findings for which recommendations are developed.
Recommendations in research examples
Recommendations in research may vary depending on the purpose or beneficiary as seen in the table below.
Table: Recommendations in research examples based on purpose and beneficiary
If you’re wondering how to make recommendations in research . You can use the simple recommendation in research example below as a handy template.
Table: Sample recommendation in research template
Basic differences between implications and recommendations in research
Implications and recommendations in research are two important aspects of a research paper or your thesis or dissertation. Implications discuss the importance of the research findings, while recommendations offer specific actions to solve a problem. So, the basic difference between the two is in their function and the questions asked to achieve it. The following table highlights the main differences between implications and recommendations in research .
Table: Differences between implications and recommendations in research
Where do implications go in your research paper.
Because the implications and recommendations of the research are based on study findings, both are usually written after the completion of a study. There is no specific section dedicated to implications in research ; they are usually integrated into the discussion section adding evidence as to why the results are meaningful and what they add to the field. Implications can be written after summarizing your main findings and before the recommendations and conclusion.
Implications can also be presented in the conclusion section after a short summary of the study results.
How to write implications in research
Implication means something that is inferred. The implications of your research are derived from the importance of your work and how it will impact future research. It is based on how previous studies have advanced your field and how your study can add to that.
When figuring out how to write implications in research , a good strategy is to separate it into the different types of implications in research , such as social, political, technological, policy-related, or others. As mentioned earlier, the most frequently used are the theoretical and practical implications.
Next, you need to ask, “Who will benefit the most from reading my paper?” Is it policymakers, physicians, the public, or other researchers? Once you know your target population, explain how your findings can help them.
The implication section can include a paragraph or two that asserts the practical or managerial implications and links it to the study findings. A discussion can then follow, demonstrating that the findings can be practically implemented or how they will benefit a specific audience. The writer is given a specific degree of freedom when writing research implications , depending on the type of implication in research you want to discuss: practical or theoretical. Each is discussed differently, using different words or in separate sections. The implications can be based on how the findings in your study are similar or dissimilar to that in previous studies. Your study may reaffirm or disprove the results of other studies, which has important implications in research . You can also suggest future research directions in the light of your findings or require further research to confirm your findings, which are all crucial implications. Most importantly, ensure the implications in research are specific and that your tone reflects the strength of your findings without exaggerating your results.
Implications in research can begin with the following specific sentence structures:
- These findings suggest that…
- These results build on existing body of evidence of…
- These results should be considered when…
- While previous research focused on x, our results show that y…
What should recommendations in research look like?
Recommendations for future research should be:
- Directly related to your research question or findings
- Concrete and specific
- Supported by a clear reasoning
The recommendations in research can be based on the following factors:
1. Beneficiary: A paper’s research contribution may be aimed at single or multiple beneficiaries, based on which recommendations can vary. For instance, if your research is about the quality of care in hospitals, the research recommendation to different beneficiaries might be as follows:
- Nursing staff: Staff should undergo training to enhance their understanding of what quality of care entails.
- Health science educators: Educators must design training modules that address quality-related issues in the hospital.
- Hospital management: Develop policies that will increase staff participation in training related to health science.
2. Limitations: The best way to figure out what to include in your research recommendations is to understand the limitations of your study. It could be based on factors that you have overlooked or could not consider in your present study. Accordingly, the researcher can recommend that other researchers approach the problem from a different perspective, dimension, or methodology. For example, research into the quality of care in hospitals can be based on quantitative data. The researcher can then recommend a qualitative study of factors influencing the quality of care, or they can suggest investigating the problem from the perspective of patients rather than the healthcare providers.
3. Theory or Practice: Your recommendations in research could be implementation-oriented or further research-oriented.
4. Your research: Research recommendations can be based on your topic, research objectives, literature review, and analysis, or evidence collected. For example, if your data points to the role of faculty involvement in developing effective programs, recommendations in research can include developing policies to increase faculty participation. Take a look at the evidence-based recommendation in research example s provided below.
Table: Example of evidence-based research recommendation
Avoid making the following mistakes when writing research recommendations :
- Don’t undermine your own work: Recommendations in research should offer suggestions on how future studies can be built upon the current study as a natural extension of your work and not as an entirely new field of research.
- Support your study arguments: Ensure that your research findings stand alone on their own merits to showcase the strength of your research paper.
How to write recommendations in research
When writing research recommendations , your focus should be on highlighting what additional work can be done in that field. It gives direction to researchers, industries, or governments about changes or developments possible in this field. For example, recommendations in research can include practical and obtainable strategies offering suggestions to academia to address problems. It can also be a framework that helps government agencies in developing strategic or long-term plans for timely actions against disasters or aid nation-building.
There are a few SMART 2 things to remember when writing recommendations in research. Your recommendations must be:
- S pecific: Clearly state how challenges can be addressed for better outcomes and include an action plan that shows what can be achieved.
- M easurable: Use verbs denoting measurable outcomes, such as identify, analyze, design, compute, assess, evaluate, revise, plan, etc., to strengthen recommendations in research .
- A ttainable: Recommendations should offer a solution-oriented approach to problem-solving and must be written in a way that is easy to follow.
- R elevant: Research recommendations should be reasonable, realistic, and result-based. Make sure to suggest future possibilities for your research field.
- T imely: Time-based or time-sensitive recommendations in research help divide the action plan into long-term or short-term (immediate) goals. A timeline can also inform potential readers of what developments should occur over time.
If you are wondering how many words to include in your research recommendation , a general rule of thumb would be to set aside 5% of the total word count for writing research recommendations . Finally, when writing the research implications and recommendations , stick to the facts and avoid overstating or over-generalizing the study findings. Both should be supported by evidence gathered through your data analysis.
- Schmidt, F. L., & Hunter, J. E. (1998). The validity and utility of selection methods in personnel psychology: Practical and theoretical implications of 85 years of research findings. Psychological bulletin , 124 (2), 262.
- Doran, G. T. (1981). There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives. Manag Rev , 70 (11), 35-36.
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The 8 types of market research: definitions, uses and examples.
13 min read What are the different types of market research that can help you stay ahead of the curve with your marketing strategy? Understand how to use each type, and what the advantages and disadvantages are.
Market research (also called marketing research) is the action or activity of gathering information about market needs and preferences. This helps companies understand their target market — how the audience feels and behaves.
There are 8 types of market research, each with their own methods and tools:
- Primary research
- Secondary research
- Qualitative research
- Quantitative research
- Branding research
- Customer research
- Competitor research
- Product research
Let’s start our list by exploring primary and secondary research first.
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1. Primary research
Primary research is research that you collect yourself but going directly to the target market through a range of methods. Because it is data you create, you own the data set.
Two types of results — exploratory information (determines the nature of a problem that hasn’t yet been clearly defined) and conclusive information (carried out to solve a problem that exploratory research identified) — from participants are collected as raw data and then analyzed to gather insights from trends and comparisons.
This method is good for getting the views of a lot of people at one time, especially when time is short, but it comes with its own management issues. The interviewer must prepare a way to gather answers and record these, while engaging in conversation with many people.
Participants may be affected by the group setting, either from acquiescence bias (the desire to say yes to please the interviewer), dominance bias (stronger participants can alter the results from less dominant participants) or researcher bias (where the research leads or impacts the participant responses indirectly).
This provides a structured setting where the interviewer can listen to what’s being said and investigate further into an answer. The interviewer can also pick up on non-verbal cues from body language can help the interview understand where to deep-dive and broaden their understanding.
However, some of the same biases (acquiescence and researcher) still exit in this format. The method is time consuming to do the interviews and collect the data afterwards.
A survey is an excellent method for carrying out primary research as participants do need to be physically present with the interviewer to carry it out. The survey can be completed anywhere there is an internet connection, meaning there is flexibility for the participants to use different devices and for interviewers to contact participants in different geographical time-zones.Preparation is key, however, as the researchers must segment the market and create a list of participants to send the survey to. Hiring a panel or using existing marketing lists can help with this.
2. Secondary research
Secondary research is the use of data that has previously been collected, analysed and published (and therefore you do not own this data). An example of this for market research is:
Most information is freely available, so there are less costs associated with this kind of secondary research over primary research methods.
Secondary research can often be the preparation for primary research activities, providing a knowledge base. The information gathered may not provide the specific information to explain the results, which is where primary market research would be used to enhance understanding.
There is also a logistics planning need for a recording solution that can handle large datasets, since manual management of the volumes of information can be tricky.
Both primary and secondary research have its advantages and disadvantages, as we’ve seen, but they are best used when paired together. Combined, the data can give you the confidence to act knowing that any hypothesis you have is backed up.
Learn more about primary vs secondary research methods
The next market research types can be defined as qualitative and quantitative research types:
3. Qualitative research
Qualitative market research is the collection of primary or secondary data that is non-numerical in nature, and therefore hard to measure.
Researchers collect this market research type because it can add more depth to the data.
This kind of market research is used to summarise and infer, rather than pin-points an exact truth held by a target market. For example, qualitative market research can be done to find out a new target market’s reaction to a new product to translate the reaction into a clear explanation for the company.
4. Quantitative research
Quantitative research is the collection of primary or secondary data that is numerical in nature, and so can be collected more easily.
Researchers collect this market research type because it can provide historical benchmarking, based on facts and figures evidence.
There are a number of ways to collect this data — polls, surveys, desk research, web statistics, financial records — which can be exploratory in nature without a lot of depth at this stage.
Quantitative market research can create the foundation of knowledge needed by researchers to investigate hypotheses further through qualitative market research.
The next four variations of market research are specific to topics areas, that bring about specific information.:
5. Branding research
Branding market research assists a company to create, manage and maintain the company brand. This can relate to the tone, branding, images, values or identity of the company.
Research can be carried out through interviews, focus groups or surveys. For example, brand awareness surveys will ask your participants whether the brand is known to them and whether it is something they would be interested in buying.
Additional areas for brand research is also around brand loyalty, brand perception , brand positioning , brand value and brand identity .
The aim of research will be to understand how to know if:
- Your brand is performing in relation to other competitors
- There are areas to improve your brand activities
- There are positives to showcase to enhance your brand’s image
6. Customer research
Customer market research looks at the key influences on your target customers and how your company can make changes to encourage sales.
The aim of this research is to know your customer inside out, and continuously learn about how they interact with the company. Some themes covered by this include:
- Customer satisfaction – Exploring what keeps customers happy, as higher customer satisfaction is more likely to lead to increased customer retention.
- Customer loyalty – This looks at what experiences have happened to lead to greater customer loyalty across the customer lifecycle.
- Customer segmentation research – Discovering who the customers are, what their behaviour and preferences are and their shared characteristics.
Relevant desk research may look at historical purchase records, customer journey mapping , customer segmentation, demographics and persona templates.
Primary research, such as NPS and customer satisfaction surveys , or customer satisfaction interviews at the end of customer support calls, can also give more details.
7. Competitor research
Competitor market research is about knowing who your competition is and understanding their strengths and weaknesses, in comparison to your organization. It can also be about your competitive offering in the market, or how to approach a new market.
The aim of this research is to find ways to make your organization stand out and future planning through horizon scanning and listening to customer preferences.
For example, for competitive analysis, researchers would create a SWOT for your business and your competitors, to see how your business compares.
Primary research could interview customers about their buying preferences, while secondary sources would look at competitor’s market dominance, sales, structure and so on. With this thorough analysis, you can understand where you can change to be more competitive, and look for ideas that make you stand out.
8. Product research
Product market research is a key way to make sure your products and services are fit for launching in the market, and are performing as well as they can.
The aim of this research is to see how your product is perceived by customers, if they are providing value and working correctly. Ideas can also be formed about upgrades and future product development.
There are a number of avenues within product research:
- Product branding – Does the product brand and design attract customers in the intended way?
- Product feature testing – this can happen at various stages of development with target markets (in early development, between versions, before product launch, etc.) to check if there are positive reaction to new or improved features
- Product design thinking – what solutions would solve your customers’ current or future problems?
- Product marketing – Do the marketing messages help your product’s memorability and saleability, or can they be improved?
Primary research methods have a clear advantage in this kind of market research: Surveys can ask for rankings on the popularity or usefulness of features or conduct conjoint analysis, while in-person observation interviews (where the participant can handle a product) can be particularly useful in seeing what customers do with the product in real time.
How to use market research types in your company
In a good marketing strategy, it’s preferable to have a mixture of data across:
- Qualitative and quantitative research
- Primary and secondary research
- Your specific topic area or area of focus
With these three components, you can make sure your market strategy gives you a complete picture of your market’s operational data and experience data , — what your market does and why .
Economical experience data (O data)
This type of experience data is quantitative in nature (including operations, featuring sales data, finance data and HR data ). As it can be quantified into numerical values, it can be measured over and over, providing datasets.
There is the opportunity to use a data-driven approach to understanding the results and making predictions based on historical trends.
This sort of data can be measured more easily than emotions and feelings. But it can only tell you about past activities and what happened. It can’t tell you what will happen in the future and why things will happen — this is where X data comes in.
Emotional experience data (X data)
This type of experience data seeks to find reasons to explain emotional decisions and how brands ‘sit’ in people’s minds. In this way, this data is qualitative in nature.
Companies that have X data have a ‘mental advantage’ over other companies, as they are able to understand the perceptions of the customer, their needs and values.
When you have tangible insights on the audience’s needs, you can then take steps to meet those needs and solve problems. This mitigates the risk of an experience gap – which is what your audience expects you deliver versus what you actually deliver.
Market intelligence 10 min read, marketing insights 11 min read, ethnographic research 11 min read, qualitative vs quantitative research 13 min read, qualitative research questions 11 min read, qualitative research design 12 min read, primary vs secondary research 14 min read, request demo.
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This article is part of the research topic.
Early Phase Adaptive Clinical Trial Design in Oncology
Optimizing Dose-Schedule Regimens with Bayesian Adaptive Designs: Opportunities and Challenges
- 1 Research Center of Biostatistics and Computational Pharmacy, China Pharmaceutical University, China
The final, formatted version of the article will be published soon.
Due to the small sample sizes in early-phase clinical trials, the toxicity and efficacy profiles of the dose-schedule regimens determined for subsequent trials may not be well established. The recent development of novel anti-tumor treatments and combination therapies further complicates the problem. Therefore, there is an increasing recognition of the essential place of optimizing doseschedule regimens, and new strategies are now urgently needed. Bayesian adaptive designs provide a potentially effective way to evaluate several doses and schedules simultaneously in a single clinical trial with higher efficiency, but real-world implementation examples of such adaptive designs are still few. In this paper, we cover the critical factors associated with dose-schedule optimization and review the related innovative Bayesian adaptive designs. The assumptions, characteristics, limitations, and application scenarios of those designs are introduced. The review also summarizes some unresolved issues and future research opportunities for dose-schedule optimization.
Keywords: dose-schedule regimen, adaptive design, dosage optimization, Bayesian method, Early phase clinical trial
Received: 24 Jul 2023; Accepted: 10 Nov 2023.
Copyright: © 2023 Chen, Chen, Jiang and Wang. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) . The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
* Correspondence: Mx. Liyun Jiang, Research Center of Biostatistics and Computational Pharmacy, China Pharmaceutical University, Nanjing, Liaoning Province, China Mx. Fei Wang, Research Center of Biostatistics and Computational Pharmacy, China Pharmaceutical University, Nanjing, Liaoning Province, China
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What Is Professional Development and What Are the Benefits?
Explore different aspects of professional development, how it can benefit you and your career, and ways to get started.
Engaging in professional development is a way to improve your skills, knowledge, and techniques relating to your professional career. This could be anything from learning something new in an academic setting to earning Professional Certificates or brushing up on knowledge and learning a new skill through research and personal projects.
What is professional development?
Professional development is education, training, or skill development engaged in for career progression. This can range from keeping up to date with changes and trends in your field to learning new skills to advance your career.
Who needs to engage in professional development?
Putting time aside for professional development can benefit you at any career stage. Learning more about your field can enhance your work and help you move on to new areas. For example, showing that you are willing to improve and grow in your position and beyond is an asset to your company.
Some companies and industries consider ongoing professional development a requirement for working in a specific position. Many employers will offer regular internal and external training to ensure employees are current with industry standards. The process helps ensure they have skilled employees and attract professionals dedicated to growing within their roles.
Some professionals, such as psychologists, certified public accountants (CPAs), pilots, and lawyers, have continued professional development (CPD) as an essential requirement to practice. This may involve taking exams to renew licenses or retain membership with a professional body. It may also mean taking courses to sharpen skills in fast-moving industries at regular intervals or moving to the next level. These include industries like construction and surveying, education, and medicine.
Read more: What Is a Professional Development Plan? And How to Create Your Own
The difference between personal development and professional development
Professional development and personal development share similar characteristics, but professional development is always career-related. On the other hand, personal development can include working on any area that benefits your personal growth. This could improve your career prospects or help you perform your role at a higher standard. Still, personal development generally affects all aspects of your life instead of solely your career. Professional development focuses on improving your skills to perform better at your job or profession.
Examples of professional development
Professional development can take many forms. It can be structured learning, such as courses, seminars, and workshops. These can be set by an employer or based on personal areas of professional growth . Other forms of professional development include more reflective learning, such as research, reading, and listening to podcasts. This type of professional development is more informal and led by employees rather than employers.
Whether formal or informal, essential or optional, professional development can be in the form of online courses. These can vary from degree programs to short guided projects and everything in between. Online learning is a big part of how we learn these days, and you can always find plenty of available options. On Coursera, you can access various professional development courses for multiple professions.
Academic courses can be considered continued professional development if they relate to your role. These can be bachelor’s degrees, graduate degrees , or courses with accreditation.
Conferences and seminars
Attending conferences and seminars can count toward your professional development efforts, as they are opportunities to learn from industry experts and for peer support. Speaking at a conference can be a great way to develop your presentation skills and learn from leaders in your field.
Reading and research
Doing informal professional development is a great way to upskill and learn something new to help your career development. A wealth of books on professional development, as well as podcasts and videos, are available.
Finding a coach or mentor allows you to learn from someone who has already achieved what you want. Using a performance coach or picking a mentor in a position above you gives you opportunities to follow their guidance and learn strategies that worked for them.
Professional Certificates are a quantifiable form of professional development. Whatever your industry, having a certification in a relevant field can boost career prospects and aid performance in your role. Coursera hosts a range of Professional Certificates for you to choose from, including the Google Project Management Certificate .
Benefits of pursuing professional development
Whether you are looking to progress in your career or just want to perform your best in your current role, you can see the benefits of professional development in many different ways. With so many options, professional development can be invigorating. Keeping up to date with industry specifics and learning skills to help you in your role can benefit you and your company.
The skills you develop through professional development can be both workplace and technical. You don’t need to limit which skills you work on, provided they help you develop and grow in your career.
Professional development can increase your knowledge and help you learn skills that benefit your career. You may feel more confident in your role and can take on new responsibilities or put yourself forward for promotion.
Achieving a qualification or certification is a way of gaining proof that you have mastered a skill or a certain level of knowledge. While non-accredited professional development is still valid, it is easier to demonstrate your achievements if you can cite a certification or certificate and add it to your resume.
With your new skills, you may become more appealing to employers and stand out from other candidates when you apply for a new role or approach your boss for a promotion.
Are you ready to take the next step in your professional development? You can take several courses on Coursera on professional development. Consider starting with Professional Development: Improve Yourself, Always , delivered by Macquarie University.
This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.
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