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A research question poses a relationship between two or more variables but phrases the relationship as a question; a hypothesis represents a declarative statement of the relations between two or more variables (Kerlinger, 1979; Krathwohl, 1988).Deciding whether to use questions or hypotheses depends on factors such as the purpose of the study, the nature of the design and methodology, and the audience of the research (at times even the taste and preference of committee members, particularly the Chair).
The introduction is the part of the paper that provides readers with the background information for the research reported in the paper.
Its purpose is to establish a framework for the research, so that readers can understand how it is related to other research (Wilkinson, 1991, p. If a researcher is working within a particular theoretical framework/line of inquiry, the theory or line of inquiry should be introduced and discussed early, preferably in the introduction or literature review.
Statements of this sort are usually taken as indications that the writer is not really familiar with the literature.
In a proposal, the literature review is generally brief and to the point.
The review of the literature provides the background and context for the research problem.
It should establish the need for the research and indicate that the writer is knowledgeable about the area (Wiersma, 1995, p. Avoid statements that imply that little has been done in the area or that what has been done is too extensive to permit easy summary.For example, There is no relationship between the number of hours nontraditional-aged college women use the student union and their persistence at the college after their freshman year.Or, There is no difference between the mean grade point averages achieved by students in the upper and lower quartiles of the distribution of the Self-regulated Inventory.The purpose statement should provide a specific and accurate synopsis of the overall purpose of the study (Locke, Spirduso, & Silverman, 1987, p. If the purpose is not clear to the writer, it cannot be clear to the reader.Clearly identify and define the central concepts or ideas of the study.It is a key element that associations such as AERA and APA look for in proposals.It is essential in all quantitative research and much qualitative research.Effective problem statements answer the question Why does this research need to be conducted.If a researcher is unable to answer this question clearly and succinctly, and without resorting to hyperspeaking (i.e., focusing on problems of macro or global proportions that certainly will not be informed or alleviated by the study), then the statement of the problem will come off as ambiguous and diffuse.When a writer states hypotheses, the reader is entitled to have an exposition of the theory that led to them (and of the assumptions underlying the theory).Just as conclusions must be grounded in the data, hypotheses must be grounded in the theoretical framework.