A research problem needs to be clarified and has to be transformed into a precisely formulated research question. This is done in the chapter “research problem”. A pragmatic way to structure the chapter “research problem” is to apply the concept of deductive reasoning. According to deduction, the writer advances from paragraphs with general information to paragraphs with a higher specificity and ends with the research question. Simultaneously, the research problem with its research question determines the overall structure of the research paper, i.e. the outline. Once an aim has been identified, its implicit logic prescribes the structure of the outline. Moreover, the outline should be aligned with the structure of the chapter “course of investigation” and, if applicable, with a chapter “research method”. A research paper ends with a conclusion that can be segmented into three subchapters: summary of research findings, critical acclaim and outlook. Again, the summary of the findings should be aligned with the structure of the research problem and the outline of the main body. Finally, it is good style to critically reflect upon one’s own research findings in the subchapter “critical acclaim” and to provide an outlook regarding potential future developments in the subchapter “outlook”.
Link to e-learning videos: Overview of chapter 9
A well-thought-out interpretation of the topic is a prerequisite for the successful execution of a research project. Especially in academic settings, research candidates have not only the duty, but also the right to develop an interpretation of their topics. In some cases, the thesis advisor might assist the interpretation process. In other cases, research candidates have to derive an interpretation on their own. An ideal interpretation process starts with a negative and a positive interpretation of the topic and thereby the identification of possible aims. Once possible aims and their implications are known, the research candidate has to select one aim or a combination of aims. There are five possible aims: description, causal connection, intention, function, and comparison. The interpretation of a topic can be of an abstract (theoretical) or problem-based (applied) nature. Within the process of a problem-based interpretation, the empirical environment has to be considered. The identified aim predetermines the nature of possible research questions to be investigated.
Link to e-learning videos: Overview of chapter 8
The e-learning videos of chapter 4 introduce you to the research process and its cornerstones. Every research project starts with an open-ended indirect research question, which is implicitly or explicitly accompanied by a research hypothesis. Often a research problem is substantiated by an ad-hoc hypothesis, which advances to a working hypothesis and ultimately will be developed into a scientific hypothesis. The logic and quality of hypotheses can differ and determine the success of the research process. Depending on their inner logic, scientific hypotheses can be formulated as cause-effect hypotheses, distribution hypotheses, correlation hypotheses and difference hypotheses. Based on their quality, scientific hypotheses can be differentiated into nomological hypotheses, quasi-nomological hypotheses and statistical hypotheses. The research approach has to match the research problem to be investigated. Literature-based research, theoretical research, developmental research, quantitative research, qualitative research or a mixture of the aforementioned approaches provide means to tackle a research problem at hand. Different academic disciplines favour different scientific styles that predetermine the applicable research approaches. Three general types of scientific styles are introduced and critically reflected: the theoretical solution-driven style, the empirical solution-driven style and the hypothesis-driven style.
Link to e-learning videos: Overview of chapter 4