Defining your research project is the first step of your journey. You can only start your
work when you have a firm idea of what the project is about and why you are doing it.
This module focuses on project definition. It tells you how to select a topic, and
about project sources. Once you choose a topic, you come to the stage of collecting
preliminary information and conducting a literature review to see how much knowledge
is already available and whether it is worth researching that topic. The next step
is to identify and describe the research problem. It is critical to identify its true nature,
and not mistake the tip of the iceberg for the problem itself. Then you formulate your
research questions and/or hypotheses, followed by the objectives of your project.
2.1 Choosing a topic: where do ideas come from?
2.2 Basic criteria for topic selection
2.3 Preliminary information gathering and literature review
2.4 Identifying the research problem: the ‘what’
2.5 Determining research variables
2.6 Deciding on research questions and/or hypotheses
2.7 Deciding on research objectives: the ‘why’
When you have completed this module, you should be able to:
describe the sources of project topics and basic criteria for selecting a topic
understand the importance of preliminary information gathering and literature
identify and describe the true research problem, not the symptom of the problem
formulate the research questions and/or hypotheses for your project
establish objectives for your project
Seafaring, National Centre for Ports and Shipping, Australian Maritime College
This study guide helps you to complete the module. At relevant points you are directed
to the most appropriate sections of the text to read or to the Selected Readings.
Leedy P. D. & Ormrod, J. E. 2010, Practical Research: Planning and Design, 9th edn, Pearson
Education, Australia, chapter 3; chapter 10, pp. 224-225
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