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An Introduction Guide to Developing a Flawless Research Concept Paper

An Introduction Guide to Developing a Flawless Research Concept Paper

A research paper is the most important aspect for the completion of the doctoral degree. As a doctoral student, you are expected to choose a potential problem, find possible solutions and pen down the key results of the results. But before proceeding with the research paper writing process, you need to prepare a catchy summary of your research and explain how it contributes to your field of study. This summary is known as a concept paper.

A concept paper is a document that summarizes what the research is about, how you intended to conduct it, and why is it essential. It includes topic under study, hypothesis, research questions, data collection & analysis approaches. The concept paper developed prior to the research paper lays a solid foundation for the research paper. It also provides an opportunity for doctoral students to define their study focus and obtain early feedback. 

A concept paper is of two types: implicit and explicit paper

  1. Implicit concept paper – This type of concept includes casual information which otherwise is excluded in traditional prototype theory. 
  2. Explicit concept paper – It includes definitional and syntactic information. Besides, it may also consist of statistical and causal information. 

How to pen down a concept paper?

Crafting a concept paper goes beyond possessing an idea about it. A winning concept paper caters as a development tool and summarizes the planned research paper precisely. 

Some of the elements to include in the concept paper are:

  • Title page 

Provide a title to your research paper that acts as a standalone statement. The title should describe the central idea of the research paper and summarize the whole study. It should also determine the variables under study and the relationship between the variables. However, avoid using jargons or words that are misleading.

  • Purpose/rationale of study 

This section of the concept paper should introduce the research problem that you wish to investigate, the reasons behind choosing the specific problem and describe why your results are valuable. Statistical data or any other supporting document can be added in this section to emphasize the need of your study. 

Tip: Prior to including the research problem, consider why do you think the problem is important, how it relates to the previous studies, how a link between the study objectives and hypotheses is established and what are the theoretical & practical implications of your study. 

  • Preliminary literature review  

Literature review section identifies the critical materials that support and validate your study. This section should focus on the aspects that support new research and provides a provision to synthesize and analyze the information from previous studies. The literature should connect the present research with theoretical models of the existing studies. Remember, a great concept is developed on the basis of range of literature review which is condensed into key points. 

  • Goals  

This section should include goals and objectives of your study. It should describe ‘what’, ‘when’ and ‘who’ regarding your study goal. For example, an objective might be to offer high-quality training to students and a goal may be improving the academic performance of students. 

  • Methodology  

Also, known as project activities or action plan, methodology section suggests the best approach and technique to perform research and data analysis. The methods must be selected on the basis of empirical evidence and must be reasonable & cost-effective. Also, the objectives and goals must align with the chosen research methods. 

  • Timeline & budget 

Highlight the critical elements of each stage and outline the time required to complete your research. Also, mention the central budget category, amount required to perform the research and how the amount will be used during the research process. 

  • References 

Include the references used to develop the concept paper. Cite them in the formatting style demanded by your University or institute. 

Example 

In response to ‘studies to improve the texture of butter’, a randomized controlled trial was proposed to determine the type of butter prefered by the middle-age individuals. The study addressed the goal of identifying the consumer preferences and why those preferences have withstand in the market. 

Approximately 11 million middle-age (25-40) individuals consume butter everyday. The butter consumption declined gradually with the increase in the age. It was hypothesized that age-related issues reduced the butter consumption. 

The goal of the project was to understand the butter texture & taste preferences and to analyze the hypotheses on age related issues and changes. 

In the first year, 2 groups of individuals of different ages (25-40) will be subjected to the experiment. The participants of group 1 will be served butter from brand 1 in sandwich form twice per week. Similarly, participants in group 2 will be served butter from brand 2 twice per week. After a month, the groups were switched and the study will be continued in a similar manner. 

The time required to complete the experiment would be three years and the budget required is estimated to $ 180,000. 

Depending on the field of study, a concept paper can range between 2-3 pages to 10-20 pages. Determine the requirements of your field of study and craft a niche concept paper.

3 lesser-known tricks to develop a thesis conceptual framework

3 lesser-known tricks to develop a thesis conceptual framework

Conceptual framework, often considered as the ‘road-map’ of any research work, is a theory that is developed in order to explain and predict relationships, events, behavior, etc. It also provides an outline of how to plan to conduct the research and provides an explanation that is used to define the data that originates from the research question. This theory is considered as an important aspect in the research planning process, as it

  • Takes multi-disciplinary method – Conceptual framework looks at multiple disciplines to frame the research. It doesn’t merely summarize the present published research but also takes current theories, findings, and contexts for the research question into consideration.
  • Identifies research gap – Conceptual framework identifies the gap in the current research and assess the goals for research and develops apt research questions and methodology.
  • Identifies potential bias – Conceptual framework shows potential bias that notifies the established research or potential bias affecting the research.

While it is crucial to develop a conceptual framework, one cannot deny the fact that developing this framework is not as easy as pie. To help the research scholars develop an exceptional conceptual framework, we have enlisted a few tips which include,

  1. Conduct a rigorous literature review – Your thesis should include a novel study that makes a significant contribution to your area of study. To ensure that you are not choosing a topic which is already taken, you have to go through the previous research (conduct literature review) conducted in your area of interest before you actually start with your research. By conducting a literature review, you can refine the significant argument or research hypothesis and also place your work within the field of study in your conceptual framework. Remember, your framework must introduce relevant research and present how your work can add value to the existing knowledge in your field.
  2. Pen-down a descriptive narrative – It is not mandatory to include diagrams in your conceptual framework. You can present the information by writing a narrative. Ensure that the narrative explains the basic methodology of your research and summarizes the variables that have an impact on your research. Even though you include a diagram in the conceptual framework, a narrative should also be incorporated to explain the details in-depth. If you need some assistance to write down the narrative, take help from an organization consisting of adroit team of thesis writers in India.
  3. Include a flow-chart – Conceptual frameworks enables the reader to understand the flow of your research as it is visual in nature. For every single aspect in your research, present a variable that influences it. You can do this by including a diagram or a flow chart. If you are not aware of the rules that need to be followed while including the flow chart, consider taking aid from PhD writers in India rather than trying it on your own and ruining your work.

To conclude, the conceptual framework shouldn’t be considered as a fixed document. You may come across new variables and might find a need to make a few modifications in your narrative. If you need any kind of help in reworking your narrative, then avail help from professional thesis writers in India.

Saving Yourself from PhD Stress

Saving Yourself from PhD Stress

PhD StressAre you feeling physically or mental exhausted with your daily academic work, or experiencing high levels of stress? You can relax as this is a part and parcel of any PhD course and cannot be avoided. This is not to suggest that PhD stress is not real and damaging to your personal well-being, but to make you aware that you are not the only one experiencing it.

At the same time, you must not ignore the warning signs of stress and try to keep working through it, as this will only worsen the situation.

So, are you experiencing any of the following stress signs?

  • Physical or mental exhaustion on a daily basis
  • Inability to focus on the immediate task
  • A general lack of motivation and drive
  • Constant fear and sense of helplessness
  • Constant tension or fear of the course workload
  • General feeling of not belonging to the high standards of a PhD program.

If you are experiencing most (or still worst, all) of these signs, it is probably a good time to relax and reduce your stress levels, by following the tips below:

Slow down
Remember that your PhD pursuit is a marathon race, and not a sprint. Slow down or take a complete break for a few days. Make a list of things to do and focus on the immediate things that have the highest priority. Breaking down a larger task into multiple subtasks can help you relax and reduce your stress.

Prepare yourself for things to go wrong.
Despite meticulous planning, things can go wrong at any stage of your PhD course. Do not blame this on yourself, as it has and will happen to the best of students. Engaging with the problem in hand and focussing always on the solution will ensure the success of your research project.

Managing the fear factor
Fear factor can be a major cause of stress. Fear can be at different levels. Are you fearing not being able to complete your PhD, or not being able to devote your time and focus on your PhD course? Understanding the level of your fear can help you in overcoming the same.

Live healthy
Doing a PhD course does not mean that you have to make drastic changes to a healthy lifestyle. Do not deprive yourself of your normal sleep, and stick to a healthy diet and plenty of water. You can also seek stress-related help from your family or close friends.

Writing a HYPOTHESIS of the Research

Writing a HYPOTHESIS of the Research

Being a PhD thesis writer, creating a hypothesis for your research study could be a bit tricky part. The hypothesis of the research can also be considered as a statement of predicting the results of the study.

Thus, when you frame a hypothesis always bear in mind that the statement should be

  • Objective
  • Testable
  • Linked with the variables of the study

Here, you should also remember that when you frame a hypothesis there are two statements which are framed simultaneously, in terms of Null hypothesis (symbolized as H0) and Alternate hypothesis (symbolized as H1).

In general terms, the Null hypothesis is a statement which is supposed to be ACCEPTED by the researcher and which is deemed to be the cause of the research. Whereas, the alternate hypothesis is the antithesis of the Null hypothesis (i.e. supposed to be REJECTED)!

For an instance, your study focuses on the subject of employee retention in an organization. In this study you are focusing on various factors which are responsible for retaining the employees in an organization. Thus, when you try to frame the hypothesis statement, you need to concretely define the variables of the study first.

By variables we mean that the variables have various categories such as: dependent variables; independent variables and control variables. The independent variable is the one which influences the dependent variable. The control variables are the ones which determine the conditions in which the dependent and independent variables interact with each other.

Continuing with the example mentioned above, here the independent variables would be the factors which influence the employee retention. Let’s say in your study, you chose these variables as:

  • Source of recruitment
  • Skills and job profile match and
  • Experience of the employee

Note of caution: Now understand that the variable Source of recruitment is also broadly defined. There could be numerous ways of recruiting the employee. Hence, you need to focus on this part as well because the influence of each source of recruitment in retention of employee may vary.

Sources of recruitment could be

  • campus placement;
  • online job portal;
  • recruitment agencies, and
  • advertisement in newspapers

framework

Figure: Framework of Variables of the Research

Note of caution: Categorisi ng the broad variables into specific variables is crucial as the impact of distinct sources of recruitment could vary on the employee retention. If these sources would not be categorized then the research seems generalized and would loose on providing specific insights to the academicians and industry people.

After identifying and categorising the variables you can easily define the hypothesis statement which can be tested as well. The hypothesis statement would follow as:

Ha0: Sources of recruitment impact the retention of employee in an organisation

Ha1: Sources of recruitment does not impact the retention of employee in an organisation

The sub-hypothesis of the main hypothesis are:

Hb0: Employees chosen through campus placement tend to stay for long duration in an organisation

Hb1: Employees chosen through campus placement do not stay for long durations in an organisation

Hc0: Employees chosen through online portals tend to stay for long duration in an organisation

Hc1: Employees chosen through online portals do not stay for long duration in an organisation

Similarly you can frame the hypothesis for the other two variables in the similar manner…

Framing a hypothesis for your dissertation would become a cakewalk if you would follow these steps. Just like the other chapters and sections of your dissertation, the hypothesis statement acts as pillars for drawing conclusion.

Note of caution: If you would make incorrect assumptions (i.e. the predicting statement) then the aims, objectives and all your efforts being invested would go in vain.

Follow these steps to form an appropriate hypothesis for your dear dissertation.

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