Research Project

Time to write a research project?

Looking for a reliable research project outline?

What does a research project entail?

Note that together with dissertations and capstone projects, research projects are key assignments in higher learning.

They are part of most university degrees, and it is therefore important to know how to write one.

The writing process entails:

  • Planning
  • Actual writing

But even before you begin writing, you have to understand what a research project entails.

So, what is a research project?

In simple terms, it can be described as:

An extended essay that contains a statement or question for analysis and evaluation.   

Accordingly, writing requires you to present own ideas and research on a subject, where such presentation is accompanied by an analysis of existing knowledge.

A good research project outline acts as a guide for the writing process.

Finding a Research Question

Finding a research question lays the foundation for proper organization.

It is as important as developing a research project outline.

For learners, the research question is usually based on preliminary work done during the course.

It may develop from:

  • Course readings,
  • Class discussions, and
  • Assignments

If your research is not based on the course, you should find a general topic from general resources.

Read through the resources and compile notes on areas that spike your interest about a certain topic.

When reading the resources, you should do the following:

  • Write down any questions the readings raise.
  • Identify silences and puzzles in the text.

From the notes, you can develop a research question.

This should be done by writing down about an arguable issue.

When doing so, you should avoid:

  • Questions that generate non-controversial factual answers.
  • Questions that result to simple yes or no answers.

You can start with a broad question and then narrow it down to a more specific argument along the course of your research.

You should use your original question as a point of reference when narrowing down the topic.

In this, you should refer to the original question to ask new questions if the resulting question is also too broad.

Example of a broad question, and how to narrow it down:

Broad question: Why do people immigrate to the U.S.?

  • Who immigrates to the U.S.?
  • What makes them want to immigrate?
  • What happens when they don’t immigrate? What happens when the do?
  • How do the immigrants feel about this? How do Americans feel about this?
  • Does everyone feel the same about this? How do views differ?
  • Do opinions differ by age, race, region, religion, socioeconomic status or…?
  • What are the rules about immigration? Have the rules always been the same?
  • Are the rules the same everywhere?
  • How do the rules in the U.S. compare to the rules in Europe/ Canada/ Asia?

Managing a Research Project

Managing a research project entails devising an execution plan.

As earlier noted, it is important to have a reliable guide.

Alongside a research project outline, such a guide should encompass steps on how to conduct each project section.

This management should be done around the research question.

You should:

  • Decide the methodology to use
  • Seek approval for the research
  • Finalize the topic and methodology
  • Conduct research
  • Analyze data

The management process should be aligned to all the research project demands.

This is in recognition of the fact that projects may differ based on field, methodology, or even institution.

Organizing a Research Project

There is no doubt that writing a research project is a meticulous process.

It demands proper organization.

One key organizing tool is a research project outline.

While the outline looks into the organization within the research project itself, it is also important to organize the execution process.

This pertains to planning.

It is done using various strategies.

Strategies for Writing a Research Project

Key strategies include:

1. Assembling and reviewing sources

This strategy entails gathering sources for your research project.

Potential sources include:

  • Books
  • Scholarly articles
  • Government documents, etc.

After assembling them, skim them to establish whether they are on topic.

You can use the bibliographies of books and articles to track down other sources.

Scrutinize online sources to establish their quality.

2. Examining other methods of data collection

This is another important strategy.

It entails exploring other resources that can be used to collect further data.

Potential data collection methods include:

  • Interviews
  • Questionnaires
  • Surveys
  • Experiments
  • Filed work, etc.

Exploring these sources should be done in line with the conventions of the discipline.

You can use the footnotes from selected sources to help discover other sources, and then follow the shape of the entailed academic conversation.

3. Choosing a system for keeping notes

Applying this strategy requires you to evaluate the best ways to keep your notes.

In this, you should consider a notes keeping system that utilizes separate index cards.

When keeping notes, write down:

  • Author
  • Title
  • Page number
  • Call number

Writing down this information helps recheck the source and site it appropriately

Importantly, distinguish between a summary, paraphrase, and quotation makes work easier and accurate.

4. Using sources to generate ideas

This is another important research project writing strategy.

It involves coming up with ideas relevant to the research project.

To accomplish this, you should:

  • Write down about what your read
  • Identify key terms among the sources
  • Compile a list of questions about the content you read
  • Look for contradictions, connections, and “silences” among the sources
  • Identify the main ideas

5. Organize the ideas

This strategy lays the foundation for developing a research project outline.

You should do the following:

  1. Use a chart, outline, or any other map to sketch out the focal points of your argument
  2. Pay more attention to drafting parts that are more complex
  3. Arrange ideas in the order of their relationship to each other

6. Write the paper

This is one of the last strategies.

It should be aligned to the research project outline.

It entails:

  • Developing a working thesis statement
  • Writing the paper (supporting the thesis with evidence)
  • Revising the thesis to accurately capture your argument
  • Connecting all your main arguments with the thesis

7. Evaluating your argument

This is considered the final research project writing strategy.

It is very important, and entails asking the following questions:

  • Whether you have a clear thesis statement in the introduction
  • Whether your thesis is supported with clear evidence
  • Whether you have provided a definition of key terms
  • Whether you have considered counterarguments
  • Whether you have reviewed your sources for support or clarification
  • Whether you have provided an interpretation of evidence, or you just stated facts related to the topic

Research Project Outline

Now that you do know what strategies to use when writing a research project, it is time to explore what template to use to organize?

This is where a research project outline comes in.  

Research Project Outline Example

Also referred to as research project outline template, it seeks to outline the various sections of a research project.

Although a research project outline may slightly differ from field to another, particularly in the case of pure sciences, a conventional template should contain some common features.

These features are as illustrated below:

Research Project Outline Template

I. Title Page

Study Title

Author’s/ Investigator’s Name

Unit; Course




II. Abstract/ Summary

Introduction to the topic

Problem statement

Description of the methodology (selection criteria, data collected, tests, etc.)

Significance and implications of the study

III. Introduction

Rationale of the project

Background for the current study

Significance of the study

IV. Literature Review

Coherent argument that describes proposed study

Justification for the study

V. Problem Statement

Description of the problem arising from the proposed study

VI. Research Hypothesis

Logical flow from the literature review and problem statement

Aspects of the research topic to be studied, and how

Express relationship between two variables or concepts

VII. Methodology

Subject Selection

Sampling procedure used

Source of the subjects

Selection criteria

Sample size and the rationale behind it


Variables to be examined (intervention and outcome)

Measures to be used

Data collection tools to used


Steps for conducting research

How to contact subjects

How to secure Informed Consent

How to collect data

Termination policy

Data Analysis

Statistical tests to be used


Shortcomings and weaknesses likely to impair internal validity


Description of the sample

Present findings clearly

Include facts (figures, tables, transcripts, and noteworthy descriptions)

Use tables for simple demographics

Present findings in terms of research questions

VIII. Discussion

Overview of significant findings

Put the findings within the context of past research

Carefully examine findings that do not support the research hypothesis

Study limitations likely to affect results generalizability

Further research recommendations

Study’s implication for professional practice

IX. References

All studies referred to

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