02 Mar

Assessment criteria for good scientific research, part 2

In this blog, we explore deeply into the key concepts and principles essential for conducting robust scientific research. Whether you’re a student pursuing an academic degree, a researcher conducting studies and documenting findings, or an individual engaged in science or evidence-based research, this blog offers invaluable guidance. This blog provides insightful explanations and practical guidelines for executing rigorous and well-justified research. Moreover, as critical thinking skills grow in importance, it is vital to convey information properly, as detailed here.

Also, read this blog (Part 1) for additional information. Stay tuned for more blogs related to this topic, which will be posted on my website.


Scientific criteria for a good research report, part 2

To ensure high-quality research, it is crucial to test and continuously validate, refine, and improve the findings, as necessary. Good research seldom follows a linear path; it requires ongoing adjustments. It is common for assumptions made early on to undergo modifications or even complete overhauls halfway through the process. Therefore, adjusting a research question midway should not be viewed as problematic; such modifications are inherent to the process and contribute to enhancing the research quality.

Design Thinking, Agile planning, and Sprint planning are well suited to facilitate the aforementioned processes. These methodologies not only assist in transforming ideas into robust proofs of concepts and products but also enable flexible adaptation to changes during research. How Design Thinking, Agile, and Sprints contribute to the development of sound proofs of concept and products will be elucidated in a forthcoming blog post.

Let’s begin by examining the various chapters and sections that a well-structured research report should encompass.

According to Baarda & De Goede (2011) and Verhoeven (2010), advisory reports and scientific publications should, at a minimum, include: a summary, foreword, table of contents, glossary, background and introduction, literature review, research plan, results, conclusion and discussion, recommendations, bibliography, and any appendices. The contents of the chapters are described in detail below.

See also the first blog post for additional information.


Summary, Preface, Table of Contents & Glossary

Summary of the report: A summary of a report provides a concise and clear representation of its main points, findings, and conclusions. Its purpose is to offer readers a quick insight into the report’s content without necessitating a full read-through. The summary should encapsulate the essence of the report, including key information, results, and recommendations, allowing readers to determine whether to delve deeper. An effective summary is clear, concise, and accurate, and effectively communicates the core messages of the report.

Foreword: A foreword, located at the beginning of a book, report, thesis, or similar document, allows the author or editor to briefly reflect on the work’s creation. In this section, the author may express gratitude to contributors such as teachers, colleagues, friends, or family members. It may also provide a background or motivation for writing the work, along with important considerations or contextual information. Typically, the foreword offers a personal and informal introduction to a document written by the author themselves.

Table of contents: A table of contents situated at the beginning of a document such as a report, thesis, book, or article provides an overview of its chapters, sections, and subsections, along with their respective page numbers. It serves as a quick reference to understand a document’s structure and content, aiding navigation through its various parts.

Glossary: A glossary included in a book, report, thesis, or similar document defines and explains specific terms, concepts, acronyms, or jargon. Its purpose is to assist readers in understanding the document’s terminology. Each term is usually accompanied by a concise definition or explanation, often supplemented with examples or contextual information to clarify the meaning. The placement of the glossary may vary, depending on the author’s preference or the publication guidelines.


Background information and Introduction

Chapter 1 of a report typically includes an introduction that describes the context of the company. This includes an overview of the company, including information about the industry, size, mission, and vision. The causation, problem statement, and main research question are introduced, along with any sub-questions. The current and desired situation of the company are outlined, followed by a conceptual framework and an analysis of the relevance or added value of the research. The clear objective of the research is set out, including an analysis of the market, competition, and stakeholders. Requirements are established using the MoSCoW method, and the researcher’s position within the organization is clarified. All this contributes to a clear understanding of the context and significance of the research.

Below, the various components of Chapter 1 are further elaborated:

Introduction:

The introduction of the research report provides an overview of the context in which the research takes place and introduces the key aspects of the company or organization.

Context of the company/organization:

This includes a description of the company or organization to which the research relates, including information about the industry, size, mission, and vision, and other relevant background information.

Causation, problem statement, and main question:

The reasoning behind the research is discussed, emphasizing the specific challenges, problems, or opportunities that motivated the research. This leads to the formulation of the problem statement, which indicates the focus and direction of the research.

Problem Statement, Research Question, and Possible Sub-questions:

  • Problem Statement: This is an explicit declaration of the problem or issue that is the subject of the research. It indicates why the research is being conducted and why the problem is important to investigate.
    • Severity of the Problem and Consequences of Inaction: In addition to naming the problem, it is crucial to highlight its severity and discuss the potential consequences of inaction. This can involve addressing the impact of the problem on various aspects of the business or organization, such as finances, reputation, customer satisfaction, operational efficiency, and so on. By clearly delineating the severity of the problem and the possible negative consequences of inaction, the urgency of the research and the need for action are emphasized. This helps in gaining support and involvement from stakeholders and increases the motivation to address the problem.
  • Research Question: This is a specific question posed to address the problem and guide the research. It is the question that researchers aim to answer through their research.
  • Sub-questions: These are questions that arise from the main research question and help to break down the research into smaller, manageable pieces. Sub-questions are intended to investigate specific aspects of the topic and contribute to the understanding of the larger problem. It is advised to always motivate why each sub-question was chosen and how it contributes to answering the main question.

Current Situation and Desired Situation

A description of the current situation of the company or organization is provided, along with an outline of the desired situation or objectives the company aims to achieve. This helps to understand the context in which the research takes place and to clarify the rationale behind the research questions.

Conceptual Framework, Relevance, or Added Value of the Research:

Conceptual Framework: This encompasses the concepts and terms used in the research, providing definitions and delineations of these concepts. The conceptual framework helps create a common understanding and ensures that all parties use the same terminology.

  • It is essential to clearly delineate and operationalize the concepts and words in the research. Delineation means that the boundaries of the concepts are clearly defined to prevent confusion and ensure consistency. Operationalization means that abstract concepts and words are converted into measurable variables or indicators so they can be objectively measured or observed. This allows for later assessment of the extent to which the intended goals have been achieved and to draw conclusions about the effects of interventions or changes, for example. Without clear operationalization of concepts/words, it can be difficult to provide empirical evidence for achieving desired effects or to determine the impact of the research.

Relevance: This refers to the extent to which the research is important for practice, policy, science, or other relevant domains. It assesses whether the research can contribute to existing knowledge, solving problems, or making decisions.

Added Value: This indicates the unique or innovative aspect of the research and how it contributes to filling gaps in existing knowledge or practice. It measures the impact or value that the research can provide compared to previous studies or initiatives. Added value can come in various forms, and the main ones are listed below:

  • 1. Economic Added Value: This refers to the economic benefits that result from the research. For example, it may involve identifying new market opportunities, improving efficiency in business processes, cost savings, or stimulating economic growth. Research that provides economic added value can lead to improved competitive positions of companies, new employment opportunities, or increasing the economic prosperity of a region or country.
  • 2. Ecological Added Value: This concerns the positive impact of the research on the environment and sustainability. It may involve identifying environmentally friendly solutions, reducing environmental impact, conserving biodiversity, or promoting environmental protection. Research with ecological added value contributes to the conservation of natural resources, reducing pollution, and promoting a sustainable lifestyle and development.
  • 3. Scientific Added Value: This refers to the contribution of the research to scientific knowledge and understanding of a particular subject. It may involve developing new theoretical insights, answering unanswered questions, refuting existing theories, or identifying new research areas. Research with scientific added value contributes to the advancement of science and can lead to new discoveries, methodologies, and approaches within a field.
  • 4. Psychological Added Value: This includes the impact of the research on psychological processes, behavior, and well-being of individuals and groups. For example, it may involve understanding human behavior, emotions, cognitive processes, motivation, or identifying factors that influence mental health and well-being. Research with psychological added value can lead to improved interventions for mental health, more effective communication strategies, better decision-making, and promoting resilience and well-being among individuals and communities.
  • 5. Societal Added Value: This concerns the impact of the research on society as a whole, including social structures, norms, values, and policies. It may involve promoting social justice, addressing societal issues such as poverty, inequality, and discrimination, strengthening social cohesion, and promoting inclusivity. Research with societal added value can contribute to the development of more effective policies, promoting social change, and improving the quality of life for diverse communities and population groups.

Clear Research Objective

The research objective must be clearly outlined, indicating what it aims to achieve and how it will contribute to solving the identified problems or realizing the set goals. This helps define the research focus and manage reader expectations. It is crucial that the objective is clearly formulated so that all involved parties understand the intended outcome or result. The objective can vary depending on the type of research and context, but generally, it should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART goal).

Market, Competition, and Stakeholder Analysis

An analysis of the market in which the company operates, including competition and stakeholder analysis, is conducted to gain a broader understanding of the external environment and the key players influencing the company.

It is crucial to always include stakeholders, for example, through a stakeholder analysis. Here, both primary and secondary stakeholders can be identified, along with their respective interests. Subsequently, it can be described which stakeholders are important for the research and why these stakeholders are involved.

If necessary, all findings can be summarized in a SWOT analysis of the company/organization/situation. By summarizing all research findings in a SWOT analysis, the company/organization can gain a clear picture of the internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as the external opportunities and threats it faces. This enables the client, but also a researcher, to make strategic decisions and take targeted actions to strengthen the market position and achieve the set goals.

Requirements

It is essential to always include the requirements at the beginning of a research report. These requirements are the specific criteria and expectations set by the client and other key stakeholders, such as end-users, for the solution that needs to be developed for the problem. These requirements can vary and should be evaluated based on different design criteria, such as feasibility, desirability, and viability. Feasibility focuses on whether the proposed solution is technically, financially, and operationally executable within the available resources and timelines. Desirability takes into account the extent to which the solution meets the needs and expectations of stakeholders, including users, customers, and other involved parties. Viability includes the sustainability and effectiveness of the solution in the long term, including factors such as market potential, competitive position, and risk management. In other words, viability is about the continuity of the solution, ensuring that it lasts in the long term. Assessing the requirements based on these three criteria helps identify the most suitable solution for the problem and maximizes the chance of success in its implementation.

A useful method for prioritizing requirements is the MoSCoW method, which helps classify them based on their urgency and importance to the project. Including requirements ensures that the research focuses on fulfilling the needs of the key stakeholders and that the final solution will be effective in addressing the problem. Moreover, it can be more easily demonstrated later in the Results chapter that the set requirements and desires of different stakeholders have been met, which can show that the desired effect can be achieved with the created solution.

About the MoSCoW Method: The MoSCoW method is a technique often used in project management and requirements engineering to determine the priorities of demands and requirements. The name “MoSCoW” is an acronym that stands for:

– Must have: These are the essential requirements that absolutely must be present in the final product or solution. These requirements are crucial for the success of the project and form the core functionality.

– Should have: These are important requirements that are strongly recommended to be included in the final product or solution. While they are not essential, they significantly contribute to its value and usability.

– Could have: These are optional requirements that are desirable but not critical. They can be included if there is sufficient time and resources available, but can also be postponed to later versions of the product.

– Won’t have (at this time): These are requirements that have been consciously excluded from the current scope of the project. They will not be implemented in the current phase but may be considered in the future.

By categorizing the requirements based on these four levels, the MoSCoW method helps project teams and stakeholders gain clarity on what is essential and what is optional, thereby enabling them to better prioritize and make decisions about the project’s scope. This contributes to effective resource allocation and helps meet the key objectives of the project.

You can find further information about the requirements here.

Researcher’s Position

In addition to the aspects mentioned above, it is important to clarify the position of the researcher within the organization. This includes information about the role of the researcher, his or her relationship with the company or organization, and any interests or perspectives that might influence the research. Identifying the position of the researcher contributes to the transparency and credibility of the research, and helps the reader to better understand the context of the research.


Literature Review (Theoretical Framework)

In a literature review (the theoretical framework), relevant concepts, definitions, models, and theories related to the research topic are presented. A good theoretical framework (literature review) addresses relevant theories for each sub-question. If no relevant theories can be found, one can resort to experts and field research. For more information, this blog can also be consulted; the methodologies mentioned in this blog are also useful for sound scientific research.

A literature review typically includes:

  • Relevant scientific framework: This involves identifying and understanding existing research and theoretical perspectives that are relevant to the topic of the study. This may include analyzing various approaches, concepts, and models to provide a thorough foundation for the research. By having a good understanding of the scientific framework, researchers can place their own research within the broader context of existing knowledge.
  • Possible solutions to the problem according to existing studies: This means that the literature review focuses on identifying solutions or approaches that have been proposed or applied in previous studies to address the problem under investigation. By analyzing past research, researchers can gain insight into what has worked, what has not worked, and what challenges may exist in implementing solutions. This can help in developing effective strategies for addressing the research problem.
  • Generalization and use of multiple theories: This involves exploring and integrating various theoretical perspectives and conceptual frameworks to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the topic. It may involve using multiple theories to explain the same phenomenon or applying different approaches to get a more holistic picture. By using multiple theories, researchers can make generalizations and better understand complex phenomena from different angles.

As mentioned above, the following aspects are also of great importance in a thorough literature review:

  • Treatment of relevant theories per sub-question: A good theoretical framework within a literature review means that relevant theories are addressed for each sub-question. This entails focusing the literature review on identifying and analyzing theories that are specifically applicable to each aspect or dimension of the research. By addressing relevant theories per sub-question, researchers can develop a deeper understanding of the various aspects of the topic and establish a solid theoretical foundation for the research.
  • Use of experts and field research if necessary: If no relevant theories can be found in the existing literature, researchers can utilize other sources of knowledge, such as experts in the field or field research. This may involve researchers conducting interviews with field experts to gather insights or collecting observations and data through fieldwork. By using experts and field research, researchers can obtain additional information that can contribute to understanding the topic and finding solutions to the problem being studied.
  • Use of case studies and learning from other fields: It can be very valuable to use case studies to supplement the theoretical framework. Case studies provide detailed, context-specific information about specific situations or cases relevant to the research. By analyzing case studies, researchers can study practical examples and learn lessons from experiences in similar or related situations. Moreover, learning from other disciplines and fields can contribute to a broader perspective and provide new insights that can then be applied to one’s own situation. Translating lessons from other fields into one’s own context can lead to innovative approaches and solutions for the problem under study.

Additional information can be obtained through other forms of desk research and field research. This blog provides extra information; the mentioned methodologies can also be used to further expand the literature review.

Tip 1: Consult Books

It is also advisable to use digital books for literature study in addition to printed books, which are easily accessible via platforms such as Google Scholar. Google Scholar is a search engine for scholarly literature and academic resources, allowing researchers easy access to a wide range of scientific articles, papers, and other academic resources from around the world. You can experience it yourself at scholar.google.com.

Tip 2: Use AI for Literature Research

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be a valuable tool in conducting literature research. Some ways AI can be used include:

  • Automatic search algorithms: AI-driven search algorithms can be used to search through large volumes of literature for relevant information. These algorithms can identify patterns and recommend relevant sources based on search terms and filters.
  • Text mining and natural language processing (NLP): AI techniques such as text mining and NLP can be used to analyze and interpret large amounts of textual data. This allows researchers to quickly identify key concepts, themes, and connections in literature.
  • Summarization and information extraction: AI can be used to automatically generate summaries of literature, giving researchers a quick overview of relevant information. AI can also assist in extracting specific information, such as citations, statistics, or core concepts.
  • Identification of trends and patterns: AI can identify trends and patterns in literature through analysis of large datasets. This can provide researchers with insights into developments within a particular field or theme.
  • Classification and clustering of literature: AI can be used to classify and cluster literature based on different criteria, such as subject, method, or relevance. This can help researchers organize and structure literature for more efficient analysis.

Some commonly used AI programs (websites) for literature research and other applications include Bing Chat, Perplexity and Copy.AI.

These platforms utilize advanced AI technologies such as natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning to perform various tasks, such as searching for relevant literature, generating summaries, creating content, and more. Researchers can use these tools to complement their own methods, making literature research more efficient and effective. This allows them to spend more time analyzing findings and generating new insights.

Note: When using AI, it is crucial to carefully check the outcomes for accuracy. Additionally, it is important to use sources that are reliable and not from platforms like Wikipedia. It is also essential to check for any bias. This can be achieved by comparing different sources, for example, through a meta-analysis. It is also advisable to describe all findings in your own words and apply them within the specific context of the research or situation. Moreover, be mindful not to let AI review company-sensitive information. This includes figures/performances, business issues, or patented technologies that distinguish the company. Otherwise, the leakage of company data and the disclosure of information could result from the improper use of AI.

Finally, keep in mind that sentences generated by AI can be considered plagiarism. Therefore, it is very important to formulate sentences in your own words. Additionally, texts written by AI can often receive a lower ranking from search engines and social media websites due to detection algorithms, which can lead to information filtering and thus contribute to reduced effectiveness.

I will soon post a separate blog post about AI programs and other web applications that can be useful for both research and education.


Research Plan (Methods and Techniques)

In the chapter “Research Plan” (methods and techniques), it is important to describe as accurately as possible how the research was conducted. This should include a description of, for example, which test plans were used, specifically who was interviewed, why they were selected, what questions were asked (topic list), why a certain approach was chosen, how the quality of the research was ensured, and what was done to increase reliability and validity. To keep it readable, it is advisable to present the methods and techniques used for each sub-question. This can be done by:

– Naming the specific research methods and techniques used to answer each sub-question.
– Briefly explaining the purpose and rationale behind the chosen methods and techniques.
– Indicating any considerations regarding the reliability, validity, and generalizability of the results. If desired, read here on how to increase the reliability and validity, and here on how to document your approach in the appendix.
– If applicable, describing the criteria for sample selection, the composition of the samples, and any potential bias.
– Mentioning how the data were collected, analyzed, and interpreted with respect to each sub-question.

Tip: A good research report always includes various methodologies, based on both desk research and field research. Moreover, extensive testing should always be conducted to demonstrate that certain findings actually correspond to reality. The research report should also frequently refer to sources. A source can be literature, but can also be based on personal communication, consultation moments, stand-ups, tests with end-users and other key target groups, conversations during coffee meetings, findings that emerged during presentations, discussions with experts, and so forth. In other words, a source does not necessarily have to be a website or a book. Sources should generally always be described according to APA style.

If the goal is to create a research report of very high quality at an academic level, then the following should also be described in the research plan:

1. Replicability:
– Provide detailed descriptions of the procedures and methods used for data collection and analysis to allow replication.
– Document any adjustments or changes made during the research to ensure replicability.
– Use standardized measurement instruments and techniques whenever possible to facilitate replication.

2. Generalizability and transferability of research:
– Describe the target population to which the research findings are intended to be generalized.
– Give a clear explanation of the criteria applied in selecting the sample, including the population from which the sample was drawn and the rationale for these choices.
– Describe any strategies used to minimize selection bias and to ensure representativeness, also indicating the extent to which the research findings are expected to generalize to other populations or contexts.
– Consider potential limitations or barriers to generalizability and discuss how these can be addressed.

3. Justification of data choice:
– Explain why specific data sources were chosen and why they are relevant to the research aims.
– Describe how the reliability and validity of the data sources used were assessed.
– Document any ethical considerations regarding data collection. Describe the procedures undertaken to obtain ethical approval for the research, including obtaining informed consent from participants, ensuring data confidentiality, and protecting privacy.
– Describe any ethical dilemmas encountered during the research, and measures taken to protect participants’ rights and interests.

4. Chosen analytical techniques:
– Specify the research techniques and analytical tools used, describing in detail how the collected data were analyzed, including the statistical tests, models, or software applied. Also explain how these methods help answer the research questions and obtain reliable results.
– Describe any pilot tests or pretests conducted to validate the suitability of the chosen analytical approaches.
– Also identify other resources used for conducting the research, such as personnel, equipment, space, and financial support. Clarify any collaborations with other agencies and describe how these contribute to the success of the research.

5. Operationalization of hypotheses/variables:
– Describe how abstract concepts have been operationalized into measurable variables.
– Provide a rationale for the selection of the variables and measurement methods used.
– Document the hypotheses and predictions that were tested and explain how these were derived from the theoretical foundation of the research.

6. Justification for chosen variables and their parsimony:
– Explain why specific variables were included in the study and how they contribute to answering the research questions.
– Describe how parsimony was pursued in the research by only including those variables that are essential for the study.
– Consider the use of existing literature to select and justify variables.

7. Causal relationships between variables:
– Discuss how causal relationships between variables were investigated and evaluated.
– Indicate whether causal inferences are possible based on the research design and methods used.
– Consider the use of longitudinal or experimental designs to investigate causal relationships.

8. Context of the research:
– Describe the context in which the research takes place and how this context is relevant to the research questions.
– Discuss any external factors or influences that could affect the interpretation of the results.
– Document the relevance of the context for the generalizability and transferability of the findings.

9. Reliability:
– Discuss measures taken to ensure the reliability of the research, such as the use of standardized procedures and methods.
– Document any inter-rater reliability or test-retest reliability that was conducted.
– Describe the accuracy and consistency of the measurement instruments used.

10. Use of experts:
– Indicate how experts were involved in the design or execution of the research.
– Describe how the expertise of experts was used to inform or validate methodological decisions.
– Document any professional affiliations or levels of experience of the involved experts.

11. Validity and use of multiple research methods:
– Discuss how different forms of validity (such as content validity, criterion validity, construct validity) were assessed.
– Consider the use of triangulation by combining multiple methods or data sources to strengthen the validity of the findings.
– Describe the methods used to ensure the internal and external validity of the research.

12. Internal consistency:
– Explain how the internal consistency of the research was assessed, for example, by checking the consistency between different measurement instruments or items.
– Document any methods used to identify and resolve inconsistencies or contradictions in the data.
– Discuss how the consistency of the findings was evaluated in relation to the theoretical foundation of the research.

13. Avoidance of bias:
– Identify potential sources of bias in the research and describe how these were addressed.
– Indicate how the researcher minimized subjectivity in collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data.
– Document any strategies used to avoid selection bias, response bias, observation bias, and other forms of bias.
– Describe in detail the steps taken to minimize potential bias and distortion in the research, such as randomization, control variables, and double-blind procedures.
– Formulate strategies taken to address potential limitations and constraints of the research.

The following additional information can be included in the research plan:

14. Timeline with milestones and deadlines:

– Describe the detailed timeline used to navigate through the various phases of the research process, including planned milestones and deadlines.
– Indicate any specific deviations that occurred in the original plan and how these were addressed.

15. Final conclusion:

– In the final conclusion of the methods and techniques chapter, it is essential to provide a complete reflection on the process. This includes discussing challenges and how they were overcome, evaluating the chosen methodology, discussing the quality of the research, identifying limitations and ethical considerations, and drawing lessons for future projects. Reflect on lessons learned during the drafting of the research plan and how these can be applied to future research projects.

Discuss potential improvements or recommendations for future researchers. Emphasize the importance and relevance of the research, followed by concluding remarks that summarize the key points and highlight the overall vision of the research.

About Triangulation:

Triangulation is a method often used in research to increase the reliability and validity of findings by combining different research methods, data collection tools, sources, or researchers. The aim of triangulation is to obtain a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the phenomenon under study by combining various perspectives and approaches.

There are several forms of triangulation, including:

  • Methodological triangulation: This involves using different research methods to investigate the same question or phenomenon. For example, in addition to interviews, observations and surveys might be used to obtain a more complete picture.

  • Data triangulation: This involves collecting different types of data to study a phenomenon. For instance, in addition to qualitative data such as interviews, quantitative data such as surveys might be collected.

  • Investigator triangulation: This involves involving multiple researchers/experts in the research to validate subjective assessments and interpretations and to increase the reliability of the findings.

  • Theoretical triangulation: This involves using different theoretical perspectives to investigate a phenomenon, which falls under meta-analysis. By combining different theoretical frameworks, a deeper understanding of the phenomenon under study can be achieved.

By applying triangulation, researchers can enhance the validity and reliability of their findings, as different approaches complement each other and can compensate for any biases or limitations in one approach. This contributes to a more solid foundation for conclusions and recommendations in the research.

Documenting the above aspects in the research plan contributes to the transparency, reliability, and credibility of the research and supports the pursuit of a research report of high quality.


Results, Conclusions, and Discussion

Results, conclusions, and discussion form the core of the research report, presenting the findings, summarizing the conclusions of the study, and discussing the significance of the results. This includes comparisons with previous studies and literature, identification of limitations, and suggestions for future research. More detailed information is included below:

  • Results: The “results” chapter presents the actual findings of the research, often in the form of data, statistics, graphs, or other visual representations. It is important to accurately and objectively present the results without adding interpretation or conclusions at this point. It is also crucial to provide a clear and concise answer for each sub-question, presenting the information in an organized manner. Additionally, it is essential not only to present the factual findings of the research in the results section but also to link them to the requirements set out at the beginning of the chapter (if present!). It should be indicated to what extent the selected solutions for the problem meet the criteria of feasibility, desirability, and viability.
    • It is also important to demonstrate that the selected/created solutions can actually solve the problem. This can be achieved by describing how the intended effect will be realized and how this can be demonstrated, or by mentioning what has been done to prove that the proposed solution actually works. Various research methods, such as quantitative analyses and qualitative interviews, can be used to show how the solutions have contributed to improving the situation and addressing the problem.
    • Visualizations and tables can be used to clarify the data, which should be numbered and referenced in the text. Detailed information can be moved to appendices and referred to in the text. However, it is crucial to write the research report in such a way that it can be read without the appendices; the appendices should only serve as a reference.
  • Conclusions: The conclusions summarize the key findings of the research and answer the research questions. These should directly stem from the results and be supported by the evidence collected in the study.
  • Discussion: The discussion section talks about the significance and implications of the results and compares them with previous studies and literature. It also identifies any limitations of the research and provides a critical analysis of the methodology. This section offers room for interpretation, reflection, and suggestions for future research.

The final chapter of the research report typically includes recommendations and a potential implementation plan. These should at least cover:

  • Generalizability of recommendations: It is crucial to identify key recommendations, detailing the necessary steps to achieve subsequent actions and maximize the desired effect. Always ensure that the recommendations are not only applicable to the specific context of the research but are also generalizable to broader situations or populations if applicable.
    • When formulating recommendations, it is essential to assess the risks associated with the chosen strategies/solutions. This can be accomplished by conducting a risk analysis using a risk matrix. Through a risk matrix, potential risks can be identified, analyzed, and prioritized based on their impact and likelihood. This analysis provides valuable insights into possible obstacles that could hinder the implementation of the recommendations, along with strategies to manage or mitigate these risks. Using a structured risk matrix helps researchers anticipate potential challenges proactively and implement effective risk management measures to ensure the successful execution of the implementation plan.
      • Key risks often pertain to ethics and legislation; these should be elaborated on in detail.
    • Internal consistency: The recommendations must align with the conclusions drawn from the research results. Ensure a consistent approach and avoid contradictions between the conclusions and the recommendations.
    • Avoidance of normative recommendations: Exercise caution when making normative recommendations based on personal beliefs or values. The recommendations should be grounded in objective findings and analysis from the research.
    • Usability and valorization of recommendations: Ensure that the recommendations are practically applicable and add value to relevant stakeholders. Consider methods to disseminate and implement the recommendations, such as policy reports, guidelines, or practical tools, to maximize their impact and usability.

Implementation Plan: The implementation plan provides a detailed strategy for converting the recommendations into concrete actions. This includes, among other things:

  • Action Plan: Describe the specific steps that need to be taken to implement each recommendation, including responsibilities, deadlines, and required resources.
  • Monitoring and Evaluation: Determine how the progress of the implementation will be monitored and evaluated. Identify measurable indicators to gauge success and adjust the implementation strategy as necessary based on the results of the monitoring.
  • Stakeholder Engagement: Involve relevant stakeholders in the implementation of the recommendations. Identify who needs to be involved at each step of the implementation process and how they can contribute to its success.
  • Communication Strategy: Develop a communication strategy to keep stakeholders informed about the progress of the implementation and to address any concerns or questions. Communicate clearly about the objectives, expectations, and benefits of the implementation.
  • Budget and Resources: Determine the financial resources and other resources needed for the implementation of the recommendations. Ensure that sufficient budget is available and that resources are effectively deployed to achieve the objectives.
  • Potential Risks: Briefly mention the risks and refer to other chapters if necessary where these risks are described.

By creating a detailed implementation plan, the recommendations of the research can be effectively implemented and their impact maximized. This contributes to ensuring a successful transition from research to practice.


In this blog, you can read about how to enhance reliability, validity, and replicability during the research process, as well as how to adequately justify the quality of the conducted work.


SOURCES

You may also consult the following books on research methods:

Verhoeven, N. (2010). Doing Research Like This!
Baarda, D.B.; De Goede, M.P.M. (2011). Basic Book of Methods and Techniques
Bailey, M.T. (1992). Do Physicists Use Case Studies? Thoughts on Public Administration Research
Kuhn, Th. (1996). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. University of Chicago Press
Lakatos, I. (1972). ‘Falsification and the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes’
Perry, J.L. (1989). Handbook of Public Administration
Popper, K. R. (1953). Conjectures and Refutations. Routledge
Wildavsky, A. (1979). “Introduction: Analysis As Art”, in: idem; Speaking Truth to Power
Humme, H. (1988). The Nature of Man (Hebrew Edition)
Ockham, W. (1341). Ockham’s Summa Logicae
Yin, R.K. (1984). Case Study Research: Design and Methods. Sage, Newbury Park
Lofland, J. (1971). Analyzing Social Settings

 

 

    Comments

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *