2. Framing research questions and objectives
3. Important terms to know at this stage
4. References for further reading
1. How to finalize a good research topic?
2. How to convert the research topic to answerable research questions?
3. How to formulate your research objectives?
i. Selecting a research topic (Week 1)
ii. Framing research questions and objectives (Week 2
) iii. Writing a literature review (Week 3)
iv. Understanding research philosophy(Week 4)
v. Deciding the research methodology (Week 5)
vi. Deciding research strategies and methods for data collection (Week 6)
vii. Collecting and presenting data (Week 7)
viii. Writing a research paper (Week 8)
ix. Preparing a research proposal (Weeks 9 to 12)
x. Collecting and analysing data (not in this unit)
xi. Writing up findings of the research (not in this unit)
xii. Producing a research paper (not in this unit)
There are seven steps to framing the research questions and objectives:
1. Determine the scope of the research
2. Brainstorm issues, questions, puzzles
3. Map and structure the issues
4. Define the research problem/gap
5. Justify the need for research about this problem
6. Frame your research question(s)
7. Convert RQ’s into objectives
part of a project
comparison between parts of a
project single project
comparison between 2 or more projects
study of an industrial or commercial
time dimension (e.g. past, present, last 5 years)
phenomenon (e.g. “Virtual teams”)
‒must not be too narrow, but sufficiently focussed to adequately cover the topic with project restraints (e.g. completing the project in 12 weeks)
‒must consider whether appropriate resources are available (e.g. number of available researchers)
‒ must be mindful of accessibility to primary data (e.g. difficulty getting data for research about military projects!!!)
a) Start with a symptom surrounding the topic (found from a focused literature review)
b) Then identify a potential issue,
c) Then identify the research question/s (RQ)
Improving labour productivity in construction projects
View this clip for an example….
The problem/gap needs to be
a) defined, and
b) a rationale needs to be provided for asserting that a gap exists available to explain the problem, a potential solution for the identified problem does not exist)
Example: Little empirical research exists that measures the effects of xxx on, and none exists which investigates the effects of
(Note: an industry problem is not necessarily a research problem)
‒ You must demonstrate that the study makes a significant contribution to the profession.
‒ You should answer the questions:
• why the topic is worth studying,
• how it may impact policy or practice, and
• how it contributes to the general understanding of issues under investigation.
• This study promises to add to the existing knowledge on…
• The study proposes an alternative and novel framework to…
‒ are common in qualitative studies as a basis for gathering rich & descriptive information. (Merriam, 1997)
‒ are the basis for the appropriate research strategy employed in the study
‒ dictate the methods used, creating a strong nexus between questions asked and the methodology
- the existing literature
- replication of previous research
- opposition to existing practices and ideas
- social or business problems
- new methods and theories
- political/economic/social/technological trends
- personal experience
- formulation of the rationale
- formulation of a research paper
- research objectives
- literature review and update
- decisions about:
• what kind of research strategy & design to employ
• what data to collect and from whom
• how to analyse the data
• writing up your project (i.e. stop you from going off in unnecessary directions)
- clear (understandable to you and to others)
- be answerable
- be researchable
- be linked to each other
- have potential for making a contribution to knowledge
- be neither too broad nor too narrow
‒ a strong research idea should pass the test… “So what?”
‒ they should be able to adequately answer:
• what is the benefit of answering the research question?
• who will it help and how?
‒ If there is some legitimate doubt over the existence of objective facts, be cautious “perceptions of “, ”perceived effectiveness”, etc.)
‒ You should always define terms used in your research question
- By dictionary (i.e. look up outsourcing)
- By example (i.e. recruiting manpower, labour, tradesmen)
- By operational definition (to describe attributes or characteristics in order to measure it to make it easy for the reader to understand what you want to study)
e.g. for a RQ … What is the impact of outsourcing on the productivity rates?
“In this study, outsourcing means the recruitment of tradesmen to perform the main work and does not include professional staff managing the project”
- Philosophical (e.g. “What would happen after we die?”)
- Moral/value (e.g. “Should we eliminate the use of paper in projects?”)
- Hypothetical (e.g. “What if all project managers get certified as PMPs?”)
…‒ are responses to the research questions
‒ establish a relationship between the study’s central question and research questions (identify objectives that contribute to previous research)
- concise and brief
- interrelated with the research question (the RQ is what you want to find an answer for and the objective describes how you are going to answer it)
- realistic about what can be accomplished in the duration of the project
- be too vague, ambitious or broad in scope
- just repeat each other in different terms
- just be a list of things related to your research topic
- contradict your methods (i.e. they should not imply standards of measurement or generalisability of findings that the methods cannot sustain)
At the conclusion of a research project, the researcher needs to assess whether or not he or she has met the objectives and if not, why?
RQ1: What can be done to improve employee ethical practices in construction projects?
Objective 1:To understand the ethics codes of conduct in construction.
Objective 2: To review the impact of unethical behaviours on project performance.
Objective 3: To identify factors that positivelyinfluence employee’s ethics in construction projects
RQ2: What are the approaches for making project team training more effective?
Objective 1:To review the importance of training programs for the project team
Objective 2: To identify the criteria for effective project team training
Objective 3: To investigate industry practices in improving training
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