A research process is an iterative one, usually requiring many attempts, even for experienced researchers. After deciding your project topic and scope, the first challenge is to identify a research problem worth spending time and effort to solve. The next challenge is to derive “researchable” questions from this problem, which can be answered using existing tools and techniques, and your research skills. The answers will contribute to the solution of the overall problem.
In this assessment, you will provide a brief introduction to the background of your chosen research topic and a full problem statement, derive up to three research questions related to your research problem, explain how answering each question can contribute to solving the problem through anticipated outcomes, and explain how each question can be answered using existing principles and tools.
How Much to Write
The project topic provided by your supervisor has defined a research area you can start to work on in this unit. These topics are normally broad with more research problems and research questions, to accommodate more students from different majors and with different skill sets. You may already have reasonably good understanding about the topic, research problems, and research questions. Now, you have to do your own homework to deeply understand the research contexts and background by reading and analysing publications, and scanning the existing systems and practices, confirm or rescope a research problem that you will address in your own project. Next, you need to redefine more specifically the answerable research questions. You are encouraged to write just enough to make your argument clear and convincing. You are expected to consider the supervisor and group coordinator’s feedback in completion of your submission.
In particular, the technical aspects of your argument must be easily comprehensible. It should not be necessary for the reader to be an expert in the chosen technical field or domain to understand what you have written. Specialised terminology and abbreviations should be explained clearly or, better yet, avoided altogether. Similarly, you must cite publications as needed to support claims you make concerning the importance or novelty of your research ideas. By Week 4, you are expected to just focus on reviewing 5 to 10 quality references. You will continue your literature studies beyond Week 4. The suggested word limit for the document is between 900 and 1200 words (3 to 4 pages), plus the reference list and the appendix.
Plagiarism and Late Submissions
As per QUT policy, late submissions of assessment items or plagiarised contents in any of the sections will not be accepted for marking. You must submit your solution to the task by the deadline shown above. The submission link on Blackboard will be disabled automatically once the deadline passes, unless you have an approved extension from the Science and Engineering Faculty.
Your Task is to Convince the Reader that:
You have studied the recent and most relevant literature, achieved a clear understanding of the project topic and research context or background.
You have identified an important research problem worth investing time and resources to solve within the scope of the chosen project topic or research area.
You have developed a strategy for solving the problem by identifying 2 or 3 specific research questions whose answers will contribute to the solution of your overall problem.
You have identified ways in which the research questions can be answered in practice, using contemporary tools and techniques and reasonable resources.
To Convince the Reader of these Points your Argumentation must be:
Clear — Your writing must be easily understandable, avoiding uncommon terminology and abbreviations.
Concise —You must express your ideas efficiently, so that key points are not obscured by irrelevant material.
Coherent —Your arguments and the conclusions you draw must be structured logically.
Convincing — The overall “story” you tell must be compelling and believable.
Your submission document needs to include the following major sections and include the elements listed. You may choose to add subsections, but keep in mind the need to keep your writing concise and the overall document as short as possible. Your work will be marked on quality, not quantity.
1. Research Background and Literature Analysis
Based on the project topic description, you complete this section, in a paragraph or two:
State clearly the domain and context or background of the research topic and what issue the topic is about. In doing so, you may describe the current status of the issue, broadly define and identify the nature of the topic, or area of concern, e.g, social problem, business problem, technical problem, scientific problem, or a mixture of different problems. These problems may be broader than the research problem you specifically address in your project.
Provide a brief analysis of your literature findings from publications and results from environmental scanning about existing practices, systems, products, and services available for solving the above problems.
Identify the challenge or gap between the actual and desired state of a solution, system or our understanding about the issue. The gap should be related to the problem you will focus on in your project and identified in literature.
Briefly state what challenge or gap your project will address.
2. Research Problem Statement
To complete this section, you are encouraged to follow “the what, the why, the new knowledge/novelty, and the output” structure, to provide a full research problem statement:
State clearly what the specific research problem you will address/solve/focus on in your project. In doing so, you may describe the nature of the research problem, such as research oriented, development-oriented, survey type, literature review type and industry type.
Explain why the problem you focus on is important or why there is a need to solve the problem.
Assess what is the novelty of the research, what new knowledge will be generated, and/or how the new system/technology/tool can address the problem
Outline what are the outputs or objectives of your research to be achieved by the end of semester.
3. Research Questions
In this section you must identify up to three research questions related to your selected research problem. The questions must be clearly related to the research problem, each addressing a different aspect or perspective of the research problem.
To complete this section, for each of your research questions:
Clearly state the research question. Include any background or context necessary for the reader to understand the question on its own, e.g., to explain specialised terminology.
Explain clearly what new knowledge, understanding or insight answering the question will produce. In other words, if you successfully answer the question, what will we have learned about what is currently unknown? This could be impacts, trends, relationships, correlations, causes, properties, attributes, capabilities, explanations, etc. Be as specific as possible regarding the anticipated new knowledge produced. In doing so, the limitations of what we can learn by addressing this question should also be made obvious.
Explain clearly in what way answering the research question would contribute to solving the research problem, e.g., by helping understand the nature of the problem, by helping identify the root causes of the problem, by helping develop new ways of solving the problem, etc.
Briefly explain what methods, processes, techniques or tools or open sources, could be used to answer the question. A detailed, step-by-step methodology is not required, but it must be made obvious to the reader that answering the question is feasible or answerable with contemporary tools, techniques, and resources. Cite previous successful research on the topic, if appropriate, to help justify your chosen approach.
Briefly outline the intended outcomes and comment whether they are tangible to achieve and why.
It is expected that around a paragraph of text will be needed to make each of the points above. Use strong “umbrella” or topic sentences at the beginning of each paragraph to assist the reader and make your writing easy to follow.