Two students and a lecturer work at a computer

Before you start - Rationale and potential impact of your research

Perhaps the most important consideration prior to embarking on a piece of research is of what the overall rationale for – and purpose of – it will be. Given the time, resources and practical considerations involved in planning and carrying out research, the justification for these efforts needs to be made explicit from the outset: as does the anticipated impact or benefits that the research will ultimately bring.  

Key things to think about

Issues that should be addressed in outlining the overall aims and rationale for your research include:

  • the problem, need or issue that has given rise to the research idea
  • how the existing literature (or lack thereof) has highlighted the need for it
  • who wants the research - and why
  • what the general purposes and priorities of the research are
  • who are the potential beneficiaries of and audiences for the research
  • the intended outcomes of the research, its deliverables and what it will 'do'

Further reading

Cohen, L., Manion, L. & Morrison, K. (2018), Chapter 9 – “Choosing a research project” in Cohen, L., Manion, L. & Morrison, K. (eds), Research Methods in Education (Abingdon, Routledge, 8th edn, pp. 153-164