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Framing A Research Paper

For a given quality of science, how the paper is framed probably makes the biggest difference for where it is published, and how well read and cited it will be. Framing, essentially, is how you fit your paper into the ‘bigger picture’, or if you prefer a less neutral term, it is how you sell your paper. My general advice is that you choose the largest plausible frame for your paper that is reasonable. In other words, to make sure you’re widely read it makes sense to find a big hook off which to hang your paper – but you have to be careful not to oversell your work. This is subjective.

Typical choices for framing papers are current global issues, big theories and new theories, particularly those that are controversial. The trick then is to make the link from the ‘big issue’ to your study as swiftly and directly as possible at the beginning; and back to the same big issue (plus sometimes additional ones) near the end of the study. A good frame is one that appears reasonable and can be directly linked to your work, and one that your work directly speaks to. A bad frame is one that takes a lot of imagination to see how your study fits in with it, and that your results don’t have a lot to do with.

Often but not always your framing is partly determined by how you planned your study (as opposed to your paper) in the first instance.

See also:

  1. Planning your paper
  2. Prioritising content
  3. Fitting the content to the length
  4. Content-to-length-ratio
  5. Introduction
  6. Cover letter

Possible exercises:

  • Brainstorm a list of possible frames. Initially, don’t be too selective — just write down lots of possible frames  that might be connected with your paper.
  • Read your discipline: where are things at? What’s currently a hot topic? What kinds of topics have recently been published in the most prestigious journals? Does your work fit in with any of those topics?
  • Generally: can you use a certain bandwagon for your benefit, and jump on it for a bit? Don’t actually change your focus too much — but can your focus be twisted ever so slightly so that it becomes interesting to a broader audience?

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In my previous article, I had shed light on the importance of framing good research objectives. This article explains the basics of how the objectives of a research are designed. Most of the times, scholars fail to secure good grades in their research work because they are unable to lay the research objectives clearly in their papers. In the absence of clearly laid objectives, the whole research seems fragmented and scattered; data lacks flow and the analysis seems to be reaching nowhere. The research loses its direction if the objectives are not well-defined.

While writing the objectives of any research, the following should be kept in mind:

  • There should be one main ‘aim’ of the research and not more than 5-6 underlying objectives. This is because if there are too many objectives of a research, there are fair chances of data overload and data mismanagement making the study goes vague and ambiguous.
  • The objectives of the research should be clear, concise, attainable, measurable, and quantifiable.

Framing the research objectives

Following guidelines can be of help in this regard. To facilitate better understanding of the guidelines, an example has been utilized. For example the topic of research is “Impact of television advertising on consumers’ buying behavior.”

  • Firstly, read the title of the research very carefully and write down whatever you understand by the title. This can be done easily by extracting a few main terms from the title. If we consider the example here, the main terms we can identify in the title are:
    • Television advertising
    • Consumers’ buying behavior
  • The previous step gives us fair idea of the direction of the research. We can easily say that the research will revolve around the concepts of television advertising and consumers’ buying behavior. Start stating the research objectives by exploring and understanding the main terms. As such in the present case, our first 2 research objectives will be:
    • To explore and understand the concept of television advertising in detail.
    • To explore the meaning and various aspects of the concept of consumers’ buying behavior.
  • Now, focus on the basic purpose of the research. In the present example, main purpose of the research is to study the impact of television advertising on consumers’ buying behavior. It is important to adopt a critical attitude towards research subject i.e. try to validate if there exists any relation between the main terms. So, the third objective will be:
    • To identify if any relationship exists between television advertising and consumers’ buying behavior.
  • Next objective should directly pinpoint the purpose of the research in hand. It is to be remembered here that any research should bring into focus both positive and negative aspects of the research subject. Critical analysis is an important part of any research. Hence the next objective will be:
    • To identify and critically analyze the impact of television advertising on consumers’ buying behavior.
  • Finally, the last objective in most of the researches relates to identifying the challenges/loopholes/shortcomings and making recommendations to improve the situation. This objective is written keeping in mind what the researcher is looking forward i.e. what is the final destination. As such the final objective of current research will be:
    • To identify the challenges involved in television advertising and recommend marketers the solutions to secure better consumers’ buying behavior.

Ankita Agarwal

Analyst at Project Guru

Ankita is working with the editorial board of Project Guru as a Research Analyst and Writer. With Masters in Commerce and Business Studies, Ankita learned much of what she knows about management through experience. She has previously worked in various financial institutions like Birla Global, HDFC Ltd. and Citi Financial. She is self-motivated and writes for the Knowledge Tank section of Project Guru. She has authored more than 80 articles so far in Human Resources Management, Strategic Management, Finance and Marketing. She likes to pen her thoughts about the latest issues gripping these areas across the world.

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