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How to Write the Rationale of the Study in Research (Examples)

thesis title with rationale

What is the Rationale of the Study?

The rationale of the study is the justification for taking on a given study. It explains the reason the study was conducted or should be conducted. This means the study rationale should explain to the reader or examiner why the study is/was necessary. It is also sometimes called the “purpose” or “justification” of a study. While this is not difficult to grasp in itself, you might wonder how the rationale of the study is different from your research question or from the statement of the problem of your study, and how it fits into the rest of your thesis or research paper. 

The rationale of the study links the background of the study to your specific research question and justifies the need for the latter on the basis of the former. In brief, you first provide and discuss existing data on the topic, and then you tell the reader, based on the background evidence you just presented, where you identified gaps or issues and why you think it is important to address those. The problem statement, lastly, is the formulation of the specific research question you choose to investigate, following logically from your rationale, and the approach you are planning to use to do that.

Table of Contents:

How to write a rationale for a research paper , how do you justify the need for a research study.

  • Study Rationale Example: Where Does It Go In Your Paper?

The basis for writing a research rationale is preliminary data or a clear description of an observation. If you are doing basic/theoretical research, then a literature review will help you identify gaps in current knowledge. In applied/practical research, you base your rationale on an existing issue with a certain process (e.g., vaccine proof registration) or practice (e.g., patient treatment) that is well documented and needs to be addressed. By presenting the reader with earlier evidence or observations, you can (and have to) convince them that you are not just repeating what other people have already done or said and that your ideas are not coming out of thin air. 

Once you have explained where you are coming from, you should justify the need for doing additional research–this is essentially the rationale of your study. Finally, when you have convinced the reader of the purpose of your work, you can end your introduction section with the statement of the problem of your research that contains clear aims and objectives and also briefly describes (and justifies) your methodological approach. 

When is the Rationale for Research Written?

The author can present the study rationale both before and after the research is conducted. 

  • Before conducting research : The study rationale is a central component of the research proposal . It represents the plan of your work, constructed before the study is actually executed.
  • Once research has been conducted : After the study is completed, the rationale is presented in a research article or  PhD dissertation  to explain why you focused on this specific research question. When writing the study rationale for this purpose, the author should link the rationale of the research to the aims and outcomes of the study.

What to Include in the Study Rationale

Although every study rationale is different and discusses different specific elements of a study’s method or approach, there are some elements that should be included to write a good rationale. Make sure to touch on the following:

  • A summary of conclusions from your review of the relevant literature
  • What is currently unknown (gaps in knowledge)
  • Inconclusive or contested results  from previous studies on the same or similar topic
  • The necessity to improve or build on previous research, such as to improve methodology or utilize newer techniques and/or technologies

There are different types of limitations that you can use to justify the need for your study. In applied/practical research, the justification for investigating something is always that an existing process/practice has a problem or is not satisfactory. Let’s say, for example, that people in a certain country/city/community commonly complain about hospital care on weekends (not enough staff, not enough attention, no decisions being made), but you looked into it and realized that nobody ever investigated whether these perceived problems are actually based on objective shortages/non-availabilities of care or whether the lower numbers of patients who are treated during weekends are commensurate with the provided services.

In this case, “lack of data” is your justification for digging deeper into the problem. Or, if it is obvious that there is a shortage of staff and provided services on weekends, you could decide to investigate which of the usual procedures are skipped during weekends as a result and what the negative consequences are. 

In basic/theoretical research, lack of knowledge is of course a common and accepted justification for additional research—but make sure that it is not your only motivation. “Nobody has ever done this” is only a convincing reason for a study if you explain to the reader why you think we should know more about this specific phenomenon. If there is earlier research but you think it has limitations, then those can usually be classified into “methodological”, “contextual”, and “conceptual” limitations. To identify such limitations, you can ask specific questions and let those questions guide you when you explain to the reader why your study was necessary:

Methodological limitations

  • Did earlier studies try but failed to measure/identify a specific phenomenon?
  • Was earlier research based on incorrect conceptualizations of variables?
  • Were earlier studies based on questionable operationalizations of key concepts?
  • Did earlier studies use questionable or inappropriate research designs?

Contextual limitations

  • Have recent changes in the studied problem made previous studies irrelevant?
  • Are you studying a new/particular context that previous findings do not apply to?

Conceptual limitations

  • Do previous findings only make sense within a specific framework or ideology?

Study Rationale Examples

Let’s look at an example from one of our earlier articles on the statement of the problem to clarify how your rationale fits into your introduction section. This is a very short introduction for a practical research study on the challenges of online learning. Your introduction might be much longer (especially the context/background section), and this example does not contain any sources (which you will have to provide for all claims you make and all earlier studies you cite)—but please pay attention to how the background presentation , rationale, and problem statement blend into each other in a logical way so that the reader can follow and has no reason to question your motivation or the foundation of your research.

Background presentation

Since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, most educational institutions around the world have transitioned to a fully online study model, at least during peak times of infections and social distancing measures. This transition has not been easy and even two years into the pandemic, problems with online teaching and studying persist (reference needed) . 

While the increasing gap between those with access to technology and equipment and those without access has been determined to be one of the main challenges (reference needed) , others claim that online learning offers more opportunities for many students by breaking down barriers of location and distance (reference needed) .  

Rationale of the study

Since teachers and students cannot wait for circumstances to go back to normal, the measures that schools and universities have implemented during the last two years, their advantages and disadvantages, and the impact of those measures on students’ progress, satisfaction, and well-being need to be understood so that improvements can be made and demographics that have been left behind can receive the support they need as soon as possible.

Statement of the problem

To identify what changes in the learning environment were considered the most challenging and how those changes relate to a variety of student outcome measures, we conducted surveys and interviews among teachers and students at ten institutions of higher education in four different major cities, two in the US (New York and Chicago), one in South Korea (Seoul), and one in the UK (London). Responses were analyzed with a focus on different student demographics and how they might have been affected differently by the current situation.

How long is a study rationale?

In a research article bound for journal publication, your rationale should not be longer than a few sentences (no longer than one brief paragraph). A  dissertation or thesis  usually allows for a longer description; depending on the length and nature of your document, this could be up to a couple of paragraphs in length. A completely novel or unconventional approach might warrant a longer and more detailed justification than an approach that slightly deviates from well-established methods and approaches.

Consider Using Professional Academic Editing Services

Now that you know how to write the rationale of the study for a research proposal or paper, you should make use of our free AI grammar checker , Wordvice AI, or receive professional academic proofreading services from Wordvice, including research paper editing services and manuscript editing services to polish your submitted research documents.

You can also find many more articles, for example on writing the other parts of your research paper , on choosing a title , or on making sure you understand and adhere to the author instructions before you submit to a journal, on the Wordvice academic resources pages.

The Savvy Scientist

The Savvy Scientist

Experiences of a London PhD student and beyond

Thesis Title: Examples and Suggestions from a PhD Grad

Graphic of a researcher writing, perhaps a thesis title

When you’re faced with writing up a thesis, choosing a title can often fall to the bottom of the priority list. After all, it’s only a few words. How hard can it be?!

In the grand scheme of things I agree that picking your thesis title shouldn’t warrant that much thought, however my own choice is one of the few regrets I have from my PhD . I therefore think there is value in spending some time considering the options available.

In this post I’ll guide you through how to write your own thesis title and share real-world examples. Although my focus is on the PhD thesis, I’ve also included plenty of thesis title examples for bachelor’s and master’s research projects too.

Hopefully by the end of the post you’ll feel ready to start crafting your own!

Why your thesis title is at least somewhat important

It sounds obvious but your thesis title is the first, and often only, interaction people will have with your thesis. For instance, hiring managers for jobs that you may wish to apply for in the future. Therefore you want to give a good sense of what your research involved from the title.

Many people will list the title of their thesis on their CV, at least for a while after graduating. All of the example titles I’ve shared below came from my repository of academic CVs . I’d say roughly 30% of all the academics on that page list their thesis title, which includes academics all the way up to full professor.

Your thesis title could therefore feature on your CV for your whole career, so it is probably worth a bit of thought!

My suggestions for choosing a good thesis title

  • Make it descriptive of the research so it’s immediately obvious what it is about! Most universities will publish student theses online ( here’s mine! ) and they’re indexed so can be found via Google Scholar etc. Therefore give your thesis a descriptive title so that interested researchers can find it in the future.
  • Don’t get lost in the detail . You want a descriptive title but avoid overly lengthy descriptions of experiments. Unless a certain analytical technique etc was central to your research, I’d suggest by default* to avoid having it in your title. Including certain techniques will make your title, and therefore research, look overly dated, which isn’t ideal for potential job applications after you graduate.
  • The title should tie together the chapters of your thesis. A well-phrased title can do a good job of summarising the overall story of your thesis. Think about each of your research chapters and ensure that the title makes sense for each of them.
  • Be strategic . Certain parts of your work you want to emphasise? Consider making them more prominent in your title. For instance, if you know you want to pivot to a slightly different research area or career path after your PhD, there may be alternative phrasings which describe your work just as well but could be better understood by those in the field you’re moving into. I utilised this a bit in my own title which we’ll come onto shortly.
  • Do your own thing. Having just laid out some suggestions, do make sure you’re personally happy with the title. You get a lot of freedom to choose your title, so use it however you fancy. For example, I’ve known people to use puns in their title, so if that’s what you’re into don’t feel overly constrained.

*This doesn’t always hold true and certainly don’t take my advice if 1) listing something in your title could be a strategic move 2) you love the technique so much that you’re desperate to include it!

Thesis title examples

To help give you some ideas, here are some example thesis titles from Bachelors, Masters and PhD graduates. These all came from the academic CVs listed in my repository here .

Bachelor’s thesis title examples

Hysteresis and Avalanches Paul Jager , 2014 – Medical Imaging – DKFZ Head of ML Research Group –  direct link to Paul’s machine learning academic CV

The bioenergetics of a marine ciliate, Mesodinium rubrum Holly Moeller , 2008 – Ecology & Marine Biology – UC Santa Barbara Assistant Professor –  direct link to Holly’s marine biology academic CV

Functional syntactic analysis of prepositional and causal constructions for a grammatical parser of Russian Ekaterina Kochmar , 2008 – Computer Science – University of Bath Lecturer Assistant Prof –  direct link to Ekaterina’s computer science academic CV

Master’s thesis title examples

Creation of an autonomous impulse response measurement system for rooms and transducers with different methods Guy-Bart Stan , 2000 – Bioengineering – Imperial Professor –  direct link to Guy-Bart’s bioengineering academic CV

Segmentation of Nerve Bundles and Ganglia in Spine MRI using Particle Filters Adrian Vasile Dalca , 2012 – Machine Learning for healthcare – Harvard Assistant Professor & MIT Research Scientist –  direct link to Adrian’s machine learning academic CV

The detection of oil under ice by remote mode conversion of ultrasound Eric Yeatman , 1986 – Electronics – Imperial Professor and Head of Department –  direct link to Eric’s electronics academic CV

Ensemble-Based Learning for Morphological Analysis of German Ekaterina Kochmar , 2010 – Computer Science – University of Bath Lecturer Assistant Prof –  direct link to Ekaterina’s computer science academic CV

VARiD: A Variation Detection Framework for Color-Space and Letter-Space Platforms Adrian Vasile Dalca , 2010 – Machine Learning for healthcare – Harvard Assistant Professor & MIT Research Scientist –  direct link to Adrian’s machine learning academic CV

Identification of a Writer’s Native Language by Error Analysis Ekaterina Kochmar , 2011 – Computer Science – University of Bath Lecturer Assistant Prof –  direct link to Ekaterina’s computer science academic CV

On the economic optimality of marine reserves when fishing damages habitat Holly Moeller , 2010 – Ecology & Marine Biology – UC Santa Barbara Assistant Professor –  direct link to Holly’s marine biology academic CV

Sensitivity Studies for the Time-Dependent CP Violation Measurement in B 0 → K S K S K S at the Belle II-Experiment Paul Jager , 2016 – Medical Imaging – DKFZ Head of ML Research Group –  direct link to Paul’s machine learning academic CV

PhD thesis title examples

Spatio-temporal analysis of three-dimensional real-time ultrasound for quantification of ventricular function Esla Angelini  – Medicine – Imperial Senior Data Scientist –  direct link to Elsa’s medicine academic CV

The role and maintenance of diversity in a multi-partner mutualism: Trees and Ectomycorrhizal Fungi Holly Moeller , 2015 – Ecology & Marine Biology – UC Santa Barbara Assistant Professor –  direct link to Holly’s marine biology academic CV

Bayesian Gaussian processes for sequential prediction, optimisation and quadrature Michael Osborne , 2010 – Machine Learning – Oxford Full Professor –  direct link to Michael’s machine learning academic CV

Global analysis and synthesis of oscillations: a dissipativity approach Guy-Bart Stan , 2005 – Bioengineering – Imperial Professor –  direct link to Guy-Bart’s bioengineering academic CV

Coarse-grained modelling of DNA and DNA self-assembly Thomas Ouldridge , 2011– Bioengineering – Imperial College London Senior Lecturer / Associate Prof –  direct link to Thomas’ bioengineering academic CV

4D tomographic image reconstruction and parametric maps estimation: a model-based strategy for algorithm design using Bayesian inference in Probabilistic Graphical Models (PGM) Michele Scipioni , 2018– Biomedical Engineer – Harvard Postdoctoral Research Fellow –  direct link to Michele’s biomedical engineer academic CV

Error Detection in Content Word Combinations Ekaterina Kochmar , 2016 – Computer Science – University of Bath Lecturer Assistant Prof –  direct link to Ekaterina’s computer science academic CV

Genetic, Clinical and Population Priors for Brain Images Adrian Vasile Dalca , 2016 – Machine Learning for healthcare – Harvard Assistant Professor & MIT Research Scientist –  direct link to Adrian’s machine learning academic CV

Challenges and Opportunities of End-to-End Learning in Medical Image Classification Paul Jager , 2020 – Medical Imaging – DKFZ Head of ML Research Group –  direct link to Paul’s machine learning academic CV

K 2 NiF 4  materials as cathodes for intermediate temperature solid oxide fuel cells Ainara Aguadero , 2006 – Materials Science – Imperial Reader –  direct link to Ainara’s materials science academic CV

Applications of surface plasmons – microscopy and spatial light modulation Eric Yeatman , 1989 – Electronics – Imperial Professor and Head of Department –  direct link to Eric’s electronics academic CV

Geometric Algorithms for Objects in Motion Sorelle Friedler , 2010 – Computer science – Haverford College Associate Professor –  direct link to Sorelle’s computer science academic CV .

Geometrical models, constraints design, information extraction for pathological and healthy medical image Esla Angelini  – Medicine – Imperial Senior Data Scientist –  direct link to Elsa’s medicine academic CV

Why I regret my own choice of PhD thesis title

I should say from the outset that I assembled my thesis in quite a short space of time compared to most people. So I didn’t really spend particularly long on any one section, including the title.

However, my main supervisor even spelled out for me that once the title was submitted to the university it would be permanent. In other words: think wisely about your title.

What I started with

Initially I drafted the title as something like: Three dimensional correlative imaging for cartilage regeneration . Which I thought was nice, catchy and descriptive.

I decided to go for “correlative imaging” because, not only did it describe the experiments well, but it also sounded kind of technical and fitting of a potential pivot into AI. I’m pleased with that bit of the title.

What I ended up with

Before submitting the title to the university (required ahead of the viva), I asked my supervisors for their thoughts.

One of my well intentioned supervisors suggested that, given that my project didn’t involve verifying regenerative quality, I probably shouldn’t state cartilage regeneration . Instead, they suggested, I should state what I was experimenting on (the materials) rather than the overall goal of the research (aid cartilage regeneration efforts).

With this advice I dialled back my choice of wording and the thesis title I went with was:

Three dimensional correlative imaging for measurement of strain in cartilage and cartilage replacement materials

Reading it back now I’m reminder about how less I like it than my initial idea!

I put up basically no resistance to the supervisor’s choice, even though the title sounds so much more boring in my opinion. I just didn’t think much of it at the time. Furthermore, most of my PhD was actually in a technique which is four dimensional (looking at a series of 3D scans over time, hence 4D) which would have sounded way more sciency and fitting of a PhD.

What I wish I’d gone with

If I had the choice again, I’d have gone with:

Four-dimensional correlative imaging for cartilage regeneration

Which, would you believe it, is exactly what it states on my CV…

Does the thesis title really matter?

In all honesty, your choice of thesis title isn’t that important. If you come to regret it, as I do, it’s not the end of the world. There are much more important things in life to worry about.

If you decide at a later stage that you don’t like it you can always describe it in a way that you prefer. For instance, in my CV I describe my PhD as I’d have liked the title to be. I make no claim that it’s actually the title so consider it a bit of creative license.

Given that as your career progresses you may not even refer back to your thesis much, it’s really not worth stressing over. However, if you’re yet to finalise your thesis title I do still think it is worth a bit of thought and hopefully this article has provided some insights into how to choose a good thesis title.

My advice for developing a thesis title

  • Draft the title early. Drafting it early can help give clarity for the overall message of your research. For instance, while you’re assembling the rest of your thesis you can check that the title encompasses the research chapters you’re included, and likewise that the research experiments you’re including fall within what the title describes. Drafting it early also gives more time you to think it over. As with everything: having a first draft is really important to iterate on.
  • Look at some example titles . Such as those featured above!
  • If you’re not sure about your title, ask a few other people what they think . But remember that you have the final say!

I hope this post has been useful for those of you are finalising your thesis and need to decide on a thesis title. If you’ve enjoyed this article and would like to hear about future content (and gain access to my free resource library!) you can subscribe for free here:

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Setting Rationale in Research: Cracking the code for excelling at research

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Knowledge and curiosity lays the foundation of scientific progress. The quest for knowledge has always been a timeless endeavor. Scholars seek reasons to explain the phenomena they observe, paving way for development of research. Every investigation should offer clarity and a well-defined rationale in research is a cornerstone upon which the entire study can be built.

Research rationale is the heartbeat of every academic pursuit as it guides the researchers to unlock the untouched areas of their field. Additionally, it illuminates the gaps in the existing knowledge, and identifies the potential contributions that the study aims to make.

Table of Contents

What Is Research Rationale and When Is It Written

Research rationale is the “why” behind every academic research. It not only frames the study but also outlines its objectives , questions, and expected outcomes. Additionally, it helps to identify the potential limitations of the study . It serves as a lighthouse for researchers that guides through data collection and analysis, ensuring their efforts remain focused and purposeful. Typically, a rationale is written at the beginning of the research proposal or research paper . It is an essential component of the introduction section and provides the foundation for the entire study. Furthermore, it provides a clear understanding of the purpose and significance of the research to the readers before delving into the specific details of the study. In some cases, the rationale is written before the methodology, data analysis, and other sections. Also, it serves as the justification for the research, and how it contributes to the field. Defining a research rationale can help a researcher in following ways:

Define Your Research Rationale

1. Justification of a Research Problem

  • Research rationale helps to understand the essence of a research problem.
  • It designs the right approach to solve a problem. This aspect is particularly important for applied research, where the outcomes can have real-world relevance and impact.
  • Also, it explains why the study is worth conducting and why resources should be allocated to pursue it.
  • Additionally, it guides a researcher to highlight the benefits and implications of a strategy.

2. Elimination of Literature Gap

  • Research rationale helps to ideate new topics which are less addressed.
  • Additionally, it offers fresh perspectives on existing research and discusses the shortcomings in previous studies.
  • It shows that your study aims to contribute to filling these gaps and advancing the field’s understanding.

3. Originality and Novelty

  • The rationale highlights the unique aspects of your research and how it differs from previous studies.
  • Furthermore, it explains why your research adds something new to the field and how it expands upon existing knowledge.
  • It highlights how your findings might contribute to a better understanding of a particular issue or problem and potentially lead to positive changes.
  • Besides these benefits, it provides a personal motivation to the researchers. In some cases, researchers might have personal experiences or interests that drive their desire to investigate a particular topic.

4. An Increase in Chances of Funding

  • It is essential to convince funding agencies , supervisors, or reviewers, that a research is worth pursuing.
  • Therefore, a good rationale can get your research approved for funding and increases your chances of getting published in journals; as it addresses the potential knowledge gap in existing research.

Overall, research rationale is essential for providing a clear and convincing argument for the value and importance of your research study, setting the stage for the rest of the research proposal or manuscript. Furthermore, it helps establish the context for your work and enables others to understand the purpose and potential impact of your research.

5 Key Elements of a Research Rationale

Research rationale must include certain components which make it more impactful. Here are the key elements of a research rationale:

Elements of research rationale

By incorporating these elements, you provide a strong and convincing case for the legitimacy of your research, which is essential for gaining support and approval from academic institutions, funding agencies, or other stakeholders.

How to Write a Rationale in Research

Writing a rationale requires careful consideration of the reasons for conducting the study. It is usually written in the present tense.

Here are some steps to guide you through the process of writing a research rationale:

Steps to write a research rationale

After writing the initial draft, it is essential to review and revise the research rationale to ensure that it effectively communicates the purpose of your research. The research rationale should be persuasive and compelling, convincing readers that your study is worthwhile and deserves their attention.

How Long Should a Research Rationale be?

Although there is no pre-defined length for a rationale in research, its length may vary depending on the specific requirements of the research project. It also depends on the academic institution or organization, and the guidelines set by the research advisor or funding agency. In general, a research rationale is usually a concise and focused document.

Typically, it ranges from a few paragraphs to a few pages, but it is usually recommended to keep it as crisp as possible while ensuring all the essential elements are adequately covered. The length of a research rationale can be roughly as follows:

1. For Research Proposal:

A. Around 1 to 3 pages

B. Ensure clear and comprehensive explanation of the research question, its significance, literature review , and methodological approach.

2. Thesis or Dissertation:

A. Around 3 to 5 pages

B. Ensure an extensive coverage of the literature review, theoretical framework, and research objectives to provide a robust justification for the study.

3. Journal Article:

A. Usually concise. Ranges from few paragraphs to one page

B. The research rationale is typically included as part of the introduction section

However, remember that the quality and content of the research rationale are more important than its length. The reasons for conducting the research should be well-structured, clear, and persuasive when presented. Always adhere to the specific institution or publication guidelines.

Example of a Research Rationale

Example of a research rationale

In conclusion, the research rationale serves as the cornerstone of a well-designed and successful research project. It ensures that research efforts are focused, meaningful, and ethically sound. Additionally, it provides a comprehensive and logical justification for embarking on a specific investigation. Therefore, by identifying research gaps, defining clear objectives, emphasizing significance, explaining the chosen methodology, addressing ethical considerations, and recognizing potential limitations, researchers can lay the groundwork for impactful and valuable contributions to the scientific community.

So, are you ready to delve deeper into the world of research and hone your academic writing skills? Explore Enago Academy ‘s comprehensive resources and courses to elevate your research and make a lasting impact in your field. Also, share your thoughts and experiences in the form of an article or a thought piece on Enago Academy’s Open Platform .

Join us on a journey of scholarly excellence today!

Frequently Asked Questions

A rationale of the study can be written by including the following points: 1. Background of the Research/ Study 2. Identifying the Knowledge Gap 3. An Overview of the Goals and Objectives of the Study 4. Methodology and its Significance 5. Relevance of the Research

Start writing a research rationale by defining the research problem and discussing the literature gap associated with it.

A research rationale can be ended by discussing the expected results and summarizing the need of the study.

A rationale for thesis can be made by covering the following points: 1. Extensive coverage of the existing literature 2. Explaining the knowledge gap 3. Provide the framework and objectives of the study 4. Provide a robust justification for the study/ research 5. Highlight the potential of the research and the expected outcomes

A rationale for dissertation can be made by covering the following points: 1. Highlight the existing reference 2. Bridge the gap and establish the context of your research 3. Describe the problem and the objectives 4. Give an overview of the methodology

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What should universities' stance be on AI tools in research and academic writing?

How to Write a Rationale: A Guide for Research and Beyond

How to Write a Rationale: A Guide for Research and Beyond

Ever found yourself scratching your head, wondering how to justify your choice of a research topic or project? You’re not alone! Writing a rationale, which essentially means explaining the ‘why’ behind your decisions, is crucial to any research process. It’s like the secret sauce that adds flavour to your research recipe. So, the only thing you need to know is how to write a rationale.


What is a Rationale?

A rationale in research is essentially the foundation of your study. It serves as the justification for undertaking a particular research project. At its core, the rationale explains why the research was conducted or needs to be conducted, thus addressing a specific knowledge gap or research question.

Here’s a breakdown of the key elements involved in crafting a rationale:

Linking Background to Research Question: 

The rationale should connect the background of the study to your specific research question. It involves presenting and discussing existing data on your topic, identifying gaps or issues in the current understanding, and explaining why addressing them is important​.

Objectives and Significance: 

Your rationale should clearly outline your research objectives – what you hope to discover or achieve through the study. It should also emphasize the subject’s significance in your field and explain why more or better research is needed​.

Methodological Approach: 

The rationale should briefly describe your proposed research method , whether qualitative (descriptive) or quantitative (experimental), and justify this choice​.

Justifying the Need for Research: 

The rationale isn’t just about what you’re doing and why it’s necessary. It can involve highlighting methodological, contextual, or conceptual limitations in previous studies and explaining how your research aims to overcome these limitations. Essentially, you’re making a case for why your research fills a crucial gap in existing knowledge​​.

Presenting Before and After Research: 

Interestingly, the rationale can be presented before and after the research. Before the research, it forms a central part of the research proposal, setting out the plan for the work. After the research, it’s presented in a research article or dissertation to explain the focus on a specific research question and link it to the study’s aims and outcomes​.

Elements to Include: 

A good rationale should include a summary of conclusions from your literature review, identify what is currently unknown, discuss inconclusive or contested results from previous studies, and emphasize the necessity to improve or build on previous research​.

Creating a rationale is a vital part of the research process, as it not only sets the stage for your study but also convinces readers of the value and necessity of your work.

A Laptop With A Book On It On A Wooden Table, Showcasing The Keywords &Quot;How To Write A Rationale&Quot;.

How to Write a Rationale:

Writing a rationale for your research is crucial in conducting and presenting your study. It involves explaining why your research is necessary and important. Here’s a guide to help you craft a compelling rationale:

Identify the Problem or Knowledge Gap: 

Begin by clearly stating the issue or gap in knowledge that your research aims to address. Explain why this problem is important and merits investigation. It is the foundation of your rationale and sets the stage for the need for your research.​

Review the Literature: 

Conduct a thorough review of existing literature on your topic. It helps you understand what research has already been done and what gaps or open questions exist. Your rationale should build on this background by highlighting these gaps and emphasizing the importance of addressing them​​​​.

Define Your Research Questions/Hypotheses: 

Based on your understanding of the problem and literature review, clearly state the research questions or hypotheses that your study aims to explore. These should logically stem from the identified gaps or issues.

Explain Your Research Approach: 

Describe the methods you will use for your research, including data collection and analysis techniques. Justify why these methods are appropriate for addressing your research questions or hypotheses​​.

Discuss the Potential Impact of Your Research:  Explain the significance of your study. Consider both theoretical contributions and practical implications. For instance, how does your research advance existing knowledge? Does it have real-world applications? Is it relevant to a specific field or community?​

Consider Ethical Considerations: 

If your research involves human or animal subjects, discuss the ethical aspects and how you plan to conduct your study responsibly​.

Contextualise Your Study: 

Justify the relevance of your research by explaining how it fits into the broader context. Connect your study to current trends, societal needs, or academic discussions​​.

Support with Evidence: 

Provide evidence or examples that underscore the need for your research. It could include citing relevant studies, statistics, or scenarios that illustrate the problem or gap your research addresses​.

Methodological, Contextual, and Conceptual Limitations: 

Address any limitations of previous research and how your study aims to overcome them. It can include methodological flaws in previous studies, changes in external factors that make past research less relevant, or the need to study a phenomenon within a new conceptual framework​.

Placement in Your Paper: 

Typically, the rationale is written toward the end of the introduction section of your paper, providing a logical lead-in to your research questions and methodology​​.

By following these steps and considering your audience’s perspective, you can write a strong and compelling rationale that clearly communicates the significance and necessity of your research project.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What makes a good research rationale.

A good rationale clearly identifies a gap in existing knowledge, builds on previous research, and outlines why your study is necessary and significant.

How detailed should my literature review be in the rationale?

Your literature review should be comprehensive enough to highlight the gaps your research aims to fill, but it should not overshadow the rationale itself.


A well-crafted rationale is your ticket to making your research stand out. It’s about bridging gaps, challenging norms, and paving the way for new discoveries. So go ahead, make your rationale the cornerstone of your research narrative!

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The rationale for one’s research is the justification for undertaking a given study. It states the reason(s) why a researcher chooses to focus on the topic in question, including what the significance is and what gaps the research intends to fill. In short, it is an explanation that rationalises the need for the study. The rationale is typically followed by a hypothesis/ research question (s) and the study objectives.

When is the rationale for research written?

The rationale of a study can be presented both before and after the research is conducted. 

  • Before : The rationale is a crucial part of your research proposal , representing the plan of your work as formulated before you execute your study.
  • After : Once the study is completed, the rationale is presented in a research paper or dissertation to explain why you focused on the particular question. In this instance, you would link the rationale of your research project to the study aims and outcomes.

Basis for writing the research rationale

The study rationale is predominantly based on preliminary data . A literature review will help you identify gaps in the current knowledge base and also ensure that you avoid duplicating what has already been done. You can then formulate the justification for your study from the existing literature on the subject and the perceived outcomes of the proposed study.

Length of the research rationale

In a research proposal or research article, the rationale would not take up more than a few sentences . A thesis or dissertation would allow for a longer description, which could even run into a couple of paragraphs . The length might even depend on the field of study or nature of the experiment. For instance, a completely novel or unconventional approach might warrant a longer and more detailed justification.

Basic elements of the research rationale

Every research rationale should include some mention or discussion of the following: 

  • An overview of your conclusions from your literature review
  • Gaps in current knowledge
  • Inconclusive or controversial findings from previous studies
  • The need to build on previous research (e.g. unanswered questions, the need to update concepts in light of new findings and/or new technical advancements). 

Example of a research rationale

Note: This uses a fictional study.

Abc xyz is a newly identified microalgal species isolated from fish tanks. While Abc xyz algal blooms have been seen as a threat to pisciculture, some studies have hinted at their unusually high carotenoid content and unique carotenoid profile. Carotenoid profiling has been carried out only in a handful of microalgal species from this genus, and the search for microalgae rich in bioactive carotenoids has not yielded promising candidates so far. This in-depth examination of the carotenoid profile of Abc xyz will help identify and quantify novel and potentially useful carotenoids from an untapped aquaculture resource .

In conclusion

It is important to describe the rationale of your research in order to put the significance and novelty of your specific research project into perspective. Once you have successfully articulated the reason(s) for your research, you will have convinced readers of the importance of your work!

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  • USC Libraries
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Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper

  • Choosing a Title
  • Purpose of Guide
  • Design Flaws to Avoid
  • Independent and Dependent Variables
  • Glossary of Research Terms
  • Reading Research Effectively
  • Narrowing a Topic Idea
  • Broadening a Topic Idea
  • Extending the Timeliness of a Topic Idea
  • Academic Writing Style
  • Making an Outline
  • Paragraph Development
  • Research Process Video Series
  • Executive Summary
  • The C.A.R.S. Model
  • Background Information
  • The Research Problem/Question
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Citation Tracking
  • Content Alert Services
  • Evaluating Sources
  • Primary Sources
  • Secondary Sources
  • Tiertiary Sources
  • Scholarly vs. Popular Publications
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Insiderness
  • Using Non-Textual Elements
  • Limitations of the Study
  • Common Grammar Mistakes
  • Writing Concisely
  • Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Footnotes or Endnotes?
  • Further Readings
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The title summarizes the main idea or ideas of your study. A good title contains the fewest possible words needed to adequately describe the content and/or purpose of your research paper.

Importance of Choosing a Good Title

The title is the part of a paper that is read the most, and it is usually read first . It is, therefore, the most important element that defines the research study. With this in mind, avoid the following when creating a title:

  • If the title is too long, this usually indicates there are too many unnecessary words. Avoid language, such as, "A Study to Investigate the...," or "An Examination of the...." These phrases are obvious and generally superfluous unless they are necessary to covey the scope, intent, or type of a study.
  • On the other hand, a title which is too short often uses words which are too broad and, thus, does not tell the reader what is being studied. For example, a paper with the title, "African Politics" is so non-specific the title could be the title of a book and so ambiguous that it could refer to anything associated with politics in Africa. A good title should provide information about the focus and/or scope of your research study.
  • In academic writing, catchy phrases or non-specific language may be used, but only if it's within the context of the study [e.g., "Fair and Impartial Jury--Catch as Catch Can"]. However, in most cases, you should avoid including words or phrases that do not help the reader understand the purpose of your paper.
  • Academic writing is a serious and deliberate endeavor. Avoid using humorous or clever journalistic styles of phrasing when creating the title to your paper. Journalistic headlines often use emotional adjectives [e.g., incredible, amazing, effortless] to highlight a problem experienced by the reader or use "trigger words" or interrogative words like how, what, when, or why to persuade people to read the article or click on a link. These approaches are viewed as counter-productive in academic writing. A reader does not need clever or humorous titles to catch their attention because the act of reading research is assumed to be deliberate based on a desire to learn and improve understanding of the problem. In addition, a humorous title can merely detract from the seriousness and authority of your research. 
  • Unlike everywhere else in a college-level social sciences research paper [except when using direct quotes in the text], titles do not have to adhere to rigid grammatical or stylistic standards. For example, it could be appropriate to begin a title with a coordinating conjunction [i.e., and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet] if it makes sense to do so and does not detract from the purpose of the study [e.g., "Yet Another Look at Mutual Fund Tournaments"] or beginning the title with an inflected form of a verb such as those ending in -ing [e.g., "Assessing the Political Landscape: Structure, Cognition, and Power in Organizations"].

Appiah, Kingsley Richard et al. “Structural Organisation of Research Article Titles: A Comparative Study of Titles of Business, Gynaecology and Law.” Advances in Language and Literary Studies 10 (2019); Hartley James. “To Attract or to Inform: What are Titles for?” Journal of Technical Writing and Communication 35 (2005): 203-213; Jaakkola, Maarit. “Journalistic Writing and Style.” In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication . Jon F. Nussbaum, editor. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018): https://oxfordre.com/communication.

Structure and Writing Style

The following parameters can be used to help you formulate a suitable research paper title:

  • The purpose of the research
  • The scope of the research
  • The narrative tone of the paper [typically defined by the type of the research]
  • The methods used to study the problem

The initial aim of a title is to capture the reader’s attention and to highlight the research problem under investigation.

Create a Working Title Typically, the final title you submit to your professor is created after the research is complete so that the title accurately captures what has been done . The working title should be developed early in the research process because it can help anchor the focus of the study in much the same way the research problem does. Referring back to the working title can help you reorient yourself back to the main purpose of the study if you find yourself drifting off on a tangent while writing. The Final Title Effective titles in research papers have several characteristics that reflect general principles of academic writing.

  • Indicate accurately the subject and scope of the study,
  • Rarely use abbreviations or acronyms unless they are commonly known,
  • Use words that create a positive impression and stimulate reader interest,
  • Use current nomenclature from the field of study,
  • Identify key variables, both dependent and independent,
  • Reveal how the paper will be organized,
  • Suggest a relationship between variables which supports the major hypothesis,
  • Is limited to 5 to 15 substantive words,
  • Does not include redundant phrasing, such as, "A Study of," "An Analysis of" or similar constructions,
  • Takes the form of a question or declarative statement,
  • If you use a quote as part of the title, the source of the quote is cited [usually using an asterisk and footnote],
  • Use correct grammar and capitalization with all first words and last words capitalized, including the first word of a subtitle. All nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs that appear between the first and last words of the title are also capitalized, and
  • Rarely uses an exclamation mark at the end of the title.

The Subtitle Subtitles are frequently used in social sciences research papers because it helps the reader understand the scope of the study in relation to how it was designed to address the research problem. Think about what type of subtitle listed below reflects the overall approach to your study and whether you believe a subtitle is needed to emphasize the investigative parameters of your research.

1.  Explains or provides additional context , e.g., "Linguistic Ethnography and the Study of Welfare Institutions as a Flow of Social Practices: The Case of Residential Child Care Institutions as Paradoxical Institutions." [Palomares, Manuel and David Poveda.  Text & Talk: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse and Communication Studies 30 (January 2010): 193-212]

2.  Adds substance to a literary, provocative, or imaginative title or quote , e.g., "Listen to What I Say, Not How I Vote": Congressional Support for the President in Washington and at Home." [Grose, Christian R. and Keesha M. Middlemass. Social Science Quarterly 91 (March 2010): 143-167]

3.  Qualifies the geographic scope of the research , e.g., "The Geopolitics of the Eastern Border of the European Union: The Case of Romania-Moldova-Ukraine." [Marcu, Silvia. Geopolitics 14 (August 2009): 409-432]

4.  Qualifies the temporal scope of the research , e.g., "A Comparison of the Progressive Era and the Depression Years: Societal Influences on Predictions of the Future of the Library, 1895-1940." [Grossman, Hal B. Libraries & the Cultural Record 46 (2011): 102-128]

5.  Focuses on investigating the ideas, theories, or work of a particular individual , e.g., "A Deliberative Conception of Politics: How Francesco Saverio Merlino Related Anarchy and Democracy." [La Torre, Massimo. Sociologia del Diritto 28 (January 2001): 75 - 98]

6.  Identifies the methodology used , e.g. "Student Activism of the 1960s Revisited: A Multivariate Analysis Research Note." [Aron, William S. Social Forces 52 (March 1974): 408-414]

7.  Defines the overarching technique for analyzing the research problem , e.g., "Explaining Territorial Change in Federal Democracies: A Comparative Historical Institutionalist Approach." [ Tillin, Louise. Political Studies 63 (August 2015): 626-641.

With these examples in mind, think about what type of subtitle reflects the overall approach to your study. This will help the reader understand the scope of the study in relation to how it was designed to address the research problem.

Anstey, A. “Writing Style: What's in a Title?” British Journal of Dermatology 170 (May 2014): 1003-1004; Balch, Tucker. How to Compose a Title for Your Research Paper. Augmented Trader blog. School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Tech University; Bavdekar, Sandeep B. “Formulating the Right Title for a Research Article.” Journal of Association of Physicians of India 64 (February 2016); Choosing the Proper Research Paper Titles. AplusReports.com, 2007-2012; Eva, Kevin W. “Titles, Abstracts, and Authors.” In How to Write a Paper . George M. Hall, editor. 5th edition. (Oxford: John Wiley and Sons, 2013), pp. 33-41; Hartley James. “To Attract or to Inform: What are Titles for?” Journal of Technical Writing and Communication 35 (2005): 203-213; General Format. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Kerkut G.A. “Choosing a Title for a Paper.” Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Physiology 74 (1983): 1; “Tempting Titles.” In Stylish Academic Writing . Helen Sword, editor. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012), pp. 63-75; Nundy, Samiran, et al. “How to Choose a Title?” In How to Practice Academic Medicine and Publish from Developing Countries? A Practical Guide . Edited by Samiran Nundy, Atul Kakar, and Zulfiqar A. Bhutta. (Springer Singapore, 2022), pp. 185-192.

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Think of yourself as a member of a jury, listening to a lawyer who is presenting an opening argument. You'll want to know very soon whether the lawyer believes the accused to be guilty or not guilty, and how the lawyer plans to convince you. Readers of academic essays are like jury members: before they have read too far, they want to know what the essay argues as well as how the writer plans to make the argument. After reading your thesis statement, the reader should think, "This essay is going to try to convince me of something. I'm not convinced yet, but I'm interested to see how I might be."

An effective thesis cannot be answered with a simple "yes" or "no." A thesis is not a topic; nor is it a fact; nor is it an opinion. "Reasons for the fall of communism" is a topic. "Communism collapsed in Eastern Europe" is a fact known by educated people. "The fall of communism is the best thing that ever happened in Europe" is an opinion. (Superlatives like "the best" almost always lead to trouble. It's impossible to weigh every "thing" that ever happened in Europe. And what about the fall of Hitler? Couldn't that be "the best thing"?)

A good thesis has two parts. It should tell what you plan to argue, and it should "telegraph" how you plan to argue—that is, what particular support for your claim is going where in your essay.

Steps in Constructing a Thesis

First, analyze your primary sources.  Look for tension, interest, ambiguity, controversy, and/or complication. Does the author contradict himself or herself? Is a point made and later reversed? What are the deeper implications of the author's argument? Figuring out the why to one or more of these questions, or to related questions, will put you on the path to developing a working thesis. (Without the why, you probably have only come up with an observation—that there are, for instance, many different metaphors in such-and-such a poem—which is not a thesis.)

Once you have a working thesis, write it down.  There is nothing as frustrating as hitting on a great idea for a thesis, then forgetting it when you lose concentration. And by writing down your thesis you will be forced to think of it clearly, logically, and concisely. You probably will not be able to write out a final-draft version of your thesis the first time you try, but you'll get yourself on the right track by writing down what you have.

Keep your thesis prominent in your introduction.  A good, standard place for your thesis statement is at the end of an introductory paragraph, especially in shorter (5-15 page) essays. Readers are used to finding theses there, so they automatically pay more attention when they read the last sentence of your introduction. Although this is not required in all academic essays, it is a good rule of thumb.

Anticipate the counterarguments.  Once you have a working thesis, you should think about what might be said against it. This will help you to refine your thesis, and it will also make you think of the arguments that you'll need to refute later on in your essay. (Every argument has a counterargument. If yours doesn't, then it's not an argument—it may be a fact, or an opinion, but it is not an argument.)

This statement is on its way to being a thesis. However, it is too easy to imagine possible counterarguments. For example, a political observer might believe that Dukakis lost because he suffered from a "soft-on-crime" image. If you complicate your thesis by anticipating the counterargument, you'll strengthen your argument, as shown in the sentence below.

Some Caveats and Some Examples

A thesis is never a question.  Readers of academic essays expect to have questions discussed, explored, or even answered. A question ("Why did communism collapse in Eastern Europe?") is not an argument, and without an argument, a thesis is dead in the water.

A thesis is never a list.  "For political, economic, social and cultural reasons, communism collapsed in Eastern Europe" does a good job of "telegraphing" the reader what to expect in the essay—a section about political reasons, a section about economic reasons, a section about social reasons, and a section about cultural reasons. However, political, economic, social and cultural reasons are pretty much the only possible reasons why communism could collapse. This sentence lacks tension and doesn't advance an argument. Everyone knows that politics, economics, and culture are important.

A thesis should never be vague, combative or confrontational.  An ineffective thesis would be, "Communism collapsed in Eastern Europe because communism is evil." This is hard to argue (evil from whose perspective? what does evil mean?) and it is likely to mark you as moralistic and judgmental rather than rational and thorough. It also may spark a defensive reaction from readers sympathetic to communism. If readers strongly disagree with you right off the bat, they may stop reading.

An effective thesis has a definable, arguable claim.  "While cultural forces contributed to the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, the disintegration of economies played the key role in driving its decline" is an effective thesis sentence that "telegraphs," so that the reader expects the essay to have a section about cultural forces and another about the disintegration of economies. This thesis makes a definite, arguable claim: that the disintegration of economies played a more important role than cultural forces in defeating communism in Eastern Europe. The reader would react to this statement by thinking, "Perhaps what the author says is true, but I am not convinced. I want to read further to see how the author argues this claim."

A thesis should be as clear and specific as possible.  Avoid overused, general terms and abstractions. For example, "Communism collapsed in Eastern Europe because of the ruling elite's inability to address the economic concerns of the people" is more powerful than "Communism collapsed due to societal discontent."

Copyright 1999, Maxine Rodburg and The Tutors of the Writing Center at Harvard University

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How to Write a Study Rationale

Last Updated: May 19, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Jake Adams and by wikiHow staff writer, Jennifer Mueller, JD . Jake Adams is an academic tutor and the owner of Simplifi EDU, a Santa Monica, California based online tutoring business offering learning resources and online tutors for academic subjects K-College, SAT & ACT prep, and college admissions applications. With over 14 years of professional tutoring experience, Jake is dedicated to providing his clients the very best online tutoring experience and access to a network of excellent undergraduate and graduate-level tutors from top colleges all over the nation. Jake holds a BS in International Business and Marketing from Pepperdine University. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 53,645 times.

A study rationale explains the reason for a study and the importance of its findings for a particular field. Commonly, you'll need to write a study rationale as part of a university course of study, although you may also need to write one as a professional researcher to apply for funding or other support. As a student, your study rationale also justifies how it fulfills the requirements for your degree program or course of study. Do research before you write your study rationale so that you can discuss the previous work your study builds on and explain its significance to your field. Thorough research is also important in the professional context because your rationale will likely become part of the contract if funding or support is approved. [1] X Research source

Describing What You Hope to Accomplish

Step 1 Define the problem that your study will address.

  • For example, suppose you want to study how working the night shift affects the academic performance of college students who are taking classes during the day. A narrow question would measure a specific impact based on a specific amount of hours worked.

Step 2 Discuss the methodology for your study.

  • Justify the methodology you're using. If there's another methodology that might accomplish the same result, describe it and explain why your methodology is superior — perhaps because it's more efficient, takes less time, or uses fewer resources. For example, you might get more information out of personal interviews, but creating an online questionnaire is more cost-effective.
  • Particularly if you're seeking funding or support, this section of your rationale will also include details about the cost of your study and the facilities or resources you'll need. [3] X Research source

Tip: A methodology that is more complex, difficult, or expensive requires more justification than one that is straightforward and simple.

Step 3 Predict the results of your study.

  • For example, if you're studying the effect of working the night shift on academic performance, you might hypothesize that working 4 or more nights a week lowers students' grade point averages by more than 1 point.

Step 4 Explain what you hope your study will accomplish.

  • Use action words, such as "quantify" or "establish," when writing your goals. For example, you might write that one goal of your study is to "quantify the degree to which working at night inhibits the academic performance of college students."
  • If you are a professional researcher, your objectives may need to be more specific and concrete. The organization you submit your rationale to will have details about the requirements to apply for funding and other support. [5] X Research source

Explaining Your Study's Significance

Step 1 Discuss the previous work that your study will build on.

  • Going into extensive detail usually isn't necessary. Instead, highlight the findings of the most significant work in the field that addressed a similar question.
  • Provide references so that your readers can examine the previous studies for themselves and compare them to your proposed study.

Step 2 Describe the shortcomings of the previous work.

  • Methodological limitations: Previous studies failed to measure the variables appropriately or used a research design that had problems or biases
  • Contextual limitations: Previous studies aren't relevant because circumstances have changed regarding the variables measured
  • Conceptual limitations: Previous studies are too tied up in a specific ideology or framework

Step 3 Identify the ways your study will correct those shortcomings.

  • For example, if a previous study had been conducted to support a university's policy that full-time students were not permitted to work, you might argue that it was too tied up in that specific ideology and that this biased the results. You could then point out that your study is not intended to advance any particular policy.

Tip: If you have to defend or present your rationale to an advisor or team, try to anticipate the questions they might ask you and include the answers to as many of those questions as possible.

Including Academic Proposal Information

Step 1 Provide your credentials or experience as a student or researcher.

  • As a student, you might emphasize your major and specific classes you've taken that give you particular knowledge about the subject of your study. If you've served as a research assistant on a study with a similar methodology or covering a similar research question, you might mention that as well.
  • If you're a professional researcher, focus on the experience you have in a particular field as well as the studies you've done in the past. If you have done studies with a similar methodology that were important in your field, you might mention those as well.

Tip: If you don't have any particular credentials or experience that are relevant to your study, tell the readers of your rationale what drew you to this particular topic and how you became interested in it.

Step 2 State any guidelines required by your degree program or field.

  • For example, if you are planning to conduct the study as fulfillment of the research requirement for your degree program, you might discuss any specific guidelines for that research requirement and list how your study meets those criteria.

Step 3 List the credits you intend your study to fulfill.

  • In most programs, there will be specific wording for you to include in your rationale if you're submitting it for a certain number of credits. Your instructor or advisor can help make sure you've worded this appropriately.

Study Rationale Outline and Example

thesis title with rationale

Expert Q&A

  • This article presents an overview of how to write a study rationale. Check with your instructor or advisor for any specific requirements that apply to your particular project. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

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  • ↑ https://research.com/research/how-to-write-research-methodology
  • ↑ https://ris.leeds.ac.uk/applying-for-funding/developing-your-proposal/resources-and-tips/key-questions-for-researchers/
  • ↑ https://www.cwauthors.com/article/how-to-write-the-rationale-for-your-research
  • ↑ http://www.writingcentre.uct.ac.za/sites/default/files/image_tool/images/167/Rationale.pdf
  • ↑ https://www.niaid.nih.gov/grants-contracts/write-research-plan
  • ↑ https://www.esc.edu/degree-planning-academic-review/degree-program/student-degree-planning-guide/rationale-essay-writing/writing-tips/

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How to write the rationale for research?

How to write the rationale for research?

thesis title with rationale

How to evaluate bias in meta-analysis within meta-epidemiological studies?

thesis title with rationale

How to handle discrepancies while you collect data for systemic review

The research’s rationale describes why the study was undertaken (in a thesis or article) or why the study should be accompanied (in a proposal). This implies that the research justification should explain why the study is/was necessary to the reader or examiner. It is sometimes known as a study’s “purpose” or “justification.” While this is not difficult to understand in and of itself, you may be questioning how the study’s reasoning differs from your research question or the explanation of the problem of your study and how it turns into the remainder of your thesis or research paper.


The rationale of your research is the objective of the study. The reason should explain why the research was started in the first place. It’s an essential part of your work since it demonstrates the significance and uniqueness of your research. As a result, it’s often referred to as the study’s reason. Your analysis would be arranged in an ideal world: observation, justification, hypothesis, objectives, methodology, findings, and conclusions. To begin writing your rationale, offer background information on all the research on your study topic. Then consider, “What is missing?” or “What are the research’s unanswered questions?” Identify the gaps in the literature and explain why they must be filled. Finally, it resolves to serve as the foundation for your investigation.

A study’s reason might be provided before and after the investigation.

  • Before : The reason is essential to your research proposal since it represents the work plan you developed before carrying out your investigation.
  • After : When the investigation is over, the justification is given in a literature research paper or thesis to explain why you choose to focus on the specific subject. In this case, you would connect your research project’s logic to the study’s goals and outcomes.

thesis title with rationale

The rationale for the study

Consider a research rationale, a set of arguments explaining why a study is required and significant in light of its context. It is also the study’s reason, rationale, or thesis statement. Essentially, you want to persuade your reader that you are not repeating what others have already stated and that your perspective did not emerge from thin air. You’ve researched and found a knowledge gap that this justification now fills.

Basic elements of the research rationale

Typically, a clinical research justification is provided near the conclusion of the introduction. This area is prominent in high-impact-factor international publications such as Nature and Science. There is usually a line after the introduction that begins with “here we show” or “in this paper, we demonstrate.” This paragraph is part of a logical sequence of information, which is often (but not always) presented in the following order:

  • Research background : What brings you here? Present (and cite) previous research and data on the subject.
  • A gap in the literature : Which gaps haven’t been addressed based on the background evidence presented? Or, what is the problem that needs to be solved/process that needs to be improved?
  • Research rationale : Why is it critical to fill these gaps or to solve/improve this problem/process?
  • Research objectives and methodology : What will you investigate (your research question/goal)? How are you going to approach it (methods)?

thesis title with rationale

Hope to accomplish

Describe the issue that your research will address: The problem your study will address, also known as your research subject, informs the reader about the scope of your investigation. Your research topic should be as detailed as possible, especially in a professional environment. In addition, specific research topics are more likely to lead to financing opportunities for your project.

Discourse the methodology for your study:  Explain to your audience how you intend to conduct your clinical research and offer a broad timeline for each stage. Include details about how you plan to contact research participants if your study spans several months or years.

Predict the results of your study:  A hypothesis isn’t always necessary, but it might assist in supporting your case. If you can make a more than speculative forecast, include it in your rationale. To represent your research topic, make your hypothesis as detailed as possible.

Clarify what you hope your study will accomplish:  Your clinical research should uncover something fresh that has not before been explored in your sector. Finding something that no one else has discovered isn’t enough. You must also explain that your findings will significantly advance your field or that they will clear up a past misunderstanding.

thesis title with rationale

In a journal-accepted research manuscript, your justification should be no more than a few words long (no longer than one brief paragraph). A longer description is generally allowed in a manuscript or thesis; depending on the length and type of your material, this might be up to several paragraphs lengthy. A wholly new or unique technique may require a more prolonged and extensive justification than one that deviates somewhat from well-established procedures and approaches.

It is critical to discuss the reason for your study to understand the relevance and uniqueness of your research effort. You will have persuaded readers of the significance of your work once you have adequately expressed the reason(s) for your study. Defining the justification research is a critical component of the research process and academic writing in any reasoning research endeavour . This is what you use in your research paper for the first time to explain the research problem inside your dissertation subject. This will give you the research reason you require to define your research topic and potential outcomes.

About Pubrica

Pubrica’s research team generates scientific and medical research articles that practitioners and authors may use as a resource. Pubrica medical writers help you create and modify the introduction by advising the reader of any defects or holes in the chosen research subject. Our experts are familiar with the structure that begins with a broad topic and then continues to a problem and background before going on to a targeted issue to provide the hypothesis.

  • Huggett, Kathryn N., and William B. Jeffries. “Overview of active learning research and rationale for active learning.”  How-to Guide for Active Learning . Springer, Cham, 2021. 1-7.
  • Bandrowski, Anita, et al. “Sparc data structure: Rationale and design of a fair standard for biomedical research data.”  bioRxiv  (2021).
  • Andriotis, Konstantinos. “RATIONALE FOR LAUNCHING A NEW JOURNAL.”  Journal of Qualitative Research  1.1 (2020): 1-6.
  • Russell, David R. “Retreading, Non-ing, and a TPC Rationale for Sub-disciplining in Writing Studies.”  College English  82.5 (2020): 472-483.



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Writing a rationale

How to write a rationale.

What is a rationale?

A rationale is when you are asked to give the reasoning or justification for an action or a choice you make.

There is a focus on the ‘ why ’ in a rationale: why you chose to do something, study or focus on something. It is a set of statements of purpose and significance and often addresses a gap or a need.

A rationale in Australian academic writing is rarely a whole task by itself.  It is often a part of a bigger task. For example, a part of a lesson plan might be to provide a rationale for why you chose to teach particular content or use a certain resource or activity, or you may be asked to provide a rationale as to why you chose a particular theory to apply or a concept to support.

You may be called upon to provide a rationale:

prior to an action or decision; why you plan to do something and how, or

  • after you have acted or decided something; reflecting, looking back, why you did something and how it worked or not.

You can use language to signal you are clearly providing a rationale in your writing. You can link your rationale to learning outcomes or aims for a lesson, activity or assessment task.

A model: problem-solution-rationale

A rationale can be provided by offering longer essay-based support for why it is important to do something in a certain way – in that sense, a whole paper can be a rationale.

However, a more specific or focused way of thinking about a rationale is how we can overtly show we are justifying our choices with the language we use.

One way of doing this is to consider the problem or issue requiring attention, the solution and then the rationale or justification for the solution (the ‘why’). This sets the rationale (the reason) within a context.

A diagnostic assessment determined that the students required more attention to addition and subtraction of mixed fractions. This activity intends to address this problem by having the children engage with the task with blocks before it is done with figures. The reason I chose to do this is because students have higher comprehension levels when presented with visual or tangible representations of abstract problems (Benson, 2016). I also did this as I wanted to allow the children to ‘play’ with maths, to see that it can be a fun activity and in doing so, to breakdown some of the ‘anti-mathematics prejudices’ that Gaines (2017, p. 4) talks about.

The important thing here is the language used to signal the rationale , in this case:

The reason I chose to do this is because … and I also did this as …

Another problem / solution / rationale example:

Scaffolding is the support provided by the teacher or a significant other, such as a classmate, which helps students in learning (Gibbons, 2015). Some students were having difficulty with the language at entry while others, particularly those who had completed the pre-tasks, had few problems. Therefore, in order to address this disparity in level and understanding, mixed-ability pairs were created where the more competent student helped the other. On reflection, this was an effective way to run the activity for two reasons : it allowed peer-to-peer teaching which solidified both students’ understanding; and it scaffolded the support in a way that allowed me to roam the room lending advice to pairs as needed.

The language used to signal our rationale in this example:

in order to and for two reasons …

Language to signal rationale

in order to

the reason this was done/chosen …

for the following reason(s) …

for two/three reasons …

Language for further justification - showing importance

This was important / significant because …

This meant that I could…

This enabled me to …

… which enabled / allowed me to…

… which pointed to / highlighted that / showed me that …

The key thing to remember about rationale writing is to stand back from the writing, look at it in a big picture sense and ask yourself, ‘ Have I explained why? ’ If that is clearly articulated, you have provided a rationale.

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Rationale Thesis Proposals Samples For Students

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If you're seeking an applicable way to streamline writing a Thesis Proposal about Rationale, WowEssays.com paper writing service just might be able to help you out.

For starters, you should browse our extensive catalog of free samples that cover most various Rationale Thesis Proposal topics and showcase the best academic writing practices. Once you feel that you've determined the major principles of content organization and drawn actionable ideas from these expertly written Thesis Proposal samples, putting together your own academic work should go much smoother.

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  1. How to Write the Rationale of the Study in Research (Examples)

    The rationale of the study is the justification for taking on a given study. It explains the reason the study was conducted or should be conducted. This means the study rationale should explain to the reader or examiner why the study is/was necessary. It is also sometimes called the "purpose" or "justification" of a study.

  2. Thesis Title: Examples and Suggestions from a PhD Grad

    Master's thesis title examples. Creation of an autonomous impulse response measurement system for rooms and transducers with different methods. Guy-Bart Stan, 2000 - Bioengineering - Imperial Professor - direct link to Guy-Bart's bioengineering academic CV. Segmentation of Nerve Bundles and Ganglia in Spine MRI using Particle Filters.

  3. How to Write the Rationale for a Research Paper

    The rationale for your research is the reason why you decided to conduct the study in the first place. The motivation for asking the question. The knowledge gap. This is often the most significant part of your publication. It justifies the study's purpose, novelty, and significance for science or society.

  4. How do you Write the Rationale for Research?

    Defining the rationale research, is a key part of the research process and academic writing in any research project. You use this in your research paper to firstly explain the research problem within your dissertation topic. This gives you the research justification you need to define your research question and what the expected outcomes may be.

  5. How to write rationale in research

    Research rationale helps to ideate new topics which are less addressed. Additionally, it offers fresh perspectives on existing research and discusses the shortcomings in previous studies. It shows that your study aims to contribute to filling these gaps and advancing the field's understanding. 3. Originality and Novelty.

  6. How to write the rationale for research?| Editage Insights

    To write your rationale, you should first write a background on what all research has been done on your study topic. Follow this with 'what is missing' or 'what are the open questions of the study'. Identify the gaps in the literature and emphasize why it is important to address those gaps. This will form the rationale of your study.

  7. How to Write a Rationale: A Guide for Research and Beyond

    A good rationale should include a summary of conclusions from your literature review, identify what is currently unknown, discuss inconclusive or contested results from previous studies, and emphasize the necessity to improve or build on previous research . Creating a rationale is a vital part of the research process, as it not only sets the ...

  8. How to write the rationale for your research

    Charlesworth Author Services; 19 November, 2021; How to write the Rationale for your research. The rationale for one's research is the justification for undertaking a given study. It states the reason(s) why a researcher chooses to focus on the topic in question, including what the significance is and what gaps the research intends to fill.In short, it is an explanation that rationalises the ...

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    Create a Working Title Typically, the final title you submit to your professor is created after the research is complete so that the title accurately captures what has been done. The working title should be developed early in the research process because it can help anchor the focus of the study in much the same way the research problem does.

  10. What Is a Thesis?

    A thesis is a type of research paper based on your original research. It is usually submitted as the final step of a master's program or a capstone to a bachelor's degree. Writing a thesis can be a daunting experience. Other than a dissertation, it is one of the longest pieces of writing students typically complete.

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    A good thesis has two parts. It should tell what you plan to argue, and it should "telegraph" how you plan to argue—that is, what particular support for your claim is going where in your essay. Steps in Constructing a Thesis. First, analyze your primary sources. Look for tension, interest, ambiguity, controversy, and/or complication.

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    title page and the entire document are left—1.5 inches; right, top, and bottom— 1 inch. Also, the title should be in all capitals. Reason The title both guides and reflects the pur-pose and content of the study, making its relevance apparent to prospective readers. The title is also important for retrieval pur-

  13. Q: How to write the rationale or justification of a study?

    1 Answer to this question. The term used to imply why the study was needed in the first place is "rationale for research" or "rationale of a study." It is also sometimes referred to as the justification of the study. I have edited your question to reflect this. The rationale of a study is a very important part of the manuscript.

  14. Easy Ways to Write a Study Rationale: 10 Steps (with Pictures)

    3. Identify the ways your study will correct those shortcomings. Carefully explain the ways in which your study will answer the research question in a way that the previous studies failed to do so. Be persuasive to convince your readers that your study will contribute something both useful and necessary to the field.

  15. How to write the rationale for research?

    In brief. The research's rationale describes why the study was undertaken (in a thesis or article) or why the study should be accompanied (in a proposal). This implies that the research justification should explain why the study is/was necessary to the reader or examiner. It is sometimes known as a study's "purpose" or "justification.".

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    Include an opposing viewpoint to your main idea, if applicable. A good thesis statement acknowledges that there is always another side to the argument. So, include an opposing viewpoint (a counterargument) to your opinion. Basically, write down what a person who disagrees with your position might say about your topic.

  17. Writing a rationale

    What is a rationale? A rationale is when you are asked to give the reasoning or justification for an action or a choice you make. There is a focus on the 'why' in a rationale: why you chose to do something, study or focus on something. It is a set of statements of purpose and significance and often addresses a gap or a need.

  18. Q: How to write the title for a thesis or an article

    How to write the title for a thesis or an article. Detailed Question -. Title of Study (Please state the title of your study in a brief and concise manner, as the title of a thesis or an article.) (Maximum 30 words) this question came from Turkish master program scholarship. Asked by Qamaruddin muhammadi on 17 Feb, 2018.

  19. How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation Introduction

    To help guide your reader, end your introduction with an outline of the structure of the thesis or dissertation to follow. Share a brief summary of each chapter, clearly showing how each contributes to your central aims. However, be careful to keep this overview concise: 1-2 sentences should be enough. Note.

  20. How to Write a Research Proposal

    Title page. Like your dissertation or thesis, the proposal will usually have a title page that includes: The proposed title of your project; Your name; Your supervisor's name; Your institution and department; Tip If your proposal is very long, you may also want to include an abstract and a table of contents to help your reader navigate your ...

  21. PDF Rationale for and Relationship of the Thesis and Dissertation

    ABSTRACT. Rationale for and Relationship of the Thesis and Dissertation Requirement to Research at North Carolina State University. by Erica Braman Crutchins. A thesis submitted to the Graduate Faculty of North Carolina State University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts. Higher Education Administration ...

  22. Research Title Generator: Make a Title for Your Thesis or Paper Easily

    Welcome to our free online research title generator. You can get your title in 3 simple steps: Type your search term and choose one or more subjects from the list, Click on the "Search topic" button and choose among the ideas that the title generator has proposed, Refresh the list by clicking the button one more time if you need more options.

  23. Rationale Thesis Proposals Samples For Students

    Description of the local problem: Answer: The problem identified is that music educational programs at school in the district have been decreasing since administrators give priority to other subjects like maths and science. 2. Rationale of the local problem and Purpose of the study (The rationale for choosing this problem is clearly articulated.