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Background of The Study – Examples and Writing Guide

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Background of The Study

Background of The Study

Definition:

Background of the study refers to the context, circumstances, and history that led to the research problem or topic being studied. It provides the reader with a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter and the significance of the study.

The background of the study usually includes a discussion of the relevant literature, the gap in knowledge or understanding, and the research questions or hypotheses to be addressed. It also highlights the importance of the research topic and its potential contributions to the field. A well-written background of the study sets the stage for the research and helps the reader to appreciate the need for the study and its potential significance.

How to Write Background of The Study

Here are some steps to help you write the background of the study:

Identify the Research Problem

Start by identifying the research problem you are trying to address. This problem should be significant and relevant to your field of study.

Provide Context

Once you have identified the research problem, provide some context. This could include the historical, social, or political context of the problem.

Review Literature

Conduct a thorough review of the existing literature on the topic. This will help you understand what has been studied and what gaps exist in the current research.

Identify Research Gap

Based on your literature review, identify the gap in knowledge or understanding that your research aims to address. This gap will be the focus of your research question or hypothesis.

State Objectives

Clearly state the objectives of your research . These should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

Discuss Significance

Explain the significance of your research. This could include its potential impact on theory , practice, policy, or society.

Finally, summarize the key points of the background of the study. This will help the reader understand the research problem, its context, and its significance.

How to Write Background of The Study in Proposal

The background of the study is an essential part of any proposal as it sets the stage for the research project and provides the context and justification for why the research is needed. Here are the steps to write a compelling background of the study in your proposal:

  • Identify the problem: Clearly state the research problem or gap in the current knowledge that you intend to address through your research.
  • Provide context: Provide a brief overview of the research area and highlight its significance in the field.
  • Review literature: Summarize the relevant literature related to the research problem and provide a critical evaluation of the current state of knowledge.
  • Identify gaps : Identify the gaps or limitations in the existing literature and explain how your research will contribute to filling these gaps.
  • Justify the study : Explain why your research is important and what practical or theoretical contributions it can make to the field.
  • Highlight objectives: Clearly state the objectives of the study and how they relate to the research problem.
  • Discuss methodology: Provide an overview of the methodology you will use to collect and analyze data, and explain why it is appropriate for the research problem.
  • Conclude : Summarize the key points of the background of the study and explain how they support your research proposal.

How to Write Background of The Study In Thesis

The background of the study is a critical component of a thesis as it provides context for the research problem, rationale for conducting the study, and the significance of the research. Here are some steps to help you write a strong background of the study:

  • Identify the research problem : Start by identifying the research problem that your thesis is addressing. What is the issue that you are trying to solve or explore? Be specific and concise in your problem statement.
  • Review the literature: Conduct a thorough review of the relevant literature on the topic. This should include scholarly articles, books, and other sources that are directly related to your research question.
  • I dentify gaps in the literature: After reviewing the literature, identify any gaps in the existing research. What questions remain unanswered? What areas have not been explored? This will help you to establish the need for your research.
  • Establish the significance of the research: Clearly state the significance of your research. Why is it important to address this research problem? What are the potential implications of your research? How will it contribute to the field?
  • Provide an overview of the research design: Provide an overview of the research design and methodology that you will be using in your study. This should include a brief explanation of the research approach, data collection methods, and data analysis techniques.
  • State the research objectives and research questions: Clearly state the research objectives and research questions that your study aims to answer. These should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
  • Summarize the chapter: Summarize the chapter by highlighting the key points and linking them back to the research problem, significance of the study, and research questions.

How to Write Background of The Study in Research Paper

Here are the steps to write the background of the study in a research paper:

  • Identify the research problem: Start by identifying the research problem that your study aims to address. This can be a particular issue, a gap in the literature, or a need for further investigation.
  • Conduct a literature review: Conduct a thorough literature review to gather information on the topic, identify existing studies, and understand the current state of research. This will help you identify the gap in the literature that your study aims to fill.
  • Explain the significance of the study: Explain why your study is important and why it is necessary. This can include the potential impact on the field, the importance to society, or the need to address a particular issue.
  • Provide context: Provide context for the research problem by discussing the broader social, economic, or political context that the study is situated in. This can help the reader understand the relevance of the study and its potential implications.
  • State the research questions and objectives: State the research questions and objectives that your study aims to address. This will help the reader understand the scope of the study and its purpose.
  • Summarize the methodology : Briefly summarize the methodology you used to conduct the study, including the data collection and analysis methods. This can help the reader understand how the study was conducted and its reliability.

Examples of Background of The Study

Here are some examples of the background of the study:

Problem : The prevalence of obesity among children in the United States has reached alarming levels, with nearly one in five children classified as obese.

Significance : Obesity in childhood is associated with numerous negative health outcomes, including increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers.

Gap in knowledge : Despite efforts to address the obesity epidemic, rates continue to rise. There is a need for effective interventions that target the unique needs of children and their families.

Problem : The use of antibiotics in agriculture has contributed to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which poses a significant threat to human health.

Significance : Antibiotic-resistant infections are responsible for thousands of deaths each year and are a major public health concern.

Gap in knowledge: While there is a growing body of research on the use of antibiotics in agriculture, there is still much to be learned about the mechanisms of resistance and the most effective strategies for reducing antibiotic use.

Edxample 3:

Problem : Many low-income communities lack access to healthy food options, leading to high rates of food insecurity and diet-related diseases.

Significance : Poor nutrition is a major contributor to chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Gap in knowledge : While there have been efforts to address food insecurity, there is a need for more research on the barriers to accessing healthy food in low-income communities and effective strategies for increasing access.

Examples of Background of The Study In Research

Here are some real-life examples of how the background of the study can be written in different fields of study:

Example 1 : “There has been a significant increase in the incidence of diabetes in recent years. This has led to an increased demand for effective diabetes management strategies. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of a new diabetes management program in improving patient outcomes.”

Example 2 : “The use of social media has become increasingly prevalent in modern society. Despite its popularity, little is known about the effects of social media use on mental health. This study aims to investigate the relationship between social media use and mental health in young adults.”

Example 3: “Despite significant advancements in cancer treatment, the survival rate for patients with pancreatic cancer remains low. The purpose of this study is to identify potential biomarkers that can be used to improve early detection and treatment of pancreatic cancer.”

Examples of Background of The Study in Proposal

Here are some real-time examples of the background of the study in a proposal:

Example 1 : The prevalence of mental health issues among university students has been increasing over the past decade. This study aims to investigate the causes and impacts of mental health issues on academic performance and wellbeing.

Example 2 : Climate change is a global issue that has significant implications for agriculture in developing countries. This study aims to examine the adaptive capacity of smallholder farmers to climate change and identify effective strategies to enhance their resilience.

Example 3 : The use of social media in political campaigns has become increasingly common in recent years. This study aims to analyze the effectiveness of social media campaigns in mobilizing young voters and influencing their voting behavior.

Example 4 : Employee turnover is a major challenge for organizations, especially in the service sector. This study aims to identify the key factors that influence employee turnover in the hospitality industry and explore effective strategies for reducing turnover rates.

Examples of Background of The Study in Thesis

Here are some real-time examples of the background of the study in the thesis:

Example 1 : “Women’s participation in the workforce has increased significantly over the past few decades. However, women continue to be underrepresented in leadership positions, particularly in male-dominated industries such as technology. This study aims to examine the factors that contribute to the underrepresentation of women in leadership roles in the technology industry, with a focus on organizational culture and gender bias.”

Example 2 : “Mental health is a critical component of overall health and well-being. Despite increased awareness of the importance of mental health, there are still significant gaps in access to mental health services, particularly in low-income and rural communities. This study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of a community-based mental health intervention in improving mental health outcomes in underserved populations.”

Example 3: “The use of technology in education has become increasingly widespread, with many schools adopting online learning platforms and digital resources. However, there is limited research on the impact of technology on student learning outcomes and engagement. This study aims to explore the relationship between technology use and academic achievement among middle school students, as well as the factors that mediate this relationship.”

Examples of Background of The Study in Research Paper

Here are some examples of how the background of the study can be written in various fields:

Example 1: The prevalence of obesity has been on the rise globally, with the World Health Organization reporting that approximately 650 million adults were obese in 2016. Obesity is a major risk factor for several chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. In recent years, several interventions have been proposed to address this issue, including lifestyle changes, pharmacotherapy, and bariatric surgery. However, there is a lack of consensus on the most effective intervention for obesity management. This study aims to investigate the efficacy of different interventions for obesity management and identify the most effective one.

Example 2: Antibiotic resistance has become a major public health threat worldwide. Infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria are associated with longer hospital stays, higher healthcare costs, and increased mortality. The inappropriate use of antibiotics is one of the main factors contributing to the development of antibiotic resistance. Despite numerous efforts to promote the rational use of antibiotics, studies have shown that many healthcare providers continue to prescribe antibiotics inappropriately. This study aims to explore the factors influencing healthcare providers’ prescribing behavior and identify strategies to improve antibiotic prescribing practices.

Example 3: Social media has become an integral part of modern communication, with millions of people worldwide using platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Social media has several advantages, including facilitating communication, connecting people, and disseminating information. However, social media use has also been associated with several negative outcomes, including cyberbullying, addiction, and mental health problems. This study aims to investigate the impact of social media use on mental health and identify the factors that mediate this relationship.

Purpose of Background of The Study

The primary purpose of the background of the study is to help the reader understand the rationale for the research by presenting the historical, theoretical, and empirical background of the problem.

More specifically, the background of the study aims to:

  • Provide a clear understanding of the research problem and its context.
  • Identify the gap in knowledge that the study intends to fill.
  • Establish the significance of the research problem and its potential contribution to the field.
  • Highlight the key concepts, theories, and research findings related to the problem.
  • Provide a rationale for the research questions or hypotheses and the research design.
  • Identify the limitations and scope of the study.

When to Write Background of The Study

The background of the study should be written early on in the research process, ideally before the research design is finalized and data collection begins. This allows the researcher to clearly articulate the rationale for the study and establish a strong foundation for the research.

The background of the study typically comes after the introduction but before the literature review section. It should provide an overview of the research problem and its context, and also introduce the key concepts, theories, and research findings related to the problem.

Writing the background of the study early on in the research process also helps to identify potential gaps in knowledge and areas for further investigation, which can guide the development of the research questions or hypotheses and the research design. By establishing the significance of the research problem and its potential contribution to the field, the background of the study can also help to justify the research and secure funding or support from stakeholders.

Advantage of Background of The Study

The background of the study has several advantages, including:

  • Provides context: The background of the study provides context for the research problem by highlighting the historical, theoretical, and empirical background of the problem. This allows the reader to understand the research problem in its broader context and appreciate its significance.
  • Identifies gaps in knowledge: By reviewing the existing literature related to the research problem, the background of the study can identify gaps in knowledge that the study intends to fill. This helps to establish the novelty and originality of the research and its potential contribution to the field.
  • Justifies the research : The background of the study helps to justify the research by demonstrating its significance and potential impact. This can be useful in securing funding or support for the research.
  • Guides the research design: The background of the study can guide the development of the research questions or hypotheses and the research design by identifying key concepts, theories, and research findings related to the problem. This ensures that the research is grounded in existing knowledge and is designed to address the research problem effectively.
  • Establishes credibility: By demonstrating the researcher’s knowledge of the field and the research problem, the background of the study can establish the researcher’s credibility and expertise, which can enhance the trustworthiness and validity of the research.

Disadvantages of Background of The Study

Some Disadvantages of Background of The Study are as follows:

  • Time-consuming : Writing a comprehensive background of the study can be time-consuming, especially if the research problem is complex and multifaceted. This can delay the research process and impact the timeline for completing the study.
  • Repetitive: The background of the study can sometimes be repetitive, as it often involves summarizing existing research and theories related to the research problem. This can be tedious for the reader and may make the section less engaging.
  • Limitations of existing research: The background of the study can reveal the limitations of existing research related to the problem. This can create challenges for the researcher in developing research questions or hypotheses that address the gaps in knowledge identified in the background of the study.
  • Bias : The researcher’s biases and perspectives can influence the content and tone of the background of the study. This can impact the reader’s perception of the research problem and may influence the validity of the research.
  • Accessibility: Accessing and reviewing the literature related to the research problem can be challenging, especially if the researcher does not have access to a comprehensive database or if the literature is not available in the researcher’s language. This can limit the depth and scope of the background of the study.

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What is the Background of the Study and How to Write It

how to make background of the study in thesis

What is the Background of the Study in Research? 

The background of the study is the first section of a research paper and gives context surrounding the research topic. The background explains to the reader where your research journey started, why you got interested in the topic, and how you developed the research question that you will later specify. That means that you first establish the context of the research you did with a general overview of the field or topic and then present the key issues that drove your decision to study the specific problem you chose.

Once the reader understands where you are coming from and why there was indeed a need for the research you are going to present in the following—because there was a gap in the current research, or because there is an obvious problem with a currently used process or technology—you can proceed with the formulation of your research question and summarize how you are going to address it in the rest of your manuscript.

Why is the Background of the Study Important?

No matter how surprising and important the findings of your study are, if you do not provide the reader with the necessary background information and context, they will not be able to understand your reasons for studying the specific problem you chose and why you think your study is relevant. And more importantly, an editor who does not share your enthusiasm for your work (because you did not fill them in on all the important details) will very probably not even consider your manuscript worthy of their and the reviewers’ time and will immediately send it back to you.

To avoid such desk rejections , you need to make sure you pique the reader’s interest and help them understand the contribution of your work to the specific field you study, the more general research community, or the public. Introducing the study background is crucial to setting the scene for your readers.

Table of Contents:

  • What is “Background Information” in a Research Paper?
  • What Should the Background of a Research Paper Include?
  • Where Does the Background Section Go in Your Paper?

background of the study, brick wall

Background of the Study Structure

Before writing your study background, it is essential to understand what to include. The following elements should all be included in the background and are presented in greater detail in the next section:

  • A general overview of the topic and why it is important (overlaps with establishing the “importance of the topic” in the Introduction)
  • The current state of the research on the topic or on related topics in the field
  • Controversies about current knowledge or specific past studies that undergird your research methodology
  • Any claims or assumptions that have been made by researchers, institutions, or politicians that might need to be clarified
  • Methods and techniques used in the study or from which your study deviated in some way

Presenting the Study Background

As you begin introducing your background, you first need to provide a general overview and include the main issues concerning the topic. Depending on whether you do “basic” (with the aim of providing further knowledge) or “applied” research (to establish new techniques, processes, or products), this is either a literature review that summarizes all relevant earlier studies in the field or a description of the process (e.g., vote counting) or practice (e.g., diagnosis of a specific disease) that you think is problematic or lacking and needs a solution.

Example s of a general overview

If you study the function of a Drosophila gene, for example, you can explain to the reader why and for whom the study of fly genetics is relevant, what is already known and established, and where you see gaps in the existing literature. If you investigated how the way universities have transitioned into online teaching since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic has affected students’ learning progress, then you need to present a summary of what changes have happened around the world, what the effects of those changes have been so far, and where you see problems that need to be addressed. Note that you need to provide sources for every statement and every claim you make here, to establish a solid foundation of knowledge for your own study. 

Describing the current state of knowledge

When the reader understands the main issue(s), you need to fill them in more specifically on the current state of the field (in basic research) or the process/practice/product use you describe (in practical/applied research). Cite all relevant studies that have already reported on the Drosophila gene you are interested in, have failed to reveal certain functions of it, or have suggested that it might be involved in more processes than we know so far. Or list the reports from the education ministries of the countries you are interested in and highlight the data that shows the need for research into the effects of the Corona-19 pandemic on teaching and learning.

Discussing controversies, claims, and assumptions

Are there controversies regarding your topic of interest that need to be mentioned and/or addressed? For example, if your research topic involves an issue that is politically hot, you can acknowledge this here. Have any earlier claims or assumptions been made, by other researchers, institutions, or politicians, that you think need to be clarified?

Mentioning methodologies and approaches

While putting together these details, you also need to mention methodologies : What methods/techniques have been used so far to study what you studied and why are you going to either use the same or a different approach? Are any of the methods included in the literature review flawed in such a way that your study takes specific measures to correct or update? While you shouldn’t spend too much time here justifying your methods (this can be summarized briefly in the rationale of the study at the end of the Introduction and later in the Discussion section), you can engage with the crucial methods applied in previous studies here first.

When you have established the background of the study of your research paper in such a logical way, then the reader should have had no problem following you from the more general information you introduced first to the specific details you added later. You can now easily lead over to the relevance of your research, explain how your work fits into the bigger picture, and specify the aims and objectives of your study. This latter part is usually considered the “ statement of the problem ” of your study. Without a solid research paper background, this statement will come out of nowhere for the reader and very probably raise more questions than you were planning to answer.   

Where does the study background section go in a paper?

Unless you write a research proposal or some kind of report that has a specific “Background” chapter, the background of your study is the first part of your introduction section . This is where you put your work in context and provide all the relevant information the reader needs to follow your rationale. Make sure your background has a logical structure and naturally leads into the statement of the problem at the very end of the introduction so that you bring everything together for the reader to judge the relevance of your work and the validity of your approach before they dig deeper into the details of your study in the methods section .

Consider Receiving Professional Editing Services

Now that you know how to write a background section for a research paper, you might be interested in our AI text editor at Wordvice AI. And be sure to receive professional editing services , including academic editing and proofreading , before submitting your manuscript to journals. On the Wordvice academic resources website, you can also find many more articles and other resources that can help you with writing the other parts of your research paper , with making a research paper outline before you put everything together, or with writing an effective cover letter once you are ready to submit.

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What is the Background of a Study and How Should it be Written?

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Table of Contents

The background of a study is one of the most important components of a research paper. The quality of the background determines whether the reader will be interested in the rest of the study. Thus, to ensure that the audience is invested in reading the entire research paper, it is important to write an appealing and effective background. So, what constitutes the background of a study, and how must it be written?

What is the background of a study?

The background of a study is the first section of the paper and establishes the context underlying the research. It contains the rationale, the key problem statement, and a brief overview of research questions that are addressed in the rest of the paper. The background forms the crux of the study because it introduces an unaware audience to the research and its importance in a clear and logical manner. At times, the background may even explore whether the study builds on or refutes findings from previous studies. Any relevant information that the readers need to know before delving into the paper should be made available to them in the background.

How is a background different from the introduction?

The introduction of your research paper is presented before the background. Let’s find out what factors differentiate the background from the introduction.

  • The introduction only contains preliminary data about the research topic and does not state the purpose of the study. On the contrary, the background clarifies the importance of the study in detail.
  • The introduction provides an overview of the research topic from a broader perspective, while the background provides a detailed understanding of the topic.
  • The introduction should end with the mention of the research questions, aims, and objectives of the study. In contrast, the background follows no such format and only provides essential context to the study.

How should one write the background of a research paper?

The length and detail presented in the background varies for different research papers, depending on the complexity and novelty of the research topic. At times, a simple background suffices, even if the study is complex. Before writing and adding details in the background, take a note of these additional points:

  • Start with a strong beginning: Begin the background by defining the research topic and then identify the target audience.
  • Cover key components: Explain all theories, concepts, terms, and ideas that may feel unfamiliar to the target audience thoroughly.
  • Take note of important prerequisites: Go through the relevant literature in detail. Take notes while reading and cite the sources.
  • Maintain a balance: Make sure that the background is focused on important details, but also appeals to a broader audience.
  • Include historical data: Current issues largely originate from historical events or findings. If the research borrows information from a historical context, add relevant data in the background.
  • Explain novelty: If the research study or methodology is unique or novel, provide an explanation that helps to understand the research better.
  • Increase engagement: To make the background engaging, build a story around the central theme of the research

Avoid these mistakes while writing the background:

  • Ambiguity: Don’t be ambiguous. While writing, assume that the reader does not understand any intricate detail about your research.
  • Unrelated themes: Steer clear from topics that are not related to the key aspects of your research topic.
  • Poor organization: Do not place information without a structure. Make sure that the background reads in a chronological manner and organize the sub-sections so that it flows well.

Writing the background for a research paper should not be a daunting task. But directions to go about it can always help. At Elsevier Author Services we provide essential insights on how to write a high quality, appealing, and logically structured paper for publication, beginning with a robust background. For further queries, contact our experts now!

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How to Write the Background of a Study

  • Research Process

The background to a study sets the scene . It lays out the “state of the art”. It tells your reader about other research done on the topic in question, via useful review papers and other summaries of the literature.

Updated on May 5, 2023

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The background to your study, sometimes called the ‘state of the art’ (especially in grant writing), sets the scene for a paper. This section shows readers why your research is important, relevant, and why they should continue reading. You must hook them in with a great background to your study, which is part of the overall introduction to your research paper.

In higher impact articles, such as those published in Nature or Science (which is what we are all aiming for, after all …), the study background is t he middle section of an essentially three-part introduction . This section is framed by a presentation of ‘the question’ (first part of the introduction) and a quick explanation of ‘what this paper will do’ (the third part of the introduction).

The introduction of a research paper should be “shaped” like an upside down triangle: 

Start broad. Set the scene with a large-scale general research area [e.g., why doing a PhD erases your writing skills (ha ha) or mental health in teenagers and why this is such a widespread global issue] and then focus down to the question your research addresses (e.g., how can writing skills be improved in PhD students, or brain scans and how these can be used in treatment).

Read on to learn more about framing your next research paper with a well-written and researched background section.

What is the background of a study?

The background to a study sets the scene . It lays out the “state of the art”. It tells your reader about other research done on the topic in question, via useful review papers and other summaries of the literature. 

A background is not a literature review: No one wants to read endless citations back-to-back in this section. You don’t need to list all the papers you’ve read, or all the work done in the past on this topic. 

Set the scene and frame your question in the context of the literature. Seek out review articles in particular. The aim of this section is to build on what has come before so your reader will be armed with all the information they need to understand the remainder of your article, and why - in context - the aims of your study are important.

How to write the background to your research paper

Cater to your audience.

It’s important to frame your background to the right audience.

The background of your study needs to be pitched differently depending on your target journal. A more subject-area specific journal (e.g. Journal of Brain Studies ) will be read by specialists in your field. Generally, less information to set up the paper in a wider context and less background information will be required. Your readers are already experts on the topic in question .

However, if you are aiming your paper at a more general audience (a journal like Nature or Science , for example) then you're going to need to explain more in your background. A reader of a specialized journal will know about the neocortex within the brain and where this is located, but a general reader will need you to set things up more.

Readers are always the most important people in research publishing, after all: If you want your work to be read, used, and cited (and therefore drive up your H-index as well as your institution’s ranking) you’ll need a well-pitched background of your study.

What is included in the background of a study?

Remember this section sits in the middle of the introduction. Here’s a handy template for what to include:

  • Existing research on the area of study (not everything, but a broad overview. Aim to cite review papers if you can). Start this section with preliminary data and then build it out;
  • Mention any controversies around your topic (either that you’ve identified, or that have been picked up by earlier work. Check the discussion sections of recent articles for pointers here);
  • Any gaps in existing research?, and;
  • How will your study fill these gaps? State your research methodologies. Any further research that needs to be done?

list of what's included in background of a study

Aim for one paragraph , or a series of short paragraphs within one section. The last two of the topics outlined above can be short, just one or two sentences. These are there to hook the reader in and to frame your background so that the text leads into the final section of the introduction where you explain ‘What your paper is going to do’.

Simple really.

And finally…some thoughts

I used to get really bogged down with article writing, especially the shape of the introduction.

Here’s a trick to keep in mind: Remember that the average length of an academic research paper published in a peer reviewed journal is around 4,000 - 5,000 words - not too long. 

This means that you're likely going to be aiming for an article of about this length the next time you sit down to write: Not too many words for an effective and well-structured introduction. You’ve got about 1,500 - 2,000 words maximum. And aim to keep it short (this will be enforced by word count limits, especially in higher impact journals like Nature and Science ). Editors at these journals are trained to cut down your writing to make sure your research fits in.

Less is more, in other words.

Keeping tight word count limits in mind means you can’t write an expansive, flowing background to your study that goes off in all directions and covers a huge amount of ground. Keep an eye on our tips for what to include, cite review papers, and keep your readers interested in the question your paper seeks to address.

A well written background to your study will ensure your paper gets read all the way through to the end. Can’t ask for more than that!

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What Is Background in a Research Paper?

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So you have carefully written your research paper  and probably ran it through your colleagues ten to fifteen times. While there are many elements to a good research article, one of the most important elements for your readers is the background of your study.

What is Background of the Study in Research

The background of your study will provide context to the information discussed throughout the research paper . Background information may include both important and relevant studies. This is particularly important if a study either supports or refutes your thesis.

Why is Background of the Study Necessary in Research?

The background of the study discusses your problem statement, rationale, and research questions. It links  introduction to your research topic  and ensures a logical flow of ideas.  Thus, it helps readers understand your reasons for conducting the study.

Providing Background Information

The reader should be able to understand your topic and its importance. The length and detail of your background also depend on the degree to which you need to demonstrate your understanding of the topic. Paying close attention to the following questions will help you in writing background information:

  • Are there any theories, concepts, terms, and ideas that may be unfamiliar to the target audience and will require you to provide any additional explanation?
  • Any historical data that need to be shared in order to provide context on why the current issue emerged?
  • Are there any concepts that may have been borrowed from other disciplines that may be unfamiliar to the reader and need an explanation?
Related: Ready with the background and searching for more information on journal ranking? Check this infographic on the SCImago Journal Rank today!

Is the research study unique for which additional explanation is needed? For instance, you may have used a completely new method

How to Write a Background of the Study

The structure of a background study in a research paper generally follows a logical sequence to provide context, justification, and an understanding of the research problem. It includes an introduction, general background, literature review , rationale , objectives, scope and limitations , significance of the study and the research hypothesis . Following the structure can provide a comprehensive and well-organized background for your research.

Here are the steps to effectively write a background of the study.

1. Identify Your Audience:

Determine the level of expertise of your target audience. Tailor the depth and complexity of your background information accordingly.

2. Understand the Research Problem:

Define the research problem or question your study aims to address. Identify the significance of the problem within the broader context of the field.

3. Review Existing Literature:

Conduct a thorough literature review to understand what is already known in the area. Summarize key findings, theories, and concepts relevant to your research.

4. Include Historical Data:

Integrate historical data if relevant to the research, as current issues often trace back to historical events.

5. Identify Controversies and Gaps:

Note any controversies or debates within the existing literature. Identify gaps , limitations, or unanswered questions that your research can address.

6. Select Key Components:

Choose the most critical elements to include in the background based on their relevance to your research problem. Prioritize information that helps build a strong foundation for your study.

7. Craft a Logical Flow:

Organize the background information in a logical sequence. Start with general context, move to specific theories and concepts, and then focus on the specific problem.

8. Highlight the Novelty of Your Research:

Clearly explain the unique aspects or contributions of your study. Emphasize why your research is different from or builds upon existing work.

Here are some extra tips to increase the quality of your research background:

Example of a Research Background

Here is an example of a research background to help you understand better.

The above hypothetical example provides a research background, addresses the gap and highlights the potential outcome of the study; thereby aiding a better understanding of the proposed research.

What Makes the Introduction Different from the Background?

Your introduction is different from your background in a number of ways.

  • The introduction contains preliminary data about your topic that  the reader will most likely read , whereas the background clarifies the importance of the paper.
  • The background of your study discusses in depth about the topic, whereas the introduction only gives an overview.
  • The introduction should end with your research questions, aims, and objectives, whereas your background should not (except in some cases where your background is integrated into your introduction). For instance, the C.A.R.S. ( Creating a Research Space ) model, created by John Swales is based on his analysis of journal articles. This model attempts to explain and describe the organizational pattern of writing the introduction in social sciences.

Points to Note

Your background should begin with defining a topic and audience. It is important that you identify which topic you need to review and what your audience already knows about the topic. You should proceed by searching and researching the relevant literature. In this case, it is advisable to keep track of the search terms you used and the articles that you downloaded. It is helpful to use one of the research paper management systems such as Papers, Mendeley, Evernote, or Sente. Next, it is helpful to take notes while reading. Be careful when copying quotes verbatim and make sure to put them in quotation marks and cite the sources. In addition, you should keep your background focused but balanced enough so that it is relevant to a broader audience. Aside from these, your background should be critical, consistent, and logically structured.

Writing the background of your study should not be an overly daunting task. Many guides that can help you organize your thoughts as you write the background. The background of the study is the key to introduce your audience to your research topic and should be done with strong knowledge and thoughtful writing.

The background of a research paper typically ranges from one to two paragraphs, summarizing the relevant literature and context of the study. It should be concise, providing enough information to contextualize the research problem and justify the need for the study. Journal instructions about any word count limits should be kept in mind while deciding on the length of the final content.

The background of a research paper provides the context and relevant literature to understand the research problem, while the introduction also introduces the specific research topic, states the research objectives, and outlines the scope of the study. The background focuses on the broader context, whereas the introduction focuses on the specific research project and its objectives.

When writing the background for a study, start by providing a brief overview of the research topic and its significance in the field. Then, highlight the gaps in existing knowledge or unresolved issues that the study aims to address. Finally, summarize the key findings from relevant literature to establish the context and rationale for conducting the research, emphasizing the need and importance of the study within the broader academic landscape.

The background in a research paper is crucial as it sets the stage for the study by providing essential context and rationale. It helps readers understand the significance of the research problem and its relevance in the broader field. By presenting relevant literature and highlighting gaps, the background justifies the need for the study, building a strong foundation for the research and enhancing its credibility.

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The presentation very informative

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It is really educative. I love the workshop. It really motivated me into writing my first paper for publication.

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an interesting clue here, thanks.

thanks for the answers.

Good and interesting explanation. Thanks

Thank you for good presentation.

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Hi Adam, we are glad to know that you found our article beneficial

The background of the study is the key to introduce your audience to YOUR research topic.

Awesome. Exactly what i was looking forwards to 😉

Hi Maryam, we are glad to know that you found our resource useful.

my understanding of ‘Background of study’ has been elevated.

Hi Peter, we are glad to know that our article has helped you get a better understanding of the background in a research paper.

thanks to give advanced information

Hi Shimelis, we are glad to know that you found the information in our article beneficial.

When i was studying it is very much hard for me to conduct a research study and know the background because my teacher in practical research is having a research so i make it now so that i will done my research

Very informative……….Thank you.

The confusion i had before, regarding an introduction and background to a research work is now a thing of the past. Thank you so much.

Thanks for your help…

Thanks for your kind information about the background of a research paper.

Thanks for the answer

Very informative. I liked even more when the difference between background and introduction was given. I am looking forward to learning more from this site. I am in Botswana

Hello, I am Benoît from Central African Republic. Right now I am writing down my research paper in order to get my master degree in British Literature. Thank you very much for posting all this information about the background of the study. I really appreciate. Thanks!

The write up is quite good, detailed and informative. Thanks a lot. The article has certainly enhanced my understanding of the topic.

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Background information identifies and describes the history and nature of a well-defined research problem with reference to contextualizing existing literature. The background information should indicate the root of the problem being studied, appropriate context of the problem in relation to theory, research, and/or practice , its scope, and the extent to which previous studies have successfully investigated the problem, noting, in particular, where gaps exist that your study attempts to address. Background information does not replace the literature review section of a research paper; it is intended to place the research problem within a specific context and an established plan for its solution.

Fitterling, Lori. Researching and Writing an Effective Background Section of a Research Paper. Kansas City University of Medicine & Biosciences; Creating a Research Paper: How to Write the Background to a Study. DurousseauElectricalInstitute.com; Background Information: Definition of Background Information. Literary Devices Definition and Examples of Literary Terms.

Importance of Having Enough Background Information

Background information expands upon the key points stated in the beginning of your introduction but is not intended to be the main focus of the paper. It generally supports the question, what is the most important information the reader needs to understand before continuing to read the paper? Sufficient background information helps the reader determine if you have a basic understanding of the research problem being investigated and promotes confidence in the overall quality of your analysis and findings. This information provides the reader with the essential context needed to conceptualize the research problem and its significance before moving on to a more thorough analysis of prior research.

Forms of contextualization included in background information can include describing one or more of the following:

  • Cultural -- placed within the learned behavior of a specific group or groups of people.
  • Economic -- of or relating to systems of production and management of material wealth and/or business activities.
  • Gender -- located within the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with being self-identified as male, female, or other form of  gender expression.
  • Historical -- the time in which something takes place or was created and how the condition of time influences how you interpret it.
  • Interdisciplinary -- explanation of theories, concepts, ideas, or methodologies borrowed from other disciplines applied to the research problem rooted in a discipline other than the discipline where your paper resides.
  • Philosophical -- clarification of the essential nature of being or of phenomena as it relates to the research problem.
  • Physical/Spatial -- reflects the meaning of space around something and how that influences how it is understood.
  • Political -- concerns the environment in which something is produced indicating it's public purpose or agenda.
  • Social -- the environment of people that surrounds something's creation or intended audience, reflecting how the people associated with something use and interpret it.
  • Temporal -- reflects issues or events of, relating to, or limited by time. Concerns past, present, or future contextualization and not just a historical past.

Background information can also include summaries of important research studies . This can be a particularly important element of providing background information if an innovative or groundbreaking study about the research problem laid a foundation for further research or there was a key study that is essential to understanding your arguments. The priority is to summarize for the reader what is known about the research problem before you conduct the analysis of prior research. This is accomplished with a general summary of the foundational research literature [with citations] that document findings that inform your study's overall aims and objectives.

NOTE : Research studies cited as part of the background information of your introduction should not include very specific, lengthy explanations. This should be discussed in greater detail in your literature review section. If you find a study requiring lengthy explanation, consider moving it to the literature review section.

ANOTHER NOTE : In some cases, your paper's introduction only needs to introduce the research problem, explain its significance, and then describe a road map for how you are going to address the problem; the background information basically forms the introduction part of your literature review. That said, while providing background information is not required, including it in the introduction is a way to highlight important contextual information that could otherwise be hidden or overlooked by the reader if placed in the literature review section.

YET ANOTHER NOTE : In some research studies, the background information is described in a separate section after the introduction and before the literature review. This is most often done if the topic is especially complex or requires a lot of context in order to fully grasp the significance of the research problem. Most college-level research papers do not require this unless required by your professor. However, if you find yourself needing to write more than a couple of pages [double-spaced lines] to provide the background information, it can be written as a separate section to ensure the introduction is not too lengthy.

Background of the Problem Section: What do you Need to Consider? Anonymous. Harvard University; Hopkins, Will G. How to Write a Research Paper. SPORTSCIENCE, Perspectives/Research Resources. Department of Physiology and School of Physical Education, University of Otago, 1999; Green, L. H. How to Write the Background/Introduction Section. Physics 499 Powerpoint slides. University of Illinois; Pyrczak, Fred. Writing Empirical Research Reports: A Basic Guide for Students of the Social and Behavioral Sciences . 8th edition. Glendale, CA: Pyrczak Publishing, 2014; Stevens, Kathleen C. “Can We Improve Reading by Teaching Background Information?.” Journal of Reading 25 (January 1982): 326-329; Woodall, W. Gill. Writing the Background and Significance Section. Senior Research Scientist and Professor of Communication. Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addictions. University of New Mexico.

Structure and Writing Style

Providing background information in the introduction of a research paper serves as a bridge that links the reader to the research problem . Precisely how long and in-depth this bridge should be is largely dependent upon how much information you think the reader will need to know in order to fully understand the problem being discussed and to appreciate why the issues you are investigating are important.

From another perspective, the length and detail of background information also depends on the degree to which you need to demonstrate to your professor how much you understand the research problem. Keep this in mind because providing pertinent background information can be an effective way to demonstrate that you have a clear grasp of key issues, debates, and concepts related to your overall study.

The structure and writing style of your background information can vary depending upon the complexity of your research and/or the nature of the assignment. However, in most cases it should be limited to only one to two paragraphs in your introduction.

Given this, here are some questions to consider while writing this part of your introduction :

  • Are there concepts, terms, theories, or ideas that may be unfamiliar to the reader and, thus, require additional explanation?
  • Are there historical elements that need to be explored in order to provide needed context, to highlight specific people, issues, or events, or to lay a foundation for understanding the emergence of a current issue or event?
  • Are there theories, concepts, or ideas borrowed from other disciplines or academic traditions that may be unfamiliar to the reader and therefore require further explanation?
  • Is there a key study or small set of studies that set the stage for understanding the topic and frames why it is important to conduct further research on the topic?
  • Y our study uses a method of analysis never applied before;
  • Your study investigates a very esoteric or complex research problem;
  • Your study introduces new or unique variables that need to be taken into account ; or,
  • Your study relies upon analyzing unique texts or documents, such as, archival materials or primary documents like diaries or personal letters that do not represent the established body of source literature on the topic?

Almost all introductions to a research problem require some contextualizing, but the scope and breadth of background information varies depending on your assumption about the reader's level of prior knowledge . However, despite this assessment, background information should be brief and succinct and sets the stage for the elaboration of critical points or in-depth discussion of key issues in the literature review section of your paper.

Writing Tip

Background Information vs. the Literature Review

Incorporating background information into the introduction is intended to provide the reader with critical information about the topic being studied, such as, highlighting and expanding upon foundational studies conducted in the past, describing important historical events that inform why and in what ways the research problem exists, defining key components of your study [concepts, people, places, phenomena] and/or placing the research problem within a particular context. Although introductory background information can often blend into the literature review portion of the paper, essential background information should not be considered a substitute for a comprehensive review and synthesis of relevant research literature.

Hart, Cris. Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Social Science Research Imagination . Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1998; Pyrczak, Fred. Writing Empirical Research Reports: A Basic Guide for Students of the Social and Behavioral Sciences . 8th edition. Glendale, CA: Pyrczak Publishing, 2014.

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How to Write the Background of the Study in Research (Part 1)

Background of the Study in Research: Definition and the Core Elements it Contains

Before we embark on a detailed discussion on how to write the background of the study of your proposed research or thesis, it is important to first discuss its meaning and the core elements that it should contain. This is obviously because understanding the nature of the background of the study in research and knowing exactly what to include in it allow us to have both greater control and clear direction of the writing process.

So, what really is the background of the study and what are the core elements that it should contain?

The background of the study, which usually forms the first section of the introduction to a research paper or thesis, provides the overview of the study. In other words, it is that section of the research paper or thesis that establishes the context of the study. Its main function is to explain why the proposed research is important and essential to understanding the main aspects of the study.

The background of the study, therefore, is the section of the research paper or thesis that identifies the problem or gap of the study that needs to addressed and justifies the need for conducting the study. It also articulates the main goal of the study and the thesis statement, that is, the main claim or argument of the paper.

Given this brief understanding of the background of the study, we can anticipate what readers or thesis committee members expect from it. As we can see, the background of the study should contain the following major points:

1) brief discussion on what is known about the topic under investigation; 2) An articulation of the research gap or problem that needs to be addressed; 3) What the researcher would like to do or aim to achieve in the study ( research goal); 4) The thesis statement, that is, the main argument or contention of the paper (which also serves as the reason why the researcher would want to pursue the study); 5) The major significance or contribution of the study to a particular discipline; and 6) Depending on the nature of the study, an articulation of the hypothesis of the study.

Thus, when writing the background of the study, you should plan and structure it based on the major points just mentioned. With this, you will have a clear picture of the flow of the tasks that need to be completed in writing this section of your research or thesis proposal.

Now, how do you go about writing the background of the study in your proposed research or thesis?

The next lessons will address this question.

How to Write the Opening Paragraphs of the Background of the Study?

To begin with, let us assume that you already have conducted a preliminary research on your chosen topic, that is, you already have read a lot of literature and gathered relevant information for writing the background of your study. Let us also assume that you already have identified the gap of your proposed research and have already developed the research questions and thesis statement. If you have not yet identified the gap in your proposed research, you might as well go back to our lesson on how to identify a research gap.

So, we will just put together everything that you have researched into a background of the study (assuming, again, that you already have the necessary information). But in this lesson, let’s just focus on writing the opening paragraphs.

It is important to note at this point that there are different styles of writing the background of the study. Hence, what I will be sharing with you here is not just “the” only way of writing the background of the study. As a matter of fact, there is no “one-size-fits-all” style of writing this part of the research or thesis. At the end of the day, you are free to develop your own. However, whatever style it would be, it always starts with a plan which structures the writing process into stages or steps. The steps that I will share with below are just some of the most effective ways of writing the background of the study in research.

So, let’s begin.

It is always a good idea to begin the background of your study by giving an overview of your research topic. This may include providing a definition of the key concepts of your research or highlighting the main developments of the research topic.

Let us suppose that the topic of your study is the “lived experiences of students with mathematical anxiety”.

Here, you may start the background of your study with a discussion on the meaning, nature, and dynamics of the term “mathematical anxiety”. The reason for this is too obvious: “mathematical anxiety” is a highly technical term that is specific to mathematics. Hence, this term is not readily understandable to non-specialists in this field.

So, you may write the opening paragraph of your background of the study with this:

“Mathematical anxiety refers to the individual’s unpleasant emotional mood responses when confronted with a mathematical situation.”

Since you do not invent the definition of the term “mathematical anxiety”, then you need to provide a citation to the source of the material from which you are quoting. For example, you may now say:

“Mathematical anxiety refers to the individual’s unpleasant emotional mood responses when confronted with a mathematical situation (Eliot, 2020).”

And then you may proceed with the discussion on the nature and dynamics of the term “mathematical anxiety”. You may say:

“Lou (2019) specifically identifies some of the manifestations of this type of anxiety, which include, but not limited to, depression, helplessness, nervousness and fearfulness in doing mathematical and numerical tasks.”

After explaining to your readers the meaning, nature, and dynamics (as well as some historical development if you wish to) of the term “mathematical anxiety”, you may now proceed to showing the problem or gap of the study. As you may already know, the research gap is the problem that needs to be addressed in the study. This is important because no research activity is possible without the research gap.

Let us suppose that your research problem or gap is: “Mathematical anxiety can negatively affect not just the academic achievement of the students but also their future career plans and total well-being. Also, there are no known studies that deal with the mathematical anxiety of junior high school students in New Zealand.” With this, you may say:

“If left unchecked, as Shapiro (2019) claims, this problem will expand and create a total avoidance pattern on the part of the students, which can be expressed most visibly in the form of cutting classes and habitual absenteeism. As we can see, this will negatively affect the performance of students in mathematics. In fact, the study conducted by Luttenberger and Wimmer (2018) revealed that the outcomes of mathematical anxiety do not only negatively affect the students’ performance in math-related situations but also their future career as professionals. Without a doubt, therefore, mathematical anxiety is a recurring problem for many individuals which will negatively affect the academic success and future career of the student.”

Now that you already have both explained the meaning, nature, and dynamics of the term “mathematical anxiety” and articulated the gap of your proposed research, you may now state the main goal of your study. You may say:

“Hence, it is precisely in this context that the researcher aims to determine the lived experiences of those students with mathematical anxiety. In particular, this proposed thesis aims to determine the lived experiences of the junior high school students in New Zealand and identify the factors that caused them to become disinterested in mathematics.”

Please note that you should not end the first paragraph of your background of the study with the articulation of the research goal. You also need to articulate the “thesis statement”, which usually comes after the research goal. As is well known, the thesis statement is the statement of your argument or contention in the study. It is more of a personal argument or claim of the researcher, which specifically highlights the possible contribution of the study. For example, you may say:

“The researcher argues that there is a need to determine the lived experiences of these students with mathematical anxiety because knowing and understanding the difficulties and challenges that they have encountered will put the researcher in the best position to offer some alternatives to the problem. Indeed, it is only when we have performed some kind of a ‘diagnosis’ that we can offer practicable solutions to the problem. And in the case of the junior high school students in New Zealand who are having mathematical anxiety, determining their lived experiences as well as identifying the factors that caused them to become disinterested in mathematics are the very first steps in addressing the problem.”

If we combine the bits and pieces that we have written above, we can now come up with the opening paragraphs of your background of the study, which reads:

how to make background of the study in thesis

As we can see, we can find in the first paragraph 5 essential elements that must be articulated in the background of the study, namely:

1) A brief discussion on what is known about the topic under investigation; 2) An articulation of the research gap or problem that needs to be addressed; 3) What the researcher would like to do or aim to achieve in the study (research goal); 4) The thesis statement , that is, the main argument or claim of the paper; and 5) The major significance or contribution of the study to a particular discipline. So, that’s how you write the opening paragraphs of your background of the study. The next lesson will talk about writing the body of the background of the study.

How to Write the Body of the Background of the Study?

If we liken the background of the study to a sitting cat, then the opening paragraphs that we have completed in the previous lesson would just represent the head of the cat.

how to make background of the study in thesis

This means we still have to write the body (body of the cat) and the conclusion (tail). But how do we write the body of the background of the study? What should be its content?

Truly, this is one of the most difficult challenges that fledgling scholars faced. Because they are inexperienced researchers and didn’t know what to do next, they just wrote whatever they wished to write. Fortunately, this is relatively easy if they know the technique.

One of the best ways to write the body of the background of the study is to attack it from the vantage point of the research gap. If you recall, when we articulated the research gap in the opening paragraphs, we made a bold claim there, that is, there are junior high school students in New Zealand who are experiencing mathematical anxiety. Now, you have to remember that a “statement” remains an assumption until you can provide concrete proofs to it. This is what we call the “epistemological” aspect of research. As we may already know, epistemology is a specific branch of philosophy that deals with the validity of knowledge. And to validate knowledge is to provide concrete proofs to our statements. Hence, the reason why we need to provide proofs to our claim that there are indeed junior high school students in New Zealand who are experiencing mathematical anxiety is the obvious fact that if there are none, then we cannot proceed with our study. We have no one to interview with in the first. In short, we don’t have respondents.

The body of the background of the study, therefore, should be a presentation and articulation of the proofs to our claim that indeed there are junior high school students in New Zealand who are experiencing mathematical anxiety. Please note, however, that this idea is true only if you follow the style of writing the background of the study that I introduced in this course.

So, how do we do this?

One of the best ways to do this is to look for literature on mathematical anxiety among junior high school students in New Zealand and cite them here. However, if there are not enough literature on this topic in New Zealand, then we need to conduct initial interviews with these students or make actual classroom observations and record instances of mathematical anxiety among these students. But it is always a good idea if we combine literature review with interviews and actual observations.

Assuming you already have the data, then you may now proceed with the writing of the body of your background of the study. For example, you may say:

“According to records and based on the researcher’s firsthand experience with students in some junior high schools in New Zealand, indeed, there are students who lost interest in mathematics. For one, while checking the daily attendance and monitoring of the students, it was observed that some of them are not always attending classes in mathematics but are regularly attending the rest of the required subjects.”

After this sentence, you may insert some literature that will support this position. For example, you may say:

“As a matter of fact, this phenomenon is also observed in the work of Estonanto. In his study titled ‘Impact of Math Anxiety on Academic Performance in Pre-Calculus of Senior High School’, Estonanto (2019) found out that, inter alia, students with mathematical anxiety have the tendency to intentionally prioritize other subjects and commit habitual tardiness and absences.”

Then you may proceed saying:

“With this initial knowledge in mind, the researcher conducted initial interviews with some of these students. The researcher learned that one student did not regularly attend his math subject because he believed that he is not good in math and no matter how he listens to the topic he will not learn.”

Then you may say:

“Another student also mentioned that she was influenced by her friends’ perception that mathematics is hard; hence, she avoids the subject. Indeed, these are concrete proofs that there are some junior high school students in New Zealand who have mathematical anxiety. As already hinted, “disinterest” or the loss of interest in mathematics is one of the manifestations of a mathematical anxiety.”

If we combine what we have just written above, then we can have the first two paragraphs of the body of our background of the study. It reads:

“According to records and based on the researcher’s firsthand experience with students in some junior high schools in New Zealand, indeed there are students who lost interest in mathematics. For one, while checking the daily attendance and monitoring of the students, it was observed that some of them are not always attending classes in mathematics but are regularly attending the rest of the required subjects. As a matter of fact, this phenomenon is also observed in the work of Estonanto. In his study titled ‘Impact of Math Anxiety on Academic Performance in Pre-Calculus of Senior High School’, Estonanto (2019) found out that, inter alia, students with mathematical anxiety have the tendency to intentionally prioritize other subjects and commit habitual tardiness and absences.

With this initial knowledge in mind, the researcher conducted initial interviews with some of these students. The researcher learned that one student did not regularly attend his math subject because he believed that he is not good in math and no matter how he listens to the topic he will not learn. Another student also mentioned that she was influenced by her friends’ perception that mathematics is hard; hence, she avoids the subject. Indeed, these are concrete proofs that there are some junior high school students in New Zealand who have mathematical anxiety. As already hinted, “disinterest” or the loss of interest in mathematics is one of the manifestations of a mathematical anxiety.”

And then you need validate this observation by conducting another round of interview and observation in other schools. So, you may continue writing the body of the background of the study with this:

“To validate the information gathered from the initial interviews and observations, the researcher conducted another round of interview and observation with other junior high school students in New Zealand.”

“On the one hand, the researcher found out that during mathematics time some students felt uneasy; in fact, they showed a feeling of being tensed or anxious while working with numbers and mathematical problems. Some were even afraid to seat in front, while some students at the back were secretly playing with their mobile phones. These students also show remarkable apprehension during board works like trembling hands, nervous laughter, and the like.”

Then provide some literature that will support your position. You may say:

“As Finlayson (2017) corroborates, emotional symptoms of mathematical anxiety involve feeling of helplessness, lack of confidence, and being nervous for being put on the spot. It must be noted that these occasionally extreme emotional reactions are not triggered by provocative procedures. As a matter of fact, there are no personally sensitive questions or intentional manipulations of stress. The teacher simply asked a very simple question, like identifying the parts of a circle. Certainly, this observation also conforms with the study of Ashcraft (2016) when he mentions that students with mathematical anxiety show a negative attitude towards math and hold self-perceptions about their mathematical abilities.”

And then you proceed:

“On the other hand, when the class had their other subjects, the students show a feeling of excitement. They even hurried to seat in front and attentively participating in the class discussion without hesitation and without the feeling of being tensed or anxious. For sure, this is another concrete proof that there are junior high school students in New Zealand who have mathematical anxiety.”

To further prove the point that there indeed junior high school students in New Zealand who have mathematical anxiety, you may solicit observations from other math teachers. For instance, you may say:

“The researcher further verified if the problem is also happening in other sections and whether other mathematics teachers experienced the same observation that the researcher had. This validation or verification is important in establishing credibility of the claim (Buchbinder, 2016) and ensuring reliability and validity of the assertion (Morse et al., 2002). In this regard, the researcher attempted to open up the issue of math anxiety during the Departmentalized Learning Action Cell (LAC), a group discussion of educators per quarter, with the objective of ‘Teaching Strategies to Develop Critical Thinking of the Students’. During the session, one teacher corroborates the researcher’s observation that there are indeed junior high school students in New Zealand who have mathematical anxiety. The teacher pointed out that truly there were students who showed no extra effort in mathematics class in addition to the fact that some students really avoided the subject. In addition, another math teacher expressed her frustrations about these students who have mathematical anxiety. She quipped: “How can a teacher develop the critical thinking skills or ability of the students if in the first place these students show avoidance and disinterest in the subject?’.”

Again, if we combine what we have just written above, then we can now have the remaining parts of the body of the background of the study. It reads:

how to make background of the study in thesis

So, that’s how we write the body of the background of the study in research . Of course, you may add any relevant points which you think might amplify your content. What is important at this point is that you now have a clear idea of how to write the body of the background of the study.

How to Write the Concluding Part of the Background of the Study?

Since we have already completed the body of our background of the study in the previous lesson, we may now write the concluding paragraph (the tail of the cat). This is important because one of the rules of thumb in writing is that we always put a close to what we have started.

It is important to note that the conclusion of the background of the study is just a rehashing of the research gap and main goal of the study stated in the introductory paragraph, but framed differently. The purpose of this is just to emphasize, after presenting the justifications, what the study aims to attain and why it wants to do it. The conclusion, therefore, will look just like this:

“Given the above discussion, it is evident that there are indeed junior high school students in New Zealand who are experiencing mathematical anxiety. And as we can see, mathematical anxiety can negatively affect not just the academic achievement of the students but also their future career plans and total well-being. Again, it is for this reason that the researcher attempts to determine the lived experiences of those junior high school students in New Zealand who are experiencing a mathematical anxiety.”

If we combine all that we have written from the very beginning, the entire background of the study would now read:

how to make background of the study in thesis

If we analyze the background of the study that we have just completed, we can observe that in addition to the important elements that it should contain, it has also addressed other important elements that readers or thesis committee members expect from it.

On the one hand, it provides the researcher with a clear direction in the conduct of the study. As we can see, the background of the study that we have just completed enables us to move in the right direction with a strong focus as it has set clear goals and the reasons why we want to do it. Indeed, we now exactly know what to do next and how to write the rest of the research paper or thesis.

On the other hand, most researchers start their research with scattered ideas and usually get stuck with how to proceed further. But with a well-written background of the study, just as the one above, we have decluttered and organized our thoughts. We have also become aware of what have and have not been done in our area of study, as well as what we can significantly contribute in the already existing body of knowledge in this area of study.

Please note, however, as I already mentioned previously, that the model that I have just presented is only one of the many models available in textbooks and other sources. You are, of course, free to choose your own style of writing the background of the study. You may also consult your thesis supervisor for some guidance on how to attack the writing of your background of the study.

Lastly, and as you may already know, universities around the world have their own thesis formats. Hence, you should follow your university’s rules on the format and style in writing your research or thesis. What is important is that with the lessons that you learned in this course, you can now easily write the introductory part of your thesis, such as the background of the study.

How to Write the Background of the Study in Research

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One of the preliminary steps to completing a thesis is the background study for it. The background study for a thesis includes a review of the area being researched, current information surrounding the issue, previous studies on the issue, and relevant history on the issue. Ideally, the study should effectively set forth the history and background information on your thesis problem. The purpose of a background study is to help you to prove the relevance of your thesis question and to further develop your thesis.

Conduct preliminary research in the beginning stages of formulating a thesis, when many issues are unclear and thoughts need to be solidified. Conducting preliminary research on your area of study and specific topic will help you to formulate a research question or thesis statement that will lead to more specific and relevant research. Visit your library, the internet and electronic databases to find preliminary sources, such as books and scholarly journals, for your background study.

Read the information and develop a research question or thesis statement that will guide your thesis. You will need to take notes and keep accurate track of the sources that you used up to this point. Many people use note cards, but with current technology there many electronic note taking programs available. Use a method of recording source information that you are comfortable with. Be sure to cite the source of the information on each note so you don't forget where each piece of information came from, should you decide to use it in your thesis.

Write a thesis statement or research question. Think about what you've read and look for issues, problems or solutions that others have found and determine your own opinion or stance on the issue. Write out your opinion as a authoritative statement on the issue, problem or solution. At this point, you can do more detailed research and find sources that are more relevant to your thesis or research question.

Complete your research using your thesis statement and research question as your guide. You will find relevant sources that will provide insight into your specific thesis issue or problem. Make sure that your sources provide details on the history and past research related to your research question.

Create relevant sections as you write the background study. As you evaluate your research and begin to write the background study, create five separate sections that cover the key issues, major findings, and controversies surrounding your thesis, as well as sections that provide an evaluation and conclusion.

Conclude by identifying any further study that needs to be done in that area, or provide possible solutions to the issue that haven't been considered before.

Revise and edit your background study. Complete several drafts of your work, revising and filling in information as you go. Each time that you read over your work, try to leave it better than it was before. It's also a great idea to have someone else look it over as well.

  • The University of Sydney: Writing the Background Chapters of Your Thesis
  • University of Calfiornia Santa Cruz: Write A Literature Review
  • If you hate paper, try note taking or outlining software like OneNote or OmniOutliner to track your notes and sources.
  • Use paper trays to separate your initial research documents from the research that you decide to use, as well as the research you are still undecided about
  • Be sure to organize and track your sources and notes. Writing a thesis is a long and detailed process that can become unwieldy if you fail to stay organized at any point along the way. Numbering your notes and separating your research using a method that works for you is vital.

Stacy Alleyne is a certified English teacher with a BA in English and graduate work in English, education, journalism and law. She has written numerous articles and her own dining column for the "Gazette."

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Background research, starter databases, gale ebooks tutorial, reference books to use in the library.

Books to Check Out

  • Finding Websites
  • Finding Articles, Images, & More
  • Evaluating Sources
  • MLA Citations
  • Chicago Style Citations
  • APA Citations

Background research can help you:

  • narrow down a broad theme into a smaller topic
  • learn the basics of your topic
  • develop a list of keywords to use when searching for more sources
  • develop a research question and/or thesis statement

Starter databases:

  • simple, browseable databases meant to help students with background research
  • often contain credible reference articles, but can also have viewpoint essays
  • a good alternative or supplement to Wikipedia

Best starter databases for architecture: This link opens in a new window

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A database of encyclopedias, almanacs and specialized reference sources.

Contains over 5,000 art images, maps, and line drawings from major collections and also contains links to over 40,000 images at museum websites.

Contains biographies on more than 335,000 people from around the world and throughout history.

Gale eBooks Tutorial

  • This database has subject-specific encyclopedia articles which provide simple topic overviews.
  • A perfect way to get to know your topic before diving deeper into scholarly research.
  • Watch the video below to learn more:

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  • You will be asked login with your LACCD account before an ebook loads. Review off-campus login directions here .

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Reference Books in the Library

  • The books below provide background information and are great starting points for your research.
  • They can be found in the Library's first-floor Reference collection, next to the Research Help Desk.
  • These books are available for in-library use only.

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  • These books can be found on the second floor of the library and are available to check out.
  • Write down the book's title and call number to find the book on the shelf.

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How to Craft Your Ideal Thesis Research Topic

How to Craft Your Ideal Thesis Research Topic

Table of contents

how to make background of the study in thesis

Catherine Miller

Writing your undergraduate thesis is probably one of the most interesting parts of studying, especially because you get to choose your area of study. But as both a student and a teacher who’s helped countless students develop their research topics, I know this freedom can be just as intimidating as it is liberating.

Fortunately, there’a a step-by-step process you can follow that will help make the whole process a lot easier. In this article, I’ll show you how to choose a unique, specific thesis topic that’s true to your passions and interests, while making a contribution to your field.

how to make background of the study in thesis

Choose a topic that you’re interested in

First things first: double-check with your teachers or supervisor if there are any constraints on your research topic. Once your parameters are clear, it’s time to identify what lights you up — after all, you’re going to be spending a lot of time thinking about it.

Within your field of study, you probably already have some topics that have grabbed your attention more than others. This can be a great place to start. Additionally, consider using the rest of your academic and extra-curricular interests as a source of ideas. At this stage, you only need a broad topic before you narrow it down to a specific question. 

If you’re feeling stuck, here are some things to try:

  • Look back through old course notes to remind yourself of topics you previously covered. Do any of these inspire you?
  • Talk to potential supervisors about your ideas, as they can point you toward areas you might not have considered.
  • Think about the things you enjoy in everyday life — whether that’s cycling, cinema, cooking, or fashion — then consider if there are any overlaps with your field of study.
  • Imagine you have been asked to give a presentation or record a podcast in the next three days. What topics would you feel confident discussing?
  • Watch a selection of existing lectures or explainer videos, or listen to podcasts by experts in your field. Note which topics you feel curious to explore further.
  • Discuss your field of study with teachers friends and family, some with existing knowledge and some without. Which aspects do you enjoy talking about? 

By doing all this, you might uncover some unusual and exciting avenues for research. For example, when writing my Master’s dissertation, I decided to combine my field of study (English teaching methodology) with one of my passions outside work (creative writing). In my undergraduate course, a friend drew on her lived experience of disability to look into the literary portrayal of disability in the ancient world. 

Do your research

Once you’ve chosen your topic of interest, it’s time to dive into research. This is a really important part of this early process because it allows you to:

  • See what other people have written about the topic — you don’t want to cover the same old ground as everyone else.
  • Gain perspective on the big questions surrounding the topic. 
  • Go deeper into the parts that interest you to help you decide where to focus.
  • Start building your bibliography and a bank of interesting quotations. 

A great way to start is to visit your library for an introductory book. For example, the “A Very Short Introduction” series from the Oxford University Press provides overviews of a range of themes. Similar types of overviews may have the title “ A Companion to [Subject]” or “[Subject] A Student Companion”. Ask your librarian or teacher if you’re not sure where to begin. 

Your introductory volume can spark ideas for further research, and the bibliography can give you some pointers about where to go next. You can also use keywords to research online via academic sites like JStor or Google Scholar. Check which subscriptions are available via your institution.

At this stage, you may not wish to read every single paper you come across in full — this could take a very long time and not everything will be relevant. Summarizing software like Wordtune could be very useful here.

Just upload a PDF or link to an online article using Wordtune, and it will produce a summary of the whole paper with a list of key points. This helps you to quickly sift through papers to grasp their central ideas and identify which ones to read in full. 

Screenshot of Wordtune's summarizing tool

Get Wordtune for free > Get Wordtune for free >

You can also use Wordtune for semantic search. In this case, the tool focuses its summary around your chosen search term, making it even easier to get what you need from the paper.

how to make background of the study in thesis

As you go, make sure you keep organized notes of what you’ve read, including the author and publication information and the page number of any citations you want to use. 

Some people are happy to do this process with pen and paper, but if you prefer a digital method, there are several software options, including Zotero , EndNote , and Mendeley . Your institution may have an existing subscription so check before you sign up.

Narrowing down your thesis research topic

Now you’ve read around the topic, it’s time to narrow down your ideas so you can craft your final question. For example, when it came to my undergraduate thesis, I knew I wanted to write about Ancient Greek religion and I was interested in the topic of goddesses. So, I:

  • Did some wide reading around the topic of goddesses
  • Learned that the goddess Hera was not as well researched as others and that there were some fascinating aspects I wanted to explore
  • Decided (with my supervisor’s support) to focus on her temples in the Argive region of Greece

how to make background of the study in thesis

As part of this process, it can be helpful to consider the “5 Ws”: why, what, who, when, and where, as you move from the bigger picture to something more precise. 

Why did you choose this research topic?

Come back to the reasons you originally chose your theme. What grabbed you? Why is this topic important to you — or to the wider world? In my example, I knew I wanted to write about goddesses because, as a woman, I was interested in how a society in which female lives were often highly controlled dealt with having powerful female deities. My research highlighted Hera as one of the most powerful goddesses, tying into my key interest.

What are some of the big questions about your topic?

During your research, you’ll probably run into the same themes time and time again. Some of the questions that arise may not have been answered yet or might benefit from a fresh look. 

Equally, there may be questions that haven’t yet been asked, especially if you are approaching the topic from a modern perspective or combining research that hasn’t been considered before. This might include taking a post-colonial, feminist, or queer approach to older texts or bringing in research using new scientific methods.

In my example, I knew there were still controversies about why so many temples to the goddess Hera were built in a certain region, and was keen to explore these further.

Who is the research topic relevant to?

Considering the “who” might help you open up new avenues. Is there a particular audience you want to reach? What might they be interested in? Is this a new audience for this field? Are there people out there who might be affected by the outcome of this research — for example, people with a particular medical condition — who might be able to use your conclusions?

Which period will you focus on?

Depending on the nature of your field, you might be able to choose a timeframe, which can help narrow the topic down. For example, you might focus on historical events that took place over a handful of years, look at the impact of a work of literature at a certain point after its publication, or review scientific progress over the last five years. 

With my thesis, I decided to focus on the time when the temples were built rather than considering the hundreds of years for which they have existed, which would have taken me far too long.

Where does your topic relate to?

Place can be another means of narrowing down the topic. For example, consider the impact of your topic on a particular neighborhood, city, or country, rather than trying to process a global question. 

In my example, I chose to focus my research on one area of Greece, where there were lots of temples to Hera. This meant skipping other important locations, but including these would have made the thesis too wide-ranging.

Create an outline and get feedback

Once you have an idea of what you are going to write about, create an outline or summary and get feedback from your teacher(s). It’s okay if you don’t know exactly how you’re going to answer your thesis question yet, but based on your research you should have a rough plan of the key points you want to cover. So, for me, the outline was as follows:

  • Context: who was the goddess Hera?
  • Overview of her sanctuaries in the Argive region
  • Their initial development 
  • Political and cultural influences
  • The importance of the mythical past

In the final thesis, I took a strong view on why the goddess was so important in this region, but it took more research, writing, and discussion with my supervisor to pin down my argument.

To choose a thesis research topic, find something you’re passionate about, research widely to get the big picture, and then move to a more focused view. Bringing a fresh perspective to a popular theme, finding an underserved audience who could benefit from your research, or answering a controversial question can make your thesis stand out from the crowd.

For tips on how to start writing your thesis, don’t miss our advice on writing a great research abstract and a stellar literature review . And don’t forget that Wordtune can also support you with proofreading, making it even easier to submit a polished thesis.

How do you come up with a research topic for a thesis?

To help you find a thesis topic, speak to your professor, look through your old course notes, think about what you already enjoy in everyday life, talk about your field of study with friends and family, and research podcasts and videos to find a topic that is interesting for you. It’s a good idea to refine your topic so that it’s not too general or broad.  

Do you choose your own thesis topic?

Yes, you usually choose your own thesis topic. You can get help from your professor(s), friends, and family to figure out which research topic is interesting to you. 

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  4. 🌷 How to write research background. How to write the Research

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  1. 02_How to Set the Background of Your Article, Write Rationale and Objective(s)?

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COMMENTS

  1. Background of The Study

    Here are the steps to write the background of the study in a research paper: Identify the research problem: Start by identifying the research problem that your study aims to address. This can be a particular issue, a gap in the literature, or a need for further investigation. Conduct a literature review: Conduct a thorough literature review to ...

  2. What is the Background of the Study and How to Write It

    The background of the study is the first section of a research paper and gives context surrounding the research topic. The background explains to the reader where your research journey started, why you got interested in the topic, and how you developed the research question that you will later specify. That means that you first establish the ...

  3. How to write the background of your study

    Focus on including all the important details but write concisely. Don't be ambiguous. Writing in a way that does not convey the message to the readers defeats the purpose of the background, so express yourself keeping in mind that the reader does not know your research intimately. Don't discuss unrelated themes.

  4. What is the Background of a Study and How to Write It

    The background of a study in a research paper helps to establish the research problem or gap in knowledge that the study aims to address, sets the stage for the research question and objectives, and highlights the significance of the research. The background of a study also includes a review of relevant literature, which helps researchers ...

  5. How to Write an Effective Background of the Study

    The background of the study is a section in a research paper that provides context, circumstances, and history leading to the research problem or topic being explored. It presents existing knowledge on the topic and outlines the reasons that spurred the current research, helping readers understand the research's foundation and its significance ...

  6. How to Write the Background of the Study in Research (Part 1)

    This video lecture discusses the steps and effective techniques in writing the "Background of the Study in Research or Thesis/Dissertation". Transcript of th...

  7. What is the Background of a Study and How Should it be Written?

    The background of a study is the first section of the paper and establishes the context underlying the research. It contains the rationale, the key problem statement, and a brief overview of research questions that are addressed in the rest of the paper. The background forms the crux of the study because it introduces an unaware audience to the ...

  8. How to Write the Background of a Study in a Research ...

    In this video, I will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to write the background of a study for your research paper, thesis, dissertation, or resea...

  9. How to Write the Background of a Study

    The background to a study sets the scene. It lays out the "state of the art". It tells your reader about other research done on the topic in question, via useful review papers and other summaries of the literature. The background to your study, sometimes called the 'state of the art' (especially in grant writing), sets the scene for a ...

  10. Q: How to write the background to the study in a research paper?

    Answer: The background of the study provides context to the information that you are discussing in your paper. Thus, the background of the study generates the reader's interest in your research question and helps them understand why your study is important. For instance, in case of your study, the background can include a discussion on how ...

  11. What is Background of the study and Guide on How to Write it

    1. Identify Your Audience: Determine the level of expertise of your target audience. Tailor the depth and complexity of your background information accordingly. 2. Understand the Research Problem: Define the research problem or question your study aims to address. Identify the significance of the problem within the broader context of the field.

  12. How to write the background of the study in a thesis research?

    The main purpose of giving a background to the study is to make the reader aware of the context of the thesis (Sachdev, 2018). It compiles the research problem, information on the topic, and the proposed argument for the research problem. It helps justify the need for the thesis. The figure below summarises the purpose of the thesis background ...

  13. How To Write A Dissertation Introduction Chapter

    Craft an enticing and engaging opening section. Provide a background and context to the study. Clearly define the research problem. State your research aims, objectives and questions. Explain the significance of your study. Identify the limitations of your research. Outline the structure of your dissertation or thesis.

  14. How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation Introduction

    Overview of the structure. 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.

  15. Background Information

    The background information should indicate the root of the problem being studied, appropriate context of the problem in relation to theory, research, and/or practice, its scope, and the extent to which previous studies have successfully investigated the problem, noting, in particular, where gaps exist that your study attempts to address ...

  16. How to Write the Background of the Study in Research (Part 1)

    Background of the Study in Research:Definition and the Core Elements it Contains Before we embark on a detailed discussion on how to write the background of the study of your proposed research or thesis, it is important to first discuss its meaning and the core elements that it should contain. This is obviously because understanding The article discusses in details the technique in writing the ...

  17. How do I effectively write the background of the study for my ...

    Answer: The background of a study has to talk about the 'why' of the study - the reason you are doing the study, or more aptly, why the study is needed. Perhaps you have identified a gap (or several) in existing studies, perhaps you have a new insight into the problem, perhaps you have a new solution to the problem.

  18. (PDF) WRITING A PERFECT BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

    1. first do a preliminary research on your chosen topi c, which means you need to rea d. a lot of literature and gather relevant data; 2. identify the gap in your proposed research and. 3. develop ...

  19. (PDF) PROCEDURE FOR WRITING A BACKGROUND STUDY FOR A ...

    In order to be able to write background study the study area commonly described by the study topic will be of at most importance. From the topic one should be able to derive the both the ...

  20. A Step-by-Step on How to Do a Background Study for a Thesis

    5. Create relevant sections as you write the background study. As you evaluate your research and begin to write the background study, create five separate sections that cover the key issues, major findings, and controversies surrounding your thesis, as well as sections that provide an evaluation and conclusion.

  21. Q: What is the best way of stating the background of a study?

    Answer: Stating the background of a study effectively is crucial as it sets the context and provides the necessary foundation for understanding the research. Here are some tips on the best way to state the background of a study: Be Clear and Concise: State the background in a clear and concise manner.

  22. How To Write Background of The Study in Research

    The document discusses how to write the background of a study section in a research paper. It explains that the background of the study provides context about the research topic to readers. It should include relevant past studies and explain why the research topic is worth readers' time. The document outlines a 7-stage process for writing the background of the study section, including ...

  23. Background Research

    Background Research. Background research can help you: narrow down a broad theme into a smaller topic. learn the basics of your topic. develop a list of keywords to use when searching for more sources. develop a research question and/or thesis statement.

  24. Your Step-by-Step Guide to Choosing a Thesis Research Topic.

    Choose a topic that you're interested in. First things first: double-check with your teachers or supervisor if there are any constraints on your research topic. Once your parameters are clear, it's time to identify what lights you up — after all, you're going to be spending a lot of time thinking about it.