Research is always done in a specific context.
Your contextual perspective is necessary to help the members of the Postgraduate Committee understand the background of your research.
You will need to explain the context for your research in your research report as well, because there are other stakeholders in your research who will also be interested in it at a later stage.
Other stakeholders can be sponsors, external assessors, leaders in industry, government officials and, of course, future students.
Context is expressed as the scope or limits of your research.
It can be seen as the “playing field” on which you will conduct your research.
You can and should use the context for your research to create interest in your research and to show that you can do the research.
The context for your research can change when to do you research. You will need to check with your study leader that such change will be acceptable, because it can impact on the viability of your study.
Let’s look at how the context can impact on the topic for research.
I will discuss the elements in terms of the following, rather rough, topic for research:
“An investigation and analysis of the behavioural profiles of adults”.
You will see that you can also use the context for your research to refine your research topic and to formulate your research problem, research question or hypothesis.
The Elements of Context
The following can be elements of the context of your research:
- Geographical area. You can, for example, confirm the viability of your research by showing that you will investigate just one country rather than a whole continent or the world.
- Your field of research will decide the faculty where you will study. For example, Medical Science, Human Resources Management, Military Science, Arts and Culture, Marketing, and many more.
- The field of research can also decide the research method and the paradigmatic approach that you will use, but we will need to discuss these issues in a future post or posts.
- Target population. Your target population can be people, animals, insects, rocks, cloud formations, etc.
- Time. Your research can stretch over a period of time, focus on a specific point in time, compare one era (mostly in the past) with a different era (mostly the present), etc. Data seldom apply infinitely, although rationalists are of the opinion that some scientific principles do.
- Gender. You can conduct research on just one gender, all genders, compare the behavioural profiles of different genders, etc.
- Value systems. You can focus on just one value system, for example a comparison of how tourists would behave compared to how locals will behave. You can also investigate many behavioural patterns and link it to the profile elements of your target group.
- The level of your research. Research is mostly done on a micro or macro level. The field of research will have an impact on the level of your research.
You will need to explain why you chose the context that you did. Possible reasons for deciding on a context can be the nature of the problem that you would like to solve, the time and funds that you have available, viability in general, etc.
From the reason for your choice of context should follow the value that your research will add to the academia, the industry, the community, government, etc.
The context of your research explains the “what”, where”, “who” and the “when” of your research.
The context can include a geographical area, a value system, a religious group, a species of living organisms, artefacts, etc.
Context can be refined in terms of structures, stakeholders, social groups, etc.
You research problem or hypothesis can be deduced from the context for your research.
Do not over-complicate the context for your research. Just explain it in simple language.