How to write the scope of the study?

Scope of the study refers to the elements that will be covered in a research project. It defines the boundaries of the research. The scope is always decided in the preliminary stages of a study. Deciding it in the later stages creates a lot of ambiguity regarding the research goals. The main purpose of the scope of the study is that it explains the extent to which the research area will be explored and thus specifies the parameters that will be observed within the study. In other words, it enables the researcher to define what the study will cover and the elements that it will not. Defining the scope helps the researcher acquire a high level of research and writing capability.

Goals of establishing the scope of the study

The following steps can help the researcher to effectively define the goals of establishing a scope of the study.

Identification of the project or research needs

The first step is to identify the research needs. This helps them set a benchmark from the first step. Identification of the ‘what’ and ‘why’ enables the researcher to clearly set the research goals and objectives and the manner in which they will be performed.

Confirmation of the goals and the objectives of the research

The goals and objectives defined in the project scope should be aligned with the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timeframe) guidelines, which are:

  • Specific- this involves clear specification of what the researcher wants to achieve. It involves specifying what, why and how things will be done. This reduces the chances of ambiguities and any misunderstanding in the future.
  • Measurable- Goals should be measurable and dynamic so that constant feedback can be generated for improvement.
  • Achievable- Research goals should be achievable with the resources that are available.
  • Realistic- Goals should be easier to deliver so that complications that can hamper the quality of the research can be avoided. Other considerations to be kept in mind are the budget and timeline.  
  • Time frame- lastly, the researcher should estimate whether the set goals can be achieved within the given time frame or not.

Expectations and acceptance

The researcher should take into account the expectations of the research and how well the findings of the researcher will be accepted by the reader. For instance, will the findings of your study help in policymaking or not?

Identification of the constraints

there are always certain roadblocks in conducting research, such as environmental conditions, technological inefficiency and lack of resources. Identifying these limitations and their possible solutions in advance help achieve goals better.

Identifying the necessary changes

After the preliminary goals are set, the researcher must carry out some part of the research so that necessary changes that lead to wastage of time and resources at later stages are reduced. For example, while conducting an interview, if the researcher believes that the sample size decided is too large or too small according to the scope of the study, then the researcher can make the necessary changes in that in order to avoid the wastage of the time and the resources.

Guidelines for writing the scope of the study

The major things that the researcher should keep in mind while writing the scope of the study are as follows.

  • Time period: While writing the scope of the study the researcher should first mention or state categorically the time periods the study will cover. Generally, the researchers combine the scope of the study with the limitation of the study. These things are quite interwoven. The main difference between the two is that limitations further covers the points like the monetary constraints or the un-cooperation from the side of the target audience.
  • Geography: In addition to this another major point where the researcher should keep in mind that scope of the study should state the specific aspect of the data that needs to be collected like the geographic locations and the variables.
  • Research population: Another major aspect that should be involved while writing the scope of the study is the sample size or the population that the researcher has selected for the study. The sampling plan must clearly indicate the sample universe, target population, their profile and sample size with justification.
  • Theories: The researcher should state the academic theories that are being applied to the data collected so that the reader better knows the lens of the analysis. This is presented in the ‘theoretical framework’ section.
  • Purpose: The scope of the study must indicate the purpose behind it. It must briefly define the larger picture, i.e. the overall goal the researcher is trying to achieve.  
  • Limitations: It is impossible to avoid roadblocks in research. Every research is restricted in scope and is subjected to certain limitations. By acknowledging these limitations and how they are restricting the study makes its findings even more credible.
Elements of the scope of the study
Figure 1: Elements of the scope of the study

Example

Writing the scope of the study can be presented with the help of the following example:

Consider the example topic ‘Analysis of the role of social media on the educational development in India from 2000-2015’. The scope of the study for this research topic should include several roles within the mentioned time period. Further, it should also cover the mass media types that have been used in the analysis of the study also including the location and the sample size as well.

Scope of the study

With the increase in the number of the social media users and its use in everyday communication at the individual and the organizational levels, there has been a corresponding increase in its incorporation in the educational development and especially in a country like India. In view of this situation, the present study analyzes the role of social media on the educational development of the students. To this end, the study will also cover the changes in the usage of the social media in educational filed over the time period ranging from 2000-2015. The scope of the study is restricted to select social media platforms, specifically Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The empirical study in this research is restricted to five universities located across India, wherein the opinions of 30 teachers were studied in interview sessions. Further, the study also involves an analysis of students’ perspectives on the role of social media in education from the same university. Therefore the scope of this study is limited to India, and more specifically to those offering Arts and Science-related courses.

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