your research proposal or business plan may include the following five parts.
1. The Problem: What problem in the American/global business/economy do you want to work on? Perhaps you are interested in a problem in the global economy and thus multilateral economic policy challenges. You move from a broad topic to a narrow one. Then ask your topic questions! What do you want to know about this topic? Can you ask ten questions? To move from a topic to questions and then to a research problem, you need to address these two points:
* some condition of incomplete knowledge or understanding and
* the consequences of not fully knowing or understanding.
For example: The public does not understand how Social Security works, how private accounts would work, and the current state of the Federal Government’s budget. Consequently, they cannot join the public debate about the important issue of partial privatizing of Social Security as President Bush is proposing.
Try filling in the blanks:
Topic: I am studying ____________________________________
Question: because I want to find out what/why/how____________
Significance: in order to help my readers understand______________
Potential Practical Application: so that readers can _____________
One more suggestion for moving from a topic to a research problem: Create a working title for your research paper. You may change your title often as the semester progresses and as you get a deeper understanding of your problem and your hunches about solutions.
Note: While your topic is your personal interest, a research problem is a public interest
2. Your Hypothesis: What is your hypothesis about the problem? Do you have a hunch about its causes? Do you have a hunch about its effects? Hypotheses are specific statements or explanations about why or how certain things exist or change. A hypothesis is a claim! It is a “candidate for a plausible answer to your research question” Try to write a single sentence that formulates your claim.
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3. Theory: What does economic or business theory imply for your topic? Look at microeconomics and macroeconomics, or management theories.
4. Your Research Design: How will you test your hypothesis? Will you use a cost/benefit analysis? Will you develop a case study? Will you analyze the pros and cons of a debate in economic policy or in business practice? This is your methodology. In this day and age in the field of economics and business, you need to be quantitative. If you claim that the income distribution in the U.S. is getting more unequal, then demonstrate this with data.
Another way to think of your research design is to develop arguments for your claims, arguments for your hypothesis. You should have reasons for your claims. You should have evidence for your reasons. Summaries, paraphrases, quotations, facts, figures, graphs, tables, etc. constitute evidence.
One more suggestion on formulating a research design: Write a Table of Contents for your report. What are the sections of your report? The subsections? You will not prove your hypothesis.
You will confirm or reject your hypothesis. You will work to support it and to challenge it. If you are a real good researcher, you may have to reject your hypothesis, which is a contribution to knowledge!
5. Potential Sources. Where do you expect to find your data and evidence? You need to find some books and articles on your topic. These are true bibliography items, as “biblio” means books. But you may use non-“biblio” sources such as interviewing policy analysts or policymakers, attending congressional hearings, seminars, etc. You will be using pamphlets and reports from think tanks (public policy research organizations). In this day and age, you will use online sources, but be careful with them. No academic authorities have vetted them. You need to evaluate all sources.
What departments and agencies of the executive branch of the federal government work on your topic? What committees and subcommittees in the House of Representative and in the Senate work on your topic? Which think tanks in town work on your topic?
You should start a working bibliography. From the very start, use the correct style. See an APA (American Psychological Association) writing style book as a reference.
Avoid biases in collecting evidence. Don’t create a straw man for your opponent’s views.
Don’t just use sources from conservative think tanks such as American Enterprise Institute,
Heritage Foundation, and Cato. Don’t just use sources from liberal think tanks such as Brookings
Institution, Economic Policy Institute, and Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.