Common errors in writing PhD problem statement for research proposal

Here are some common errors PhD scholars make in submitting draft of their problem statement for starting their PhD program – 

  • Failing to get the point. Avoid tedious length in introducing the study. The reader wants to know what your study is about.
  • Making the reader believe that we already know the answer . If we know it , then we don’t need to study it.
  • Covering extraneous issues ,whether interesting or not . These are “rabbit runs” – interesting but irrelevant to the topic . Resist the temptation to share with the reader the volume of interesting but irrelevant information you accumulated .
  • Being inconsistent. The problem should be clearly and logically related to the purpose statement and research questions .
  • Stating what we should do rather than what we want to know. Such phrases as “ we must …,” “we should…,” and “it is imperative that …..” belong in a position paper . In short, stay off a soap box .
  • Writing in “ dissertations” rather than in English. This causes your writing to be stilted, awkward, and artificial . Just say what you mean in natural phrases 
  • Using unnecessary technical language and Jargon. This keeps the reader from understanding the main Idea of what you are trying to say.
  • Using extensive quotations and references.These get in the way of the logical flow of ideas.
  • Using abstruse arguments. Refrain from making points that are unclear or difficult to understand. Write in a clear, simple , and straightforward manner.
  • Engaging in personal reflections or editorializing.
  • Making unsupported claims or statements. The problem must be written in the context of theory and relevant literature.
  • Using disjointed recitation of the studies cited. You create the line of logic and use literature citations to substantiate your points.   

The opening sentences of your research proposal should be approached thoughtfully and carefully, for this is the place to lose or win your audience.Therefore, introduce your topic in a way that engages readers – that captures their interest and makes them want to continue reading . Creswell(2008) called these opening lines the “narrative hook”, a term he claimed is “drawn from english composition , meaning words that serve to draw , engage ,or hook the reader into the study”. A convincing narrative hook , according to creswell (2005) , could include the following :

  1. Statistical data ( e.g., “ more than 50 percent of adult population experiences depression today.”)
  2. A provocative question (e.g., “ why are school policies that ban smoking in high schools not being enforced?”)
  3. A clear need for research (e.g., “school suspension is drawing increased attention among scholars in teacher education .”) 

There are possibilities for introducing your study ; the main thing to remember is to begin in an engaging manner that will interest your audience so they keep on reading.  

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