When writing (or conducting) your study, you should consider the importance of the topic itself. Understanding the necessity for your study will ensure that what follows, namely the study’s structure, methodology, and implications, will align with its overall purpose. Your study’s significance should explain why it’s worth publishing by highlighting how it will contribute to the field’s development. To highlight your study’s significance, you need to ask yourself some key questions regarding your paper. Although the questions provided here are not an exhaustive or comprehensive list, these can serve as a guide to help you write or conduct your study while keeping its significance in mind.
What are your research questions?
The research questions will determine what your study aims to tackle, allowing you to identify the specifics of your study. By identifying this question, you can narrow your study’s scope to only the specific items you want to examine, keeping it focused. In turn, knowing what you want your study to focus on will help determine your methodology and the studies you can refer to in your review of related literature. Take note that your study could have more than one research question; smaller questions related to your larger, overall research question can also be included. These should identify gaps in your research field’s knowledge, allowing you to craft your study around how it will aim to address them.
For example, suppose your study is about investigating buyers’ behaviors in relation to digital goods. In that case, you could look at major factors influencing said behavior and what could trigger those behaviors.
Although this step can be a bit excessive, a mind map or concept map may be helpful in narrowing down your research topic to craft your research questions. Mind maps create a visual representation of your main concepts or ideas, usually as tree charts, and demonstrate how they relate to each other and the overall topic. In comparison, concept maps are diagrams that present the relationships between your study’s key concepts and ideas. Compared to the former, the latter could show how one concept could relate to other concepts outside of the central idea to visualize the interconnectedness of your study’s major concepts. These guides help make meaningful connections between the major concepts in your study by organizing them into various degrees, from general to specific.
Above is a sample mind map about consumer behavior and the various aspects that could influence it in an online setting. Notice that one topic could branch out into different subtopics, each with smaller, more focused topics. From there, you can create research questions because you now have a better idea of what approach you want to take for your major subject. In the sample mind map, some examples of research questions could include “How do product price points take advantage of the consumers’ impulse control?” and “In what ways do a consumer’s peers influence purchasing behaviors?”
In comparison, the second figure is a concept map that uses the same key concepts about consumer behavior that also shows how the subtopics are related to each other. Both mind and concept maps help visualize ideas, but how you choose to relate and present this information in your study is up to you.
As for your study’s research questions, you can start by stating what your study will examine, who will be involved in it, and the outcome of interest or result you are looking to investigate. These will help give your study direction, enabling you to formulate your methodology and choose which types of manuscripts you want to refer to when gathering information on previous studies. Aside from highlighting the study topic’s interest, your research questions should help you explain your study’s significance, novelty, feasibility, and relevance in a specific field of study. Note that these points are items you should consider when creating your study and should be made apparent when writing your manuscript. In addition, always keep ethical considerations in mind when creating your study, especially when it comes to your methods and implications.
Why is your study focusing on this topic?
This question asks why your study is about a particular topic. Journals will often examine this and investigate the purpose behind your study when they review manuscripts submitted to them. Emphasizing your study’s necessity will heighten your chances of publication if it addresses gaps or advances knowledge in a specific field. It would help to know what areas or topics lack information and align your study with these shortfalls to expand current knowledge, allowing you to justify the need for your study.
Going back to Fig. 1, the author churned out subtopics from one major topic, which offer several directions to focus on. Learning from that, once you lay out all subtopics, you should weigh their relevance. You could decide on one because your interest in it aligns with an existing need for specific knowledge in a given field, or you’re looking to follow up on a previous study’s suggestions for future research. Maybe you’re interested in replicating a study with a much larger sample size or a variation in its methodology. Whatever your reasons for wanting to tackle a topic (and the relevant subtopic) for your study, ensure that your manuscript mentions your motivation behind that decision.
Providing a lengthy explanation on why you choose a certain topic is normally unnecessary. However, if it helps to align your reasons with the research questions you formulated and your study’s practical applications, then go for it. That way, you can convince your audience of your study’s necessity.
What practical applications does your study have?
Your study may have good and innovative ideas to advance established knowledge in a specific field, but it may not be entirely useful to a broader audience. By highlighting this information’s practicality, you can show readers why your study is worth publishing and justify its impact in your research field. It also helps to identify the beneficiaries of your findings, as this information will allow you to tailor your study to the proper or intended audience. In addition, aligning your study to the proper readership could help narrow down your options for journals if you aim to publish your manuscript.
For example, if your study is about proposed changes to an education curriculum, your study’s implications could mention the kinds of students that would benefit from this change, how this change would affect teachers, and how this curriculum would be integrated into the wider system of schools (be it in primary, secondary, or tertiary education, etc.). You can also mention how the curriculum changes could improve student performance in examinations, with the implications going into how this could affect students and teachers in other schools.
In addition to these considerations, journal reviewers may offer suggestions concerning your study’s significance, which may arise after submitting your manuscript to a journal. You may find yourself in a position where they’d ask you to consider expounding on a particular matter or providing more concrete reasons why your study warrants publication. Take these suggestions to heart when reviewing your journal, as they could help you find more information that could lead to you fleshing out your study’s significance or rethinking it.
Once you have identified this aspect of your study, consider reviewing your manuscript to ensure its readiness for submission. Consider choosing professional editing services and availing of various manuscript preparation services, such as Journal Selection and Expert Review, from Journal Lab by Lexcode to give you that extra edge.