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Instructions for writing a research plan

A good research plan (roughly six pages) should include the following information: topic, background, objectives, methods, data and execution. It should also demonstrate that the author is familiar with his/her topic and related research.

The research plan should be at most 6 pages long (minimum font size 12 points, 2.5 cm margins all around). In addition, enclose references and a cover sheet stating your name and the title of your study with your research plan. Please use page numbers.

The research plan should include the following:

1. A clear description of the aims, research questions and importance of the planned study

In the introduction, introduce readers to the topic, state your reasons for selecting that topic and specify the objectives of the study. Present your topic and state clearly why it is important to study it. Good reasons include a lack of previous research, social significance, practical need, etc. Please bear in mind that an idea is not the same as a topic; to formulate your topic, you must define your subject area, select an approach, familiarise yourself with previous research and place your study in that context. What is already known about the topic?

Formulate your research problem and related research questions in as much detail as possible. What are you actually studying? Formulate your research questions in such a way that you can answer them.

2. Background and central state of the art references

Introduce the key theoretical premises and main concepts of your study.

3. Description of research methods and materials (i.e. data) to be collected

Tell readers how you will answer your research questions. If your study is empirical, your research plan should specify your research data and methods. You can describe them in more detail later, but try to be as specific as possible. How will you access or produce your data? How will you acquire your research subjects? How will you analyse your data?

Consider possible ethical matters. If you are not sure whether your study has any ethical considerations, refer to the guidelines of the Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity, available online at

4. Expected results and their contribution in respect to earlier research

Outline what new information your study will produce. How and where can this information be used?

5. Time schedule and resources

Draw up a schedule describing when and how you will conduct your study and when you plan to publish your findings (e.g. planned conference and journal publications, software releases etc.). If you want, you can enclose a preliminary disposition with your research plan. What are the necessary resources including access to required technology, laboratories, funding plan, description of research environment and group, name of the supervisor, description of the needed or planned collaboration during the research.

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Last update: 25.10.2017 15.13 Muokkaa

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