Research Writing

How to start a research project/Parts of a research project

Investigation project

The research project is a document that is written as a guide or plan to carry out a research work. Explain in an orderly way what the research problem is, what is known about the topic, what are the possible solutions and how the activities or experiments will be carried out to solve the problem. How to start a research project?

The research project includes, in addition to the identification of the problem, the objectives of the research, the key concepts that will be used and the description of the methodology to be applied.

Doing the research project is preparation to enter fully into the research. In it, the different stages that have to be developed to cover the investigative process and how long they should take are shown.

The research project also serves to demonstrate that the area in which the research is carried out is mastered and that, thanks to this, we are able to answer the question that originated the search. It also opens the opportunity for other people to evaluate the project and determine if it is possible or not.

Parts of a research project

Research projects generally have rules and a structure that are defined by the institution or university where the research will be carried out. However, most research projects have the following parts:

Research title

It is the first window a reader sees on the research project. It expresses in abbreviated form the problem to be investigated. It has to be precise and related to the objective of the investigation.

For example, if an investigation is carried out on the use of seawater to irrigate crops, it could be titled “Seawater as an alternative for irrigating home plants.” How to start a research project?


It presents a synthesis where, in a few pages, you can read the general aspects of the research topic, the objective and the methodology to be applied. This helps the reader to get an idea of ​​the research we intend to carry out, and which will be better detailed in the following parts.

Research objectives

They are the actions that demarcate what the investigation will be. Some projects have general objectives and specific objectives. For example: determine the viability of plants irrigated with seawater.

Importance and justification of the research

They are all reasons why this research should be done.

For example, if seawater could be used to water plants, we could solve the drought problem in many countries. In addition, it could take advantage of sea water, which is much more abundant on the planet than fresh water. How to start a research project?

Theoretical framework

It presents the theoretical foundations and definitions necessary to approach the investigation. It covers everything that has been done that supports the resolution of the research problem.

The theoretical framework includes the key concepts to understand the work, what are the variables and indicators that are going to be handled and what are the hypotheses or assumptions that are had to explain the problem.

For example, in the study of seawater as an irrigation alternative, information on the availability of water on the planet, why droughts have increased, if there are other similar investigations and what were their conclusions should be presented in the theoretical framework.

Methodological framework

It is the part of the research project where the methods and techniques that will serve to achieve the research objectives are shown. Here are presented the type of research that will be carried out, how the problem will be tackled, where the study will be done, and how many experiments will be done. It also shows what methods or techniques will be needed and what will be measured.

Another important part of the methodological framework is how the results will be presented and how the data will be analyzed. How to start a research project?

Execution plan

It is the schedule of activities that have to be carried out to meet the objectives of the investigation. It is usually presented as a table like the following:

Study budget

It presents the expenses that are needed to be able to carry out the research work. This includes the people needed to do the work, the materials and instruments, the trips or trips that have to be done, and the services that have to be contracted. This applies in specific cases of projects that will be financed by institutions.


All the complementary information that is not critical to understanding the project can be classified within the annexes. For example, you could put the chemical composition of different waters, photos of the beach where the seawater samples were taken.


List the books, articles, magazines, and other sources of information that were used to complete the written work.

How to start a research project in 9 steps

1. Research the topic of your interest

The first step in an investigation is to review a topic that interests us. For example, if someone is interested in plants they will like to read about botany or plant biology. How to start a research project?

2. Define the problem of your research

Any investigation begins when a problem is detected. For example, in some parts near the coast there are restrictions on the water supply and this affects crops. However, the sea is close by and there is plenty of salt water available. The problem arises: can sea water be used to water plants?

3. Create the objectives

Knowing what is the problem we are facing, we must establish the action or actions that will help us to resolve the situation. In this way, when outlining the objectives we are delimiting all possible activities and we are concentrating on what we can achieve.

For example, to determine if seawater can be used to water plants, possible goals would be:

  • Determine the effect of seawater on some plants.
  • Determine what type of plants thrive with a seawater irrigation.
  • Compare the growth of plants watered with seawater and with fresh water.

4. Develop the theoretical framework

Collect information that helps us to try to understand the subject and not repeat what other researchers have already shown. We can look for information on the Internet, in libraries, interviewing people who have experience in the subject and any other means that can help us.

For example, to solve the problem of irrigating crops with seawater we must put together a theoretical framework. In this it is considered how the plants that live by the sea survive and what is the composition of the sea water. It also shows if other research has already been done using seawater. How to start a research project?

5. State your hypothesis

A key step of the project is to try to explain or propose solutions, based on prior knowledge and what we hope to obtain from the research. In the investigation of seawater and plants, the possible hypotheses would be: If there are islands in the middle of the sea whose vegetation survives, possibly these plants obtain their water from the sea.

See also Hypothesis

6. Determine the activities to be carried out

We have to list the activities that must be carried out until the investigation is completed. This will help us to specify what we can do and the time we have available.

The possible activities for the investigation of seawater and plants would be:

  1. Design the experiments.
  2. Selection of plants.
  3. Collection of seawater samples.
  4. Sow the plants and water them with sea water.
  5. Use plants watered with normal water as a control.

7. Project a schedule of activities

Knowing what activities are going to be done makes it easier to plan when they are going to be done. For example: How to start a research project?

  • January: Materials are purchased and a trip is planned to a beach where seawater can be collected.
  • February: a pilot test is done to prove that things are working well.
  • February-May: crops and irrigations begin.
  • May: the data is processed, which can be photographs of the growth of the plants each week, size of the plants, color of the plants, how many seeds germinated, other aspects that can be measured.

8. Establish the budget and costs of the investigation

In most investigations we need materials and resources to carry out the activities. In cases where support is requested, the materials must be presented broken down and how much they cost.

In the investigation of plants irrigated with seawater, you have to buy the containers for sowing, the soil or compost, the seeds or the plants, travel to a beach to collect the seawater.

9. Write the research project

Once we have all the information we can write the research project, following the regulations of our institution. How to start a research project?

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