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Why ‘context’ is important for research

Context is something we’ve been thinking a lot about at ScienceOpen recently. It comes from the Latin ‘ con ’ and ‘ texere ’ (to form ‘ contextus ’), which means ‘weave together’. The implications for science are fairly obvious: modern research is about weaving together different strands of information, thought, and data to place your results into the context of existing research. This is the reason why we have introductory and discussion sections at the intra-article level.

But what about context at a higher level?

Context can defined as: “ The circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood .” Simple follow on questions might be then, what is the context of a research article? How do we define that context? How do we build on that to do science more efficiently? The whole point for the existence of research articles is that they can be understood by as broad an audience as possible so that their re-use is maximised.

There are many things that impinge upon the context of research. Paywalls, secretive and exclusive peer review, lack of discovery, lack of inter-operability, lack of accessibility. The list is practically endless, and a general by-product of a failure for traditional scholarly publishing models to embrace a Web-based era.

While a lot of excellent new research platforms now feature slick discovery tools and features, we feel that this falls short of what is really needed for optimal research re-use in the digital age.

Discovery is the pathway to context. Context of an article is all about how research fits into increasingly complex domains, and using structured networks to decipher its value. With the power of the internet at our disposal, putting research in context should be of key importance in a world where there is ever more research being published that is impossible to manually filter.

Tracking the genealogy of research

Citations are perhaps what we might consider to be academic context. These form the structured networks or genealogies of an idea in their rawest sense. Through citations we gain a small amount of understanding into how research is being re-used by other researchers, and also the gateway to understanding what it is those citations are telling us.

At ScienceOpen, we show all articles and article records that cite a particular research article, and also provide links to similar articles on our platform. These are drawn at the moment from almost 12 million article records, so can potentially form huge networks of information.

In addition we show which articles are most similar based on keywords, and also which open access articles are citing a particular work. You can explore each of these in more depth, and begin to track research networks! So it’s like enhanced discovery, but with a smattering of cherries on top.

Generating context through engagement

One of the great things about context is that it is flexible and can be defined by user engagement. Take peer review for example. This is a way of adding context to a paper, by drawing on external expertise and perspective to enhance the content of a research article. Peer evaluation of this sort is crucial for defining the context of a paper, and should not be hidden away out of sight and use. As we use public post-publication peer review at ScienceOpen, the full discussion and process of research is transparent.

Other ways of generating simple context are through sharing and recommendations of articles. The more this is done, the more you can understand which articles are of wider interest.

Social context

The rise of altmetrics can be seen as the broadening how we think about context. Altmetrics are a pathway to understanding how articles have been discussed, mentioned or shared in online sources including mainstream news outlets, blogs, and a variety of social networks.

On every single article record (almost 12 million at the moment), we show Altmetric scores. You can also sort searches by Altmetric, which provides additional context for which articles are generating the most societal discussion online. This is great if you want to track social media trends in a particular field, and again is all about placing research objects into a broader context.

So these are just some of the ways in which we put research in context, and we do it on a massive scale. Let us know in the comments what you think ‘research in context’ is all about, and why you think it’s important!

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How to Write an Effective Background of the Study: A Comprehensive Guide


Table of Contents

The background of the study in a research paper offers a clear context, highlighting why the research is essential and the problem it aims to address.

As a researcher, this foundational section is essential for you to chart the course of your study, Moreover, it allows readers to understand the importance and path of your research.

Whether in academic communities or to the general public, a well-articulated background aids in communicating the essence of the research effectively.

While it may seem straightforward, crafting an effective background requires a blend of clarity, precision, and relevance. Therefore, this article aims to be your guide, offering insights into:

  • Understanding the concept of the background of the study.
  • Learning how to craft a compelling background effectively.
  • Identifying and sidestepping common pitfalls in writing the background.
  • Exploring practical examples that bring the theory to life.
  • Enhancing both your writing and reading of academic papers.

Keeping these compelling insights in mind, let's delve deeper into the details of the empirical background of the study, exploring its definition, distinctions, and the art of writing it effectively.

What is the background of the study?

The background of the study is placed at the beginning of a research paper. It provides the context, circumstances, and history that led to the research problem or topic being explored.

It offers readers a snapshot of the existing knowledge on the topic and the reasons that spurred your current research.

When crafting the background of your study, consider the following questions.

  • What's the context of your research?
  • Which previous research will you refer to?
  • Are there any knowledge gaps in the existing relevant literature?
  • How will you justify the need for your current research?
  • Have you concisely presented the research question or problem?

In a typical research paper structure, after presenting the background, the introduction section follows. The introduction delves deeper into the specific objectives of the research and often outlines the structure or main points that the paper will cover.

Together, they create a cohesive starting point, ensuring readers are well-equipped to understand the subsequent sections of the research paper.

While the background of the study and the introduction section of the research manuscript may seem similar and sometimes even overlap, each serves a unique purpose in the research narrative.

Difference between background and introduction

A well-written background of the study and introduction are preliminary sections of a research paper and serve distinct purposes.

Here’s a detailed tabular comparison between the two of them.




Primary purpose

Provides context and logical reasons for the research, explaining why the study is necessary.

Entails the broader scope of the research, hinting at its objectives and significance.

Depth of information

It delves into the existing literature, highlighting gaps or unresolved questions that the research aims to address.

It offers a general overview, touching upon the research topic without going into extensive detail.

Content focus

The focus is on historical context, previous studies, and the evolution of the research topic.

The focus is on the broader research field, potential implications, and a preview of the research structure.

Position in a research paper

Typically comes at the very beginning, setting the stage for the research.

Follows the background, leading readers into the main body of the research.


Analytical, detailing the topic and its significance.

General and anticipatory, preparing readers for the depth and direction of the focus of the study.

What is the relevance of the background of the study?

It is necessary for you to provide your readers with the background of your research. Without this, readers may grapple with questions such as: Why was this specific research topic chosen? What led to this decision? Why is this study relevant? Is it worth their time?

Such uncertainties can deter them from fully engaging with your study, leading to the rejection of your research paper. Additionally, this can diminish its impact in the academic community, and reduce its potential for real-world application or policy influence .

To address these concerns and offer clarity, the background section plays a pivotal role in research papers.

The background of the study in research is important as it:

  • Provides context: It offers readers a clear picture of the existing knowledge, helping them understand where the current research fits in.
  • Highlights relevance: By detailing the reasons for the research, it underscores the study's significance and its potential impact.
  • Guides the narrative: The background shapes the narrative flow of the paper, ensuring a logical progression from what's known to what the research aims to uncover.
  • Enhances engagement: A well-crafted background piques the reader's interest, encouraging them to delve deeper into the research paper.
  • Aids in comprehension: By setting the scenario, it aids readers in better grasping the research objectives, methodologies, and findings.

How to write the background of the study in a research paper?

The journey of presenting a compelling argument begins with the background study. This section holds the power to either captivate or lose the reader's interest.

An effectively written background not only provides context but also sets the tone for the entire research paper. It's the bridge that connects a broad topic to a specific research question, guiding readers through the logic behind the study.

But how does one craft a background of the study that resonates, informs, and engages?

Here, we’ll discuss how to write an impactful background study, ensuring your research stands out and captures the attention it deserves.

Identify the research problem

The first step is to start pinpointing the specific issue or gap you're addressing. This should be a significant and relevant problem in your field.

A well-defined problem is specific, relevant, and significant to your field. It should resonate with both experts and readers.

Here’s more on how to write an effective research problem .

Provide context

Here, you need to provide a broader perspective, illustrating how your research aligns with or contributes to the overarching context or the wider field of study. A comprehensive context is grounded in facts, offers multiple perspectives, and is relatable.

In addition to stating facts, you should weave a story that connects key concepts from the past, present, and potential future research. For instance, consider the following approach.

  • Offer a brief history of the topic, highlighting major milestones or turning points that have shaped the current landscape.
  • Discuss contemporary developments or current trends that provide relevant information to your research problem. This could include technological advancements, policy changes, or shifts in societal attitudes.
  • Highlight the views of different stakeholders. For a topic like sustainable agriculture, this could mean discussing the perspectives of farmers, environmentalists, policymakers, and consumers.
  • If relevant, compare and contrast global trends with local conditions and circumstances. This can offer readers a more holistic understanding of the topic.

Literature review

For this step, you’ll deep dive into the existing literature on the same topic. It's where you explore what scholars, researchers, and experts have already discovered or discussed about your topic.

Conducting a thorough literature review isn't just a recap of past works. To elevate its efficacy, it's essential to analyze the methods, outcomes, and intricacies of prior research work, demonstrating a thorough engagement with the existing body of knowledge.

  • Instead of merely listing past research study, delve into their methodologies, findings, and limitations. Highlight groundbreaking studies and those that had contrasting results.
  • Try to identify patterns. Look for recurring themes or trends in the literature. Are there common conclusions or contentious points?
  • The next step would be to connect the dots. Show how different pieces of research relate to each other. This can help in understanding the evolution of thought on the topic.

By showcasing what's already known, you can better highlight the background of the study in research.

Highlight the research gap

This step involves identifying the unexplored areas or unanswered questions in the existing literature. Your research seeks to address these gaps, providing new insights or answers.

A clear research gap shows you've thoroughly engaged with existing literature and found an area that needs further exploration.

How can you efficiently highlight the research gap?

  • Find the overlooked areas. Point out topics or angles that haven't been adequately addressed.
  • Highlight questions that have emerged due to recent developments or changing circumstances.
  • Identify areas where insights from other fields might be beneficial but haven't been explored yet.

State your objectives

Here, it’s all about laying out your game plan — What do you hope to achieve with your research? You need to mention a clear objective that’s specific, actionable, and directly tied to the research gap.

How to state your objectives?

  • List the primary questions guiding your research.
  • If applicable, state any hypotheses or predictions you aim to test.
  • Specify what you hope to achieve, whether it's new insights, solutions, or methodologies.

Discuss the significance

This step describes your 'why'. Why is your research important? What broader implications does it have?

The significance of “why” should be both theoretical (adding to the existing literature) and practical (having real-world implications).

How do we effectively discuss the significance?

  • Discuss how your research adds to the existing body of knowledge.
  • Highlight how your findings could be applied in real-world scenarios, from policy changes to on-ground practices.
  • Point out how your research could pave the way for further studies or open up new areas of exploration.

Summarize your points

A concise summary acts as a bridge, smoothly transitioning readers from the background to the main body of the paper. This step is a brief recap, ensuring that readers have grasped the foundational concepts.

How to summarize your study?

  • Revisit the key points discussed, from the research problem to its significance.
  • Prepare the reader for the subsequent sections, ensuring they understand the research's direction.

Include examples for better understanding

Research and come up with real-world or hypothetical examples to clarify complex concepts or to illustrate the practical applications of your research. Relevant examples make abstract ideas tangible, aiding comprehension.

How to include an effective example of the background of the study?

  • Use past events or scenarios to explain concepts.
  • Craft potential scenarios to demonstrate the implications of your findings.
  • Use comparisons to simplify complex ideas, making them more relatable.

Crafting a compelling background of the study in research is about striking the right balance between providing essential context, showcasing your comprehensive understanding of the existing literature, and highlighting the unique value of your research .

While writing the background of the study, keep your readers at the forefront of your mind. Every piece of information, every example, and every objective should be geared toward helping them understand and appreciate your research.

How to avoid mistakes in the background of the study in research?

To write a well-crafted background of the study, you should be aware of the following potential research pitfalls .

  • Stay away from ambiguity. Always assume that your reader might not be familiar with intricate details about your topic.
  • Avoid discussing unrelated themes. Stick to what's directly relevant to your research problem.
  • Ensure your background is well-organized. Information should flow logically, making it easy for readers to follow.
  • While it's vital to provide context, avoid overwhelming the reader with excessive details that might not be directly relevant to your research problem.
  • Ensure you've covered the most significant and relevant studies i` n your field. Overlooking key pieces of literature can make your background seem incomplete.
  • Aim for a balanced presentation of facts, and avoid showing overt bias or presenting only one side of an argument.
  • While academic paper often involves specialized terms, ensure they're adequately explained or use simpler alternatives when possible.
  • Every claim or piece of information taken from existing literature should be appropriately cited. Failing to do so can lead to issues of plagiarism.
  • Avoid making the background too lengthy. While thoroughness is appreciated, it should not come at the expense of losing the reader's interest. Maybe prefer to keep it to one-two paragraphs long.
  • Especially in rapidly evolving fields, it's crucial to ensure that your literature review section is up-to-date and includes the latest research.

Example of an effective background of the study

Let's consider a topic: "The Impact of Online Learning on Student Performance." The ideal background of the study section for this topic would be as follows.

In the last decade, the rise of the internet has revolutionized many sectors, including education. Online learning platforms, once a supplementary educational tool, have now become a primary mode of instruction for many institutions worldwide. With the recent global events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a rapid shift from traditional classroom learning to online modes, making it imperative to understand its effects on student performance.

Previous studies have explored various facets of online learning, from its accessibility to its flexibility. However, there is a growing need to assess its direct impact on student outcomes. While some educators advocate for its benefits, citing the convenience and vast resources available, others express concerns about potential drawbacks, such as reduced student engagement and the challenges of self-discipline.

This research aims to delve deeper into this debate, evaluating the true impact of online learning on student performance.

Why is this example considered as an effective background section of a research paper?

This background section example effectively sets the context by highlighting the rise of online learning and its increased relevance due to recent global events. It references prior research on the topic, indicating a foundation built on existing knowledge.

By presenting both the potential advantages and concerns of online learning, it establishes a balanced view, leading to the clear purpose of the study: to evaluate the true impact of online learning on student performance.

As we've explored, writing an effective background of the study in research requires clarity, precision, and a keen understanding of both the broader landscape and the specific details of your topic.

From identifying the research problem, providing context, reviewing existing literature to highlighting research gaps and stating objectives, each step is pivotal in shaping the narrative of your research. And while there are best practices to follow, it's equally crucial to be aware of the pitfalls to avoid.

Remember, writing or refining the background of your study is essential to engage your readers, familiarize them with the research context, and set the ground for the insights your research project will unveil.

Drawing from all the important details, insights and guidance shared, you're now in a strong position to craft a background of the study that not only informs but also engages and resonates with your readers.

Now that you've a clear understanding of what the background of the study aims to achieve, the natural progression is to delve into the next crucial component — write an effective introduction section of a research paper. Read here .

Frequently Asked Questions

The background of the study should include a clear context for the research, references to relevant previous studies, identification of knowledge gaps, justification for the current research, a concise overview of the research problem or question, and an indication of the study's significance or potential impact.

The background of the study is written to provide readers with a clear understanding of the context, significance, and rationale behind the research. It offers a snapshot of existing knowledge on the topic, highlights the relevance of the study, and sets the stage for the research questions and objectives. It ensures that readers can grasp the importance of the research and its place within the broader field of study.

The background of the study is a section in a research paper that provides context, circumstances, and history leading to the research problem or topic being explored. It presents existing knowledge on the topic and outlines the reasons that spurred the current research, helping readers understand the research's foundation and its significance in the broader academic landscape.

The number of paragraphs in the background of the study can vary based on the complexity of the topic and the depth of the context required. Typically, it might range from 3 to 5 paragraphs, but in more detailed or complex research papers, it could be longer. The key is to ensure that all relevant information is presented clearly and concisely, without unnecessary repetition.

what to include in research context

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what to include in research context

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Posted By , Tuesday, May 3, 2022

In qualitative research, we study how people make decisions, why they behave the way they do, and what they think about various products or services. And the most authentic way to study how people come to these opinions or behave the way they do is by putting people in

Human beings are triggered—subconsciously—by settings, stimuli, and often, others’ opinions. Yet in qual, we’re prone to think that it’s our “methodologically sound” questions that will give us answers, regardless of whether we’re interviewing over Zoom, in a focus group at a facility, or in an office workspace. But that’s simply not true; to truly take insights to a higher level, it’s critical to keep the context of how decisions are made.

Let’s explore this more by looking at how to think about context before setting up a study.

This sounds obvious, yet so many researchers miss this when they think about methodology design.

The first question to ask yourself when thinking about methodology is simply this:

For example, if someone is shopping online for clothes, and you’re testing the user interface, then the obvious study design will be a one-on-one interview, where you can see the person navigate through the app/website. This is an individual decision.

However, what if instead the study was about fashion trends—and not the shopping interface? Next, you have to ask yourself: Is the target audience one that may look at fashion with friends, discuss what’s stylish, and make decisions that are influenced by others?

If the answer to this question is yes, then consider a focus group or co-creation study to understand how a cohort discusses and judges fashion options. The interplay among the participants (assuming you have a well-defined persona group) will give you far richer insights than had you done a one-on-one interview.

This key question, applies equally to business contexts.
I do a lot of B2B research at my firm, and I always find it interesting when clients will propose IDIs if the type of software they develop is tested, analyzed, and ultimately decided upon by a group of people, versus a single individual. ( : Software purchases are almost always decided by teams.)

If this is the study’s purpose, therefore (to understand the viability of a new software product for a team), I’m going to propose a group methodology study.

This may involve an affinity group (or snowball sample) of a whole team, where I interview them about the product and see how they discuss and make the decision, , or I’ll interview like-titles and industry participants to see how they debate and analyze the software product.

This mimics how decisions are made in the workplace, and the insights are far richer than IDIs will produce.

The second question to ask yourself, after the methodology is decided, is will you collect the data?

Or, in other words: What’s the appropriate setting context for this type of research?

Let’s say you’re talking to millennials who work in tech about burnout on the job. Sure, you could take them to a facility, but for this cohort, they might feel more relaxed in a hip co-working space. For studies like this, I’ll interview them in a WeWork conference room.

Another example: Let’s say you’re talking to HR executives about health care software platforms. In this case, a focus group facility would be my choice: The formality and more corporate setting will lend itself to a discussion where I can help participants feel more comfortable about the topic.

And finally, what about a study where you’re studying passenger stress when flying on airplanes? Is interviewing them one-on-one via Zoom really going to capture how they felt when they were fifth in the lineup for boarding?

No, it won’t.

So in a study like this, I would propose having them record their experiences—as they’re flying—on a mobile ethnography app. I’d then debrief after in an IDI. In this way, I’m able to observe them contextually, and then fill in later with more specific probes about their experiences.

If you think of these two rules as you’re setting up studies:


You’ll find that your research will be more creative, fruitful, and more accurately capture true opinions, behaviors, and decisions.

Joanna Jones and Karen Seratti are the co-founders of and Joanna is the founder of . At InterQ Learning Labs, the instructors teach research contextually—meaning the participants are taken to various research spaces, and they learn how to set up studies based on the research goals and outputs. InterQ Learning Labs classes are held in premier cities around the U.S. in 2- and 4-day immersive settings. InterQ is based in the San Francisco Bay Area.



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Report reader checklist : context.

Information about the context of a study is usually included at the beginning and end of a report. At the beginning of a report, this context should be provided to describe past research and theory and then explain the focus of the study. At the end of a report, a contextual discussion can relate the findings of the study back to past research and suggest next steps to further understand the topic. When context is missing from a report, you may not understand how the study relates to or informs a general understanding of the topic. For example, you might not have a clear understanding of the background on the topic, how the study advances knowledge on the topic and how the results of the study can be applied. The following are important things to identify as you look for context in research reports:

The report provides a background on the topic, including relevant definitions, the context within which the study is conducted and a rationale for why the study was conducted.

It is important for you to understand why the study was conducted, what the study attempted to accomplish, why the research is important to the field and how the results could be used.

It is also important for you to know how this study fits into the larger body of research that has been conducted on this topic. If the study is the first study of its kind, that should be mentioned. Otherwise, look to see if the authors include references to studies previously published on the topic. This helps you understand how the study adds to or clarifies understanding of the topic. [ see examples ] b. The report explains the history of the study and/or theoretical frameworks, if appropriate.

Some studies in the field of online teaching and learning are repeated periodically. When this is the case, a report should include information, such as past participant rates, revisions to survey instruments or research protocols, or other changes to the study methodology since the previous findings were released.

Study reports may also include theoretical frameworks . Theories (or theoretical frameworks) associate a study with other studies done on a topic. These studies combined together (often called a body of research) can increase overall understanding of a topic and help you see where a study falls within a line of research. You should be able to understand the basic theoretical framework of a report without prior knowledge. If the study is based in theory, the theory can be described and it should be clear how the theory relates to the main focus of the study. [ see examples ] c. The report includes the research aims or goals addressed by the study.

Research aims or goals are often included toward the beginning of the report after past research and theoretical frameworks have been explained. Research aims or goals (sometimes framed as questions) should be clearly identified in a report and can be written in a way that helps you understand what the study is investigating.

[ see examples ] d. The report offers suggestions for further research.

a. The report describes the larger purpose or need for the study.

  • See pages 11-14 for an example of a summary of previous research and clear definitions.
  • See page 3 for a description of this study’s purpose with citations.

b. The report explains the history of the study and/or theoretical frameworks, if appropriate.

  • Pages 5-7 highlight key findings as compared to previous year’s reports. Page 6 features major themes over 12 years of conducting this report.

c. The report includes the research aims or goals addressed by the study.

  • Page 3 features a preface that provides key details about the history of the report and the need for the twelfth edition.

d. The report offers suggestions for further research.

  • See pages 9-10 for several recommendations for future research. These recommendations are provided in a way that is digestible for diverse readers.

Checklist areas

Download a one-page version of the checklist .

What are theoretical frameworks?

What are qualitative research methodologies, what are quantitative research methodologies, what are mixed methodologies, what is validity, what is the difference between a population and a sample, what is generalizability in research, what is data visualization, what is conflict of interest, contact info.

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Research Method

Home » Background of The Study – Examples and Writing Guide

Background of The Study – Examples and Writing Guide

Table of Contents

Background of The Study

Background of The Study


Background of the study refers to the context, circumstances, and history that led to the research problem or topic being studied. It provides the reader with a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter and the significance of the study.

The background of the study usually includes a discussion of the relevant literature, the gap in knowledge or understanding, and the research questions or hypotheses to be addressed. It also highlights the importance of the research topic and its potential contributions to the field. A well-written background of the study sets the stage for the research and helps the reader to appreciate the need for the study and its potential significance.

How to Write Background of The Study

Here are some steps to help you write the background of the study:

Identify the Research Problem

Start by identifying the research problem you are trying to address. This problem should be significant and relevant to your field of study.

Provide Context

Once you have identified the research problem, provide some context. This could include the historical, social, or political context of the problem.

Review Literature

Conduct a thorough review of the existing literature on the topic. This will help you understand what has been studied and what gaps exist in the current research.

Identify Research Gap

Based on your literature review, identify the gap in knowledge or understanding that your research aims to address. This gap will be the focus of your research question or hypothesis.

State Objectives

Clearly state the objectives of your research . These should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

Discuss Significance

Explain the significance of your research. This could include its potential impact on theory , practice, policy, or society.

Finally, summarize the key points of the background of the study. This will help the reader understand the research problem, its context, and its significance.

How to Write Background of The Study in Proposal

The background of the study is an essential part of any proposal as it sets the stage for the research project and provides the context and justification for why the research is needed. Here are the steps to write a compelling background of the study in your proposal:

  • Identify the problem: Clearly state the research problem or gap in the current knowledge that you intend to address through your research.
  • Provide context: Provide a brief overview of the research area and highlight its significance in the field.
  • Review literature: Summarize the relevant literature related to the research problem and provide a critical evaluation of the current state of knowledge.
  • Identify gaps : Identify the gaps or limitations in the existing literature and explain how your research will contribute to filling these gaps.
  • Justify the study : Explain why your research is important and what practical or theoretical contributions it can make to the field.
  • Highlight objectives: Clearly state the objectives of the study and how they relate to the research problem.
  • Discuss methodology: Provide an overview of the methodology you will use to collect and analyze data, and explain why it is appropriate for the research problem.
  • Conclude : Summarize the key points of the background of the study and explain how they support your research proposal.

How to Write Background of The Study In Thesis

The background of the study is a critical component of a thesis as it provides context for the research problem, rationale for conducting the study, and the significance of the research. Here are some steps to help you write a strong background of the study:

  • Identify the research problem : Start by identifying the research problem that your thesis is addressing. What is the issue that you are trying to solve or explore? Be specific and concise in your problem statement.
  • Review the literature: Conduct a thorough review of the relevant literature on the topic. This should include scholarly articles, books, and other sources that are directly related to your research question.
  • I dentify gaps in the literature: After reviewing the literature, identify any gaps in the existing research. What questions remain unanswered? What areas have not been explored? This will help you to establish the need for your research.
  • Establish the significance of the research: Clearly state the significance of your research. Why is it important to address this research problem? What are the potential implications of your research? How will it contribute to the field?
  • Provide an overview of the research design: Provide an overview of the research design and methodology that you will be using in your study. This should include a brief explanation of the research approach, data collection methods, and data analysis techniques.
  • State the research objectives and research questions: Clearly state the research objectives and research questions that your study aims to answer. These should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
  • Summarize the chapter: Summarize the chapter by highlighting the key points and linking them back to the research problem, significance of the study, and research questions.

How to Write Background of The Study in Research Paper

Here are the steps to write the background of the study in a research paper:

  • Identify the research problem: Start by identifying the research problem that your study aims to address. This can be a particular issue, a gap in the literature, or a need for further investigation.
  • Conduct a literature review: Conduct a thorough literature review to gather information on the topic, identify existing studies, and understand the current state of research. This will help you identify the gap in the literature that your study aims to fill.
  • Explain the significance of the study: Explain why your study is important and why it is necessary. This can include the potential impact on the field, the importance to society, or the need to address a particular issue.
  • Provide context: Provide context for the research problem by discussing the broader social, economic, or political context that the study is situated in. This can help the reader understand the relevance of the study and its potential implications.
  • State the research questions and objectives: State the research questions and objectives that your study aims to address. This will help the reader understand the scope of the study and its purpose.
  • Summarize the methodology : Briefly summarize the methodology you used to conduct the study, including the data collection and analysis methods. This can help the reader understand how the study was conducted and its reliability.

Examples of Background of The Study

Here are some examples of the background of the study:

Problem : The prevalence of obesity among children in the United States has reached alarming levels, with nearly one in five children classified as obese.

Significance : Obesity in childhood is associated with numerous negative health outcomes, including increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers.

Gap in knowledge : Despite efforts to address the obesity epidemic, rates continue to rise. There is a need for effective interventions that target the unique needs of children and their families.

Problem : The use of antibiotics in agriculture has contributed to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which poses a significant threat to human health.

Significance : Antibiotic-resistant infections are responsible for thousands of deaths each year and are a major public health concern.

Gap in knowledge: While there is a growing body of research on the use of antibiotics in agriculture, there is still much to be learned about the mechanisms of resistance and the most effective strategies for reducing antibiotic use.

Edxample 3:

Problem : Many low-income communities lack access to healthy food options, leading to high rates of food insecurity and diet-related diseases.

Significance : Poor nutrition is a major contributor to chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Gap in knowledge : While there have been efforts to address food insecurity, there is a need for more research on the barriers to accessing healthy food in low-income communities and effective strategies for increasing access.

Examples of Background of The Study In Research

Here are some real-life examples of how the background of the study can be written in different fields of study:

Example 1 : “There has been a significant increase in the incidence of diabetes in recent years. This has led to an increased demand for effective diabetes management strategies. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of a new diabetes management program in improving patient outcomes.”

Example 2 : “The use of social media has become increasingly prevalent in modern society. Despite its popularity, little is known about the effects of social media use on mental health. This study aims to investigate the relationship between social media use and mental health in young adults.”

Example 3: “Despite significant advancements in cancer treatment, the survival rate for patients with pancreatic cancer remains low. The purpose of this study is to identify potential biomarkers that can be used to improve early detection and treatment of pancreatic cancer.”

Examples of Background of The Study in Proposal

Here are some real-time examples of the background of the study in a proposal:

Example 1 : The prevalence of mental health issues among university students has been increasing over the past decade. This study aims to investigate the causes and impacts of mental health issues on academic performance and wellbeing.

Example 2 : Climate change is a global issue that has significant implications for agriculture in developing countries. This study aims to examine the adaptive capacity of smallholder farmers to climate change and identify effective strategies to enhance their resilience.

Example 3 : The use of social media in political campaigns has become increasingly common in recent years. This study aims to analyze the effectiveness of social media campaigns in mobilizing young voters and influencing their voting behavior.

Example 4 : Employee turnover is a major challenge for organizations, especially in the service sector. This study aims to identify the key factors that influence employee turnover in the hospitality industry and explore effective strategies for reducing turnover rates.

Examples of Background of The Study in Thesis

Here are some real-time examples of the background of the study in the thesis:

Example 1 : “Women’s participation in the workforce has increased significantly over the past few decades. However, women continue to be underrepresented in leadership positions, particularly in male-dominated industries such as technology. This study aims to examine the factors that contribute to the underrepresentation of women in leadership roles in the technology industry, with a focus on organizational culture and gender bias.”

Example 2 : “Mental health is a critical component of overall health and well-being. Despite increased awareness of the importance of mental health, there are still significant gaps in access to mental health services, particularly in low-income and rural communities. This study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of a community-based mental health intervention in improving mental health outcomes in underserved populations.”

Example 3: “The use of technology in education has become increasingly widespread, with many schools adopting online learning platforms and digital resources. However, there is limited research on the impact of technology on student learning outcomes and engagement. This study aims to explore the relationship between technology use and academic achievement among middle school students, as well as the factors that mediate this relationship.”

Examples of Background of The Study in Research Paper

Here are some examples of how the background of the study can be written in various fields:

Example 1: The prevalence of obesity has been on the rise globally, with the World Health Organization reporting that approximately 650 million adults were obese in 2016. Obesity is a major risk factor for several chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. In recent years, several interventions have been proposed to address this issue, including lifestyle changes, pharmacotherapy, and bariatric surgery. However, there is a lack of consensus on the most effective intervention for obesity management. This study aims to investigate the efficacy of different interventions for obesity management and identify the most effective one.

Example 2: Antibiotic resistance has become a major public health threat worldwide. Infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria are associated with longer hospital stays, higher healthcare costs, and increased mortality. The inappropriate use of antibiotics is one of the main factors contributing to the development of antibiotic resistance. Despite numerous efforts to promote the rational use of antibiotics, studies have shown that many healthcare providers continue to prescribe antibiotics inappropriately. This study aims to explore the factors influencing healthcare providers’ prescribing behavior and identify strategies to improve antibiotic prescribing practices.

Example 3: Social media has become an integral part of modern communication, with millions of people worldwide using platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Social media has several advantages, including facilitating communication, connecting people, and disseminating information. However, social media use has also been associated with several negative outcomes, including cyberbullying, addiction, and mental health problems. This study aims to investigate the impact of social media use on mental health and identify the factors that mediate this relationship.

Purpose of Background of The Study

The primary purpose of the background of the study is to help the reader understand the rationale for the research by presenting the historical, theoretical, and empirical background of the problem.

More specifically, the background of the study aims to:

  • Provide a clear understanding of the research problem and its context.
  • Identify the gap in knowledge that the study intends to fill.
  • Establish the significance of the research problem and its potential contribution to the field.
  • Highlight the key concepts, theories, and research findings related to the problem.
  • Provide a rationale for the research questions or hypotheses and the research design.
  • Identify the limitations and scope of the study.

When to Write Background of The Study

The background of the study should be written early on in the research process, ideally before the research design is finalized and data collection begins. This allows the researcher to clearly articulate the rationale for the study and establish a strong foundation for the research.

The background of the study typically comes after the introduction but before the literature review section. It should provide an overview of the research problem and its context, and also introduce the key concepts, theories, and research findings related to the problem.

Writing the background of the study early on in the research process also helps to identify potential gaps in knowledge and areas for further investigation, which can guide the development of the research questions or hypotheses and the research design. By establishing the significance of the research problem and its potential contribution to the field, the background of the study can also help to justify the research and secure funding or support from stakeholders.

Advantage of Background of The Study

The background of the study has several advantages, including:

  • Provides context: The background of the study provides context for the research problem by highlighting the historical, theoretical, and empirical background of the problem. This allows the reader to understand the research problem in its broader context and appreciate its significance.
  • Identifies gaps in knowledge: By reviewing the existing literature related to the research problem, the background of the study can identify gaps in knowledge that the study intends to fill. This helps to establish the novelty and originality of the research and its potential contribution to the field.
  • Justifies the research : The background of the study helps to justify the research by demonstrating its significance and potential impact. This can be useful in securing funding or support for the research.
  • Guides the research design: The background of the study can guide the development of the research questions or hypotheses and the research design by identifying key concepts, theories, and research findings related to the problem. This ensures that the research is grounded in existing knowledge and is designed to address the research problem effectively.
  • Establishes credibility: By demonstrating the researcher’s knowledge of the field and the research problem, the background of the study can establish the researcher’s credibility and expertise, which can enhance the trustworthiness and validity of the research.

Disadvantages of Background of The Study

Some Disadvantages of Background of The Study are as follows:

  • Time-consuming : Writing a comprehensive background of the study can be time-consuming, especially if the research problem is complex and multifaceted. This can delay the research process and impact the timeline for completing the study.
  • Repetitive: The background of the study can sometimes be repetitive, as it often involves summarizing existing research and theories related to the research problem. This can be tedious for the reader and may make the section less engaging.
  • Limitations of existing research: The background of the study can reveal the limitations of existing research related to the problem. This can create challenges for the researcher in developing research questions or hypotheses that address the gaps in knowledge identified in the background of the study.
  • Bias : The researcher’s biases and perspectives can influence the content and tone of the background of the study. This can impact the reader’s perception of the research problem and may influence the validity of the research.
  • Accessibility: Accessing and reviewing the literature related to the research problem can be challenging, especially if the researcher does not have access to a comprehensive database or if the literature is not available in the researcher’s language. This can limit the depth and scope of the background of the study.

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How to Write the Discussion Section of a Research Paper

The discussion section of a research paper analyzes and interprets the findings, provides context, compares them with previous studies, identifies limitations, and suggests future research directions.

Updated on September 15, 2023

researchers writing the discussion section of their research paper

Structure your discussion section right, and you’ll be cited more often while doing a greater service to the scientific community. So, what actually goes into the discussion section? And how do you write it?

The discussion section of your research paper is where you let the reader know how your study is positioned in the literature, what to take away from your paper, and how your work helps them. It can also include your conclusions and suggestions for future studies.

First, we’ll define all the parts of your discussion paper, and then look into how to write a strong, effective discussion section for your paper or manuscript.

Discussion section: what is it, what it does

The discussion section comes later in your paper, following the introduction, methods, and results. The discussion sets up your study’s conclusions. Its main goals are to present, interpret, and provide a context for your results.

What is it?

The discussion section provides an analysis and interpretation of the findings, compares them with previous studies, identifies limitations, and suggests future directions for research.

This section combines information from the preceding parts of your paper into a coherent story. By this point, the reader already knows why you did your study (introduction), how you did it (methods), and what happened (results). In the discussion, you’ll help the reader connect the ideas from these sections.

Why is it necessary?

The discussion provides context and interpretations for the results. It also answers the questions posed in the introduction. While the results section describes your findings, the discussion explains what they say. This is also where you can describe the impact or implications of your research.

Adds context for your results

Most research studies aim to answer a question, replicate a finding, or address limitations in the literature. These goals are first described in the introduction. However, in the discussion section, the author can refer back to them to explain how the study's objective was achieved. 

Shows what your results actually mean and real-world implications

The discussion can also describe the effect of your findings on research or practice. How are your results significant for readers, other researchers, or policymakers?

What to include in your discussion (in the correct order)

A complete and effective discussion section should at least touch on the points described below.

Summary of key findings

The discussion should begin with a brief factual summary of the results. Concisely overview the main results you obtained.

Begin with key findings with supporting evidence

Your results section described a list of findings, but what message do they send when you look at them all together?

Your findings were detailed in the results section, so there’s no need to repeat them here, but do provide at least a few highlights. This will help refresh the reader’s memory and help them focus on the big picture.

Read the first paragraph of the discussion section in this article (PDF) for an example of how to start this part of your paper. Notice how the authors break down their results and follow each description sentence with an explanation of why each finding is relevant. 

State clearly and concisely

Following a clear and direct writing style is especially important in the discussion section. After all, this is where you will make some of the most impactful points in your paper. While the results section often contains technical vocabulary, such as statistical terms, the discussion section lets you describe your findings more clearly. 

Interpretation of results

Once you’ve given your reader an overview of your results, you need to interpret those results. In other words, what do your results mean? Discuss the findings’ implications and significance in relation to your research question or hypothesis.

Analyze and interpret your findings

Look into your findings and explore what’s behind them or what may have caused them. If your introduction cited theories or studies that could explain your findings, use these sources as a basis to discuss your results.

For example, look at the second paragraph in the discussion section of this article on waggling honey bees. Here, the authors explore their results based on information from the literature.

Unexpected or contradictory results

Sometimes, your findings are not what you expect. Here’s where you describe this and try to find a reason for it. Could it be because of the method you used? Does it have something to do with the variables analyzed? Comparing your methods with those of other similar studies can help with this task.

Context and comparison with previous work

Refer to related studies to place your research in a larger context and the literature. Compare and contrast your findings with existing literature, highlighting similarities, differences, and/or contradictions.

How your work compares or contrasts with previous work

Studies with similar findings to yours can be cited to show the strength of your findings. Information from these studies can also be used to help explain your results. Differences between your findings and others in the literature can also be discussed here. 

How to divide this section into subsections

If you have more than one objective in your study or many key findings, you can dedicate a separate section to each of these. Here’s an example of this approach. You can see that the discussion section is divided into topics and even has a separate heading for each of them. 


Many journals require you to include the limitations of your study in the discussion. Even if they don’t, there are good reasons to mention these in your paper.

Why limitations don’t have a negative connotation

A study’s limitations are points to be improved upon in future research. While some of these may be flaws in your method, many may be due to factors you couldn’t predict.

Examples include time constraints or small sample sizes. Pointing this out will help future researchers avoid or address these issues. This part of the discussion can also include any attempts you have made to reduce the impact of these limitations, as in this study .

How limitations add to a researcher's credibility

Pointing out the limitations of your study demonstrates transparency. It also shows that you know your methods well and can conduct a critical assessment of them.  

Implications and significance

The final paragraph of the discussion section should contain the take-home messages for your study. It can also cite the “strong points” of your study, to contrast with the limitations section.

Restate your hypothesis

Remind the reader what your hypothesis was before you conducted the study. 

How was it proven or disproven?

Identify your main findings and describe how they relate to your hypothesis.

How your results contribute to the literature

Were you able to answer your research question? Or address a gap in the literature?

Future implications of your research

Describe the impact that your results may have on the topic of study. Your results may show, for instance, that there are still limitations in the literature for future studies to address. There may be a need for studies that extend your findings in a specific way. You also may need additional research to corroborate your findings. 

Sample discussion section

This fictitious example covers all the aspects discussed above. Your actual discussion section will probably be much longer, but you can read this to get an idea of everything your discussion should cover.

Our results showed that the presence of cats in a household is associated with higher levels of perceived happiness by its human occupants. These findings support our hypothesis and demonstrate the association between pet ownership and well-being. 

The present findings align with those of Bao and Schreer (2016) and Hardie et al. (2023), who observed greater life satisfaction in pet owners relative to non-owners. Although the present study did not directly evaluate life satisfaction, this factor may explain the association between happiness and cat ownership observed in our sample.

Our findings must be interpreted in light of some limitations, such as the focus on cat ownership only rather than pets as a whole. This may limit the generalizability of our results.

Nevertheless, this study had several strengths. These include its strict exclusion criteria and use of a standardized assessment instrument to investigate the relationships between pets and owners. These attributes bolster the accuracy of our results and reduce the influence of confounding factors, increasing the strength of our conclusions. Future studies may examine the factors that mediate the association between pet ownership and happiness to better comprehend this phenomenon.

This brief discussion begins with a quick summary of the results and hypothesis. The next paragraph cites previous research and compares its findings to those of this study. Information from previous studies is also used to help interpret the findings. After discussing the results of the study, some limitations are pointed out. The paper also explains why these limitations may influence the interpretation of results. Then, final conclusions are drawn based on the study, and directions for future research are suggested.

How to make your discussion flow naturally

If you find writing in scientific English challenging, the discussion and conclusions are often the hardest parts of the paper to write. That’s because you’re not just listing up studies, methods, and outcomes. You’re actually expressing your thoughts and interpretations in words.

  • How formal should it be?
  • What words should you use, or not use?
  • How do you meet strict word limits, or make it longer and more informative?

Always give it your best, but sometimes a helping hand can, well, help. Getting a professional edit can help clarify your work’s importance while improving the English used to explain it. When readers know the value of your work, they’ll cite it. We’ll assign your study to an expert editor knowledgeable in your area of research. Their work will clarify your discussion, helping it to tell your story. Find out more about AJE Editing.

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How to write the methods section of a research paper

How to Write the Methods Section of a Research Paper

How to write the methods section of a research paper

Writing a research paper is both an art and a skill, and knowing how to write the methods section of a research paper is the first crucial step in mastering scientific writing. If, like the majority of early career researchers, you believe that the methods section is the simplest to write and needs little in the way of careful consideration or thought, this article will help you understand it is not 1 .

We have all probably asked our supervisors, coworkers, or search engines “ how to write a methods section of a research paper ” at some point in our scientific careers, so you are not alone if that’s how you ended up here.  Even for seasoned researchers, selecting what to include in the methods section from a wealth of experimental information can occasionally be a source of distress and perplexity.   

Additionally, journal specifications, in some cases, may make it more of a requirement rather than a choice to provide a selective yet descriptive account of the experimental procedure. Hence, knowing these nuances of how to write the methods section of a research paper is critical to its success. The methods section of the research paper is not supposed to be a detailed heavy, dull section that some researchers tend to write; rather, it should be the central component of the study that justifies the validity and reliability of the research.

Are you still unsure of how the methods section of a research paper forms the basis of every investigation? Consider the last article you read but ignore the methods section and concentrate on the other parts of the paper . Now think whether you could repeat the study and be sure of the credibility of the findings despite knowing the literature review and even having the data in front of you. You have the answer!   

Researcher Life

Having established the importance of the methods section , the next question is how to write the methods section of a research paper that unifies the overall study. The purpose of the methods section , which was earlier called as Materials and Methods , is to describe how the authors went about answering the “research question” at hand. Here, the objective is to tell a coherent story that gives a detailed account of how the study was conducted, the rationale behind specific experimental procedures, the experimental setup, objects (variables) involved, the research protocol employed, tools utilized to measure, calculations and measurements, and the analysis of the collected data 2 .

In this article, we will take a deep dive into this topic and provide a detailed overview of how to write the methods section of a research paper . For the sake of clarity, we have separated the subject into various sections with corresponding subheadings.  

Table of Contents

What is the methods section of a research paper ?  

The methods section is a fundamental section of any paper since it typically discusses the ‘ what ’, ‘ how ’, ‘ which ’, and ‘ why ’ of the study, which is necessary to arrive at the final conclusions. In a research article, the introduction, which serves to set the foundation for comprehending the background and results is usually followed by the methods section, which precedes the result and discussion sections. The methods section must explicitly state what was done, how it was done, which equipment, tools and techniques were utilized, how were the measurements/calculations taken, and why specific research protocols, software, and analytical methods were employed.  

Why is the methods section important?  

The primary goal of the methods section is to provide pertinent details about the experimental approach so that the reader may put the results in perspective and, if necessary, replicate the findings 3 .  This section offers readers the chance to evaluate the reliability and validity of any study. In short, it also serves as the study’s blueprint, assisting researchers who might be unsure about any other portion in establishing the study’s context and validity. The methods plays a rather crucial role in determining the fate of the article; an incomplete and unreliable methods section can frequently result in early rejections and may lead to numerous rounds of modifications during the publication process. This means that the reviewers also often use methods section to assess the reliability and validity of the research protocol and the data analysis employed to address the research topic. In other words, the purpose of the methods section is to demonstrate the research acumen and subject-matter expertise of the author(s) in their field.  

Structure of methods section of a research paper  

Similar to the research paper, the methods section also follows a defined structure; this may be dictated by the guidelines of a specific journal or can be presented in a chronological or thematic manner based on the study type. When writing the methods section , authors should keep in mind that they are telling a story about how the research was conducted. They should only report relevant information to avoid confusing the reader and include details that would aid in connecting various aspects of the entire research activity together. It is generally advisable to present experiments in the order in which they were conducted. This facilitates the logical flow of the research and allows readers to follow the progression of the study design.   

what to include in research context

It is also essential to clearly state the rationale behind each experiment and how the findings of earlier experiments informed the design or interpretation of later experiments. This allows the readers to understand the overall purpose of the study design and the significance of each experiment within that context. However, depending on the particular research question and method, it may make sense to present information in a different order; therefore, authors must select the best structure and strategy for their individual studies.   

In cases where there is a lot of information, divide the sections into subheadings to cover the pertinent details. If the journal guidelines pose restrictions on the word limit , additional important information can be supplied in the supplementary files. A simple rule of thumb for sectioning the method section is to begin by explaining the methodological approach ( what was done ), describing the data collection methods ( how it was done ), providing the analysis method ( how the data was analyzed ), and explaining the rationale for choosing the methodological strategy. This is described in detail in the upcoming sections.    

How to write the methods section of a research paper  

Contrary to widespread assumption, the methods section of a research paper should be prepared once the study is complete to prevent missing any key parameter. Hence, please make sure that all relevant experiments are done before you start writing a methods section . The next step for authors is to look up any applicable academic style manuals or journal-specific standards to ensure that the methods section is formatted correctly. The methods section of a research paper typically constitutes materials and methods; while writing this section, authors usually arrange the information under each category.

The materials category describes the samples, materials, treatments, and instruments, while experimental design, sample preparation, data collection, and data analysis are a part of the method category. According to the nature of the study, authors should include additional subsections within the methods section, such as ethical considerations like the declaration of Helsinki (for studies involving human subjects), demographic information of the participants, and any other crucial information that can affect the output of the study. Simply put, the methods section has two major components: content and format. Here is an easy checklist for you to consider if you are struggling with how to write the methods section of a research paper .   

  • Explain the research design, subjects, and sample details  
  • Include information on inclusion and exclusion criteria  
  • Mention ethical or any other permission required for the study  
  • Include information about materials, experimental setup, tools, and software  
  • Add details of data collection and analysis methods  
  • Incorporate how research biases were avoided or confounding variables were controlled  
  • Evaluate and justify the experimental procedure selected to address the research question  
  • Provide precise and clear details of each experiment  
  • Flowcharts, infographics, or tables can be used to present complex information     
  • Use past tense to show that the experiments have been done   
  • Follow academic style guides (such as APA or MLA ) to structure the content  
  • Citations should be included as per standard protocols in the field  

Now that you know how to write the methods section of a research paper , let’s address another challenge researchers face while writing the methods section —what to include in the methods section .  How much information is too much is not always obvious when it comes to trying to include data in the methods section of a paper. In the next section, we examine this issue and explore potential solutions.   

what to include in research context

What to include in the methods section of a research paper  

The technical nature of the methods section occasionally makes it harder to present the information clearly and concisely while staying within the study context. Many young researchers tend to veer off subject significantly, and they frequently commit the sin of becoming bogged down in itty bitty details, making the text harder to read and impairing its overall flow. However, the best way to write the methods section is to start with crucial components of the experiments. If you have trouble deciding which elements are essential, think about leaving out those that would make it more challenging to comprehend the context or replicate the results. The top-down approach helps to ensure all relevant information is incorporated and vital information is not lost in technicalities. Next, remember to add details that are significant to assess the validity and reliability of the study. Here is a simple checklist for you to follow ( bonus tip: you can also make a checklist for your own study to avoid missing any critical information while writing the methods section ).  

  • Structuring the methods section : Authors should diligently follow journal guidelines and adhere to the specific author instructions provided when writing the methods section . Journals typically have specific guidelines for formatting the methods section ; for example, Frontiers in Plant Sciences advises arranging the materials and methods section by subheading and citing relevant literature. There are several standardized checklists available for different study types in the biomedical field, including CONSORT (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials) for randomized clinical trials, PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analysis) for systematic reviews and meta-analysis, and STROBE (STrengthening the Reporting of OBservational studies in Epidemiology) for cohort, case-control, cross-sectional studies. Before starting the methods section , check the checklist available in your field that can function as a guide.     
  • Organizing different sections to tell a story : Once you are sure of the format required for structuring the methods section , the next is to present the sections in a logical manner; as mentioned earlier, the sections can be organized according to the chronology or themes. In the chronological arrangement, you should discuss the methods in accordance with how the experiments were carried out. An example of the method section of a research paper of an animal study should first ideally include information about the species, weight, sex, strain, and age. Next, the number of animals, their initial conditions, and their living and housing conditions should also be mentioned. Second, how the groups are assigned and the intervention (drug treatment, stress, or other) given to each group, and finally, the details of tools and techniques used to measure, collect, and analyze the data. Experiments involving animal or human subjects should additionally state an ethics approval statement. It is best to arrange the section using the thematic approach when discussing distinct experiments not following a sequential order.  
  • Define and explain the objects and procedure: Experimental procedure should clearly be stated in the methods section . Samples, necessary preparations (samples, treatment, and drug), and methods for manipulation need to be included. All variables (control, dependent, independent, and confounding) must be clearly defined, particularly if the confounding variables can affect the outcome of the study.  
  • Match the order of the methods section with the order of results: Though not mandatory, organizing the manuscript in a logical and coherent manner can improve the readability and clarity of the paper. This can be done by following a consistent structure throughout the manuscript; readers can easily navigate through the different sections and understand the methods and results in relation to each other. Using experiment names as headings for both the methods and results sections can also make it simpler for readers to locate specific information and corroborate it if needed.   
  • Relevant information must always be included: The methods section should have information on all experiments conducted and their details clearly mentioned. Ask the journal whether there is a way to offer more information in the supplemental files or external repositories if your target journal has strict word limitations. For example, Nature communications encourages authors to deposit their step-by-step protocols in an open-resource depository, Protocol Exchange which allows the protocols to be linked with the manuscript upon publication. Providing access to detailed protocols also helps to increase the transparency and reproducibility of the research.  
  • It’s all in the details: The methods section should meticulously list all the materials, tools, instruments, and software used for different experiments. Specify the testing equipment on which data was obtained, together with its manufacturer’s information, location, city, and state or any other stimuli used to manipulate the variables. Provide specifics on the research process you employed; if it was a standard protocol, cite previous studies that also used the protocol.  Include any protocol modifications that were made, as well as any other factors that were taken into account when planning the study or gathering data. Any new or modified techniques should be explained by the authors. Typically, readers evaluate the reliability and validity of the procedures using the cited literature, and a widely accepted checklist helps to support the credibility of the methodology. Note: Authors should include a statement on sample size estimation (if applicable), which is often missed. It enables the reader to determine how many subjects will be required to detect the expected change in the outcome variables within a given confidence interval.  
  • Write for the audience: While explaining the details in the methods section , authors should be mindful of their target audience, as some of the rationale or assumptions on which specific procedures are based might not always be obvious to the audience, particularly for a general audience. Therefore, when in doubt, the objective of a procedure should be specified either in relation to the research question or to the entire protocol.  
  • Data interpretation and analysis : Information on data processing, statistical testing, levels of significance, and analysis tools and software should be added. Mention if the recommendations and expertise of an experienced statistician were followed. Also, evaluate and justify the preferred statistical method used in the study and its significance.  

What NOT to include in the methods section of a research paper  

To address “ how to write the methods section of a research paper ”, authors should not only pay careful attention to what to include but also what not to include in the methods section of a research paper . Here is a list of do not’s when writing the methods section :  

  • Do not elaborate on specifics of standard methods/procedures: You should refrain from adding unnecessary details of experiments and practices that are well established and cited previously.  Instead, simply cite relevant literature or mention if the manufacturer’s protocol was followed.  
  • Do not add unnecessary details : Do not include minute details of the experimental procedure and materials/instruments used that are not significant for the outcome of the experiment. For example, there is no need to mention the brand name of the water bath used for incubation.    
  • Do not discuss the results: The methods section is not to discuss the results or refer to the tables and figures; save it for the results and discussion section. Also, focus on the methods selected to conduct the study and avoid diverting to other methods or commenting on their pros or cons.  
  • Do not make the section bulky : For extensive methods and protocols, provide the essential details and share the rest of the information in the supplemental files. The writing should be clear yet concise to maintain the flow of the section.  

We hope that by this point, you understand how crucial it is to write a thoughtful and precise methods section and the ins and outs of how to write the methods section of a research paper . To restate, the entire purpose of the methods section is to enable others to reproduce the results or verify the research. We sincerely hope that this post has cleared up any confusion and given you a fresh perspective on the methods section .

As a parting gift, we’re leaving you with a handy checklist that will help you understand how to write the methods section of a research paper . Feel free to download this checklist and use or share this with those who you think may benefit from it.  

what to include in research context


  • Bhattacharya, D. How to write the Methods section of a research paper. Editage Insights, 2018. https://www.editage.com/insights/how-to-write-the-methods-section-of-a-research-paper (2018).
  • Kallet, R. H. How to Write the Methods Section of a Research Paper. Respiratory Care 49, 1229–1232 (2004). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15447808/
  • Grindstaff, T. L. & Saliba, S. A. AVOIDING MANUSCRIPT MISTAKES. Int J Sports Phys Ther 7, 518–524 (2012). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3474299/

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What to include in a research proposal

You should check with each department to find out whether they provide a specific template for submission.

The word count for research proposals is typically 1,000-1,500 words for Arts programmes and around 2,500 words for Birmingham Law School programmes. Each subject area or department will have slightly different requirements for your research proposal, such as word length and the volume of literature review required. It is a good idea to contact the department before you apply. 

Typically, your research proposal should include the following information:

2. Research overview

3. research context.

A well-written introduction is an efficient way of getting your reader’s attention early on. This is your opportunity to answer the questions you considered when preparing your proposal: why is your research important? How does it fit into the existing strengths of the department? How will it add something new to the existing body of literature?

It is unlikely that you will be able to review all relevant literature at this stage, so you should explain the broad contextual background against which you will conduct your research. You should include a brief overview of the general area of study within which your proposed research falls, summarising the current state of knowledge and recent debates on the topic. This will allow you to demonstrate a familiarity with key texts in the relevant field as well as the ability to communicate clearly and concisely.

4. Research questions

The proposal should set out the central aims and key questions that will guide your research. Many research proposals are too broad, so make sure that your project is sufficiently narrow and feasible (i.e. something that is likely to be completed within the normal time frame for a PhD programme).

You might find it helpful to prioritise one or two main questions, from which you can then derive a number of secondary research questions. The proposal should also explain your intended approach to answering the questions: will your approach be empirical, doctrinal or theoretical, etc.?

5. Research methods

How will you achieve your research objectives? The proposal should present your research methodology, using specific examples to explain how you are going to conduct your research (e.g. techniques, sample size, target populations, equipment, data analysis, etc.).

Your methods may include visiting particular libraries or archives, field work or interviews. If your proposed research is library-based, you should explain where your key resources are located. If you plan to conduct field work or collect empirical data, you should provide details about this (e.g. if you plan interviews, who will you interview? How many interviews will you conduct? Will there be problems of access?). This section should also explain how you are going to analyse your research findings.

A discussion of the timescale for completing your research would also beneficial. You should provide a realistic time plan for completing your research degree study, showing a realistic appreciation of the need to plan your research and how long it is likely to take. It is important that you are not over-optimistic with time frames.

6. Significance of research

The proposal should demonstrate the originality of your intended research. You should therefore explain why your research is important (for example, by explaining how your research builds on and adds to the current state of knowledge in the field or by setting out reasons why it is timely to research your proposed topic) and providing details of any immediate applications, including further research that might be done to build on your findings.

Please refer to our top tips page for further details about originality.

7. References

  Read our top tips for writing a research proposal

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The importance of crafting a good introduction to scholarly research: strategies for creating an effective and impactful opening statement

Mohsen tavakol.

1 Medical Education Centre, School of Medicine, The University of Nottingham, UK

David O'Brien


The introduction section is arguably one of the most critical elements of a written piece of research work, often setting the tone for the remainder of any dissertation or research article. The primary purpose of an introduction is to provide the reader with a clear understanding of the research question, in addition to the scope, rationale, aims and objectives of the study. This ensures the reader can more easily comprehend the context of the research, which will consequently help them better interpret and evaluate the study results. One could liken an introduction to a trailer for a movie, where the plot of the film (the research topic) is introduced by setting the scene (outlining the significance of the topic) and enticing you to watch the full movie (understanding the research and its importance).

Despite this, our experience suggests that students frequently pay insufficient attention to the introduction section of their dissertation or omit elements which we consider essential to address. This editorial aims to help researchers appreciate the importance of a comprehensive dissertation introduction in medical education research and learn how to effectively manage this key section of their work.  Although it focuses purely on the introduction section of a written research submission, readers interested in learning more about the other primary steps of the research process are encouraged to read AMEE Guide No. 90 1 , 2 textbooks on research methods and both consult and seek constructive feedback from colleagues with expertise in research methods and writing for publication.

Here we aim to provide the reader with a simple structure of how best to construct the introduction for a dissertation and recommend that this should typically include the following essential components and principles.

Background to the research topic

The purpose of providing background information in an introduction is to supply the context and other essential information concerning the research topic, and thus allow the reader to understand the significance of the specific research question and where it sits within the broader field of study. This aids the reader to better understand how the research question contributes to the existing body of knowledge and why it is, necessary to investigate this specific aspect further. For example, suppose the study concerns the effectiveness of simulation-based training in medical education. In this case, the broader field of the study may include relevant areas such as medical simulation, medical education research, health care education, standardised patients, simulation-based training, and curriculum development based on simulation training. After providing the reader with an understanding of the context and relevance of the topic of interest, the researcher must then establish a theoretical or conceptual framework. This underpins the study topic in order that the reader can understand how any research questions and objectives are formulated. It is important to distinguish between these two frameworks. A theoretical framework describes the rationale for applying a particular theory to provide support and structure for the topic being studied. In the absence of an applicable theory, a conceptual framework substantiates the significance of a particular problem, context or phenomenon within a specific area of the study by illustrating its relevance and connection to research topic. 3 A conceptual framework highlights the importance of a research topic by showing how it relates to the larger body of knowledge in a particular field. Here is an example to demonstrate the use of a theoretical framework in a research context.

When considering Social Cognitive Theory (SCT), one of the key constructs is self-efficacy, as described by Albert Bandura, 4 and refers to the belief that a person has it within their own ability to accomplish a specific task successfully. This is not related to what a person does, but more how they perceive their ability to use these skills. So, based on this construct of self-efficacy, a researcher may formulate a research hypothesis; that examiners with higher self-efficacy in OSCEs will demonstrate improved performance in subsequent exams compared to those with lower self-efficacy. Now the researcher is in a position to identify the fundamental concepts of the research, i.e., self-efficacy (personal factors), examiner performance (behavioural factors) and examination conditions and examiner scaffolding support (environmental factors). Identifying key concepts helps the researcher find the relationship between these, and develop appropriate research questions, e.g., 1) How does an examiner's self-efficacy in OSCEs affect their ability to assess students in subsequent exams? 2) How does the support provided to examiners and exam conditions influence the link between self-efficacy and examiner performance in OSCEs? 3) Do examiners with high self-efficacy provide fairer scores than those with low self-efficacy in OSCEs? By having a theoretical framework, researchers can establish a foundation for their research and provide a clear picture of the relationship between the key concepts involved in the study. Researchers must also provide any conceptual and operational definitions for key concepts or variables that will be used in the study. Clearly defining key concepts and variables in the background section of a dissertation can also help establish the significance of the research question and its relevance to the broader field of study. As the name implies, a conceptual definition refers to a variable's meaning in a conceptual, abstract, or theoretical sense. Conceptual definitions are often used to describe concepts which cannot be directly measured, such as active learning, rote learning, inter-professional learning, inter-professional education, or constructs such as clinical performance. Conversely, operational definitions define the steps researchers must take in order to collect data to measure a phenomenon or concept. 5 For example, clinical performance can be considered a conceptual construct but may also be defined operationally as the ability of students to pass 12 out of 16 stations of an OSCE. The researcher having already pre-specified specific the criteria for classifying students as pass/fail in order to determine the ability of students to perform clinically. This operational definition provides a clear method for evaluating and measuring student ability, which can then be used to give feedback and guide further learning or to establish clear expectations for students and provide a basis for evaluating and assessing their performance. In general, it can be beneficial for medical education programs to define aspects such as clinical performance operationally in this way in rather than conceptually, especially if there is a need to ensure that students meet a required standard of competence and are prepared for the demands of real-world clinical practice. These definitions can also then be used to establish the methods and criteria by which the variables of the study will subsequently be measured or altered.

Citing the existing literature to support the research aim

A literature review is the process of critically evaluating existing research and utilising it to inform and guide the research proposal under investigation. Taking this approach enables researchers to ensure that their research is not only grounded in, but also contributes meaningfully to, any existing knowledge as a whole. Critically reviewing the literature provides evidence and justification for any research and is essential when formulating a hypothesis, question, or study objectives. In addition, and perhaps most importantly, it helps identify any gaps or inconsistencies in the existing knowledge base. Determining the knowledge gap is critical in justifying the necessity for our research and advancing knowledge. A comprehensive literature review also helps establish the theoretical or conceptual frameworks to ground any subsequent research, providing researchers with guidance and direction on how best to conduct their future studies. Understanding from the literature what has worked previously and what may pose challenges or limitations assists researchers when exploring the best methods and techniques for answering new research questions. To clarify, consider a hypothetical study in which researchers wish to examine the effectiveness of a specific educational intervention in medical students to improve patient safety. Based on the existing literature, let's assume that researchers learned that most studies had only focused on short-term outcomes rather than long-term ones. The long-term effects of any intervention in medical students on patient safety therefore remain uncertain. Researchers may therefore wish to consider conducting longitudinal studies months after interventions have been carried out, rather than simply repeating research based on short-term outcomes, in order to address the current knowledge gap. A review of existing literature may highlight hitherto previously unconsidered logistical difficulties in conducting longitudinal studies in this area that the researcher may need to be aware of.

Stating the significance of the research

More than simply reporting the existing research, one of the key objectives in any literature review is to summarise and synthesise existing research on the intended topic in order to analyse the significance of the research in question. In this process, diverse ideas can be merged to form fresh new perspectives. Any gaps, limitations, or controversies in medical education can be identified, and potential future benefits and implications of the proposed research explained to the reader. Based on any potential impact or perceived importance, the introduction provides an excellent opportunity for the researcher to affirm the significance of the research study and why it should be conducted.

By way of an example, the significance of a study concerning feedback given to examiners for Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs) is used to illustrate this point further. The potential significance of this research lies in improving the validity and reliability of OSCE scores in medical education. As a result of reviewing different types of feedback given to examiners, the research may assist in identifying the most effective strategies for improving the quality of OSCEs in medical education. By providing new insights into how feedback can improve the reliability and validity of OSCE results, the research could also contribute to the broader knowledge of assessment in general. This may result in the development of more accurate and robust medical education assessments, which in turn may potentially enhance delivery of healthcare and improve patient outcomes and safety. It may also address the current challenges and gaps in medical education assessment by providing evidence-based approaches for improving OSCE quality.

Formulating Research Questions and Objectives

Researchers formulate research questions and objectives based on the topic they are seeking to address. As noted previously, these will have already been derived as a result of a comprehensive literature review of any existing knowledge and based on a theoretical or conceptual framework. Furthermore, in medical education, the literature review provides researchers with the opportunity to formulate new research questions or research objectives to address any gaps or limitations in the existing literature and add something new to the current body of knowledge. Research questions and objectives should be stated clearly, being both specific, and measurable. These should then guide the subsequent selection of appropriate research methods, data collection and any subsequent analytical process. Clear, focused, and rigorous research questions and objectives will ensure the study is well-designed and make a valuable contribution to the existing body of knowledge.

Qualitative research questions should be open-ended and exploratory rather than focused on a specific hypothesis or proposition. It is common for qualitative studies to focus on understanding how and why certain phenomena occur, rather than simply describing what has occurred. These should be formulated to elicit rich, detailed, and context-specific data that can provide insights into the experiences, perspectives, and meanings of the participants. In contrast, quantitative research questions are more specific and are designed to test a particular hypothesis or relationship. In medical education, it is imperative to emphasise the importance of both qualitative and quantitative research questions when it comes to generating new knowledge. Combining both quantitative and qualitative research methods (mixed methods) can be particularly powerful in providing a more comprehensive understanding of any phenomena under study. Assume again that we are examining the effectiveness of feedback on the performance of medical students and adopt a mixed-methods approach using a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods. A quantitative research question may be, what is the impact of feedback on the performance of medical students as measured by OSCE mark? How the experience of receiving feedback on performance contributes to the future professional development of medical students is a more qualitative research question. This combination of quantitative and qualitative research questions will provide an in depth understanding of the effectiveness of feedback on medical student performance. It is important to note that in qualitative research methods particularly, there can be a wide variety of research question types. For example, grounded theory researchers may ask so-called "process questions", such as 'how do students interpret and use the feedback they are given?' Phenomenologists, on the other hand, are concerned with lived experience of research subjects and frequently ask questions looking to understand the "meaning" of any such experience, often aiming to attribute feelings to this experience, for example, ‘how do students feel when they receive feedback?’ Ethnographers look to understand how culture contributes to an experience, and may ask more "descriptive questions" 5 for example, ‘how does the culture within a specific medical school affect students receiving feedback on their performance?’

For ease of reference, the key points we recommended are considered in any dissertation introduction are summarised below:

1.       Set the context for the research

2.       Establish a theoretical or conceptual framework to support your study

3.       Define key variables both conceptually and theoretically

4.       Critically appraise relevant papers during the literature review

5.       Review previous studies to identify and define the knowledge gap by assessing what has already been studied and what areas remain unexplored

6.       Clearly articulate the rationale behind your study, emphasising its importance in the intended field

7.       Clearly define your research objectives, questions, and hypotheses


Whilst crafting a research introduction may seem a challenging and time-consuming task, it is well worth the effort to convey your research clearly and engage potential readers. Providing sufficient background information on the research topic, conducting a comprehensive review of the existing research, determining the knowledge gap, understanding any limitations or controversies in the topic of interest, before then exploring any theoretical or conceptual frameworks to develop the research concepts, research questions and methodology are fundamental steps. Articulating any conceptual and operational definitions of key concepts and clearly defining any key terms, including explanations of how these will be used in the study is also paramount to a good introduction. It is essential to clearly present the rationale behind the research and why this is significant, clarifying what it adds to the existing body of knowledge in medical education and exploring any potential future implications. Lastly, it is vital to ensure that any research questions are clearly stated and are open-ended and exploratory in the case of qualitative studies, or specific and measurable in the case of quantitative studies.

We feel that observing these basic principles and adhering to these few simple steps will hopefully set the stage for a highly successful piece of research and will certainly go some way to achieving a favourable editorial outcome for possible subsequent publication of the work.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

The perils of smart technology in museums

  • Original Research
  • Published: 25 June 2024

Cite this article

what to include in research context

  • Yulan Fan   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-7063-6096 1 ,
  • Aliana Man Wai Leong 2 ,
  • IpKin Anthony Wong   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0003-4597-2228 3 &
  • Jingwen (Daisy) Huang 1  

Technology has rendered as a means to reshape tourist experience, but it may backfire to created unintended consequences when technological devices are overused to dominate the experience creation process. This study investigates how and why smart technologies fail to reach their intended goals, and the unfavorable consequences in such circumstances from the tourist perspective. The present inquiry utilized a qualitative field research through observations and semi-structured interviews based on data collected in two smart museums that put technology in center stage. The results present a phenomenon we coined as peril of smart technology, identifying three major categories of this phenomenon: emotional disresonance, technology-induced cognitive dissonance, and technology loathing. This study contributes to the literature by illuminating the dark side of smart technology in the museum context, which sets it apart from the extant literature that focuses primarily on the positive side of technology. Additionally, the findings provide practical implications for museum operators.

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what to include in research context

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This research is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 72302240, 72074230), the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (No. 2023T160758), Zhuhai Government-Planned Research Projects of Philosophy and Social Sciences (No. 2023YBB055).

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Fan, Y., Leong, A., Wong, I. et al. The perils of smart technology in museums. Inf Technol Tourism (2024). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40558-024-00292-1

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Motivating generation z — the volunteers of the future, henrik pahus.

In this article, we present the results of an ongoing research project from 2020 to 2023 on volunteerism and Generation Z. The purpose of  the overall project is to examine which elements are motivating or demotivating to volunteers from Generation Z in the hospitality  sector. We present the analysis of 12 interviews with leaders of volunteers and the results of a survey with 514 volunteers from Denmark.  Our findings show a generation that are much more reliant on their parents than previous generations, especially in the way they make  decisions. It is also a generation with endless opportunities, which seems to be a double-edged sword, since this is also the root cause of  many of their concerns. Companies in the hospitality sector who are keen to attract volunteers from Generation Z must pay attention to  their inherent needs for meaningfulness and purpose. Likewise, it is essential that the companies where Generation Z seek employment  are clear about their values and that the abide by them. Suggestions for further research include more comprehensive research into  attitudes towards volunteerism — especially considering the cultural context. So far most of the research concerning volunteerism and  motivation in Generation Z stems from the USA and Denmark.

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74th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe

74th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe

Call for Experts: Technical Advisory Group on Behavioural and Cultural Insights (TAG-BCI)

Issued on: 24/06/2024

Deadline: 31/08/2024

The World Health Organization (WHO) is seeking experts to serve as members of the Technical Advisory Group on Behavioural and Cultural Insights (TAG-BCI), established in the WHO Regional Office for Europe (WHO/Europe). This Call for experts provides information about the TAG-BCI, the expert profiles being sought, the process to express interest, and the process of selection.

Behaviours have a critical impact on health and well-being. Health behaviours, including lifestyles or the way people interact with health systems, have extensive implications for health status, equity, health system capacity, costs and more. It is therefore crucial that the complex factors affecting health behaviour are being explored and used to develop evidence-based interventions.

In September 2020, the 53 Member States in the WHO European Region adopted the European Programme of Work, 2020–2025 – “United action for better health” (EPW), which identifies Behavioural and Cultural Insights (BCI) as a flagship initiative working to advance the use of evidence-based and people-centred approaches to health. There is growing evidence across different health areas and countries demonstrating that BCI-related work contributes to improving the outcomes of health-related policies, services and communication, including by making them more relevant, effective, equitable, sustainable, inclusive and people-centred. Yet, BCI in health remains underexplored and underutilized and subject to modest investment in many places globally and in the WHO European Region.

BCI here refers to a broad field of work drawing on existing approaches from the fields of behavioural and social sciences, cultural studies, health humanities, and related fields. Guided by the ‘Tailoring Health Programmes’ approach, the work involves the systematic exploration of individual and contextual factors affecting health behaviours; the use of global and local evidence to improve the outcomes of health-related policies, services and communication, delivering better health and reducing inequity; and the robust evaluation of these interventions.

The TAG-BCI acts as an advisory body to the BCI Unit at WHO/Europe, with the aim to advance the use of evidence-based and people-centred approaches to health-related behaviours in the Member States of the Region.

In line with the Resolution: European regional action framework for behavioural and cultural insights for equitable health, 2022–2027 , the vision is a Region where health-related policies, services and communication deliver better health and reduce health inequity owing to the systematic application of BCI approaches in their development, implementation and evaluation. This vision is advanced through five strategic commitments made by Member States: to:

  • build understanding and support of BCI among key stakeholders;
  • conduct BCI research;
  • apply BCI to improve outcomes of health-related policies, services and communication;
  • commit human and financial resources for BCI and ensure their sustainability;
  • implement strategic plan(s) for the application of BCI for better health.

The work of the BCI Unit seeks to support Member States in advancing the use of BCI for health through four workstreams:

  • In-country work: technical support to health authorities in the Region to conduct BCI-related work;
  • Capacity-building: trainings at regional, sub-regional and in-country levels, online and in-person;
  • Evidence: publication of guidance, policy considerations, evidence;
  • Advocacy: visibility, partnership and stakeholder relations to advance the use of BCI for health.

The WHO European Region comprises 53 Member States, covering a vast geographical Region with a high degree of diversity as regards health, health systems, income levels, socio-economic conditions, political systems, historic and cultural contexts and more.

Functions of the TAG-BCI

In its capacity as an advisory body to WHO/Europe, the TAG-BCI shall have the following functions:

  • To advise the WHO Regional Office for Europe on strategic opportunities for the BCI work, including identifying and describing current and future challenges where BCI can be leveraged, in order to accelerate action towards broader regional and global health goals and strategies;
  • To provide technical advice and expertise to the BCI Unit in the development of academic projects, research protocols, technical documents and policy recommendations on BCI, particularly with regard to the state of the evidence and relevant policy innovations;
  • In line with WHO strategic documents and specific requests, to contribute to advancing the use of BCI for health across the Region, including through increased visibility and advocacy-related activities; and
  • To advise the BCI Unit in the implementation of interventions and activities at country and regional levels, including through reviewing documents related to research projects.

Member must be free of conflicts of interest. Membership is personal, and no members will represent their employer or an organization which they are affiliated with. See more information below.

Operations of the TAG-BCI

The TAG-BCI shall normally meet in plenary once or twice each year. Meetings are topic-based and TAG-BCI members will need to prepare presentations, considerations and input on the topic in question (for example, behaviours and health equity, cost-effectiveness of health behavioural interventions, dimensions of stakeholder engagement, or the cultural contexts of health behaviours). WHO/Europe may convene additional meetings of the TAG-BCI or its sub-groups as needed. Meetings may be held in person (at the WHO Regional office for Europe in Copenhagen or another location, as determined by WHO/Europe) or virtually, using online meeting options.

TAG-BCI members may be invited by WHO/Europe over email to review documentation or provide their advice and feedback for consideration, in accordance with the TAG-BCI functions, outside of TAG-BCI meetings.

The working language of the TAG-BCI will be English.

Participation entails the following:

  • Members will be appointed to serve for a period of 2 years and shall be eligible for reappointment.
  • TAG-BCI members are expected to attend meetings. If a member misses two consecutive meetings, WHO/Europe may end his/her appointment as member of the TAG-BCI.
  • Active participation is expected from all TAG-BCI members, including in online meetings and interaction over email. Members may be required to review strategic and technical documents in advance of meetings and provide their views for consideration by the TAG-BCI.
  • WHO/Europe shall determine the modes of communication with the TAG-BCI.

Who can express interest?

The TAG-BCI will be multidisciplinary, with members who have a range of technical knowledge, skills and experience relevant to behavioural and cultural insights and as mentioned below. Knowledge of WHO’s mandate and ways of working or experience with working or engaging with WHO are not a requirement but is an advantage for TAG members. Approximately 8 members may be selected.

WHO seeks to put together a TAG-BCI with a diverse set of skills, expertise and experience and with different perspectives on health behaviours, encompassing behavioural science, the cultural context of behaviours and other relevant dimensions to behaviour, such as political, health systems, equity, communications, digital/AI and other.

WHO welcomes expressions of interest from individuals with expertise/experience working with behaviours, including researchers, public health experts and practitioners, policy-makers, healthcare professionals, innovators and other professionals.

Applicants from outside the Region will be accepted, but priority will be given to applicants within the Region and to ensure representation from its various subregions.

Submitting your expression of interest

To register your interest in being considered for the TAG-BCI, please submit the following documents by 31 August 2024, 24:00h (midnight) CET using the following online form:

and including the following documents:

  • Your curriculum vitae; and
  • A signed and completed Declaration of Interests (DOI) form for WHO Experts, available at:

After submission, your expression of interest will be reviewed by WHO. Due to an expected high volume of interest, only selected individuals will be informed.

Important information about the selection processes and conditions of appointment

Members of WHO advisory groups (AGs) must be free of any real, potential or apparent conflicts of interest. To this end, applicants are required to complete the WHO Declaration of Interests for WHO Experts, and the selection as a member of an AG is, amongst other things, dependent on WHO determining that there is no conflict of interest or that any identified conflicts could be appropriately managed (in addition to WHO’s evaluation of an applicant’s experience, expertise and motivation and other criteria).

All AG members will serve in their individual expert capacity and shall not represent any governments, any commercial industries or entities, any research, academic or civil society organizations, or any other bodies, entities, institutions or organizations. They are expected to fully comply with the Code of Conduct for WHO Experts. AG members will be expected to sign and return a completed confidentiality undertaking prior to the beginning of the first meeting.

At any point during the selection process, telephone interviews may be scheduled between an applicant and the WHO Secretariat to enable WHO to ask questions relating to the applicant’s experience and expertise and/or to assess whether the applicant meets the criteria for membership in the relevant AG.

The selection of members of the AGs will be made by WHO in its sole discretion, taking into account the following (non-exclusive) criteria: relevant technical expertise; experience in international and country policy work; communication skills; and ability to work constructively with people from different cultural backgrounds and orientations .The selection of AG members will also take account of the need for diverse perspectives from different regions, especially from low and middle-income countries, and for gender balance.

If selected by WHO, proposed members will be sent an invitation letter and a Memorandum of Agreement. Appointment as a member of an AG will be subject to the proposed member returning to WHO the countersigned copy of these two documents.

WHO reserves the right to accept or reject any expression of interest, to annul the open call process and reject all expressions of interest at any time without incurring any liability to the affected applicant or applicants and without any obligation to inform the affected applicant or applicants of the grounds for WHO's action. WHO may also decide, at any time, not to proceed with the establishment of the AG, disband an existing AG or modify the work of the AG.

WHO shall not in any way be obliged to reveal, or discuss with any applicant, how an expression of interest was assessed, or to provide any other information relating to the evaluation/selection process or to state the reasons for not choosing a member.

WHO may publish the names and a short biography of the selected individuals on the WHO internet.

AG members will not be remunerated for their services in relation to the AG or otherwise. Travel and accommodation expenses of AG members to participate in AG meetings will be covered by WHO in accordance with its applicable policies, rules and procedures.

The appointment will be limited in time as indicated in the letter of appointment.

If you have any questions about this “Call for experts”, please write to [email protected] well before the applicable deadline (31 August 2024).

Related Highlight

Code of Conduct for WHO Experts

Declaration of Interest (DOI) form for WHO Experts

BCI at WHO/Europe

Technical work

Terms of Reference (TOR)



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    providing efficient and effective services, which requires a reduction of bureaucracy. and paperwork. The services sector is facing increasing pressure as the market becomes more. competitive as a result of the rapid growth in technology, particularly technology associated with globalization.

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