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Writing a Research Synopsis

In Brief:
Identify your research topic:

OECD (2013) points out that measuring well-being helps us better understand poverty as
poverty and human wellbeing are closely connected - multidimensional poverty is simply
another way to describe wellbeing failures. While there can be a universal framework for
measuring wellbeing this must be adapted at country and sub-national levels to ensure
relevance. In a similar vein, Manolom & Promphakping, (2016) emphasises the need to take
social and cultural concepts into account as wellbeing is essentially a social and cultural
I am interested in studying how development actors engage with addressing issues of wellbeing
when carrying out development interventions in the Sri Lankan context.

Suggest a question:
What are the meanings attributed to poverty, development and wellbeing by development actors
within the Sri Lankan context?

To unpack this research question further the following questions can be considered

(1) How is poverty construed by development actors?

(2) How is wellbeing understood and addressed by development actors?
(3) What tools and/or frameworks do they use in addressing wellbeing issues?

Motivate the question:

During the last 50 years of global development initiatives, there has been a gulf between what
most human beings seek from life and the outcomes offered by development intervention. This
disparity could explain some of the roots of long-standing unrest and conflict in South Asia,
Africa and, Latin America. Therefore, there is a need to re-think what successful development
means and develop ways in which to arrive at a nuanced political, sociological, and
anthropological analysis of wellbeing among beneficiaries of development interventions.

Writing a Research Synopsis

In Brief:
Identify your research topic:
I am interested in learning about/working on/studying . . .

Suggest a question:
I want to research X because I want to find out who/what/when/where/whether/why/how . . .

Motivate the question:

. . . in order to understand how, why, whether. . .

The Research Problem

The research problem can be developed as a puzzle emerging from the existing body of
research OR
The description of the problem should lead to a substantive research question or set of
questions AND in the process
Highlight a gap in the existing body of research
The research problem must highlight a social issue or phenomenon worthy of scholarly
The description of the problem should raise critical questions for social science research

Questions to help you write:

What is the social issue or social phenomenon that the research wants to highlight?
What specific topic or thematic area within poverty and social justice is the research
problem located?
Which aspects of the social issue or phenomenon have not been researched adequately? Or
is poorly understood?

The Research Question(s)

The research question(s) should unpack the research problem (Uyangoda 2010:39).
The research question(s) should be capable of being researched through empirical field
work (not arm-chair contemplation or application of philosophy).
It should be clear, intelligible, unambiguous (Bryman 2008; Lewis 2003).
The research questions must be linked to each other, so that you develop a coherent
argument in your report
The question(s) should be informed by and connected to existing research

Questions to help you write:

What are the key issues that constitute the problem?
What particular aspect of the research problem does the research question address?
Has the research question been asked before? If so, what new angle or setting makes the
question relevant and important enough to be researched?

Rationale, Significance, and Objectives of the Study

The rationale and significance of the study must address the So what? Who cares?
challenge. In other words, if the research question is not answered, what will be the
Researchers are expected to make a case for their research studywhy should the question
be important and interesting to others?

The objectives of the study will indicate how the findings of the research study may:
contribute to new knowledge through a better or alternative understanding of the problem
and its consequences
inform policy
elaborate or refute existing theories

Questions to help you write:

What is the benefit of answering your question? Who will it help (and how)?
How will the answer to the question help social scientists and policy makers better
understand the nature or consequences of the social problem or issue?
Why is it an interesting question for poverty and social justice?
What might you contribute to knowledge (policy, practice, theory)?