To get from your prima facie question to a final question you have to do some work. It’s like the bulldozers clearing a building site before a new house is built. They have to clear the ground. And so do you: you have to clear the ground. You need some kit for this: a literature review and a storyboard, and you also need to consider ethics. The ground clearing means rethinking your initial question and doing a bit of toing and froing. It involves what is sometimes called a ‘recursive design’ to your research. The alternative is a linear design, which is more usual in certain of the sciences such as physics or chemistry. However, in the social sciences and the applied sciences it is usual for the research, as it is being done, to influence the shape of the ultimate research. As you research you find stuff out and it affects the way you proceed. This diagram isn’t supposed to look pretty. It’s supposed to look a mess. In fact, draw in your own arrows and mess it up even more. The idea I’m trying to convey is that your research changes as you proceed: you’ll have new ideas and these will influence the direction and progress of your research – these are the backward arrows on the diagram. They’re not ‘bad’ backward arrows; they’re backward in the sense of letting you think again – letting you refine your initial questions.
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