Writing a scope of study requires identifying the limitations and delimitations of the study, what data is used for the research and what theories are employed to interpret that data.
The scope of study is one of the most important parts of a research paper. The scope tells the reader what subject the researcher is exploring. Since many topics are broad and it is not possible to cover all of their facets, researchers must narrow down their scope of research. This is accomplished through limitations, which are external circumstances and situations beyond the control of the researcher that arose during the course of the study. These might include unforeseen time constraints, language barriers, difficulty accessing the population segment and more. Delimitations are factors the researcher consciously chooses to narrow down and define the scope of study. Common delimitations include segment and population size, tools used to gather data and the structure of the study.
Scope of Study Components
When compiling a research paper, the researcher should state as soon as possible (usually in the introduction) what he or she intends to do and plans to avoid in the study. This entails stating the scope of study and outlining, one by one, any limitations and delimitations. This eliminates confusion for readers and takes them through the researcher's mental process when he or she performed the research.
Even if limitations and delimitations led to a disappointing or unfavorable outcome for the study, it is important to discuss them in the paper. Doing so can sometimes lead to an opportunity for further exploration in a follow-up study. It can also help the research understand the impact that those factors had on the study, and whether or not the study's results can be translated to the general population. Any limitations and delimitations encountered should be addressed again in the discussion section, and finally in the conclusion.
Formatting the Scope of Study
Regardless of discipline, the research paper should follow roughly the same format. Papers should begin with an introduction that concisely states the main problem to be addressed. This is usually accomplished in a thesis statement. It tells the audience what topic is being studied and why it is important that the researcher studies it. This is where the limitations go, too.
Next, the methodology section discusses how the researcher collected data. This can be through experiments, surveys, polls and more. This section should also include any works consulted and any fieldwork performed. After the methodology section comes the section on literature review. Here, researchers should list any other studies conducted on their chosen topic. They should note what information is available on their topic and how they found that information. Following that section is the main body or argument of the paper.
At this point, the researcher should demonstrate why the research data support or refute his or her hypothesis. This part of the paper contains the most analysis and number of citations. While a good discussion is encouraged, researchers should write concisely and with clarity throughout.
Finally, the conclusion wraps up the paper. This section should summarize the research topic, outline the limitations and delimitations, and reiterate why the data supported or refuted the hypothesis. Ideally, the conclusion functions as a standalone part of the paper that can be read independently. If any appendices were required for the report, they should be included after the conclusion.