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Background of Study

In study/research, background is one of the preface steps in completing a research paper on a particular study topic. The background of a research paper includes an appraisal of the area under research, evaluating currently available information pertaining to the issue, preceding studies pertaining to the issue, and pertinent history about it. According to Head (2007) “the background of study should effectively set forth the history and background information on your thesis problem. This background serves the purpose of helping you to demonstrate the significance of your research question and thus further build on your thesis.

Steps in writing the Background of Study

First step: Undertake some preliminary research when coming up with a thesis. Many issues may seem unclear and thus a need to solidified such thoughts. As Carroll (2013) asserts, “Conducting preliminary research on your area of study and specific topic will help you to formulate a research question or thesis statement that will lead to more specific and relevant research.” You are obliged to occasion the library, use the internet as well as electronic databases that aid in finding credible sources, such as approved books, scholarly journals, and peer-reviewed articles to help you in writing your background of the research.

Second Step: the second step entails a thorough reading of the available information and developing the most appropriate research question that will act as a guide to your thesis. As Neuman (2009) asserts, “You will need to take notes and keep accurate track of the sources that you used up to this point.” Additionally Aurini, Heath, & Howells suggest that “many people use note cards, but with current technology there many electronic note taking programs available.” However, make sure you use a technique of recording the obtained information that you feel comfortable with. According to Neuman (2009) “be sure to cite the source of the information on each note so you don’t forget where each piece of information came from, should you decide to use it in your thesis.”

Third Step: It entails writing a research question that will guide your study, other refer to it as a thesis statement. This entails pondering over what you have read in the chosen sources and develop issues that you will investigate through your study to determine whether such claims are tenable or not. As Neuman (2009) asserts, “Write out your opinion as an authoritative statement on the issue, problem or solution.” At this point, you have the discretion to engage in a profound research and find additional sources that are particularly helpful in developing your argument towards addressing your research question.

Fourth Step: Guided by your research question and the thesis statement you developed, write your background diligently paying attention to important issues you have harnessed from the identified sources. Aurini, Heath & Howells suggest that “you make sure that your sources provide details on the history and past research related to your research question.”

Fifth Step: This step entails creating appropriate sections in your background arranged in a logical manner such that every idea stands out. According to Head (2007) “as you evaluate your research and begin to write the background study, create five separate sections that cover the key issues, major findings, and controversies surrounding your thesis, as well as sections that provide an evaluation and conclusion.”

Sixth Step: This entails concluding by recognizing any supplementary study that any other person interested in the field of study may undertake a research.

Seventh Step: This is the final step and entails revising and editing your background. Do numerous drafts of the background, revise them and fill in any other relevant information as you revise. The finale draft must be void of any errors and contradictions. Additionally, every issue that builds on the thesis statement and the research question must be easily recognizable from the background.

Rationale of the Study

Rationale of study/research is the justification of that study. According to Drummer & Bassed (2013) “The rationale often explains which specific groups of people can benefit from the research and it typically indicates how the specific project fits within the developing body of knowledge.” When describing rationale, researchers are obliged to consider the importance of their work and the implications it has. As Carroll (2013) asserts, “Researchers should also examine what impact the study might have not just on the academic or scientific community but also on the general public and additionally on how it will impact lives or the environment.”

Rationale for Studying Comparative Education

According to Carroll (2013) “students in educational institutions are not prepared without the study of comparative education due to the following justifiable reasons.” Comparative education gives them some reference for change. “Through studying the educational systems of other countries we can discover which reforms are possible and desirable” (Drummer & Bassed, 2013). There are several justifications that supports studying comparative education and more so among students undertaking education as a specialization for instance teachers, policy makers, planners in education and managers.

  1. Augment understanding: To enable students to better understand the education systems wholly through retracing its development and the influence other subjects have influenced it over time to this day.
  2. To make educational concepts universal: This is simply the generalizing of statements about how educational concepts develop and testing applicable the existing theories are universally.
  • To know and understand other people: Comparative education helps in developing a pool of knowledge that caters for intellectual curiosity that one may have and also enhances your intellectual enlightenment. According to Aurini, Heath & Howells, “it thus broadens our thinking when dealing with educational issues and problems thus, think globally and act locally.”
  1. Helps in improving education at home: Studying systems that pertain to other people helps in developing a sufficient perspective toward our education systems. By
  2. Helps in acquiring practicality in life: According to Carroll (2013) “We study comparative education in order to get exposure to knowledge in other disciplines in humanities and social sciences that also study human affairs so as to enable us have a holistic picture of education.”
  3. To learn the true nature of a society: According to Neuman (2009) “by studying schools in other countries, comparative education opens the window through which we can understand a society for often the school reflect what the society looks like.”

Rationale vs. Maxims in the Study of Concepts

According to Head (2007) “Supposing that concepts C and D are the same in respect of which transitions in thought a thinker must be rationally willing to make if he is to possess the concept, where the transitions in question involve a judgment whose content contains the concept.” In such a case the transition may emanate from a state of mind that predates a judgment. This transition may take the form of an inference, in which the substance containing the perception may occur in form of a premise. It may also be in form of a conclusion. According to Head (2007), “Suppose also that the concepts C and D receive the same account of how the semantic value of each is determined, together with the world, from these transitions.” Such rationales are the maxims that the writer puts forward to explain the concepts C and D in such a way that the intended readers will understand fully.

Difference between Rationale and Significance of Study

The difference between rationale and significance is that rationale asks the question: Based on what is already known and published in the literature of your subject, does your planned experimental approach has a logical reasoning? On the other hand, significance asks the question: If your experimental approach went well and yielded good quality results, how does the result contribute to what is already known (academic significance) and/or application in reality?

Difference between Rationale and Purpose of Study

The difference between rationale and purpose of study is that; rationale involves stating the reasons for which one is undertaking a study or asking a specific question of what the study is all about whereas the purpose of study provides readers with what they can expect to know or come away with after reading the study (Neuman, 2009). In simple terms, rationale is an explanation for an action whereas purpose is the objective or what you want to achieve from doing your study/research.


Aurini, J., Heath, M., & Howells, S. The ‘how to’ of qualitative research.

Carroll, J. (2013). A rationale for evolutionary studies of literature. Scientific Study Of Literature3(1), 8-15.

Drummer, O. & Bassed, R. (2013). How to write a research proposal and conduct productive research. Pathology45, S23.

Head, A. (2007). Beyond Google: How do students conduct academic research?. First Monday12(8).

Neuman, W. (2009). Understanding research. Boston, MA: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.

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