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Peer Review and Research

Guidance and resources to support the research process for librarians.

Establishing Clear Goals

Establishing clear goals often requires considerable preliminary deliberation and reflection.  Utilization of important key questions can serve to focus one's thoughts while identifying objectives and logical steps for achieving research goals.  One might employ similar thinking and planning processes as those indicated in writing research papers, proposals and grant writing, and as evidenced in the guidance provided in the following websites:

This section on the "Introduction" provides guidance for developing a clear statement, purpose of the study, and goals & objectives.  It asks questions such as:

  •   What is the intended audience for your research?
  •   What is the significance of your research question?  Why is it worth pursuing?  Why is answering this question important?
  •   Review what is known about your research topic as far as it is relevant to your thesis.


This editorial from Library & Information Science Research (2007) provides an overview including guidelines and attributes of a problem statement and references to articles on this topic.  For example, attribute 7:

7. conveyance of the study's importance, benefits, and justification (regardless of the type of
research, it is important to address the “so what” question and to demonstrate that the
research is not trivial); 


Can be used for all types of research projects, not just grant proposals.  It provides brief, yet useful definitions and tips on goals and objectives. For example:

  • A goal is a broad statement of what you wish to accomplish.
  • A goal is only as good as the objectives that go with it.

Provides helpful guiding questions for establishing your goals, as well as providing an overview of the entire proposal process.  "The Introduction" section of this LibGuide provides useful information for focusing your goals. Other helpful sections include: "Choosing a Topic" and "The Literature Review".

  • What do you plan to accomplish?
  • Why do you want to do it?
  • How are you going to do it?

From the OWL at Purdue, this site provides guidance with the steps involved in writing various types of proposals.

Conference proposals: "First and foremost, you need to consider your future audience carefully in order to determine both how specific your topic can be and how much background information you need to provide in your proposal."

This section on Problem Formation is part of the Web Center for Social Research Methods at Cornell University.  For example:
Where do research topics come from?

  • practical problems in the field
  • the literature in your specific field

In addition to problem formation, this site includes a section on concept mapping for formulating a research topic.