What is a research project?

By Ainne Thompson / On / In Research

A research project is a procedure that is guided by the scientific method in the use it gives to the information, from which it formulates a hypothesis, generally of scientific or social orientation.

According to the Royal Spanish Academy, one of the meanings of the term project (proiectus in Latin) is to be a provision that is prepared for the realization of a treaty or the execution of something of certain importance, the first scheme of all work which is done as a test before giving it the final form and, in geometry, that which is represented in perspective.

A research project gathers these three meanings. It has a specific timeframe, phases and is subject to constant monitoring. It is common to find its application within the academic environment, either in the last years of secondary school, or at tertiary and university level.

Characteristics of a research project


Research projects are formulated in a certain way. They are headed with a title that clearly and accurately denote the problem to be addressed, the name of the person carrying out the project, the degree, the position and the address of the researcher or researchers (what is known as an organization chart) are attached.

As well as the name of the institution where the research project will be carried out, of the entity that will manage the funds and the budget settingof existingand according to its importance the signature of the researcher and the legal representative of the institution.

Abstract or abstract

After the title, we proceed to make a summary that contains the central points of the research plan, with the indication of methods, discussions, results. This section is usually done at the end of the work (although it is located at the beginning) as a general screen and on the occasion of presenting the work in congresses or to be published.

Problem formulation

In an introductory way, it explains what will be discussed and begin to problematize the main items of the selected topic. It is always advisable to make a short, clear introductory statement with questions, whether they are explicitly or implicitly throughout the text.

In order to situate yourself in the problem, it is a requisite to make a survey of what has been investigated of it so far; The importance of emphasizing a specific point that has not been investigated and related to the main problem will be highlighted.


It is important that the object of study is justified, it must be answered at this point why it is necessary to analyze a particular problem, which may be novel or presented in a novel way. It is central to leave a mark on why a thorough investigation should be carried out on the axis of work.

Theoretical framework

It is about defining the themes and authors. It represents the formal scheme of organization. What elements will be used and the specification of concepts. Configure the basic coordinates of the project.

Tentative work plan and hypothesis

It is outlined how the authors or available bibliography will be traversed throughout the project. Some items are accentuated and relationships are presented between concepts that were glimpsed in the introduction.

The hypothesis is a supposition, the position that is taken after the problematization on a subject. The plan must integrate the way to approach it. When a project is presented for the first time, the hypothesis is characterized as provisional. The development of the investigative work will be in charge of evaluating its relevance.


There are two types of objectives in these projects: the general and the specific. The first refers to the overall purpose of the work, while the second refers tothe components.

The mention of the objectives starts from the formulation of a provisional hypothesis, that is, the problem itself, which constitutes the tentative work plan. The objectives are more specific than the title of the project and expand information regarding the tentative plan.


In what has to do with the method, we must agree to its primary meaning: path. It clarifies how the topics will be addressed, how will be used, for example, the bibliography, the authors. Point to how the work will be structured and divided. For example, the observation can be made that before a certain topic, it will begin by taking a historical tour.

In addition, the kind of analysis that will be carried out is mentioned, that is: the perspective of a literary investigation is not the same as that of a historical one. Possibly, in the first case, semiotic and structural resources will be used. The methodology responds, precisely, tohowthe work will be carried out, while the plan, for example, involves the elaboration of content rather than forms.

Bibliographic references

This section presents the list of books referenced so far and those that may be consulted later. The bibliography is always a more or less exact indication of the kind of readings performed.

Textual quotations

While there are general guidelines that should be included, such as those that were mentioned, it must be remembered that there is no single model. Even so, appointments must be made in a specific way according to their extension, location, etc., when it is necessary to resort to them (that is, when the work begins to develop).

In the case of quotations of three lines, they are expressed after the text and the author, the year of publication of the work and the page are put at the end, in parentheses.


  • Research projects must follow the guidelines of, for example, academic work” (Fernández, 1998, p.23).
  • When the work is made by more than one author, the character “&” is used. For example: (Fernández & Pérez, 2001, p.46)

With respect to citations of an extension greater than three lines, the text is located in the center of the page, after two points. The way of referencing between parentheses is the same as that of small citations, the difference is that long texts are separated, they are not put in quotation marks after what has been said.