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description of study area

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Description of the study area is the act of describing the characteristics, qualities and physical features of an area, location, neighbourhood, city or community that is being studied or investigated for research purposes. Describing a study area is an important part of research, not just to the researcher, but to all concerned both now and in the future.

The study area is sometimes referred to as a study site in research, some higher institutions refer to the description of the study area as the “ profile of the study area “. To properly give a detailed description of an area, the researcher should have an in-depth knowledge of the study area in the project , and this can only be possible by reviewing other related materials in the form of published Journals, textbooks, etc., by academicians within a particular field of study or when the researcher is familiar with the neighbourhood or area in question.

In a dissertation, the description of a study area usually comes under Chapter Three (in most cases) except in some institutions with special formats for presenting research papers. But the key point is that the captions on whichever chapter this subject is mentioned are usually written as “A Brief Description of Study Area” . This is not to limit the information provided but to apply some sort of concision in that it should be skillfully couched to enable a good flow in the presentation without creating confusion.

In summary, there are three aspects to the description of study area – (brief) (description) (study area)

The fact that it is termed brief does not necessarily mean it shouldn’t be detailed.

Your description should cover a broad spectrum of information; this would include location, geography, climatic condition, social infrastructure, vegetation, density, humidity, temperature, topography, terrain and so on.

The study area should be your area of coverage that is, your case study. Introducing information from other areas or regions will have no significance on the subject matter, hence your primary focus would be on the area your research is covering. At this point, you are expected to include maps of the study area (in colour).

What you’re expected to write is a detailed description of your study area to give your reader an idea of what your study area looks like. Get Samples 

Depending on the research topic, the pattern of describing the study area could vary;

If a project topic is focused on investigating issues or problems that concern a state or province the description will bother around everything that makes up the location. For example “ Evaluation of the Issues Affecting Girl-Child Education in FCT Abuja ” is a broad topic that focuses on FCT-Abuja as a case study, hence to describe the study area which in this case is FCT-Abuja, adequate data on everything that makes up or best describes Abuja as a Federal Capital Territory has to be brought in and properly described. The description should include the vegetation in Abuja, the population of Abuja, Abuja’s topography, its climatic condition, the culture of people living in Abuja, the terrain (that is, the flatness or sloppiness of Roads in Abuja), the nature of business, market data, rainfall, electricity, common food, the number of ethnic group in the territory, religion of residents among others.

The essence of the description of the study area is to enable an outsider to have an idea of the area or neighbourhood that is being researched, this knowledge will also help the readers to understand the body of your work and try to envision what your study is trying to pass across. It will also influence people’s judgment of the topic being researched.

description of study area

If the project topic is centred on a particular catchment or neighbourhood for example “ A Critical Examination of Facilities Management Strategy on Public Properties – A Case Study of Central Bank of Nigeria Staff Quarters ” the description will take a different shape. In this case, it should include a brief summary of the neighborhood where the CBN staff quarters are located followed by a broad description of the CBN staff quarters environment and premises. Let’s look at the following example;

“ The CBN staff quarters is a large purpose-built residential estate for senior, intermediate and junior CBN staff members. It is properly fenced around its perimeter solid block walls with a giant double two-way gate at the main entrance and another small pedestrian gate by the side. The estate comprises of the following; 16 Blocks of 8 units of 2bedroom flats each totalling 128 flats, 12 Block of 8 units of 3bedroom flats each totalling another 97 flats, and 6 Blocks of 6 units of 3bedroom flats each totalling 36 flats with additional buildings at the rear for intermediate and junior staff. The senior staff also have a large garage for parking vehicles .”

In addition, a detailed description of the site and construction details of the buildings will beef up your work. For example:

“ The site is rectangular, it has a flat or table surface and properly drains off water during heavy downpours. The site measures approximately 22.32 hectares .”

The construction details should encompass; the type of floor, wall, doors, windows, ceiling, fittings, roof and the materials used in constructing them. For example, a brief description of the floor can be written like this “ The floor is made of mass concrete on hardcore filling well rammed over consolidated laterite and finished with terrazzo material ” The other building components (windows, doors, ceiling, wall, fitting and roof) should have their description proper done like the “floor”.

The facilities in the CBN staff estate should also come in the description. A short write-up can be done to explain to the reader or supervisor the available facilities installed and used in the CBN staff quarters, for example, “ The facilities provided in the CBN staff quarters are; water treatment plant, cameras, sewage treatment plant, generator house, heavy duty generator set to illuminate the premises, pumping machine (Sumo) to circulate water to all apartments, borehole, external lighting points and lawn tennis court for exercise .”

Sometimes an institution could be a case study of a project. Let’s use this project topic as an example “ An Analysis of the Maintenance and Management Problem of the University of Lagos Hostel Buildings ”.

To describe this study area the following sub-headings should be developed and expanded:

This involves the description of the University’s location, including the city and local government area where it is situated.

The History, Origin and Growth of the Study Area:

Tracing the historical background of the University of Lagos, its various campuses, colleges (college of medicine), the total size of the school premises, total number of staff and students (undergraduates and postgraduate students), annual enrollment of students, the various faculties and departments and other facilities attached to the universities and subsidiary campuses or learning institutions within and outside the state, or country is paramount.

Important : Make sure to include a colour map in your description to guide your readers and supervisor further.

description of study area


Frequently asked questions about the description of study area., what is the general description of the study area.

There is no such thing as a general description of the study area, the pattern of describing a particular area might differ from the way other areas are described. This is dependent on the type and nature of the area that is going to be described. No two locations have the same features, hence you cannot give a written account of locations A and B the same way, which is why the researcher will need to either visit the area of the study or source materials with comprehensive and recent information on a particular area to be described in the research paper.

Examples of areas of study?

The determination of a study area is dependent on the type or nature of the researchable problem that the researcher wants to solve. For example, an ideal study area for “Impact of indiscriminate dumps on children’s health” would be a neighbourhood that experiences a high volume of indiscriminate dumps such as ghettos, slum neighbourhoods, high-density or populated neighbourhoods etc.

Also, if a project topic is   “Impact of social media on junior secondary school subjects” the area of study will comprise a certain number of junior secondary schools in a particular area not necessarily the entire State, Region or Province. The area of study must be connected with the project topic, this is because the research problem is first identified before developing a topic around the problem. So, the research has to identify a problem, search for areas affected by the identified problem and then develop a topic that captures the problem and the area of study.

The following can represent an area of study; Primary and Secondary Schools, Communities, Organizations, Provinces, Streets, Local Government Areas, hospitals, Banks, TV and Radio Stations, Government Agencies, Military Barracks, Police Stations, Specialized Buildings, Events, Shrines, Layouts etc.

Some people may want to carry out simple research about their home or certain areas or components in their home, this could be academic or personal research about an identified problem in the home. Hence, examples of study areas at home would include, the premises, building structures, the environment, farmland or plantation farm, auxiliary facilities, recreational areas in the home, pool sites, cooking or baking area etc. depending on the project topic.

What is a study area in research?

Study areas are locations where a researcher plans to carry out an in-depth study about a topic or existing problem. This is usually indicated in the research proposal for the supervisor to vet and approve. If approved, the researcher or student is expected to visit the study area to observe and gather information related to the existing problem in that neighbourhood. A study area is also referred to as a study site or research site.

What is the importance of the study area in research?

The importance of the study area cannot be over-emphasized. I have taken time to explain this question in the article “ Reasons for Choosing a Study Area in Research ”.

Must a description of the study area in a project be broad?

No.  I mentioned earlier in this article that most research papers or projects require a brief description of your study area, so you could write a brief account of your study area in about one to three pages depending on how vast the area is. You don’t need to write more than is required, just provide the relevant information needed and you’re good.

Get complete samples of the Description of Study Areas here  

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What if I choose a Senior high school in Enugu state? Am I going to write about the school or the State itself?

If your project topic is about a particular high school then the description should focus on the School itself not the State.

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How to write description of the study Area

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What important information should I include in the research area description? Regard Telkom University

What’s your study area?

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My study area is Mbabane in Eswatini. However, am doing my thesis in an Asian University. Should my focus be with the Town or the entire Eswatini?

You may not be able to cover the entire Eswatini. So, delimit your study area to Mbabane. By the way, what’s your Thesis topic?

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  • Ethiop J Health Sci
  • v.22(Spec Iss); 2012 Aug

Overview of the Research Process, Study Area and Study Population

Reflections on the research process: The idea of generating population-based data on chronic non-communicable diseases and biomarkers was raised by some of the founding team members who were academic staffs of Jimma University (JU). Then, interest-based volunteer team comprising of public health specialists, clinicians and laboratory technologist was formed in June 2005 to enhance evidence-based practice by undergoing chronic non-communicable diseases survey at a community level; and generating hematoimmunologic and biochemical data on ‘apparently’ healthy population which can be used in future for setting normal reference values. The stimuli for these initiatives were:

  • The general truth that there are very few studies if at all, on chronic non-communicable diseases in Africa in general and in Ethiopia in particular.
  • The existence of substantial variability in physical measurement values by ethnic origin, genetics, gender, and other factors calling for development of national and regional normal reference values.
  • The fact that a substantial variability of laboratory values by ethnic origin, genetics, gender, altitude, and other environmental factors exists calling for development of national and regional normal reference values.
  • The need for strengthening the newly started postgraduate training in JU by generating community based data for evidence-based practice.
  • The funding opportunity which was given by The World Bank (Post-Secondary Education Project (PSEP)) for Ethiopian Universities.

The team soon prepared a project proposal entitled “Evidence-based practice in residency training at community setting, in faculty of public health and medical sciences, JU” as per The World Bank PSEP requirement which was approved first at Jimma University and then at Federal Ministry of Education level by September 2005. In such project the team then developed a proposal to conduct chronic diseases survey in accordance with the WHO's STEPS guideline (STEP I - Interview, STEP II - Physical measurements and STEP III- Biochemical measurement) and to determine immunohematological values at a community level. Ethical clearance was obtained from the university ethical clearance committee.

As major component of the budget was for procurement of equipments and laboratory supplies, the team developed specifications for each required item and submitted to the university procurement office in October 2005. However, due to the existing lengthy procurement procedures, sadly, majority of the items were secured after three years, by August 2008. In the meantime, five of the nine team members left the University for various reasons and five new members were co-opted so as to proceed with the remaining activities.

After several ups and downs, field data collection work was started in September 2008. The project team members recruited data collectors and supervisors and gave rigorous training particularly on the instruments from September 22–24, 2008. Pre-test was conducted at nearby areas in Bulbul and Serbo on September 25 and retraining was given on 26 th of September, 2008. The actual data collection was then carried out from October 2008 to January 2009. Close supervision, daily reporting and regular checking of the completed data helped the team to intervene on irregularities timely.

During the interview and physical measurement there were no as such big study participant related difficulties. During blood sample collection, however, some study subjects fainted when looking at blood being drawn and many were afraid as they had no such previous experiences. They were given immediate care and reassurance. On top of this, some dwellers spread rumors on blood sample collection and as a result, many subjects refused to participate in the third STEP of the study.

The other challenges during data collection were the ragged terrain of the area and scattered settlements which made access difficult. Car was used to reach relatively accessible villages and motorbike in more difficult ones but mostly villages were reached through long distance walk. Flat tyres, vehicle trap in mud and fall accident from a motor-bike were frequent encounters.

Because of the entire above bumpy-dumpy journey, some team members felt that they will never pass through such path again. After data was entered and edited, eight team members (Ayalew, Abraham, Fasil, Yoseph, Makonnen, Fessehaye, Muluneh, Solomon) broke from the routine for a week and did the analyses and report writing in a retreat at Tommy International Hotel, Bishoftu. For the team, this was really a good learning experience and reunion with some of the earlier senior members made the members to forget the rough journey they underwent and to look forward with optimism.

Location of the study area: The survey was conducted in Gilgel Gibe Field Research Center (GGFRC) which serves as health and demographic surveillance site for Jimma University (JU). The center comprises of 8 rural and two urban kebeles (the lowest administrative unit in Ethiopia). A population of 50,000 resided in the area at the time of the survey. The center is located in Southwestern Ethiopia, Jimma zone, around Gilgel Gibe Hydroelectric dam, 260 km southwest of Addis Ababa and 55 km Northeast of Jimma town ( Figure 1 ).

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is EJHS220S-0003Fig1.jpg

Location map of the study area: Gilgel Gibe Field Research Center.

Overview of selection process of the study population

The targets of the study were residents of the area aged 15 to 64 years. Sample size was determined, using recommendations in the WHO STEPS surveillance manual, to estimate prevalence of CNCDs and their risk factors in each stratum of age, sex and residential area ( Figure 2 ). The sample size for STEP I and II of the survey was 5,500 and 60% (3,300) of these were sampled for STEP III. For sample selection, a list of all eligible study participants was obtained from vital registration of the area in Jimma University. The sample size was allotted to urban and rural strata proportional to their size in a ratio of 25% to 75%, respectively. Furthermore, equal sample were allotted into each sex and age strata ( Figure 2 ). Age was grouped to five strata, in intervals of ten years. Individual study subjects were then selected using simple random sampling technique.

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is EJHS220S-0003Fig2.jpg

Schematic presentation of sampling procedure for chronic illness survey in GGFRC, Southwest Ethiopia, 2008.

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3. Methodology of Research 3.1. Study Area and Target Population

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This study was conducted in Honkolo enclosed area found in Honkolo Wabe district of Arsi zone with in oromia region. The study objective was to critically assess the land use land cover change in Honkolo enclosed area, and explain socioeconomic and environmental impacts caused due to land use land cover change. To realize the objective data was collected from 95 sample rural households using questionnaire, 6 key informant interviews, and 4 Focus Group discussions with farmers and experts. Besides to this, satellite image of 30 meter resolution was also used to identify the land use and land cover change in the enclosed area with remote sensing and GIS software. The analysis of land use land cover change detection showed that farm land and settlement had been increasing from before the area was enclosed from human and animal interventions since 2010; the socioeconomic analysis revealed woody tree species that disappeared long time ago have been restored following the establishment of enclosures. Additionally, most of focus group discussion and key informant confirmed that they had obtained socio-economic and environmental benefits from the establishment of the area enclosures. From the analysis of the results on LULC it can be concluded that human interventions are the determinant factors for the changing land use and land cover. However, various problems were also identified such as shortages of firewood and scarcity of pastureland. Finally based on findings it is concluded that local community had got a positive attitude towards area enclosures practices. Therefore, close relationship among the local communities and other related bodies is essential for the success and effective management practices of area enclosures. Key words: Area enclosure, Land use/land over, land management, Land degradation, GIS, community participation

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Selecting Research Area

Selecting a research area is the very first step in writing your dissertation. It is important for you to choose a research area that is interesting to you professionally, as well as, personally. Experienced researchers note that “a topic in which you are only vaguely interested at the start is likely to become a topic in which you have no interest and with which you will fail to produce your best work” [1] . Ideally, your research area should relate to your future career path and have a potential to contribute to the achievement of your career objectives.

Selecting Research Area

The importance of selecting a relevant research area that is appropriate for dissertation is often underestimated by many students. This decision cannot be made in haste. Ideally, you should start considering different options at the beginning of the term. However, even when there are only few weeks left before the deadline and you have not chosen a particular topic yet, there is no need to panic.

There are few areas in business studies that can offer interesting topics due to their relevance to business and dynamic nature. The following is the list of research areas and topics that can prove to be insightful in terms of assisting you to choose your own dissertation topic.

Globalization can be a relevant topic for many business and economics dissertations. Forces of globalization are nowadays greater than ever before and dissertations can address the implications of these forces on various aspects of business.

Following are few examples of research areas in globalization:

  • A study of implications of COVID-19 pandemic on economic globalization
  • Impacts of globalization on marketing strategies of beverage manufacturing companies: a case study of The Coca-Cola Company
  • Effects of labour migration within EU on the formation of multicultural teams in UK organizations
  • A study into advantages and disadvantages of various entry strategies to Chinese market
  • A critical analysis of the effects of globalization on US-based businesses

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is also one of the most popular topics at present and it is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. CSR refers to additional responsibilities of business organizations towards society apart from profit maximization. There is a high level of controversy involved in CSR. This is because businesses can be socially responsible only at the expense of their primary objective of profit maximization.

Perspective researches in the area of CSR may include the following:

  • The impacts of CSR programs and initiatives on brand image: a case study of McDonald’s India
  • A critical analysis of argument of mandatory CSR for private sector organizations in Australia
  • A study into contradictions between CSR programs and initiatives and business practices: a case study of Philip Morris Philippines
  • A critical analysis into the role of CSR as an effective marketing tool
  • A study into the role of workplace ethics for improving brand image

Social Media and viral marketing relate to increasing numbers of various social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube etc. Increasing levels of popularity of social media among various age groups create tremendous potential for businesses in terms of attracting new customers.

The following can be listed as potential studies in the area of social media:

  • A critical analysis of the use of social media as a marketing strategy: a case study of Burger King Malaysia
  • An assessment of the role of Instagram as an effective platform for viral marketing campaigns
  • A study into the sustainability of TikTok as a marketing tool in the future
  • An investigation into the new ways of customer relationship management in mobile marketing environment: a case study of catering industry in South Africa
  • A study into integration of Twitter social networking website within integrated marketing communication strategy: a case study of Microsoft Corporation

Culture and cultural differences in organizations offer many research opportunities as well. Increasing importance of culture is directly related to intensifying forces of globalization in a way that globalization forces are fuelling the formation of cross-cultural teams in organizations.

Perspective researches in the area of culture and cultural differences in organizations may include the following:

  • The impact of cross-cultural differences on organizational communication: a case study of BP plc
  • A study into skills and competencies needed to manage multicultural teams in Singapore
  • The role of cross-cultural differences on perception of marketing communication messages in the global marketplace: a case study of Apple Inc.
  • Effects of organizational culture on achieving its aims and objectives: a case study of Virgin Atlantic
  • A critical analysis into the emergence of global culture and its implications in local automobile manufacturers in Germany

Leadership and leadership in organizations has been a popular topic among researchers for many decades by now. However, the importance of this topic may be greater now than ever before. This is because rapid technological developments, forces of globalization and a set of other factors have caused markets to become highly competitive. Accordingly, leadership is important in order to enhance competitive advantages of organizations in many ways.

The following studies can be conducted in the area of leadership:

  • Born or bred: revisiting The Great Man theory of leadership in the 21 st century
  • A study of effectiveness of servant leadership style in public sector organizations in Hong Kong
  • Creativity as the main trait for modern leaders: a critical analysis
  • A study into the importance of role models in contributing to long-term growth of private sector organizations: a case study of Tata Group, India
  • A critical analysis of leadership skills and competencies for E-Commerce organizations

COVID-19 pandemic and its macro and micro-economic implications can also make for a good dissertation topic. Pandemic-related crisis has been like nothing the world has seen before and it is changing international business immensely and perhaps, irreversibly as well.

The following are few examples for pandemic crisis-related topics:

  • A study into potential implications of COVID-19 pandemic into foreign direct investment in China
  • A critical assessment of effects of COVID-19 pandemic into sharing economy: a case study of AirBnb.
  • The role of COVID-19 pandemic in causing shifts in working patterns: a critical analysis

Moreover, dissertations can be written in a wide range of additional areas such as customer services, supply-chain management, consumer behaviour, human resources management, catering and hospitality, strategic management etc. depending on your professional and personal interests.

[1] Saunders, M., Lewis, P. & Thornhill, A. (2012) “Research Methods for Business Students” 6th edition, Pearson Education Limited.

Selecting Research Area

John Dudovskiy

Identifying an Area of Research

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what is description of study area in research

  • Hilary Coombes  

Part of the book series: Palgrave Study Guides ((MASTSK))

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You may not have a choice in what you research, it may be that you are given a particular topic area to research, or a concept to investigate. If this is the case, then if at all possible try to find some area that interests you within the given investigation. For example, let us say you are asked to research:

Why unemployment is 35% higher among unqualified people in comparison with qualified people.

Try not to fall into the trap of immediately presuming that everyone knows the answer already. If you do this, you will not only fall into a biased research outlook, but you may feel that the answer is so obvious that you are wasting your time in researching the topic. This in turn will lead you to devalue the importance of your research and you will find it extremely difficult to motivate yourself, especially if problems occur.

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Coombes, H. (2001). Identifying an Area of Research. In: Research Using IT. Palgrave Study Guides. Palgrave, London. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-137-05029-8_2

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3. The Study Area: Definition and Characteristics

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How to write the perfect study description

what is description of study area in research

The secret to getting quality data for your research study is recruiting quality participants – who are eager, enthusiastic, and engaged. But just how do you do that?

Your study description can help. It's an often-overlooked aspect of study design that can greatly influence who you bring on board, and the results they give you.

Why your study description matters

Your title and description are the first things potential participants see when they’re scrolling through, looking for their next study.

If they’re compelling, they won’t just catch a participant’s eye. They’ll also provide all the information they need to decide whether they’ll participate in your study.

What’s the aim of the study? What does the participant need to do? Will they have to give any sensitive information? Is there anything in the study that might make them uncomfortable? These are the kinds of things a participant will want to know before getting involved.

Written well, a study description makes your instructions clearer. And it can make your participants feel more motivated. After all, participants are more likely to immerse themselves in your study if they understand its purpose and what’s expected of them.

What’s more, a good study description can help you meet certain ethical requirements, such as gaining informed consent from participants.

The key here is to include just the right amount of information the participant will need to decide whether to partake.

Too much, and you risk not only giving away the aims of your study, but also boring the reader – driving them to scroll on. Too little, and they won’t know what they’re possibly getting themselves into, or fully understand what’s expected of them.

Here are the elements we recommend you include:

The aim of the study

Include a clear and concise statement about what the study is trying to achieve – without divulging too much, so as not to influence responses.

Participant requirements

Clearly outline what the participant will need to do. This includes any instructions, materials, or equipment they’ll require.

Sensitive information

If you need any sensitive data from a participant, let them know. This includes personal or medical details.

Uncomfortable tasks

Warn participants about any sections they may find uncomfortable. This could be viewing disturbing images or videos, for instance.

Unusual requests

Warn participants of anything unexpected they will need to do, such as downloading software or requiring headphones.

Rejection prevention

Instruct participants on what they must do to avoid their submission being rejected, such as completing all tasks or answering all questions.

Reward details

Give participants an estimate of how long it’ll take to receive a reward after submission. If you plan to use bonus payments, or if it’s a longitudinal study with a payment schedule, then state this clearly.

Opt-out instructions

Discuss how a participant can opt out of the study, and what will happen if they do.

Data removal information

Let participants know whether they can remove their data from the dataset, and provide instructions on how to do so.

Data accessibility information

Explain whether anonymized data will be made accessible to other researchers, and how the data will be used (e.g., to publish a research study or guide government policy).

Contact details

Provide your contact details in case participants have questions. If you have ethics approval, include the contact details of the ethics board in question.

Don’t forget to debrief

At the end of your study, it's important to provide participants with a debriefing. This serves three purposes: it provides closure for the participant, it makes sure they leave the study with a positive impression, and it allows you to address any issues that arose during the study.

If you used deception or a cover story during the study, make sure to resolve this in the debriefing. The debriefing should consist of a short thank you message, as well as information about any deception that was used in the study.

In some cases, you might also want to give contact details for relevant helplines. An addiction support helpline would be pertinent after a study on drug abuse, for example.

In conclusion

A well-written study description is a win-win for you and the people taking part. It ensures participants know exactly what they need to do and have the motivation to do it. And it helps you gather valuable, quality data.

By providing participants with clear instructions and information about the study's purpose, you’ll set them up to give the best responses they can, and minimize the risk of incomplete or inaccurate data.

To learn more tips and tricks for running effective research and receiving high-quality data, download our best practice guide today.

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