Have you ever wondered why every research has a background of the study?
The reason is crystal clear, one cannot carry out a study without knowing the root of the problem. Identifying the roots of the problem helps to easily ascertain what the solution should look like or what one should be looking out for to proffer or recommend solutions. So the background of the study provides details of a problem, what has happened and why it is still so.
Research involves a thorough investigation into a subject matter, the thoroughness is only possible with an enthusiastic, result-oriented and hardworking student who is willing to go through pains to dig out relevant data from the past for a present challenge.
The background of the study is a detailed historical event of a problem that is being researched. It helps to reveal the foundation of a particular research problem which is expansively narrowed down to the present situation. Every research paper comes with a well-couched background of the study, it is usually the first write-up after the introduction. If well written, the background of a study makes a research paper rich and robust. Every problem is supposed to be traceable through events and activities, that’s what the background of a study does to research.
As implied, the two main terms are “the background” and “the study”
The word background can best be described as a report about a scene, activities or events that took place either in the past or present which affects or could affect a subject under investigation or that is being considered. While study in research is about reviewing, perusing, thorough investigation of a selected topic or case either to acquire knowledge or proffer solutions or answers.
Writing background of the study involves some level of skillset blended with good academic capabilities. The background of the study may look easy when read, but requires lots of work during preparation. To write a good background for the study, the following steps should be used;
Journals are recommended for this exercise.
The introduction – This can be a short definition or narration of the subject matter.
Academic libraries are large, organized collections of information in printed format to facilitate an open distribution of knowledge in academia.
The body – This is where the history of the problem is traced and written.
The United States started experiencing a sudden decline in the supply of physical books, DVDs etc. which was instrumental to the creation of Google Books in 2004, google at that time tried to digitalize every book in the physical libraries (Guion, 2021). It was recorded that US libraries experienced a 29% drop in physical books from 1997 to 2011, the yearly supply of books and DVDs……
Conclusion – The researcher has to find a way to connect or link the problems found to what the research wants to achieve.
It is against this backdrop that this study intends to examine the access and use of digital information resources in academic libraries.
Many students do not think the background of the study is important to their study, they sometimes mistake it for an introduction. Usually background of the study comes under the introduction as item 3.1 in theses or dissertation papers, while some researchers would prefer to have an “introduction” and a “background of the study” others may only have the background of the study thinking both are the same, whereas they are way different in research. Introduction in research brings the reader’s attention to the work that has been done but the background of the study directs the readers’ mind to the roots of the research problem as a way of saying “Hey we’ve been able to find some problems, here are attempts in the past to solve the problems found, the problems have not been solved, but our research will try to solve it”.
The characteristics of the background of the study include the following:
A good background of a study should be easy to read, and understand and should be able to guide the researcher on how to write a statement of the problem, the research aim and organize the research questions. It should help the researcher prepare a winning hypothesis, the significance of the study and the pattern of further literature reviews to undertake. If the background of the study is well written, the researcher would know what gaps to find in the literature and essential areas to fill. The background of the study should enable the strategic concentrations to certain areas or locations or activities to investigate and collect relevant data that will be sampled or tested to conclude. The conclusion will then lead to proffering recommendations for solutions to the problems identified, studied and analyzed. If the background of the study cannot help the researcher achieve a successful study, it is either the problem found during the initial literature review that has been solved in the past, is irrelevant to the study or what was assumed to be a problem wasn’t one after all.
UNDERSTAND THE PROJECT TOPIC BEFORE WRITING THE BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The background of the study is better written when the approved project topic is understood by the researcher. Ideally, you are supposed to have done proper research about a selected topic before presenting it to your supervisor for approval, however, if you are at the level where you’ve already been handed a project topic, then this article is for you.
To understand the topic, you will do 2 things;
1. Split your topic into 2 variables (dependent and independent variable) e.g., let’s say your approved topic is “AN ASSESSMENT OF USER-DEMAND PREFERENCE FOR RESIDENTIAL PROPERTIES IN NEW HAVEN LAYOUT, ENUGU”
Let’s now split it like this:
AN ASSESSMENT (your intention) OF USER-DEMAND PREFERENCE FOR RESIDENTIAL PROPERTIES IN NEW HAVEN LAYOUT, ENUGU (location of study) …
Now your focus is the items in BOLD. Hence;
USER-DEMAND PREFERENCE is the independent variable
RESIDENTIAL PROPERTIES is the dependent variable
2. Interpret the relationship between the 2 variables.
Interpretation: This means that the type of residential property to be developed in New Haven is dependent on the choice of users. i.e., if the demand for 2-bedroom flats in New Haven is higher than single-room self-contained apartments then property developers should not waste their time building self-contained apartments. They will have to invest in 2-bedroom flats to recoup their returns on investment.
Now that you are clear about your topic, you should move to the next step, which is to source research materials to further understand the relevance of the topic to the study.
You will need to do An Initial Literature Review of Materials Related to Your Topic where only the relevant materials to your approved project topic should be sourced.
To get relevant materials (preferably journals) you must go straight into the INTERNET and use academic search engines to get related materials (journals).
You can use either of the following academic search engines;
ResearchGate – https://www.researchgate.net/
Academia – https://www.academia.edu/
Google – https://www.google.com/
Google Scholar – https://scholar.google.com/
Microsoft Academic – https://academic.microsoft.com/
ERIC – https://eric.ed.gov/
BASE – https://www.base-search.net/
But GOOGLE SCHOLAR (https://scholar.google.com/) is recommended for this exercise. It will provide you with a variety of literature to choose from. These materials should contain the relevant keywords so that it will be easy for you to get what the topic is about. Once you’ve read literature about your topic and can relate the keywords in the topic, you are set to commence with the background of the study.
An example of a background of the study has been provided in the box below to guide you in developing yours, I hope that this example will help you produce a suitable paper that meets your institution’s standards and requirements.
Background of the Study
Academic libraries are large, organized collections of information in printed format to facilitate an open distribution of knowledge in academia. The traditional libraries were designed to provide academic resource materials to students within the confinement of a campus; libraries were built in departments, faculties and school premises in conspicuous locations easily accessible, according to Barclay (2017), the appreciable merit of the academic libraries is the noise-free atmosphere, less distraction, friendly relaxation and comfortable space enjoyed by students who converge to study, collaborate, learn and socialize. However, due to limited space and inadequate staffing academic libraries have for long experienced constraints in academic resources (printed format) available for students and researchers; this limitation inspired the creation of digital libraries in tertiary institutions across the globe.
The craving for digital libraries started in the early 1960s when most computers were mainframes, this expanded from 1986 to 1992. Digital libraries got large popularity in 1994 when the Digital Library Initiative (DLI) kicked off in the United States. The Network Computer Science Technical Research Library Development was introduced in 1995; and designed for the public for the creation of digital content using defined standard protocols (Guion, 2021).
The United States started experiencing a sudden decline in the supply of physical books, DVDs etc. which was instrumental to the creation of Google Books in 2004, google at that time tried to digitalize every book in the physical libraries (Guion, 2021). It was recorded that US libraries experienced a 29% drop in physical books from 1997 to 2011, and the yearly supply of books and DVDs for full-time students of universities dropped from 20% to 10% in 2012. This was as a result of increasing demand for electronic resources which drove out the printed format to obsolescence and gradually into extinction. From 2012 till date the US has increased the number of e-books in their institution’s libraries amounting to 252,599,161, thus outnumbering the number of printed and bounded books and journals acquired by the same libraries in centuries. The craving for Internet libraries has significantly reduced the number of students visiting physical academic libraries, (Barclay, 2017).
Arkim (2010 as cited by Matto & Bwabo, 2012) stated that in the past “libraries were full of paper books arranged in shelves by categories and alphabetically”. Today, a library is not complete in the absence of computers, though there is still evidence of physical books, technological advancement has relegated them to the background as they are left to gather dust from a corner. The implementation of ICT facilities in libraries has exposed the limitations of physical books and provided a better alternative for research and study.
The 21st century is gradually heading to more robust and advanced information and communication technologies (ICTs) in national libraries, especially in Africa where most countries appear to be lagging. These efforts have led to the initiation of accredited ICT facilities that have positively affected and still affecting scholarly data processing in our academic libraries (Marilyn, 2019), the utilization of ICT facilities has improved the rate of scholarly information collected and retrieved for research needs, preparation of lectures and gathering recent information and awareness. Digital information in this century is continuously filling academic gaps in Africa’s learning environments, particularly in South Africa where mobile technology is leading among other mediums of communication and extracting data (information) (Marilyn, 2019). It is against this backdrop that this study intends to examine the access and use of digital information resources in academic libraries.
Here’s free access to a PDF example of the background of the study, you can download the example and keep it for future use or as a guide to develop yours. Having an already written background of the study is a good way to avoid mistakes or keep you organized while writing yours.
We will learn how to get relevant materials online on Google. We will adopt the project topic “The Impact of Child Abuse on Secondary School Children in Africa”.
You will need to identify the keywords from the project topic; the major keywords here are child abuse, and secondary school children.
After identifying the keywords in the topic, it’s expected that the researcher picks each and searches for relevant material, a minimum of 3 materials should be gotten for each keyword for proper review. The materials reviewed must have these 3 qualities;
What to Do With the Materials Sourced Online
Now let’s get back to “How to Write Background of the Study from Google Search Engine”
To write the background of the study from Google, do the following 9 steps:
Step 1: Open the Google search engine; google.com
Step 2: Type in the keyword as a sentence with PDF at the end of the keyword, e.g. “impact of child abuse PDF”. The importance of PDF is to help Google bring up downloadable results.
Step 3: Click the enter button to get the results
Step 4: Confirm that the results that Google brought out can be downloaded. Look out for a PDF around the results. In the illustrations in the red boxes there are four results, one from “ResearchGate” and the others from “Office of Justice Programs”, Department of Education” and “Academia.edu”. ResearchGate and Academia.edu are recommended for research. But we’ll use researchGate for the illustration.
Step 5: Select the result from ResearchGate.net
Step 6: Click on the verged link or blue download button to download and print for your keeps or use.
Step 7: View the Abstract of the materials printed
Step 8: Copy out the references from the top left corner of the material
Step 9: Start reviewing the materials. Use the 8 steps under “How to Write Background of the Study” above.
Firstly, let’s still assume the approved project topic is “AN ASSESSMENT OF USER-DEMAND PREFERENCE FOR RESIDENTIAL PROPERTIES IN NEW HAVEN LAYOUT, ENUGU”
Go to your URL and type https://scholar.google.com/ then press the ENTER button…
This is what you’ll see on your device…
Once you reach this stage, type in your approved project topic to search for related materials.
The chances of not getting search results with the exact topic as yours are high and you may be wondering why that is so.
There are 2 reasons why you may not find the exact search result you are searching for;
So, what can you do to get related search results?
At this point, you should find keywords closely related to your topic. Remember we are searching for the historical event of your topic and bearing in mind that we have already split the topic into 2 variables.
We will now find related KEYWORDS to either the entire topic or the established variables.
e.g., the history of residential properties in New Haven
evolution of residential property in New Haven
background of New Haven’s development
creation of the New Haven layout
origin of New Haven etc.
Type in your selected keywords and search for materials (journals). Ensure you properly search Google Scholar to give you recent materials (not more than 6 years old), old materials often provide obsolete information and you wouldn’t want to waste your time on outdated information.
To ensure that Google Scholar supplies you with recent materials you will have to do the following:
Click on the circled area to view and select the period you want materials from. If you select “any time” Google Scholar will pick related materials randomly from different years, if you select “since 2019” you will be able to view materials written from 2019 till date, if you select since 2021 you will see materials between 2021 and the current year. Choose a period not beyond 6 years.
Also, click on the circled area and ensure that “include citations” is selected from the option.
Click on the drop-down icon (three lines on the top left bar) and click on “advanced search to get a more advanced optimization page.
After clicking “advanced search” it will bring you here, you can then start selecting and filling in the fields above.
After you are done, click on the blue search icon on the top right corner of the site.
Clicking on the blue search button will bring you hear. At this point, you want to click “view at researchgate.net” to read the material from the website where it was published or download the material directly to your phone as a PDF file. I recommend you click the “(PDF) researchgate.net” to download and print for subsequent literature review.
After downloading your preferred material using your generated keywords, you will have a PDF file like this on your mobile device.
Locate the introduction or background of the study for the historical background of your subject matter.
If you can’t still get sufficient details of what you’re looking for, you will need to try the other keywords and download 2 or 3 more journals, at the end of the search you will surely get related materials.
If what you’ve gotten appears insufficient, use other academic search engines.
Read and Paraphrase: To achieve this, you must do 2 things; Write out the details of the materials you are trying to review, if you are using a journal (strongly recommended) pen down the following; title of the article, name of author(s), date of publication, volume number, page number, issue number, name of journal, DOI or URL…
Read the articles at least twice and underline relevant areas, then start writing down what you have read in your own words. REMEMBER to cite the original authors of the words you are paraphrasing. To cite means to enter the surname name of the original author of the words you are paraphrasing and the year of publication e.g., Okafor (2022) mentioned that……… or according to Okafor (2022) the origin of New Haven was………. Or New Haven was developed in the year……(Okafor, 2022) etc.
Arrange Your Reviewed Articles Methodically: This should take the form of an inverted pyramid.
Your description of the subject under review should always start from a larger perspective to the lower, then to the least aspect. Meaning if you are describing the history of New Haven, you can do a short description of the State then narrow it down to the Local Government Area and then the creation of New Haven till you get to the development of residential properties and other things that come with it…… (see sample). Also, the dates of events should be methodically and chronologically arranged to give a clear picture of your description.