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“. In order 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) with the exception of 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
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.
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 in shape, 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”.
This involves the description of the University’s location, including the city and local government area where it is situated.
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.
Enugu is the capital of Enugu State, it lies approximately between the latitudes 06-21 and 06-36 N and latitudes 07-26 and 07-57 E. It comprises several layouts which collectively turn into a complete whole.
Geography of Enugu
Enugu has a land area of about 7161 km2, it is situated in the Eastern part of the undulating hills. Enugu shares the same climatic condition found in the region of West Africa, the city enjoys a comparatively equable climate with temperatures ranging between 24C and 30.8C.
Two major seasons dominate the area namely: the dry season and the rainy season.
The dry season lasts between November and April of the following year, the hottest months are February to April; an average of about 30.5C to 32.8C. The days are hot and humid. However, a short spell of harmattan season occurring around January/February interrupts the high humidity and brings with it every chilling and dry wind from the Sahara Desert, the resultant effect is a dusty environment.
The rainy season lasts between April and October, the heavy rainfall is between June and July, the annual rainfall is between 152cm and 203cm in the absence of rain, and the weather is clear and cool (Shivangi, 2016).
Climate of Enugu
Enugu is located in a tropical rainforest zone with a derived savannah. The city has a tropical savanna climate. Enugu’s climate is humid and this humidity is at its highest between March and November. For the whole of Enugu State, the mean daily temperature is 26.7 °C (80.1 °F). As in the rest of West Africa, the rainy season and dry season are the only weather periods that recur in Enugu.
The average annual rainfall in Enugu is around 2,000 millimetres (79 in), which arrives intermittently and becomes very heavy during the rainy season. Other weather conditions affecting the city include Harmattan, a dusty trade wind lasting a few weeks in December and January. Like the rest of Nigeria, Enugu is hot all year round……and so on
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 exactly 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.
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.
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.
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”.
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