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A concept research paper can be said to have two versions; one version is where a concept paper is presented before the actual research project takes place, and another version is where a concept paper is used to explain or show understanding of a certain concept topic. All in all, a concept paper is a summary of a certain topic, presented briefly and concisely to enhance and promote understanding. It is similar to an abstract or proposal but, these usually have more content.
It is a short summary that is used to inform an audience, students, research experts, other researchers or teachers, on the kind of research/project one intends to carry out, or informs on a certain concept. It is a very a very essential tool to a researcher/student as it enables him/her to detect loop holes in the research project/concept hence make timely and appropriate corrections.
A concept paper is the initial step with reference to a research project as it aids in formatively assessing the research project and making timely improvements. This notion is applicable when students are given assignments as they can use it to come up with excellent research papers.
The first version of a concept research paper includes the following:
- An articulate description of the research topic giving a summary of what other researchers have done with regard to the topic.
- A research question in one-sentence statement that the research project intends to seek an answer or answers. The research question is a unique question that has not been answered before. The concept research paper should bring out the link between the question and the corpus of research knowledge based on the topic at hand. All this should be stated briefly and concisely.
- The concept research paper should demonstrate why there is need to answer the research question. In other words, justify the need to carry out the research project based on the research question.
- The concept research paper should show how the researcher intends to answer the research question. There are various ways through which this can be achieved: description of data collection methods, data analysis, interpretation of data and summary of emerging ethical issues during the research process.
- Limitation statement that describes aspects that cannot be discovered by the research process and why.
On the basis of these elements and by way of example, when preparing a concept paper based on the article by Yang and Cheng (2006) on “Technology-enhanced learning”, a student would begin by giving an explicit description of the topic as afore-stated, and what other researchers have done about it.
After stating the topic, he/she would proceed to say what other researchers that have conducted research on this same topic. According to the article, other researchers have indicated that technology in learning enhances students’ participation and improves learning skills. The research question would be to describe students’ perceptions and attitudes with regard to using multi-media technologies in a given learning course.
The need for carrying out this research was to give insight to teachers teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) in designing better learning environments with focus on classroom management, curriculum design and classroom assessment. According to this study, the research question would be answered by data collection through questionnaires, e-mails, interviews and document analysis after application of different technologies in learning.
Data would be quantitatively in form of percentages and qualitatively through thematic and comparative analysis. According to this study, there were no emerging ethical issues and no limitations. That is a short detail of a concept paper based on the basic elements that make up a simple concept research paper (Yang and Yi-Ju 860-879).
Concept research papers are usually two to five double-spaced pages in length with the exclusion of the bibliography. It contains around 500 to 1250 words. It should help a causal reader to comprehend what the researcher intends to investigate, why this investigation is important and how the investigation would be carried out.
The second version of a concept paper is common in education systems and is a much simplified version. It entails having an idea and narrowing down to that idea. For example a student can develop an area of interest based on the topic discussed above. As a result, he/she may come up with different concepts from this article for example a concept on advantages and disadvantages of technology-enhanced learning, or how technology is integrated in learning.
Sequentially, the student goes to the library to find other sources with information not contained in the article. The student may consult the teacher for advice on other books and articles that are relevant in supporting the ideas that she has already obtained from the various books and articles that she has read. All these sources are helpful in giving insight on how technology is integrated in learning as well as on the benefits and limitations associated with it.
Concept papers, as encouraged by federal and state agencies, enable the researchers/students to get feedback on their ideas and projects before preparing the final proposal or document.
According to the example above, when the student prepares the concept on impact of technology-based learning, he/she presents this concept to fellow colleagues, who make recommendations on how he/she can make the content in the concept paper better. Thereby, when presenting the final document, it will have incorporated the recommendations hence contain less mistakes.
A concept paper is prepared depending on the audience. If the audiences are scientists in one’s field, scientific and technical terms are applicable. However, if the audiences are lay people, simple and easy to understand language is preferred.
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In the case of a student presenting to other students, the language should be simple and easy to understand, for example in the study on “Technology-enhanced learning”, the concept paper should entail simple easy to comprehend information like what technology-enhanced learning is all about, how it is integrated in learning and the benefits and limitations associated with it.
In the case of a marketing manager in a research film, the concept paper is more complex with graphs and surveys. Therefore, a concept paper should be mindful of the kind of audience in place (Axelrod and Charles 127).
Actually, concept research papers are what govern any learning experience. The teacher in class uses concept papers to teach so that students can become part and parcel of the concept paper hence, encourage participation.
They are vital tools in the education process. Teachers on the other hand ask for concept research papers from their students to assess mastery of content during learning. Teachers mainly encourage use of concept papers during group discussions. This way, students are able to interact in a manner that fosters learning from one another through presenting and making recommendations.
Concept papers are very important as they enable a student to engage in exhaustive reading so that when presenting the concept paper, there are as minimal mistakes as possible. Taking the example of the afore-stated article on “Technology-enhanced learning”, reading exhaustively is important to enable a student depict the impact of technology-enhanced learning as the concept to prepare. This way, a student will read a variety of texts to know what technology-enhanced learning is and how it impacts on learning.
Presenting a good concept paper shows that one understands the topic while an unsatisfactory concept research paper shows that the student did not understand the concept well. If a concept has been presented well, the audience gives feedback and maybe points one or few areas that the student could use to improve content. In the case where a concept paper has been poorly presented, many recommendations follow with the aim of helping the student modify content and make it better during final documentation.
A concept research paper therefore is a paper that contains a brief summary of a certain concept or research topic with the aim of making recommendations to improve the quality of content within the concept paper.
Researchers present concept research papers prior to the main research proposal so as to get views from the audience hence modify content as advised. Teachers present concept papers in class to deliver content. Students also give concept papers to their teachers to show mastery of content based on an assignment given by the teacher. Finally but not least, concept papers are useful during discussion sessions.
Axelrod, Rise B. & Charles Cooper. The St. Martin’s Guide to Writing. 9th Ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010. 126 – 131.
Yang, Shu C. & Yi-Ju Chen. Technology-enhanced Language Learning: A Case Study. Computers in Human Behavior 23 (2006): 860-879.