Sustainability: Background of the Problem

Organization and Content

The Background review should funnel logically towards and justify your own specific research questions and hypotheses.

  • Proceed from broader aspects of the research problem, reviewing literature on relevant theory and empirical results, specific relationships among variables, and related models and case studies
  • Summarize the existing literature relevant to the proposed research, demonstrating your familiarity with previous work
  • Critically evaluate previous research including methods, especially evaluating claims central to your own proposed research questions and hypotheses
  • Key models, tables and figures should be pasted into the proposal

By the end of the background section, provide an argument justifying why your own research is both original and significant, and is a logical next step towards better understanding.

  • Research Questions and Hypotheses, should logically flow from the background section

Additional Items to include in the Background

Background on study sites or cases - sufficient to understand the context of your research questions and hypotheses

  • However, if you select samples or cases based on a deliberate research methodology, present this selection process and the samples in the Methods section

Relevant previously published sources should be reviewed here-- this is not your original research

  • However, if you are extracting and comparing - or analyzing - data in new ways from these cases or samples, then this is your original research
  • Describe your selection of these samples and data and their analyses in the Methods section