No matter what subject you are studying, serious research projects and papers require a statement of purpose. A statement of purpose explains to the reader what the goal of the study is, as well as what hypothesis will be tested and what types of studies or literature will be referenced. Without the statement of purpose, the reader may become lost in technical terms and data, or he may skip reading the study if he does not understand what its significance will be.
Location and Length
The purpose statement should come at the end of the introduction and can range in length from several sentences to an entire paragraph. Very often, the thesis statement will be included as part of the statement of purpose. The researcher should never reveal his or her findings in the statement of purpose, because then the reader has no reason to continue reading the study.
The statement of purpose should consist of several components to successfully communicate the rationale of the research to the reader. It should give the reader the framework for the research, and specifically, what field or area it will cover. It should discuss the main concepts of the paper and what process will be used for the investigation. It should also explain how results will be measured and what impact the study will have.
A statement of purpose is different than a thesis statement in several ways. A thesis statement sets up the main argument or claim the researcher is going to make, while the statement of purpose explains how the research was conducted and analyzed to make that claim. The statement of purpose also sets the stage for the thesis by introducing the topic and the breadth of the research.
How it Helps the Researcher
In addition to orienting the reader, the statement of purpose helps the researcher as he begins his project or paper. It does several things: it allows the researcher to delve more deeply into the topic, helps narrow the project focus to relevant information only, forms the thesis statement, and saves time during the research process. The researcher should know that several drafts of the statement can be written as he works through primary research.
Noel Rozny is a web editor and content manager who has been working in communications since 1998. She currently writes for the education and career blog, myPathfinder. She earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan and her master's degree from the University of Chicago.