The following is a modified excerpt from Applied Qualitative Research Design: A Total Quality Framework Approach (Roller & Lavrakas, 2015, p. 338).
The background and literature review section of the Total Quality Framework (TQF) proposal provides the context for the research question(s) and/or hypotheses that the proposed research is designed to address. In this section, the proposal author must not only put forth the questions/hypotheses under study, but provide support as to why these are the ones that merit investigation. In doing this, the author should rely on the TQF to bolster the logical arguments that are advanced in support of these research questions/hypotheses.
The extent to which the research questions revolve around quality-design issues will depend, in part, on the results of the literature review and the nature of the research topic. For example, a proposal to study physician–patient consultations might state the primary research question as “What are the main factors that appear to contribute to the frequency and type of conversations concerning cancer patients’ sexual functioning among a representative sample of a clinic’s oncology physicians?” The researcher may or may not harbor a hypothesis along with the research question. However, depending on the literature review, the researcher might enter into the research hypothesizing, for example, that the frequency and substance of physician–patient conversations concerning sexual function are associated with how closely the physician’s demographic characteristics (e.g., age, gender, and race) match those of the patient. Or, a proposal on this topic may focus on methodological, rather than substantive, hypotheses such as noting TQF flaws in past research and hypothesizing that the author’s proposed methods for the new study will avoid the problems of earlier research (which the researcher may believe led to biased findings and ill-advised recommendations) and thereby result in outcomes that are more credible and therefore more useful.
Careful, thoughtful attention needs to be paid to this section of the proposal. It is the research questions and/or hypotheses that the researcher describes here that will play a large role in guiding the next section of the TQF proposal, the design of the research study.