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How to write an effective research brief

Whether you’re launching a simple survey or planning a large-scale project the quality of your brief will hugely impact on the value you get from the research. While it can take a little time and effort creating a research brief, it will undoubtedly be time well spent – getting you better results and return on your investment and saving you valuable resources on further clarification. At best, a poor brief will be a time drain on you and your team. At worst, the findings will fail to meet your objectives, costing you time and money.

We’ve seen a lot of research briefs over the years. Some of which have been well thought through and clear, helping us prepare a detailed proposal and deliver an effective project and subsequent results. And others which have been not so good, lacking clarity or detail.

Using this experience, we’ve put together a ‘how to’ guide on writing an effective research brief, to help you ensure success on your next project.

1. Preparation is key

As with any project, before you start it’s crucial you think through what you want and need to deliver. Here are some things you should consider:

2. Be clear on your objectives

This is one of the most important parts of your brief to convey to the reader what you want out of the project and ensure you get results which deliver.

Projects should have around three or four overarching aims which set out what the project ultimately wants to achieve.

These might be things like:

In addition to project objectives, you should also include the key questions you want the research to answer. These should support you in meeting the aims of the research.

For example, if the project aim is to assess the impact of an intervention, your research questions might include:

3. Remember your audience

Research agencies or organisations who will be responding to your brief might not know anything about your business. So, make sure you include enough background information in your brief to enable them to understand your needs and deliver effectively. And avoid use of jargon or acronyms which could lead to errors or confusion.

4. Structure your research brief

Before you start to populate your brief it’s worth considering all the information and sections you need to include, to structure your thinking and ensure you don’t miss anything important.

This might include some, or all, of the following:

5. Make it thorough, yet succinct

While it’s crucial to include all the relevant information to enable bidders to respond effectively, no one wants to read reams and reams of information. To avoid the key information getting lost in the details use annexes to add supplementary information which could be useful.

6. Consider how prescriptive you want to be on the methodology

The extent to which you want to specify the methodology will depend on the project you aim to deliver. There are benefits and risks to being overly prescriptive or offering free reign. If you outline in precise detail how you want the research to be conducted, you will hamper any original ideas from those invited to tender and might limit the impact on the research. Whereas, if you’re less prescriptive, allowing room for creativity, you risk not getting the project or results you want, or receiving proposals on a scale which you can’t resource.

Generally, it is useful to allow those invited to tender some scope to develop the methodology they propose to use. Exceptions might be where previous work has to be very precisely replicated or some other very precise commitment about the nature of findings has been given to stakeholders.

7. Define your timelines

As a minimum, you need to include when you want the project to start and end. But you should also include the timetable for procurement. When planning this, don’t underestimate the time and resource needed to run a procurement exercise. Make sure your evaluators are available when you need them and have enough time blocked out in their diary.

You’ll likely also want to include milestones for when you expect outputs to be delivered, such as deadlines for a draft report (providing opportunity for review and feedback) and the final report; allowing sufficient time between the two to enable your stakeholders to consult, for you to feedback and for the contractor to revise the report.

8. Set expectations on cost

You will most likely have budgetary constraints, with a figure for what you are prepared to spend. To save you and your bidders time, and to set realistic expectations, you should include an indication within your brief. This will prevent you receiving proposals which are way out of the ballpark; enable bidders to plan a project which delivers on (or at least close to) budget; and will prevent any nasty surprises, further down the line.

By following these tips you’ll be well on your way to creating an effective research brief which delivers on time and on budget.

If you’d like more guidance download our “step-by-step” guide, which includes a template and information for what to include in each section to ensure success.

Download the guide now.

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How to Write Research Brief

how to write research brief

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Research brief: Meaning, Components, Importance & Ways to Prepare

August 18, 2019 By Hitesh Bhasin Filed Under: Market Research

Have you ever faced a situation where a researcher has not exactly given the results that you require? Have you ever discussed research as what you want precisely and been disappointed to find that there is a disparity in your expectation and the outcomes? This is because of a failure in communication, that is particular an insufficient brief.

This is where we exactly wish to discuss research brief.

A research brief is a statement that comes from the sponsor, who sets the objectives and background. This is to enable the researcher to plan the research and conduct an appropriate study on it. Research Brief can be as good as a market research study and is very important to a researcher.

It provides good insight and influences on the choice of methodology to be adopted in the research. It also provides an objective to which the project links itself.

It is a short and non-technical summary of a discussion paper that is purely intended for decision-makers with a concentration on the paper’s policy-relevant findings.

Table of Contents

Components of a Research Brief

Some sponsors deliver the brief orally by developing many detail points at the time of initial discussion with the researcher. On the other hand, the brief can also be completely thought through and committed to a paper.

This is very important when many research agencies need to submit proposals. Whether the research brief is oral or written, it should pay attention to the following points:

Importance of Research Brief

Importance of Research Brief

Now, why is research brief important? It is like the way you set a foundation for a building; research brief provides a strong foundation for the research process.

Writing a research brief is important to the success of any market research project. However, it can be difficult to craft the perfect brief that meets the necessity of both the client and the researcher but eventually leads to the desired outcomes.

It helps a researcher to identify a problem to be researched, the exact background of the problem, the required details to address the problem, time and budget constraints within which the research is supposed to be designed.

Example of Research Brief

Keeping the above points in mind, let us take a small example of the way to write a market research brief.

To write a market research brief, it clarifies the research requirement and also makes sure that the ideas are well articulated. It helps to write a better research proposal, conduct user research, and achieve the desired outcome.


Describe the problem that is required to solve. Include applicable background and the challenge during the research.

Business and Project Objectives:

Explain the business objectives. For example: to increase sales/profit. Try to be specific as you can.

Also, describe the purpose of research and the expected outcomes. What is the decision that you require to make?

Market Objectives:

Market research objective typically follows from the above two objectives. Hence you will need to summarise the aim and information of the research. This will help to mention the questions required for answering.


Here, you will need to consider the participant who will sign-off and act on the research outcomes listed.

Research Methods, scope, sample, and guidelines:

Here, you will explain what is required. This will help you to focus on what is important and also have a piece of knowledge of the research investment. Here, more focus is given on the scope of the work and type of research. The inputs and the sample are also analyzed.

Research outcomes:

Here, you will require to define the delivery part of the research.

Ways to prepare Research Brief

Ways to prepare Research Brief

Having discussed the basic of research brief, the following points will give you a brief idea of the ways to prepare yourself to write an effective research brief.

Research Brief Template

Research Brief Template

Given below the template for research brief:

Research Brief: Project Name

#1 background.

In this area, give the background of the research brief.

#2 Business objectives

In this area, define the business objectives. Ideally, for a better understanding and readability, it would be good if the points are bulleted.

#3 Marketing objectives

In this area, type your marketing objectives. In case you have any other kind of objectives apart from marketing, you could change the section title.

In this area, define the research target here. Here, name all the target groups that will be a part of the research and the reason for it. Capture any other applicable details of the target group.

In this area, mention the Budget information. Mentioning a range of budget is fine. Also, indicate an upper limit in case you have any.

In this area, mention the timeline of the research. The approximate time as when this work would be over. Also, when can you provide the final analysis?

#6 Deliverables

In this area, mention the report requirements. For example, whether a detail report is required or just a presentation.

#7 Contact information

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7 Tips on Writing a Market Research Brief

How to write a market research brief .

A market research brief is like a roadmap, providing guidance on the best route to take to reach a desired destination. Writing a market research brief is an important step in creating your market research strategy. It helps to ensure that the research is conducted in a systematic and organized manner, and that the results are meaningful and actionable.

A market research brief provides the foundation building blocks for your business roadmap, brand or research strategy or product development pathway.  That means you must spend time considering the best brief for the research.


Here are some tips for writing a market research brief:

Creating your business roadmap or strategy requires good market research specifications.  Good market research relies on a strong brief. By following these tips, you can ensure that your market research brief is comprehensive and that the research is conducted in a way that is meaningful and actionable.

Want to find out more? Please do not hesitate to contact our team of market research experts here at Ruby Cha Cha who are happy to answer your questions and provide you with a template to you help guide your market research brief

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A good market research brief helps agencies lead successful projects. Learn what to include and how to write a detailed brief with our template guide.

A market research brief is a client document outlining all the relevant information that a research agency needs to understand the client’s specific research needs to propose the most suitable course of action.

A clear, informed brief will ensure the market researcher can deliver the most effective research possible. It also streamlines the project by reducing the need for back and forth between your company and the researcher. A good brief will leave no confusion and provide a meaningful framework for you and the researcher, maximising the accuracy and reliability of insights collected.

Start your project faster with our market research brief template!

In this article, we’ve broken down the key components of a well-written brief, with examples. Using this template guide, you can confidently equip the researcher with the right information to deliver exemplary research for your next project.

Business Background/ Project Background

This section of the brief introduces your company to the market researcher, giving them a more informed overview of your brand, product/service, and target market. You should provide all available context to ensure you and the researcher are on the same page with the project.

Relevant information to add in this section includes: company details, company mission/vision, industry status and trends, market performance history, competitive context, any existing research.

Business Objectives/ Marketing Objectives

Your business objectives/marketing objectives should answer why you are being asked to conduct the research. The researcher should be able to grasp the existing problems/issues your company is looking to address in the research.

For example, this could involve sales, competition, customer satisfaction, or product innovation, to name a few.

Research Objectives

Research objectives address the specific questions you would like the research to cover, including what insights you wish to gain. This is where you should detail what actions your company is planning to take based on the research you are commissioning.

Your research objective is one of the most important elements of your brief, as it dictates how your study will be conducted and the quality of results.

Target Market

Who will this research focus on? This is where you should state respondents’ demographic and profiling information, along with any pre-existing segments you want to target. Be specific, but also be aware that the more restrictive the criteria are, the higher the sample cost will be. Extensive limitations are also realistically harder to meet.

For example:

Action Standards/ Decision Rules

Action standards outline which criteria will determine the decisions you make following research. These should detail specific numerical scores and any company benchmarks which need to be met in your research results for decision-making to go ahead. Clear and detailed action standards will allow you to make decisions faster and more confidently following research.

Nestlé’s 60/40 action standard which prioritises preference and nutrition, by aiming “to make products that achieve at least 60% consumer taste preference with the added ‘plus’ of nutritional advantage”.

Pricing is seen as credible by at least 40% of the target market.

Product has at least 50% acceptance from the target market.


You should only include methodology if you are certain of the approach you want to take. If you do not know which methodology you should use, leave this section blank for agency recommendations.

Monadic test : Monadic testing introduces survey respondents to individual concepts, products in isolation. It is usually used in studies where independent findings for each stimulus are required, unlike in comparison testing, where several stimuli are tested side-by-side. Each product/concept is displayed and evaluated separately, providing more accurate and meaningful results for specific items.

Discrete choice modelling : Sometimes referred to as choice-based conjoint, discrete choice is a more robust technique consistent with random utility theory and has been proven to simulate customers’ actual behaviour in the marketplace. The output on relative importance of attributes and value by level is aligned to the output from conjoint analysis (partworth analysis).

Qualitative research : Qualitative forms of research focus on non-numerical and unstructured data, such as participant observation, direct observation, unstructured interviews, and case studies.

Quantitative research : Numbers and measurable forms of data make up quantitative research, focusing on ‘how many’, ‘how often’, and ‘how much’, e.g. conjoint analysis , MaxDiff , Gabor-Granger , Van Westendorp .


Deliverables should clearly outline project expectations – both from your company and the agency. This should cover who is responsible for everything required to undertake research, including survey inputs and outputs, materials, reporting, reviewing, and any additional requirements.

Timing and Cost

Timing covers the due dates for key milestones of your research project, most importantly, for your preliminary and final reports. Cost should include your project budget, along with any potential additional costs/constraints.

Contacts and Responsibilities

This section states all stakeholders involved in the project, their role and responsibilities, and their contact details. You should ensure that these are easy to locate on your brief, for quick reference by the agency and easier communication.

Ready-to-use market research brief template with examples

Start your research project faster and get better results. Using this template, you can confidently equip the researcher with the right information to deliver exemplary research for your next project.

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Market Research Glossary

Our market research glossary defines some key terms relating to a range of industry concepts. Learn some new consumer research lingo from basic research concepts to more advanced and technical definitions.

What is TURF Analysis and When to Use It?

TURF analysis (Total Unduplicated Reach and Frequency) is a statistical technique that ranks combinations of products by how many people will like these combinations.

Which one are you?

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How to Write a Research Paper | A Beginner's Guide

A research paper is a piece of academic writing that provides analysis, interpretation, and argument based on in-depth independent research.

Research papers are similar to academic essays , but they are usually longer and more detailed assignments, designed to assess not only your writing skills but also your skills in scholarly research. Writing a research paper requires you to demonstrate a strong knowledge of your topic, engage with a variety of sources, and make an original contribution to the debate.

This step-by-step guide takes you through the entire writing process, from understanding your assignment to proofreading your final draft.

Table of contents

Understand the assignment, choose a research paper topic, conduct preliminary research, develop a thesis statement, create a research paper outline, write a first draft of the research paper, write the introduction, write a compelling body of text, write the conclusion, the second draft, the revision process, research paper checklist, free lecture slides.

Completing a research paper successfully means accomplishing the specific tasks set out for you. Before you start, make sure you thoroughly understanding the assignment task sheet:

Carefully consider your timeframe and word limit: be realistic, and plan enough time to research, write, and edit.

There are many ways to generate an idea for a research paper, from brainstorming with pen and paper to talking it through with a fellow student or professor.

You can try free writing, which involves taking a broad topic and writing continuously for two or three minutes to identify absolutely anything relevant that could be interesting.

You can also gain inspiration from other research. The discussion or recommendations sections of research papers often include ideas for other specific topics that require further examination.

Once you have a broad subject area, narrow it down to choose a topic that interests you, m eets the criteria of your assignment, and i s possible to research. Aim for ideas that are both original and specific:

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Note any discussions that seem important to the topic, and try to find an issue that you can focus your paper around. Use a variety of sources , including journals, books, and reliable websites, to ensure you do not miss anything glaring.

Do not only verify the ideas you have in mind, but look for sources that contradict your point of view.

In this stage, you might find it helpful to formulate some research questions to help guide you. To write research questions, try to finish the following sentence: “I want to know how/what/why…”

A thesis statement is a statement of your central argument — it establishes the purpose and position of your paper. If you started with a research question, the thesis statement should answer it. It should also show what evidence and reasoning you’ll use to support that answer.

The thesis statement should be concise, contentious, and coherent. That means it should briefly summarize your argument in a sentence or two, make a claim that requires further evidence or analysis, and make a coherent point that relates to every part of the paper.

You will probably revise and refine the thesis statement as you do more research, but it can serve as a guide throughout the writing process. Every paragraph should aim to support and develop this central claim.

A research paper outline is essentially a list of the key topics, arguments, and evidence you want to include, divided into sections with headings so that you know roughly what the paper will look like before you start writing.

A structure outline can help make the writing process much more efficient, so it’s worth dedicating some time to create one.

Your first draft won’t be perfect — you can polish later on. Your priorities at this stage are as follows:

You do not need to start by writing the introduction. Begin where it feels most natural for you — some prefer to finish the most difficult sections first, while others choose to start with the easiest part. If you created an outline, use it as a map while you work.

Do not delete large sections of text. If you begin to dislike something you have written or find it doesn’t quite fit, move it to a different document, but don’t lose it completely — you never know if it might come in useful later.

Paragraph structure

Paragraphs are the basic building blocks of research papers. Each one should focus on a single claim or idea that helps to establish the overall argument or purpose of the paper.

Example paragraph

George Orwell’s 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language” has had an enduring impact on thought about the relationship between politics and language. This impact is particularly obvious in light of the various critical review articles that have recently referenced the essay. For example, consider Mark Falcoff’s 2009 article in The National Review Online, “The Perversion of Language; or, Orwell Revisited,” in which he analyzes several common words (“activist,” “civil-rights leader,” “diversity,” and more). Falcoff’s close analysis of the ambiguity built into political language intentionally mirrors Orwell’s own point-by-point analysis of the political language of his day. Even 63 years after its publication, Orwell’s essay is emulated by contemporary thinkers.

Citing sources

It’s also important to keep track of citations at this stage to avoid accidental plagiarism . Each time you use a source, make sure to take note of where the information came from.

You can use our free citation generators to automatically create citations and save your reference list as you go.

APA Citation Generator MLA Citation Generator

The research paper introduction should address three questions: What, why, and how? After finishing the introduction, the reader should know what the paper is about, why it is worth reading, and how you’ll build your arguments.

What? Be specific about the topic of the paper, introduce the background, and define key terms or concepts.

Why? This is the most important, but also the most difficult, part of the introduction. Try to provide brief answers to the following questions: What new material or insight are you offering? What important issues does your essay help define or answer?

How? To let the reader know what to expect from the rest of the paper, the introduction should include a “map” of what will be discussed, briefly presenting the key elements of the paper in chronological order.

The major struggle faced by most writers is how to organize the information presented in the paper, which is one reason an outline is so useful. However, remember that the outline is only a guide and, when writing, you can be flexible with the order in which the information and arguments are presented.

One way to stay on track is to use your thesis statement and topic sentences . Check:

Be aware of paragraphs that seem to cover the same things. If two paragraphs discuss something similar, they must approach that topic in different ways. Aim to create smooth transitions between sentences, paragraphs, and sections.

The research paper conclusion is designed to help your reader out of the paper’s argument, giving them a sense of finality.

Trace the course of the paper, emphasizing how it all comes together to prove your thesis statement. Give the paper a sense of finality by making sure the reader understands how you’ve settled the issues raised in the introduction.

You might also discuss the more general consequences of the argument, outline what the paper offers to future students of the topic, and suggest any questions the paper’s argument raises but cannot or does not try to answer.

You should not :

There are four main considerations when it comes to the second draft.

The goal during the revision and proofreading process is to ensure you have completed all the necessary tasks and that the paper is as well-articulated as possible.

Global concerns

Fine-grained details

Check the content of each paragraph, making sure that:

Next, think about sentence structure , grammatical errors, and formatting . Check that you have correctly used transition words and phrases to show the connections between your ideas. Look for typos, cut unnecessary words, and check for consistency in aspects such as heading formatting and spellings .

Finally, you need to make sure your paper is correctly formatted according to the rules of the citation style you are using. For example, you might need to include an MLA heading  or create an APA title page .

Scribbr’s professional editors can help with the revision process with our award-winning proofreading services.

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Checklist: Research paper

I have followed all instructions in the assignment sheet.

My introduction presents my topic in an engaging way and provides necessary background information.

My introduction presents a clear, focused research problem and/or thesis statement .

My paper is logically organized using paragraphs and (if relevant) section headings .

Each paragraph is clearly focused on one central idea, expressed in a clear topic sentence .

Each paragraph is relevant to my research problem or thesis statement.

I have used appropriate transitions  to clarify the connections between sections, paragraphs, and sentences.

My conclusion provides a concise answer to the research question or emphasizes how the thesis has been supported.

My conclusion shows how my research has contributed to knowledge or understanding of my topic.

My conclusion does not present any new points or information essential to my argument.

I have provided an in-text citation every time I refer to ideas or information from a source.

I have included a reference list at the end of my paper, consistently formatted according to a specific citation style .

I have thoroughly revised my paper and addressed any feedback from my professor or supervisor.

I have followed all formatting guidelines (page numbers, headers, spacing, etc.).

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