“This excellent book fills a significant gap in the literature supporting planning education by providing clear, succinct advice on the design and implementation of small-scale student research projects.” – Chris Couch, Professor of Geography and Planning, University of Liverpool “A perfect text for supervisors to give students so that they plan their research projects carefully rather than leap headlong into data collection.” – Jean Hillier, Emeritus Professor of Sustainability and Urban Planning, RMIT University, Melbourne “Highly recommended... Ranging across topics such as planning a research programme and data management and the handling of ethical issues, the book will be very helpful to those embarking on a thesis or dissertation in the field.” – Peter Fidler, President of the University of Sunderland Research Design in Urban Planning is a short, accessible, and clearly written text on how to design research for a dissertation planning project. Aimed at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, this text will:  • discuss research design, looking in detail at how researchers make their choices of methods  • examine these in reference to case studies/examples from the planning research literature  • explain to students how to interpret policy to define researchable questions  • review the issues comparatively  • situate the methodological questions in terms of research ethics. Packed with case studies, exercises, illustrations and summaries, Research Design in Urban Planning is an invaluable resource for students undertaking their first substantial, individual investigations.

Policy Issues and Research Questions

Policy Issues and Research Questions

Key questions

What type of discipline is planning?

What types of knowledge claims are found in planning policy debates?

What are research questions and how do they relate to knowledge claims?

How can I recognise research questions in published research?

How can I create helpful questions from my initial ideas?

Key concepts

Descriptions, explanations, understanding, predictions, evaluations, prescriptions, hypotheses, theories


My argument in this chapter is that the first condition for having a project which is likely to produce results which will be worthwhile is to have a ‘researchable’ question to answer. This is absolutely indispensable because research design, by definition, is intended to give the best possible answer to the research question which has been posed, within the limits of the resources ...

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