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What is meant by the Setting of the Study?


Simply put, the research setting is the physical, social, or experimental context within which research is conducted. In a research paper, describing this setting accurately is crucial since the results and their interpretation may depend heavily on it. For example, in a paper that describes the social behavior of chimpanzees, the authors may need to provide the following details about the research setting: where the chimpanzees were observed (in the wild or in captivity), the number of chimpanzees observed and whether they belonged to the same social group, the geographic location, the period of study, the time of year/weather conditions, the availability of resources like food/water/shelter, presence of environmental threats, and so on.

In a laboratory experiment, the setting is more controlled, so you would need to describe which environmental variables were controlled and how. The research environment for a mouse study includes, for example, the temperature, humidity, and size of the space or cage where the mice are kept, as well as the length of the day and night, the food and water the mice have access to, and whether they are exposed to disease or chemicals. In a clinical study involving humans, the setting could be a hospital ward, an outpatient department, a rehabilitation center, or the participants’ homes.

The research setting is an important component of research design/methodology. If you have been asked to describe the setting of your study, note any aspects related to the environment in which your study is being conducted. You may want to refer to the author guidelines of your target journal to confirm which specific details the journal requires. In addition, during your literature review, focus on how authors of studies similar to yours have described their research settings. You may also want to review the limitations sections of these papers because authors often mention which aspects of their research design/setting may not allow for generalizations