is an acronym and an aide-mémoire for use in planning and checking the research report structure.
PRO states the PROblem or question which the researcher intends to examine. This must also include a review of the existing literature on the topic with particular attention to any prior or similar solutions to the problem and the rationale for the researcher's own endeavors (i.e. legitimization).
contains the DAta available on the stated problem. These data may be collected
- either directly from the phenomena area (e.g. from a text corpus)
- or as the result of carrying out an appropriately designed and executed experimental plan.
The details of the data collection method are specified and discussed in this section along with the data-specific analysis; this action also serves to organize the data for the subsequent model building. Providing examples of data is not sufficient since doing so fails to specify which aspects of the example are generally representative and which apply only to the example. The range of variation within the data or, as a minimum, the type of possible variation must be specified; conversely, what is not variable must also be specified.
delineates the INtuitive, Informal solution of the scientific problem put forth by the researcher. This should include the factors and/or aspects which the researcher believes represent the essential characteristics of the data or explain any variations in the data. The central line of reasoning of the model
which is to be formulated in the FORM section should be perfectly clear to the reader. For more complex theories ('theory' is used here synonymously with 'model'), the aspects which make up the core of the theory must be made explicitly clear.
This section of the paper should also include any reflections about the scientific theories which form the foundation of the model developed in the FORM section. This helps to insure descriptive consistency and to avoid flaws in logic and errors in presentation.
elucidates the FORMal (i.e. algorithmically formulated) model or theory. This does not mean the model or theory has be stated in formal mathematical or logic symbols but that it must at least be presented in an orderly theoretical language which the expert reader can
understand and follow and, if desired, utilize and further develop. Also included in this section is the introduction and explanation of definitions and terminology and the formulation of the model in the proposed theses.
represents the final verification of the ADequacy of the model and/or theory with reference to the questionings and the data: i.e. in which parts the research questions were satisfactorily answered and which data was appropriately described by the model. It must also be stated how the theoretical theses (and thereby the included terminology) are to be applied to the data. However, before this step is carried out it must be clearly demonstrated to the
reader that the proposed theoretical solution is in fact a model of the proposed solution.
The ideal situation and ultimate goal of every scientific investigation is always to describe all data with a theory and thereby completely answer all questions. The ideal, however, cannot be the only criterion for an acceptable answer. A partial answer, which explicitly establishes which data were described by the theory and which not also represents an increase in the state of scientific knowledge in the researched field.
Further, indications of contradictions, complications and other problems which emerge from the proposed solution are also relevant since they pose new problems to be researched and thereby continue the upward spiral of development which advances science to the next level.
Klaus Mudersbach 1999
translated by Alfred Arbeogast