Writing the Research Proposal
Two main functions of research proposal are:
1. Outline the operational plan for obtaining answers to your research questions 2. Specify and ensure the methodology for control of variance. (especially important for those studies that are designed to investigate a causal relationship)
Therefore it should contain:
• A statement of the objectives of the study
• A list of hypothesis, if you are testing any
• A research design which you are proposing to do
• A setting for your study
• The research instrument(s) that you are planning to use • Information on sample size and sampling design
• Information on data processing procedures
• An outline of the proposed chapters for the report
• The study’s problem and limitations
• A proposed time frame
A research proposal should communicate the purpose and plan of the research in such a way that it: 1. Enables a researcher to return to the proposal for his/her own guidance in decision making at different stages of the research process. 2. Convinces your research supervisor or a reviewer that your proposed methodology is meritorious, valid, appropriate and workable in terms of obtaining answers to your research questions or objectives.
Universities and other institutions can have differing requirements regarding the style and content of a research proposal, but most institutions would require most of what is set out here. The guidelines set out here provide only a framework within which a research proposal should be written.
Your proposal must contain appropriate references in the body of the text and a bibliography at the end. Your survey of the relevant literature should cover major publications on the topic. The theoretical framework for your study must emerge from this literature review and must have its grounding in empirical evidence. A literature review also raises issues relating to methodology. As a rule, the literature review includes: • a conceptual framework and theoretical and empirical information about the main issues under study. • some of the major research findings relating to your topic, research questions raised in the literature, and gaps identified by previous researchers.
For example you may have a proposal format as follows:
TENTATIVE RESEARCH TITLE
Use a reasonably short title - seventeen to twenty words maximum - that relates directly to your research problem.
In writing this section, the literature review is of central importance as it serves two main functions: 1. It acquaints you with the available literature in the area of your study, thereby broadening your knowledge base. 2. It provides you with information about methods and procedures which other people have used in similar situations and tells you what works and what does not work.
You should start with a very broad perspective on the main subject area within which you are undertaking your study, before gradually narrowing your focus to the central problem under investigation. You should cover the following aspects of your study area: • an overview of the main area under study
• a historical perspective (development, growth, etc.) pertinent to the study area • philosophical or ideological issues relating to the topic • trends in terms of prevalence, if appropriate
• major theories, if any
• main issues, problems and advances in the subject area under study • important theoretical and practical issues relating to the central problem under study • main findings relating to the core issue(s)
Give a short digest of the closely related research studies you found. Describe the extent of the literature and research in the field. For the related work, be sure to include bibliographic data in terms of author, title, date, place, the problem, and results.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM/RESEARCH QUESTIONS...
Bibliography: Include in proper bibliographic form the references you have already examined, including those listed in the "Related Literature and Research section." This list should be comprehensive and up-to-date enough to show your reader you have delved into the problem and are aware of the sources available to complete your research. A proposal for a thesis or dissertation could follow the same general formal and include a review of related research.
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