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Seminar on Writing a Research Proposal

Seminar on Writing a Research Proposal

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Published by Nidheesha Manganam

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Published by: Nidheesha Manganam on Jul 03, 2011
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Most students and beginning researchers do not/fully understand what a research proposal means, nor do they understand its importance. ³The introduction is the part of the paper that provides readers with the background information for the research reported in the paper. Its purpose is to establish a framework for the research, so that readers can understand how it is related to other research´ A research proposal is intended to convince others that you have a worthwhile research project and that you have the competence and the work -plan to complete it. Generally, a research proposal should contain all the key elements involved in the research process and include sufficient information for the readers to evaluate the proposed study. Regardless of your research area and the methodology you choose, all research proposals must address the following questions: What you plan to accomplish, why you want to do it and how you are going to do it. The proposal should have sufficient information to convince your readers that you have an importan t research idea, that you have a good grasp of the relevant literature and the major issues, and that your methodology is sound. The quality of your research proposal depends not only on the quality of your proposed project, but also on the quality of your proposal writing. A good research project may run the risk of rejection simply because the proposal is poorly written. Therefore, it pays if your writing is coherent, clear and compelling.

The elements of research proposal include  Introduction  Title  Back ground and significance of the problem  Purpose of the study

the rationale for the study. the hypothesis (if any). It should include the research question. Review of literature in past tense and methodology in future tense. the 2 . Abstract: It is a brief summary of approximately 300 words. Statement of the problem  Objectives of the study  Review of Literature  Operational definition  Conceptual frame work  Hypothesis  Research Methodology  Research approach  Study design  Setting  Population  Sample  Sampling technique  Inclusion and exclusion criteria  Tools and techniques  Pilot study  Plan for data collection  Plan for data analysis  Work plan  Ethical consideration  Budget  Reference  Appendices Writing style and verb tense The proposal must be written in a scientific style the researchers thinking about the problem is taking place now and hence written in present tense.

with a focus on a specific research problem. Introduction: The main purpose of the introduction is to provide the necessary background or context for your research problem. 2. 6. to be followed by the rational or justification for the proposed study.) 7. procedures. State the research problem. then the research question may appear trivial and uninteresting.method and the main findings. Set the delimitation or boundaries of your proposed research in order to provide a clear focus. rambling literature review. (Pleas e do not confuse the hypothesis with the statistical null hypothesis. If the research problem is framed in the context of a general. Provide the context and set the stage for your res earch question in such a way as to show its necessity and importance. Descriptions of the method may include the design. Identify the key independent and dependent variables of your experiment. However. Alternatively. 3 . State your hypothesis or theory. which is often referred to as the purpose of the study. 4. specify the phenomenon you want to study. if any. The introduction typically begins with a general statement of the problem area. you may not have any hypotheses. 5. For exploratory or phenomenological research. if the same question is placed in the contex t of a very focused and current research area. The introduction generally covers the following elements: 1. Present the rationale of your proposed study and clearly indicate why it is worth doing. its significance will become evident. Briefly describe the major issues and sub-problems to be addressed by your research. How to frame the research problem is perhaps the biggest problem in proposal writing. the sample and any instruments that will be used. 3.

" could be omitted. revisions. "A study to . it cannot be clear to the reader Briefly define and delimit the specific area of the research. & Silverman. if possible. Background and significance of the problem Back ground of the problem indicates what is there in the current situation. or methodological significance. or extend existing knowledge in the area under investigat ion. theoretical.Try to incorporate a sentence that begins with ³The 4 . An effective title not only pricks the reader's interest. For example. It makes the purpose worth pursuing.) Title: It should be concise and descriptive. Note that such refinements. To whom is it important? 3. Why is your study important? 2.8. Think pragmatically. Spirduso. 1987). because such titles clearly indicate the independent and dependent variables. However. Purpose of the study ³The purpose statement should provide a specific and accurate synopsis of the overall purpose of the study´ (Locke. think of an informative but catchy title. . Provide definitions of key concepts. It points out how your study relates to the larger issues and uses a persuasive rationale to justify the reason for your study. Often titles are stated in terms of a functional relationship. (This is optional. If the purpose is not clear to the writer. the phrase. revise. . or extensions may have either substantive. but also predisposes him/her favourably towards the proposal. The significance of the study answers the questions: 1. What benefits will occur if your study is done? Significance of the Study indicate how your research will refine.

Objective of the study It should be presented in chronological order of importance or ordered to be consistence with the hypothesis or guiding question. which allows a more thorough review of the literature. State in achievable and measurable term. Literature Review: Sometimes the literature review is incorporated into the introduction section. most professors prefer a separate section.  The critic of the method available for answering the research questions. Contents of Literature review  Overview of structure and content  Summary and critique of comparable research which has been publish relating to the problem or components of problem.´ This will clarify your own mind as to the purpose and it will inform the reader directly and explicitly.purpose of this study is .paragraph summary of the literature. y Most students' literature reviews suffer from the following problems:  Lacking organization and structure 5 .´ If a researcher is unable to answer this question clearly and succinctly.  A final one. It should be found on the bases of specific question to be answered. It is important in a proposal that the problem stand out ²that the reader can easily recognize it. and without resorting to hyperspeaking then the statement of the problem will come off as ambiguous and diffuse. However. 1995). . which is then related to the proposed area of study. . Statement of the Problem ³The problem statement describes the context for the study and it also identifies the general analysis approach´ (Wiersma. Effective problem statements answer the question ³Why does this research need to be conducted. Clearly identify and define the central concepts or ideas of the study .

It is the specification of the operation the researcher must performed in order to collect the required information's. Conceptual frame work Research should be based on conceptual frame work. Operational definition This is the clarification of terms in such a way that they are potentially observable. Hypothesis or guiding questions It is a prediction of expected outcome. The framework should explain inter relationship among the phenomena under investigation. Lacking focus. unity and coherence  Being repetitive and verbose  Failing to cite influential papers  Failing to keep up with recent developments  Failing to critically evaluate cited papers  Citing irrelevant or trivial references  Depending too much on secondary sources . and the continuity between them should be apparent´ The Method section is very important because it tells your Research Committee how you plan to tackle your research problem. 6 . Hypothesis are generated for experimental. Research Methods: ³The methods or procedures section is really the heart of the research proposal. It will provide your work plan and describe the activities necessary for the completion of your project. If the investigator should explain the frame work of the concept in which the problem is linked. Hypothesis which are to be tested should be stated clearly on the basis of objectives of study. quasi experimental or co -relation of study. The activities should be described with as much detail as possible.

The guiding principle for writing the Method section is that it should contain sufficient information for the reader to determine whether methodology is sound. the method section typically consists of the following sections: 1. Subjects or participants ± Who will take part in your study ? What kind of sampling procedure do you use? 4. Research MethodologyIt has to explain  Selection of research approach  Selection of research design  Research setting Where we are going to conduct the study?  Population sample and sampling technique. You need to demonstrate your knowledge of alternative methods and make the case that your approach is the most appropriate and most valid way to address your research question. This will act as a foundation of accepted knowledge. Some even argue that a good proposal should contain sufficient details for another qualified researcher to implement the study. 3. AssumptionAn assumption is a statement whose truth is either considered self evident and has been satisfactorily established by early results. For quantitative studies. Design ± Is it a questionnaire study or a laboratory experiment? What kind of design do you choose? 2. Instruments ± What kind of measuring instruments or questionnaires do you use? Why do you choose them? Are they valid and reliable? 5.  Development of instruments 7 .

describe in reasonable detail. carefully explain how you went about it. Reliability and validity of testing instruments  Plan for data collection .Outline the general plan for collecting the data. Pilot studies These are invariably vital to a successful stir and are undertaken for a variety of reasons (eg: reliability or validity testing of instrumental tester reliability. ethnography.. The proposal should include an outline of any pilot studies which will be carried out prior to the main study. If coding procedures are to be used.Specify the procedures you will use. If pilot studies have already been completed at the time of writing the proposal. trial procedures for data collection to test the data collec tion forms. then the outcomes from these should be included together with information as to how the main study has been developed in the light of the findings. to estimate the time needed to complete data collection. to provide sample' data for pilot data management and analysis procedures). grounded theory). Communicate your precise intentions and reasons for these intentions to the reader. Include an explicit statement covering the field controls to be employed. This helps you and the reader evaluate the choices you made and procedures you followed.g. case study. 10. ANOVA. MANCOVA. to identify and control or eliminate extraneous variables. interview or observation procedures. Work plan This is the plan according to which various task and subtasks will be accomplished by the investigator. to reveal unforeseen limitations in study design and allow modifications.  Plan for data analysis . 8 . to identify ambiguous questions in a questionnaire. This may include survey administration procedures. If you triangulated. and label them accurately (e.

Ethical considerations A statement of the ethical considerations of the study should be included and a copy of the information consent document included in an appendix Budget and resources It is the proposed expense towards the investigation in terms of money. Appendices Appendices should be numbered in sequence as mentioned in the test and each should start on a new page. Failure to cite landmark studies. Common Mistakes in Proposal Writing 1. which may be justified by time and financial constraints as well as by the early developmental stage of your research area. Failure to provide the proper context to frame the research question. cost of any procedure (eg: scan. Financial cost may include such items as photocopying . evidence of ethics approval etc can be included. That is why you also need to mention the limitations and weaknesses of the proposed research. The resources may include subject experts. Discussion: It is important to convince your reader of the potential impact of your proposed research. 4. telephone calls. Failure to stay focused on the research question. Failure to delimit the boundary conditions for your research. equipment and related facility. 5. computer disk. material and manpower. x -rays).copies of data collection form. 2. Failure to accurately present the theoretical and empirical contributions by other researchers. Informed consent . 9 . References: These should start on a new page and the list should contain only those references which are cited with the proposal. 3. You need to communicate a sense of enthusiasm and confidence without exaggerating the merits of your proposal.

but not enough detail on major issues. 9. 10. Conclusion The planning and writing of a proposal is invariably very time consuming activity. 7. Too long or too short. Failure to develop a coherent and persuasive argument for the proposed research. 11. Slopping writing. 8. REFERENCES 10 . 12. The writer should expect to have to revise and edit part or all of the proposal many times. Failing to follow the same style. Too many citation lapses and incorrect references. The quality of a research proposal depends not only on the quality of your proposed project but also on the quality of yo ur proposal writing. Too much rambling ² going "all over the map" without a clear sense of direction. Too much detail on minor issues.6.

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