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Introduction
Proposal is a vital part of research study. When a research methodologist have
decided to pursue a particular study, he/she needs to develop a written plan or
protocol as a guide for the study. Such a plan is called a research proposal.
Definition of research proposal A research proposal is a document written by a
researcher that provides a detailed description of the proposed program. It is like
an outline of the entire research process that gives a reader a summary of the
information discussed in a project.
In a narrower point of view in Business perspective a research proposal is a an
individual's or research firm's formal offer to produce a product or render a
service to a client in response to a request from the client.
From a general point of view research proposal is a document that is typically
written by a scientist or academic which describes the ideas for an investigation
on a certain topic. The research proposal outlines the process from the beginning
to end and may be used to request financing for the project, certification for
performing certain parts of research of the experiment, or as
a required task before beginning a college dissertation.
A proposal is also known as a work plan, prospectus, outline and statement of
intent. It is an agreement between a client and a researcher.
In a proposal an explanation of the purpose of the study and definition of the
problem must be stated. It systematically outlines the particular research
methodology and details the procedures that will be followed at each stage of the
research process.
The phrasing of research proposals has many similarities to that of scientific
articles. Research proposals are written in future tense and have different points
of emphasis. Like scientific articles, research proposals have sections describing
the research background, significance, methods, and references. The method
section of research proposals is far more detailed than those of scientific articles,
allowing profound understanding of the price and risks of the study and the plans
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for reducing them. Instead of a section describing the results, research proposals
have a section describing the hypotheses or the expected results.


Communication by a good Proposal
A good proposal must communicate to us the following things to us:
(1) What information will obtained ?
(2) Where it will be obtained ?
(3) How it will be obtained ?
(4) Why it will be obtained ?

Importance of a good Research Proposal
Because a research proposal is a clearly outlines plan submitted to a client for
acceptance or rejection, it allows the client to access the seriousness and sincerity
of the researcher's purpose, adequacy of his design , the extent of his background
information , his competence and commitment in undertaking the study. A poorly
written and faulty organized proposal damages researcher's reputation.
In writing a good research one need to follow a step by step approach. Even after
writing a good proposal it could take as long as a year to procure funds to run the
proposed research actions. And even a perfectly devised and written proposal
might be rejected without any substantive reason.
However for a research to be successfully accepted and funded within due time
and for its timely carrying out the research proposal must be well written and
organized to convince the authority and donors sufficiently.
The qualities of a good research proposal are implied in implementing the perfect
step by step description and explanation of the research proposals. Each step
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should be clearly structured and logically stated. If prepared on the basis of a
request the research proposal must be written in a way that best serves the
requested objects of the request senders. And if for purpose of funding then the
research proposal should convince the donors and patrons.
Research proposal should be clearly stated and no ambiguity should be present.
As a research proposal is written the research donors and contributors may not
communicate with the research group by other means to clear his/ her idea being
self guided. So the research proposal must be stated clearly within the boundary
of written form and none other communication should be expected except the
acceptance and rejection.













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Principles of Good Research
All research is different but the following factors are common to all good pieces of
research :
(1) There is a clear statement of research aims, which defines the research
question.
(2) There is an information sheet for participants, which sets out clearly what the
research is about, what it will involve and consent is obtained in writing on a
consent form prior to research beginning.
(3) The methodology is appropriate to the research question. For example, if the
research is into peoples perceptions, a more qualitative, unstructured interview
may be appropriate. If the research aims to identify the scale of a problem or
need, a more quantitative, randomized, statistical sample survey may be more
appropriate. Good research can often use a combination of methodologies, which
complement one another.
(4) The research should be carried out in an unbiased fashion. As far as possible
the researcher should not influence the results of the research in any way. If this
is likely, it needs to be addressed explicitly and systematically.
(5) From the beginning, the research should have appropriate and sufficient
resources in terms of people, time, transport, money etc. allocated to it.
(6) The people conducting the research should be trained in research and
research methods and this training should provide:
(a) Knowledge around appropriate information gathering techniques,
(b) An understanding of research issues,
(c) An understanding of the research area ,
(d) Those involved in designing, conducting, analyzing and supervising the
research should have a full understanding of the subject area.
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(e) In some instances, it helps if the researcher has experience of working in the
area. However, this can also be a negative factor, as sometimes research
benefits from the fresh eyes and ears of an outsider, which may lead to less
bias.
(f) If applicable, the information generated from the research will inform the
policy-making process.
(g) All research should be ethical and not harmful in any way to the participants.

Request for proposal (RFP)
For most outside contract, proposals are usually submitted in response to as
request for bid, or a request for proposal (RFP). An RFP is a formal document
issued by a corporate research department, a decision maker or some other
sponsor to solicit services from researchers. Proposals are prepared in accordance
with the terms of reference (TOR) provided by the client or sponsor and included
in the RFP. It becomes in almost an obligation on the part of the bidder to follow
this TOR in the preparation of the proposal. Non-compliance with the
specification as outlined in the TOR may lead to automatically disqualifying the
proposal. If, however the researcher can demonstrate superior understanding of
the problem, and can convince the sponsor that their understanding will be
beneficial to the study, the conditions laid down in the TOR may be revised
accordingly. If the sponsor finally agrees with the proposal after reviewing , it is
accepted and is approved for execution. The following page will describe a layout
of RFP.



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Example of an RFP (Request For Proposal)
Request For Proposal (RFP) for the selection of Consultation Services
To Date : __________
________________
________________
Dear Sir/Madam
1. The Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh under technical assistance from UNFPA has
allocated funds for the cost of "Support for Policy , Planning and Program Implementation Research for
Population and Development, NIPORT" and intends to apply a portion of the funds to eligible payments
under the contract for which the Request for Proposals (RFP) is issued.
2. The project director , "Support for Policy , Planning and Program Implementation Research for
Population and Development, NIPORT" , with the approval of Director General now invites proposals to
provide the following consulting services to conduct three research activities :
Study 1 : Dowry and Discrimination towards Women and Girls.
Study 2 : Identification of Management Approaches for Reproductive Health
(RH) Programs in Bangladesh .
Study 3 : Reproductive Health Commodity Projection.
This letter of Invitation and the RFP have been issued to the following short-listed Consultants (research
firms) :
1. .....................
2. .....................
3. .....................
3. A firm will be selected under Quality and Cost-based selection (QCBS) and procedures for selection
are described in the RFP.

4. Please inform us in writing, preferably through e-mail at the following address whether you will
submit a proposal in alone or in association with any other firm :
:::::::::::::::
:::::::::::::::
5. Please note that each firm is eligible to submit proposals for one or more topics assigned in the TOR.
However , for each topic separate technical and financial proposals will have to be submitted as
mentioned in section (*) of the proposal data sheet (PDS) for separate evaluation.

Yours Sincerely
......................
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Example of a TOR (Terms of Reference)

TOR for conducting research studies on "Dowry and Discrimination Towards
Women and Girls"

Background :
Although dowry demand is illegal under the "Women and Children Repression Act
,2000 " amended in 2003 and the "Dowry Prohibition Act" 1980, the practice still
persists as a custom, especially in rural areas of Bangladesh. As a consequence of
unpaid dowry, women are tortured by their husband and in-laws, burnt by acid or
even murdered. There is growing concerns within government about this issue
and initiative are being taken to raise the anti-dowry campaign as a social
movement. Different civil society groups have also started to organize seminars,
symposiums and other social awareness programs to boycott dowry in the
society. Despite all these activities practice of dowry has not been completely
eradicated. It is therefore important to undertake a study for exploring possible
ways to stop discrimination toward women and girls due to dowry.

Objective :
(a) To analyze the various types of discrimination or violence against women and
girls as a result of dowry.
(b) Analyze pattern of discrimination of violence.
(c) Assess men's attitude toward women in general and dowry system.
(d) Assess the attitude of family members including in-laws toward dowry.
(e) Find out ways to stop violent behavior of men toward women.

Scope of Services:
An integrated approach combining both qualitative and quantitative methods
may be adopted to conduct the study. The study may use the information derived
mostly from male respondents and in few cases from women and girls. Statistical
representation is not a consideration in deciding on the sample size. In-depth
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interview, case studies and focus group discussion could be organized to obtain
study information.

List of reports, schedule of deliveries and period of performance :
A report on the study undertaken should be submitted by June 2007. Following
schedules should be followed :
Deliverables Schedule
5 Drafts reports June 15, 2007
10 Final reports June 25, 2007

The study should be completed by 25 June 2007.

Data, personnel, facilities and local services to be provided by the
client :
NIPORT will provide only published data to the subcontracted agency for the
above mentioned research study.

Institutional Arrangements:
(1) Upon being selected, the agency will sign a contract with NIPORT to undertake
the assignment. The selected agency should be flexible to incorporate necessary
changes in methodology.
(2) The selected agency will work closely with concerned officials of NIPORT to
achieve the objective of the study.
(3) No advance payment will be made to the agency. After receiving 10 (ten)
copies of the final report, the payment will be made in favor of the agency.







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Types of Proposal

A research proposal is of two types. They are (i) Internal (ii) External.
Internal proposals are used within companies to plan or propose new projects or
products. External proposals are used to offer services or products to clients
outside the company. Both external and internal proposals tend to have the
following features:

Introduction
Description of the current situation
Description of the project plan
Review of qualifications
Discussion of costs and benefits
Graphics
Budget

Proposals are also classified as solicited or unsolicited, depending on whether
they were requested or not. Solicited proposals are proposals requested by the
readers. For example, a companys management might ask a team to submit a
proposal for a new project. Or, a team might be asked to write a proposal that
answers a request for proposals (RFP) sent out by a client. Unsolicited proposals
are proposals not requested by the readers. For example, a team might prepare
an unsolicited internal proposal to pitch an innovative new idea to the companys
management. Or, a team might use an unsolicited external proposal as a sales
tool to offer a companys clients a product or service.

Planning and Researching Proposals
Because proposals are difficult to write, it is important that we follow a reliable
writing process that will help us develop our proposals content, organization,
style, and design. An important first step in this process is to start with a planning
and researching phase. During this phase, we will define the rhetorical situation
and start collecting the content for the proposal.
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Planning
A good way to start planning our proposal is to analyze the situations in which it
will be used. Begin by answering the Five-W and How Questions:

(1) Who will be able to say yes to our ideas, and what are their characteristics?
Why is this proposal being written?
(2) What information do the readers need to make a decision?
(3) Where will the proposal be used?
(4) When will the proposal be used?
(5) How will the proposal be used?
Once we have answered these questions, we are ready to start thinking in-depth
about our proposals subject, purpose, readers, and context of use.

SUBJECT
Defining exactly what our proposal is about. Where are the boundaries of
the subject? What information do our readers expect us to include in the
proposal? What need-to-know information must readers have if they are going to
say yes to our ideas?

PURPOSE
Clearly state the purpose of your proposal in one sentence. What should
the proposal achieve? What do we want the proposal to do? By stating our
purpose in one sentence, we will focus our writing efforts while making it easier
for readers to understand what we are trying to accomplish. Some key words for
your purpose statement might include the following action verbs:

to persuade to present
to convince to propose
to provide to offer
to describe to suggest
to argue for to recommend
to advocate to support

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READERS
More than any other kind of document, proposals require us to fully understand
our readers and anticipate their needs, values, and attitudes. Primary readers
(action takers) are the people who can say yes to our ideas. They need good
reasons and solid evidence. They also hold values and attitudes that will shape
how they interpret our ideas. Meanwhile, we should keep in mind that economic
issues are always important to primary readers, so we consider carefully any
money-related issues that might influence them. Secondary readers (advisors)
are usually experts in our field. They wont be the people who say yes to our
proposal, but their opinions will be highly valued by our proposals primary
readers. So, we need to satisfy these advisors by offering enough technical
information to demonstrate our understanding of the current situation and the
soundness of our project. Tertiary readers (evaluators) can be just about anyone
else who might have an interest in the project. These readers might include
lawyers, journalists, and community activists, among others. We need to
anticipate these readers concerns, especially because tertiary readers can often
undermine the project if we are not careful. Gatekeepers (supervisors) are the
people at our own company who will need to look over our proposal before it is
sent out. Our immediate supervisor is a gatekeeper, but we will likely also need to
let other gatekeepers, such as the companys accountants, lawyers, and technical
advisors, look over the proposal before it is sent.

CONTEXT OF USE
The documents context of use will also greatly influence how our readers will
interpret the ideas in our proposal.
Physical context: It concerns the places our readers may read or use our proposal.
Will readers look over our proposal at their desks, on their laptops, or in a
meeting? Where will they discuss it?
Economic context: This involves the financial issues that will shape readers
responses to our ideas. How much money is available for the project? What
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economic trends will shape how our readers perceive the project? What are the
financial limitations of the project?
Ethical context: It involves the ethical decisions that we and our readers will need
to make. Where does the proposal touch on ethical issues? How might these
ethical issues be resolved so they dont undermine the project? What are the
legal issues involved with the proposal?
Political context: It concerns the people our proposal will affect. Who stands to
gain or lose if our proposal is accepted? How will the proposal change
relationships that are already in place? Would any larger political trends shape
how the proposal is written or interpreted?
Something to keep in mind is that proposals, especially external proposals,
are de facto legal contracts. They are legal documents that can be brought
into court if a dispute occurs. So, we need to make sure that everything we
say in the proposal is accurate and truthful, because the proposal may be
used in a court case to prove (or disprove) that our company completed the
promised work to the level proposed.

Research Works
Research works includes the followings :
(1) Do Background Research ,
(2) Ask Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) ,
(3) Pay attention to causes and effects ,
(4) Find similar proposals ,
(5) Collect Visuals.
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Components of a Proposal
Any project proposal may be structured under the following headings :
(a) Executive summary or abstract,
(b) Problem statement,
(c) Research Objectives,
(d) Literature review,
(e) Benefits of the study,
(f) Methodology,
(g) Data collection,
(h) Work plan,
(i) Plan for data analysis,
(j) Qualification of the key persons,
(k) Project management,
(l) Budget,
(m) Limitations and,
(n) Appendix.

Now these components are describes in a summarized form as follows
(a) Executive Summary
This part of the proposal is the most important section of the entire document.
Although it usually appears at the first section of the proposal, it is not written
until all the sections are completed. Here we provide the reader with the
segments or chapters of the detailed topics throughout the proposal document.
Here one thing should be kept in mind that this summary should not be teeming
with unnecessary information and should never exceed two pages. Here we
provide a simple and brief statement of the problem, objectives, expected
implications, methodologies used and resources needed.


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(b) Problem Statement
The statement of the problem deals with such elements as problem identification,
prioritizing the problem, analysis and justifying the problem in response to such
questions as "What is the problem and why it be studied".
Justification of a research problem is an important part of any proposal. The
problem statement when narrated in a logical manner and sequence enables the
reader to learn more about the issue we are addressing. It presents the facts and
evidence, background and consequences that justify the need for the study and
enhances the chances for final approval. In presenting any arguments the
following are important :
(i) Decide which facts or statistics best support the study
(ii) Be sure that the data we present are as far as up-to-date and accurate.
(iii) Avoid overstatement and overly emotional appeals
(iv) Determine whether it is reasonable to present the need as acute
(v) Decide whether we can demonstrate that our proposal addresses the need
differently or better than others that precedes it.

(c) Research Objectives
This module represents an important section of the research proposal focusing on
what is being planned in the proposed investigation. Specifically research
objectives describe what will be demonstrated, tested, evaluated, confirmed or
compared. They communicate
(i) Why do we carry out the research ?
(ii) What do we hope to achieve from such a research ?
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Objectives should be closely related research problem statement. In addition to
research objectives, all proposals should contain a formal and explicit statement
of the research questions or hypothesis wherever applicable.
(d) Literature review
Review of pertinent literature prompts and strengthens the researchers. A
literature review is an account of what has been published on a topic by
accredited scholars and researchers. We are asked to write one here as an
integrated part of research proposal (sometimes in the form of an annotated
bibliography), but more often it is part of the introduction to an essay, research
report, or thesis. In writing the literature review, our purpose is to convey to our
reader what knowledge and ideas have been established on a topic, and what
their strengths and weaknesses are. As a piece of writing, the literature review
must be defined by a guiding concept (e.g., our research objective, the problem or
issue we are discussing, or our argumentative thesis). It is not just a descriptive
list of the material available, or a set of summaries. To summarize, literature
review we focus on the following points :
(i) It explains the needs for the proposed study
(ii) It avoids duplication of works
(iii) It appraises the shortcomings of the others' works
(iv) It highlights the appropriateness of the earlier studies
(v) It examines the weakness (if any) of the methodology used in other studies.

A literature review must do the follows:
1. Be organized around and related directly to the thesis or research question we
are developing

2. Synthesize results into a summary of what is and is not known

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3. Identify areas of controversy in the literature

4. Formulate questions that need further research

(e) Benefits of the study
This section of the proposal should focus on the importance and urgency of data
needed. It must therefore explicitly in two to three paragraphs what benefit will
be accrued from the proposed study. In describing this section, we must take care
that we can convince the sponsor our plan can meet its needs.

(f) Methodology
This section should aim at addressing four broad questions :
(i) What additional information do we need to collect for answering the research
questions implied in our research objectives ?
(ii) What approach we will follow to collect this information ? (Research design)
(iii) What techniques and tools we will follow to collect it. (Data collection
techniques and tools such as questionnaire, observation check-list)
(iv) Where we want to collect the data, how we will select our sample, and how
many subjects will be included in the study ? (Coverage, Targe Population sample
design)
When there are more than one way exists to approach the design, discuss the
methods we discarded and justify the method we implemented.

(g) Data Collection
The method for data collection should be clearly specified in the research
proposal. These methods may vary from simple observation to a large-scale field
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survey. The specific method or methods to be used for collecting data largely
depends on the objectives of the survey, the research design and the availability
of time, money and personnel. With the variation of data (qualitative or
quantitative) the method of data collection also varies.
(h) Plan for data analysis
The appropriate methods of data analysis are determined by our data types and
variables of interest, the actual distribution of the variables, and the number of
cases. Different analyses of the same dataset may reflect or represent different
aspects of the underlying data structure. Once a plan has been established, it
could contain any combination of the following types of data analysis strategies:
Exploratory: This type of data analysis often occurs when a program is new,
and it is unclear what to expect from the data.

Descriptive: The most common type of data analysis, this approach will
summarize the findings and describe the sample.

Inferential: Inferential statistics allow us to draw conclusions about the larger
population from which the sample is drawn. These powerful techniques may be
able demonstrate if a change has occurred as a result of your program. PDA's
Statistics Division specializes in many sophisticated data analysis techniques.

The data analysis plan that we are proposing is not a commitment, rather it is an
honest desire to fulfill the commitment as outlined in the proposal.
(i) Work Plan
This section elaborates the work schedule of the proposed study answering such
questions as, who will answer the questions as, who will do what and when it will
be done. A work Plan has two major components : Personnel and time schedule .
The major issues that a work plan includes are :
(i) Preparatory works/ questionnaire development,
(ii) Recruitment and training of Project personnel,
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(iii) Question revision,
(iv) Field interviews/ data collection,
(v) Data editing and data coding,
(vi) Data analysis,
(vii) Report writing.
Each of these phases should have an estimated time and personnel needed. A
chart known as Gantt Chart may be used for this purpose. A Gantt chart is a
schematic display of different work plan against estimated time of each phase.
A sample of Gantt chart for the production of one hundred teddy bears. As we
can see, it shows that several activities must be completed before the bears are
dressed: the fur has to be cut, stuffed, and sewn; and the clothes and accessories
must be made. Our Gantt chart tells us that by day six, all accessories and clothing
have been made. The stuffing and sewing, however (which must be finished
before the bears are dressed), isnt scheduled for completion until the end of day
eight.


Work Plan
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(j) Reporting Findings
The proposal should indicate what reports and other means of disseminating
research findings are planned. The types of report that are usually included for
reporting are :
(i) Progress Report
(ii) Final report
(iii) Publications
(iv) Seminar, workshop, conference
(v) Discussion with policy makers or program managers

(k) Qualification of the key Persons
Qualification of the key Persons involved in the study play a vital role in the
process of evaluation of the proposal. A proposal with experienced researchers
enhances the credibility and assures the program managers and policy makers of
a set of policy oriented recommendations that can ultimately be implemented.
This section should begin with the key qualifications and experiences of the
research investigators and also that of the other research personnel if the RFP
requests so.

(l) Project management
All administrative activities should be outlined on a master plan. This plan shows
how the study team is organized. Project management, is the application of
knowledge, skills and techniques to execute projects effectively and efficiently.
Its a strategic competency for organizations, enabling them to tie project results
to research goals. In other words, Project management is the process and activity
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of planning, organizing, motivating, and controlling resources, procedures and
protocols to achieve specific goals in scientific or daily problems.
A project management planning should demonstrate the follows:
(i) The relationship between the researchers and the assistants,
(ii) Who is to keep liaison with the sponsor.
(iii) Process of record control,
(iv) Progress report, progress reporting and project supervision.
(v) Mode of payment (time, number, frequency and instrument of payment)
(vi) Legal responsibilities , liabilities and involvement of the sponsors during the
entire period of the project.

(m) Budget
Budget is the plan in economic terms and expressed in currency figure. The
budget details should be submitted in the format the sponsor requests. In some
cases, the budget is submitted as a separate proposal for sheer reasons of quality
proposals, where budget is somewhat of secondary importance, but in all cases a
realistic aspect. A budget includes an Income segment and a cost segment. For a
business the income/ revenue are determined and shown first whereas for
government the costs are determined and shown first.

(n) Bibliography
Once one make a literature review he/she should provide citation for it as a
reference . This makes the previous study on the similar research problem
available to be analyzed by the sponsors.

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(l) Limitations
If we anticipate any problem during the course of our study we must disclose it.
We must admit that every research has limitations in some form or other. It may
start with designing the questionnaire to data analysis with intermediate
problems in sample size determination , selection of the sample and data
collection. It is best to recognize these limitations rather than to pretend that
these limitations do not exist. We should be forthright and fair to mention any
unprecedented or situational factors that we might encounter during the
execution of our study.
(m) Appendix
Any additional informational information, charts, graphs or summary that
reinforce the body.