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The Research proposal

Elements of Research proposal

By : Mrs . Najmunnisa Siddiqui
What is a research proposal?

A research proposal sets out the broad topic you

would like to research (substance), what the
research would set out to achieve (aims and
objectives), how you would go about researching
it (methodology), how you would undertake it
within the time available (outline plan) and what
the results might be in relation to knowledge and
understanding in the subject (potential
Purpose of a Research Proposal
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.
The purpose of a proposal is to sell your idea to the funding
agency. This means that the investigator must convince the
funding agency that:
The problem is significant and worthy of study
The technical approach is novel and likely to yield results
The investigator and his/her research team is/are the right
group of individuals to carry out and accomplish the work
described in the research proposal.
Elements of a Research Proposal
Table of Content
Section A: Introduction
Section B: Review of the Related Literature
Section C: Methodology
Section D: Ethical/ Legal Consideration
Section E: Time Schedule
Is a summary of the whole research;
Main purpose is to summarize the research (particularly the
objective and the main finding/conclusion), NOT to
introduce the research area.
Has a maximum word limit;
An abstract should briefly:
Re-establish the topic of the research.
Give the research problem and/or main objective of the
research (this usually comes first).
Indicate the methodology used.
Present the main findings and conclusion.
Section A :Introduction
Background of the study
Statement of the problem
Research Objectives
Research questions
Significance of the study
Scope of the study
Delimitations of the study
Assumptions of the study
Definitions of key terms
Background of the study
The 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 (Wilkinson,
1991, p. 96).
In an introduction, the writer should
create reader interest in the topic,
lay the broad foundation for the problem that leads
to the study,
place the study within the larger context of the
scholarly literature, and
reach out to a specific audience. (Creswell, 1994,
p. 42)
Statement of the Problem
The problem statement describes the context
for the study and it also identifies the general
analysis approach (Wiersma, 1995, p. 404).
A problem statement is a clear description of
the issue(s), it includes a vision, issue
statement, and method used to solve the
The 5 'W's can be used to spark the discussion
about the problem.
A problem statement expresses the words that
will be used to keep the effort focused and it
should represent a solveable problem.

I wish I knew how to eliminate drug use amongst

youth in the community.
Who anyone under the age of 18 who is using drugs in my
When after school, sometimes during school, on the
Where in the parks, in parking lots, at shopping malls, at
home when
parents are gone

What. marijuana, stimulants, ecstasy, sniffing glue

Why bored, everyone else is doing it, makes me feel better,
gives me energy, its no big deal, it doesnt hurt
The answers generated make me reconsider the problem. After
I look more

Taken from Umbach, P. D. (in press). The contribution of faculty

of color to undergraduate education. Research in Higher
At the same time that the United States is becoming more diverse,
colleges and universities find they must defend themselves against
attacks on affirmative action. In response to lawsuits brought
against affirmative action in college admissions, many have argued
that diversity is a compelling interest in that it enhances higher
education through the benefits it brings to individual students
(Astone and Nunez-Wormack, 1990; Duster, 1993; Hurtado et al.,
1998; Liu, 1998; Smith and Associates, 1997; Tierney, 1993). In a
climate where affirmative action is under increased scrutiny, it is
important that researchers extend this line of inquiry to all levels of
higher education. One avenue that is beginning to emerge is the
positive impact that diverse faculty have on student experiences.
Taken from Umbach, P. D. & Kuh, G. D. (in press). Student
experiences with diversity at liberal arts colleges: another claim for
distinctiveness. The Journal Higher Education.
Hu and Kuh (2003) found that students in private institutions more
frequently interacted with students from different backgrounds and that
students at large doctoral-extensive universities and liberal arts colleges
had more experiences with diversity than their counterparts at other
types of institutions. It is not surprising that students at large universities
would have more exposure to diversity, given that these institutions
typically enroll more students from different racial, ethnic and cultural
groups. Somewhat unexpected is that students at smaller liberal arts
colleges would report equally frequent experiences with diversity.
Historically, small liberal arts colleges have claimed to have distinctive
missions, especially when compared with large public universities
(Clark, 1970; Kuh, Schuh, Whitt, & Associates, 1991; Townsend, Newell,
& Wiese, 1992). But they also tend to be located in rural and less
racially diverse locations. Even so, it appears that a distinctive
dimension of contemporary liberal arts colleges is their ability to expose
students to diversity in educationally purposeful ways. How they do this
is not clear.
Problem Statement by Michelle Kraft 2000
Through a historical/legal analysis of the Least
Restrictive Environment (LRE) clause of the Individuals
with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) amendments of
1997 (PL 105-17), and its intersection with a Free
Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), I will compare the
intent of the mandate to its actual practice in a five-
month case study of a junior high art class. A theoretical
frame consisting of values of equality, liberty, and
efficiency guide data collection, analyses, and
interpretation of the relationships and disparities that
exist between the legal statute's intent and its actual

Iwish young people in my community were

more aware of the dangers of drugs and had
some place to go after school and on weekends
that offered beneficial recreation to keep them
feeling energetic and good about themselves
which, when combined may decrease the use of
drugs amongst them and their peers." My new
problem statement will help me come up with
solutions that address the root of the cause not
just the symptoms.
The OBJECTIVES of a research project summaries what is to
be achieved by the study.
Objectives should be closely related to the statement of the
problem. For example, if the problem identified is low
utilization of child welfare clinics, the general objective of the
study could be to identify the reasons for this low utilization, in
order to find solutions.
The general objective of a study states what researchers expect
to achieve by the study in general terms.
It is possible (and advisable) to break down a general objective
into smaller, logically connected parts. These are normally
referred to as specific objectives.
Specific objectives should systematically address the various
aspects of the problem as defined under Statement of the
Problem and the key factors that are assumed to influence or
cause the problem. They should specify what you will do in
your study, where and for what purpose.
General Objectives
A study into the cost and quality of home-based
care for HIV/AIDS patients and their
communities in Zimbabwe, developed at an HSR
workshop, for example, had as its general
To explore to what extent community home-
based care (CHBC) projects in Zimbabwe
provide adequate, affordable and sustainable care
of good quality to people with HIV/AIDS, and to
identify ways in which these services can be
It was split up in the following specific objectives:

To identify the full range of economic, psychosocial,

health/nursing care and other needs of patients and their families
affected by AIDS.
To determine the extent to which formal and informal support
systems address these needs from the viewpoint of service
providers as well as patients.
To determine the economic costs of CHBC to the patient and
family as well as to the formal CHBC programmes themselves.
To relate the calculated costs to the quality of care provided to the
patient by the family and to the family/patient by the CHBC
To determine how improved CHBC and informal support
networks can contribute to the needs of persons with AIDS and
other chronically and terminally ill patients.
To use the findings to make recommendations on the improvement
of CHBC to home care providers, donors and other concerned
organisations, including government .
Research Hypotheses
Based on your experience with the study
problem, it might be possible to develop
explanations for the problem, which can then be
tested. If so, you can formulate hypotheses in
addition to the study objectives.
A HYPOTHESIS is a prediction of a relationship
between one or more factors and the problem
under study that can be tested.
a hypothesis represents a declarative statement
of the relations between two or more variables
(Kerlinger, 1979; Krathwohl, 1988).
In example concerning the cost and quality of
HBC in Zimbabwe it would have been possible to
formulate and test the following hypotheses:
The role of first-line relatives in the provision of
care to AIDS patients is more substantial in rural
than in urban areas.
The silence and stigma surrounding AIDS makes
the formation of self-help groups of AIDS patients
and their relatives next to impossible, which in
turn maintains the high level of stigma on
Research Questions
Questions are relevant to normative or census
type research (How many of them are there?
Is there a relationship between them?).
They are most often used in qualitative inquiry,
although their use in quantitative inquiry is
becoming more prominent.
A research question poses a relationship
between two or more variables but phrases the
relationship as a question; (Kerlinger, 1979;
Krathwohl, 1988).

Examples of research questions

What is the impact of a study skills
program on student achievement?
What is the effect of teaching keyboarding
skills to sixth grade students on word
processing skills and quality of writing?
How does an elimination of number and
letter grades throughout the year (with the
exception of quarter and semester grades
Significance of the Study
Indicate how your research will refine, revise,
or extend existing knowledge in the area under
investigation. Note that such refinements,
revisions, or extensions may have either
substantive, theoretical, or methodological
significance. Think pragmatically (i.e., cash
This can be a difficult section to write. Think
about implicationshow results of the study
may affect scholarly research, theory, practice,
educational interventions, curricula,
counseling, policy.
When thinking about the significance of your study, ask
yourself the following questions.
What will results mean to the theoretical framework that
framed the study?
What suggestions for subsequent research arise from the
What will the results mean to the practicing educator?
Will results influence programs, methods, and/or
Will results contribute to the solution of educational
Will results influence educational policy decisions?
What will be improved or changed as a result of the
proposed research?
How will results of the study be implemented, and what
innovations will come about?
Limitations and Delimitations
A limitation identifies potential weaknesses of the
study. Think about your analysis, the nature of self-
report, your instruments, the sample. Think about
threats to internal validity that may have been
impossible to avoid or minimizeexplain.

A delimitation addresses how a study will be

narrowed in scope, that is, how it is bounded. This is
the place to explain the things that you are not doing
and why you have chosen not to do themthe
literature you will not review (and why not), the
population you are not studying (and why not), the
methodological procedures you will not use (and why
you will not use them). Limit your delimitations to the
things that a reader might reasonably expect you to
do but that you, for clearly explained reasons, have
decided not to do.
Operational Definitions of Key Terms

An operational definition is a demonstration of a

process such as a variable, term, or object in terms
of the specific process or set of validation tests used to
determine its presence and quantity.
This section provides operational definition of terms that are
unusual or unfamiliar. It identifies precisely the names of
concepts, tests, or participants introduced in the Statement of
the Problem and employed in the Hypotheses
Properties described in this manner must be sufficiently
accessible, so that persons other than the definer may
independently measure or test for them at will

Corporate Social Responsibility
Operational Definition:
CSR is about how companies manage the
business processes to produce an overall
positive impact on society.
Accommodated independent person

Operational Definition
accommodated independent person is an
independent person living in the parental home
Review of the Related Literature
The review of the literature provides the background and
context for the research problem. It should establish the need
for the research and indicate that the writer is knowledgeable
about the area (Wiersma, 1995, p. 406).
The literature review accomplishes several important things.
It shares with the reader the results of other studies
that are closely related to the study being reported
(Fraenkel & Wallen, 1990).
It relates a study to the larger, ongoing dialogue in
the literature about a topic, filling in gaps and
extending prior studies (Marshall & Rossman, 1989).
It provides a framework for establishing the
importance of the study, as well as a benchmark
for comparing the results of a study with other
It frames the problem earlier identified.

In a proposal, the literature review is generally brief

and to the point. Be judicious in your choice of
exemplarsthe literature selected should be
pertinent and relevant (APA, 2001). Select and
reference only the more appropriate citations. Make
key points clearly and succinctly.
Section C: Methodology
Design of the study
Population and sampling
Research Instruments
Pilot study
Instrument Reliability and Validity
Method of Data Collection
Plan of Data Analysis
Research Design
Design a description of the approach to be
used to reach objectives.
Clearly indicate the methods of data collection
either within a quantitative or qualitative
methodology; as well as the techniques for data
collection, e.g. questionnaires, and
measurement (the validation of the techniques).
Indicate whether field workers will be used to
collect data and whether computer programmes
will be employed to analyse the data.
Population and Sampling
A population can be defined as including
all people or items with the characteristic
one wishes to understand
Population sampling refers to the
process through which a group of
representative individuals is selected from
a population for the purpose of statistical
Apparatus and/or Instruments

In this subsection of the method section you describe

any apparatus and or instruments you propose to use
in your research study.
The following information should be included:

General description of the apparatus or instruments.

Variables measured by instruments.
Reliability and validity of instruments.
Why the instruments or apparatus are used.
Reference indicating where apparatus or instruments
can be obtained.
Data Collection

Outline the general plan for collecting the data. This

may include survey administration procedures,
interview or observation procedures. Include an
explicit statement covering the field controls to be
employed. If appropriate, discuss how you obtained
Data Analysis

Specify the procedures you will use, and label them

accurately (e.g., ANOVA, MANCOVA, HLM,
ethnography, case study, grounded theory). If coding
procedures are to be used, describe in reasonable
detail. If you triangulated, carefully explain how you went
about it. Communicate your precise intentions and
reasons for these intentions to the reader. This helps
you and the reader evaluate the choices you made and
procedures you followed.
Indicate briefly any analytic tools you will have available
and expect to use (e.g., Ethnograph, NUDIST, AQUAD,
Provide a well thought-out rationale for your decision to
use the design, methodology, and analyses you have
Section D: Ethical/ Legal Consideration

Human research participants need:

Informed consent
Voluntary participation
Restricted use of deception
Section E: Time Schedule
This section indicates exactly what will be done, the
sequence of the various activities, and the products of
deliverables that will be prepared. Specify the tasks,
deliverables, and schedule in some detail, although there
is usually some latitude for offerers.
In preparing grant proposals, there is more freedom to
define the tasks. In both cases, it is important that the
proposed task structure includes all of the activities
necessary for completing the project.
Planning a viable schedule for carrying out the tasks is
often as important as developing a comprehensive list of