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Writing a Research Proposal

How to Write a Research Proposal?

What is a Research Proposal?

A Research proposal helps to define the topic of research and identifies and develops an original and relevant research question. A research proposal is a requisite document in graduate study as it helps the supervisors to assess the level of understanding among students. A research proposal needs approval from the supervisors or school authorities and is meant to demonstrate the student's suitability to conduct research on the topic proposed. A research proposal must have a clear topic and a well-defined title, an original research question. It must be well-defined, structured with proper headings, subheadings and include a bibliography or a list of resources. A research proposal is usually 1000-3000 words in length.

A research proposal begins with an introduction to the topic and the specific problem considered in the study. This is followed by identifying the research question and the relevant theoretical framework. The literature review is a very important aspect of a research proposal as the review is based on the correct use of referencing material. When you write a literature review and look up for the relevant sources, your use of resources reveal whether you are aware of the main issues or the primary arguments that have shaped your research question. Thus using the most relevant resources is crucial to good research and will determine whether your research proposal will be easily approved. It is important to use relevant literature focusing on the key arguments, ideas and findings of important researchers in your field of study. A research proposal also identifies the most appropriate research methods that will be used to plan, study and collect data for the research. Qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods are the most popular research methods and the chosen methodology needs to be described in some detail. The research proposal must also indicate the data collection method, chosen sample of subjects of study and outline the resources that will be needed to conduct the research.

Write a Research Proposal

A rationale of the research must be added to suggest how the specific study may contribute to a better understanding of the research topic. The research proposal will elaborate on how the proposed study will inform future researchers on the topic and whether it can improve current or future understanding of the issue or topic being studied. Some of the questions that need to be considered are: Will the proposed research fill a gap in the knowledge on the topic? Will the proposed research make an original contribution to the field of study? Will the proposed research improve our present or future understanding of the issue being studied?

A research proposal focuses on a research design that will be most efficient or appropriate, considering the research question.

What is the purpose of a Research Proposal?

The purpose of a research proposal is to ensure that students have considerable knowledge on their topic before starting a research paper. The research proposal is a stepping stone to writing a complex thesis or a research paper and serves as an outline that the students use while conducting the actual research. A research proposal ensures that a student is well aware of the issues, have a good knowledge of the relevant concepts, have identified the most appropriate questions or problems and located the best resources to conduct their research. A research proposal is a plan for a full complex research. The challenge of creating the research proposal is to convince the supervisors that the research question or problem identified is significant enough to require a thorough study.

How to write a Research Proposal?

A good research proposal will require an original topic or research question. First identify your topic or problem and then determine the focus or title of your research. You must identify the relevant theoretical concepts and methodological approaches that will be used in the study. Try to find a rationale or justification for conducting the study. Why and how will your research contribute to a better understanding of the research problem?

Provide some details on data collection procedures, samples or subjects, and indicate the broader implications of the research. Set a timetable for your research, cost considerations and expenses, and provide a detailed bibliography or resources you will use for your study. The proposal is usually submitted with personal data, an abstract or summary and a list of references.

What are the different types of Research Proposals?

Research proposals can be defined, related to a specific problem and presented as a requirement for coursework completion. These are student research proposals and would be considered as solicited for scholarship, sponsorship or degree completion. Solicited research proposals are also presented to funding agencies by individuals, groups or companies. Research proposals can also be more general to fit the general call for proposals and researchers often present unsolicited proposals to seek funding or sponsorship for the proposed study.

Concluding Remarks

A research proposal is perhaps the most important document for a graduate student. Although a research proposal is generally not graded, it is the most important step that helps the student to begin writing the thesis or dissertation that is essential for a graduate degree. Thus a research proposal is at the core of a student's academic life and achievements. It helps to shape the thesis, directs the graduate program and determines a student's professional future. Your research proposal can make or break your life, so you need to do it right.