what is a research proposal

what is a research proposal

The Importance of a Research Proposal

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1. Introduction

The first of (often several) questions that a reader will have regarding a research proposal is “what are you going to do for me?” This is not to say that the reader is chiefly self-interested, but rather that a well-written research proposal will be so focused on the proposed research that the reader will infer a clear understanding of significance to the field. It is a rare field in which research is done simply for the sake of research; the best research is that which contributes something new to the field at large. This being the case, it should be made clear to the reader what it is that will be added by the proposed work. This is a task that is often easier said than done, as it requires an objective assessment of one’s own work in a way that can be difficult after extended immersion in a subject. Yet by highlighting the exact nature of the proposed work and its intended contributions, an author can guide both himself and his audience to a clearer understanding of what it is that makes the work important.

Sigmund Freud once quipped that the best defense is a good offense. In saying so, he captured the common understanding of the strategic “research plan” – defensive measures are best taken prior to an engagement. Yet in the realm of research proposal writing, a defensive strategy is far from optimal. A high quality proposal is tailored to a specific audience, sets the stage for the research to take place, demonstrates that the author understands the work to be done, and requests for the go ahead. All of these mark offensive rather than defensive maneuvers. To understand the importance of a quality research proposal, it is best to begin at the beginning. While the question of audience and the exact nature of a research proposal will vary depending upon field, all proposals should attempt to answer some key questions.

2. Purpose of a Research Proposal

It is important to understand the purpose of a research proposal before you begin writing your own. Concern over the need to clarify the distinct form and purposes of the research proposal with which to evaluate its quality and worthiness, led to the development of the proposal genre per se, and proposals became an object of extensive professional academic discourse, research and analysis. The growth in research and research training in undergraduate education has been phenomenal. Much research is undertaken and evaluated, and has to be explained, to peers in the form of academic journal articles or conference presentations. But these are unsatisfactory vehicles for learning the research craft which requires exposure to a range of challenges and problems. A research project exposes students to the details of the research process and they can be assessed on their capacity to address a research question and in some cases to prepare a research proposal. Teaching and assessment of research is most advanced in postgraduate education and has spawned a variety of professional development programs for academic and research staff. The research project is often seen as a pivotal point in a research education and may be perceived as the catalyst for the professional development of a research student and early career researcher. This has contributed to the increasing acceptance and institutionalization of research development programs that occur at a project’s inception, phase planning or as part of the preparation for research higher degree candidature. But mobility and project based research training and professional development should involve lifelong learners at all levels, from all walks of life, in a global context. Decades of writing teacher has been conducted in how to write and teach writing of all forms and genres, yet writing a research proposal remains largely an act of faith, based on the perceived value of the resultant research and not on an agreed curriculum or standards. At the same time there is increasing competition for research funds, higher degree research candidature and places in professional research training programs like the masters of clinical and health research. This often includes mid career professionals returning to study and a new requirement for scientists and technologists to have research skills as part of their professions. This has led to an increased realization of the need to train in research and with this, a demand for research education curriculum and skilled research trainers. There is parallel clear evidence of the worth of research capability in a knowledge society and also a burgeoning trend in research consultancy services from ‘proposal houses’. So research training activity is an ideal target for a research proposal generation.

3. Key Components of a Research Proposal

The fourth part of the research proposal is the research method. This is the part where in saying ‘what is the best way to study the problem at minimal cost?’ a well thought out and a neat research method can save any confusion. Considering that writing a research method can sometimes be as hard as the research itself, a method outlines what the research will do from the start of the problem, right through to the end. This is not just limited to data collection (explained later) but also includes the problem analysis and what can be done to solve it. At each stage, it would be effective to refer back to questioning the nature of the problem and cause of the situation. Data analysis and interpretation is sometimes the most complex part of data itself and it may be useful to specify what methods will be given on the research. This should only be limited to what is conclusive to the research. The last part of the research method is cost and time scale. These are quite self-explanatory and are useful if presented in table format. This is just an example of a well-formatted and a well-detailed thesis on what we are offering: UKEssays.com Dissertation Writing Service.

The second part of the research proposal is the Research Background. This takes the topic to a more in-depth level, investigating the situation, through asking explicit questions about it and producing evidence. You need to explain what the current situation of the topic is and you need this part to guide you to the third section. The cause of the said situation comes under the third part of the research proposal and has a lot of implications to part two. In being able to say what caused the current situation, you’ll need to ask more explicit questions about it and come up with evidence in order to make the research clear and easy to understand.

A research proposal contains six key parts. I’ve just introduced the six key parts. Keep reading. Each part reflects different concerns: What is in the area of study? What is the study and why is it important? What is the nature of the problem? How can the problem best be studied? What is the cost of the research? Finally, what are the implications of the study? The first part of the proposal is the Introduction. See, I’ve already begun to mention the different parts, the introduction brings just that, introduces the reader to what the research is about. This part doesn’t require too much depth, but should cover an area on what is currently understood about the topic in previous studies and what are the main issues and debates surrounding the topic? This can be very useful for the reader to decide whether your research is what they are looking for.

4. Tips for Writing an Effective Research Proposal

4. Make sure it is of interest to you. It is important that the topic is something that you are interested in. If it is not, then your motivation to pursue the research will wane and the proposal will be significantly more difficult to write. Everything is more difficult when you don’t care about it.

3. List the limitations. It may be necessary to define the limitations of the research in order to provide the right focus. Any research, no matter how trivial or small, has the potential to go in completely different directions. If a clear path is defined from the beginning, then it may be possible to determine a finish time and date for the research.

2. Approach it in stages. Take the question and break it down into the smallest elements. Define what sort of data will be needed in order to determine the answer of each sub-question. This may take a lot of time and therefore should be attempted in a relaxed environment.

1. Clearly define the question. It’s important to define the question very specifically. If the research question is ambiguous, the end result will also be ambiguous.

Writing a successful proposal can be made easier through the development of a proposal checklist that contains a series of fundamental tips. These tips can help with the overall development and presentation of a proposal. Using a proposal checklist can facilitate the process.

5. Conclusion

In order for your research project to be approved, it must be refined in its development. A well-developed research proposal aids the process of thesis or dissertation approval. I have included a presentation of the concept of the research proposal and discussed its function. It has been my goal to explicate what is required of the research student, discuss why it is necessary to go to all this trouble, and provide some focus as to what a research student should be seeking to achieve as they go through the research proposal process. I have also laid out a model of proposal development which can be used as a guide for the novice researcher. I hope this information will be helpful to students and researchers new to a field who may feel at a loss as to where to begin. It is also my aim to dispel the common myths about the research proposal being too time-consuming, too hard, or not worth the trouble. At one level, it is fair to say the journey outlined here is not worthwhile for some projects and the model is certainly not a clear roadmap which must be followed at every step. However, the proposal process has been presented as a sequence of steps and conditions to be achieved. Sometimes the best way to learn is to see something being done badly. If I had my time again, I would be able to write a great proposal first up. Unfortunately, it would not make such an interesting subject for exposition and would not provide a model to assist others. And make no mistake, a great proposal can save a student an enormous amount of time, energy, and money. A clear idea of what one wants to do can save a lot of blind alley wandering. A good case for the research can sway skeptical supervisors and postgraduate committee members. Finally, a good proposal is an investment in creative research and presence of mind. A clear plan and direction at the start will ensure the research is not a ransom to untoward results and the pressures of the environment in which the research is conducted.

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