why is it necessary to prepare a research proposal?

why is it necessary to prepare a research proposal?

The Importance of Preparing a Research Proposal

1. Introduction

It has been said that the quality of your research proposal often determines the quality of the thesis or dissertation that follows. However, the importance of preparing a high-quality research proposal goes deeper than that. The academic community wants to know what you are already thinking and what you have already learned in the area of your research. They want to know if you can think for yourself. They want to know if you have identified a significant problem and if you fully understand it. They will want to know how you are going to solve the problem, what the best solution will be in your opinion. In doing this, you will be preparing the ground for your research to be more easily digested. But the most important part in your research is the public value and how your research will benefit the public. This is even more significant in New Zealand, which is quite practical-minded and looks to researchers to make a positive difference. If this sounds like a tough ask, it is. Your research proposal will be a specific plan of attack. Think of it as an itinerary for a holiday. We want to know where you are going, what you will be doing, when you will do it, and how long you will be staying. And we want to know what the anticipated results are likely to be and the final product of your research. By providing all this detail, it will make it easy for you to keep on track and ensure you don’t digress from your original plan.

2. Benefits of a Research Proposal

The benefits of producing a research proposal are that it provides an opportunity to think through your research carefully, thoroughly, and methodically. You will be able to think in a critical way as you will be expected to be clear about what you want to do and to identify the best way of doing it. This will only be possible if you are clear about the logic of your own thinking and the sequence of the steps that you intend to follow. In specifying the methods of data collection and analysis, you will also be able to show that you have thought about how to handle different aspects of the study and to answer any ‘problems’ that may have been identified in the past. Producing a research proposal also provides a structured opportunity to discuss the project with others and to solicit informed advice. This is an important aspect of your development as a researcher. Developing your own ideas involves creative risk-taking, but a well-considered research proposal that can be implemented within a planned time frame is an essential first step towards success because constructive feedback can always make your study extraordinary compared to what was previously planned. A good research proposal can also make you think of conserving your research for the future, and it has been known that research proposals have been referred to at a later date for funding. This will be useful as if you want to know why a particular approach was not successful or to find alternative methods of research, you don’t have to delve into the past of your own memory but revisit the well-preserved initial plans. A research proposal sets an objective, and by doing so, you will be able to work towards a definite goal. This will certainly make the research more focused and feasible. On the other hand, an unplanned research which has a fuzzy objective will consume much of your time and will not achieve its aim. A change in direction of the study en route can also be an avoidable mistake if the scope of the study is very well defined in the initial stage.

3. Key Components of a Research Proposal

Title: The title sets the scene of application for financial support from a specific organization and usually states the nature of the research project. Background and Rationale: This is the section that acts as a preamble to the research proposal. It is a brief statement setting the scene for the research. The background may set the scene for the problem or question, the rationale will justify the research. It connects the proposed project with the current knowledge in the area. Research Problem, Question or Hypothesis: The research problem is a crisp, unambiguous, describable and measurable phenomenon that the researcher is interested in resolving. A formalized research question is the specific nature of the problem in the form of a question and may include the objectives of the research. A hypothesis states, in a clear and concise manner, the expected relationship between two or more variables, it is testable and falsifiable. Research Objectives: These are the specific, measurable accomplishments the researcher expects to achieve in addressing the research problem. An objective is a focused statement which if achieved will answer the research question. Method: This is the core of the research proposal. It is a detailed and specific description of the steps the researcher will take in order to test the research questions or hypothesis. This involves the design of the study, the population and sample, the procedure or methods of data collection and the analysis of the data. Time line: This is a schedule of what the researcher plans to do in the period of the research i.e. the date of the commencement of the study, expected date of recruitment of the sample, date of completion of data collection and date of data analysis. A Gantt chart is a common form of time line.

4. Steps to Prepare a Research Proposal

One typical goal is to get an understanding of a small area of psychology, for example increasing your knowledge of health phobic individuals, or people who suffer from anorexia nervosa, or a particular medical condition such as diabetic retinopathy. Once you have narrowed down your research question, it is time to make a decision on your approach. This is important as the strength of your approach will have a big impact on the size and quality of your final piece of work. Usually some kind of data gathering is involved (e.g. interviews, experiments, statistical observation) and it is important to formulate a method prior to delving into the actual research. A good APA style paper should have these guidelines in mind: – Double spaced – 1 inch margins – 12 point font – A title page – A running header at the top of each page with paper’s title (50 characters) and the page number, to be used in place of the name in other assignments. The proposal is started by discussing what psychological issue is being studied and why there is a need to learn about said issue. Second, background information is included to narrow down the focus and explain why the research question has been formulated. The following section is a method which has a detailed outline of what an experimenter is going to do. More than likely a detailed method will not be necessary, but it is important to know exactly what you are going to do and try to plan this with a supervisor. The final part in developing a research proposal is the expected results. This is done to take into account the results you will expect/find during research and show it is aligned with what you are trying to prove.

5. Conclusion

Looking through the many questions students have written to the Research Guru, I am amazed at how many of them are not actually researchable. Usually, these students get an answer that directs them to the importance of preparing a research proposal. An idea for research or a research topic is not a research proposal. I’m sure this is clear now. A research proposal is an organized, concise, and clear summary of your proposed research.

If you have a good research idea, do not hesitate to develop it. The research proposal is your way to show the project to the scientific community. You are showing them that you know how to research and can communicate your idea clearly and concisely. The proposal is not a time to prove that you can do the research. It is a time to show that you can think the research and expound it well.

Do not put off work on the research proposal. As you elaborate your work and put information about it on paper, you will no doubt recognize the need to refine your idea further. Just remember, the closer to the research, the more refined the research proposal.

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