When writing a research proposal, you are expected to make a detailed plan for your research. Surely, it is not like signing a “sell your soul” contract and you will be able to change some details when working on your research report. Still, you should not count upon it, because only minor changes are permitted. Do not let a poor proposal doom your research paper! Instead, check this quick guide and learn how to write winning research proposals.
Research Proposal: What? Why? How?
A research proposal is arguably one of the most important parts of your research project. It answers these three questions:
- What is the problem you are going to research?
- Why do you want to research this problem?
- How are you going to research it?
Research Proposal: A Crucial Step or Formality?
Students, who consider a research proposal as a mere formality, make a terrible mistake. On one hand, they overlook their chance to break into research early and do not choose a topic matching their interests. On the other hand, a student who takes the first topic coming into his/her head and uses it to write a research proposal will have serious difficulties when explaining why that random topic is significant and should be investigated. The first idea is not always the best one.
Try to learn from the mistakes of others and bear in mind one simple truth: you are going to write a research paper based on your research proposal. Do not play a dirty trick on yourself when writing research proposals and choose carefully your topic!
Research Proposal: Sample Outline
Having understood the importance of research proposals, you might ask how to write a research proposal. Here is an example of a research proposal outline and tips for making its parts effective:
- Make the readers interested in your topic.
- Place the research problem within its broader context.
- Discuss theories and concepts that you will use in your research.
- Statement of the problem
- Clearly define the problem you are going to research.
- Use concrete language to present the problem to someone who is rather experienced in your field, but knows little about this particular problem.
- Purpose of research
- Briefly define the purpose of your study.
- Complete the sentence “the purpose of this study is…” and include it into your paper. It will help you avoid confusions.
- Briefly explain why this study should be conducted nowadays.
- What is the practical or theoretical value of this study?
- Literature review
- Make it brief and to the point, do not include as many sources as you will use in your report.
- Divide the results of other studies into several categories.
- Find a gap in literature and discuss how your study will be able to narrow it.
- Find two variables and hypothesize what the relation between them might be.
- Use a declarative sentence for your hypothesis.
E.g. There is a direct relationship between the perceived level of anonymity and the quality of an interview.
- Discuss sampling – who are the participants of your study? How many of them? Why?
- What instruments and tools are you going to use to collect data?
- How are you going to analyze and interpret research findings?
- Limitations of the study
- Be realistic and assess potential limitations, meaning any aspects that can make your findings biased (cultural biases, language fluency, access to people and documents etc.)
- Mention what you have done to minimize the impact of limitations.
- Include all the sources you used in the literature review or other parts of your research proposal.
- Check and follow the requirements of one particular citation style.
- You may also include the so-called bibliography (a list of sources you have not cited in your proposal for research, but have looked through)
So, this quick guide will help you write a winning research proposal and make it a good beginning of your research process.