The Process of Proposal Writing
Some researchers find themselves in a “catch 22” situation. They choose the topic and format of the study, in which they know little about the phenomenon being studied. However, it is expected that they will analyze the data, although the data are unknown.
However, the funding agency reviewers or proposal evaluation committee must be convinced by the researcher for the study to be allowed to continue. An acceptable proposal writing should shift away from addressing one’s concerns. Instead, it should also address the questions that might be asked by the reviewers or readers of the research proposal. The questions are relatively similar, whether it is a qualitative or quantitative study.
The research proposal needs to answer the following questions:
- Why should someone be interested in the study?
- Is the study formatting logical – in other words, is it achievable, credible, and thoroughly explained?
- Can the researcher do the research?
These questions need to be adequately answered, and can be achieved only when the researcher is practical, persuasive, makes broader links, aims for crystal clarity and plans before beginning to write. The research proposal topics should not be too narrow or too broad to ensure successful addressing of the research project objectives.
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The Basic Research Proposal Format
Regardless of your discipline of research study, research proposals often follow the same basic principles concerning their format and structure. Some of the possible sections included in the proposal are the title and outline, introduction, literature review, research question, aims, methodology, work schedule, and bibliography. Sometimes the sections introduction and literature review can be replaced by a section called background.
The following section addresses in detail writing a research proposal in various sections.
Title and Outline
The title needs to reflect the content and scope of the proposed study accurately. It should be a self-explanatory, concise, descriptive, eye-catching phrase. It should not contain an interrogative or absolute statement. The title can be modified as the work progresses. Still, such changes need to be communicated to the respective deans or individuals involved in the project assessment/reviewing. The outline indicates how the work is presented as listed in the table of contents.
The introduction should be clear and focused on catching the reader’s moods and arousing his/her interest in the project. It should not contain too much information, and it needs to maintain focus and relevance. This section should be short (about one or two pages). It should succinctly present the main problem or issue, identify any research gaps, aims of the research, and proposed solutions.
The research study rationale should be clear and convincing. Provide reasons why the study is needed, its potential value, and why it is mainly required at the time of the proposal. Include references to other similar studies to add credibility to the proposal. In some instances, the researcher is expected to indicate his/her motivation for undertaking that study.
The Literature Review
The review section has to show that the proposal is solidly grounded on past work. Show comprehension of crucial studies and elucidate the extent to which the proposed study will move the field forward. It should contain an overview of key studies used.
The literature review provides the researcher with solid knowledge of the field of inquiry, the history of it, and debate around the subject. It empowers the researcher with knowledge about the areas of current interest, eminent scholars in the field, and uncover omissions, gaps, or inconsistencies in what has been published.
After the literature review, one needs to state the aim of the study, identify the research problem, and develop a question to be answered as well as the hypotheses.
The research study needs to have a clearly stated goal. This statement should not be vague and has to sum the objective of the study. It should give a clear direction on what the researcher intends to do.
- The research question
The specific purpose stated as a question (explanatory/descriptive study).
A tentative prediction or explanation is stated to show the specific purpose of the study by either describing the relationship between two or more variables. In descriptive research, a prediction of the answer to the research question is often stated.
At this point, you have understood what is a research proposal. The methodology section describes the basic research plan adopted by the researcher. It restates the purpose and research questions or hypotheses briefly. It describes the population and sampling technique to be used. Also, it describes the instrumentation, procedure, and time frame of the study. It also addresses the analysis criteria, validity, reliability of the methods used, as well as any assumptions made, scope, and limitations of the study. The research methods can either be qualitative (inductive) or quantitative (deductive).
Provide a report of the descriptive statistics of the sample realized from the study. Simply present the results, use tables and figures where appropriate. No explanation of the results is required in this chapter.
Conclusions and recommendations
It provides a summary of what the researcher did and found. Briefly discusses or explains the findings by giving possible reasons for getting such results from the study undertaken.
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Final Considerations for Writing Research Proposal
Writing a good research proposal is a demanding task, and it requires one to possess high caliber writing skills, intellectual and organizational capacity to conduct a critical evaluation and analysis of own and people’s research.
The researcher needs to have an intellectual curiosity combined with an intrinsic motivation to enhance his/her knowledge of the topic. Also, successful writing requires creativity and open-mindedness from the researcher to address the research topics from a novel and relevant angles substantially. The sooner one starts to develop the research proposal outline and invest time into the research subject, the more chances of producing a satisfactory paper can be gotten.
It takes time to come up with a good proposal, which often takes longer than the researcher would anticipate. This article intends to help researchers learn how to write research proposal effectively. The following are common problems students might face during this writing process.
- Lack of ideas in choosing a research topic will not add to existing knowledge. Feasible solutions include keeping an open mind, talking with supervisors or people knowledgeable in that area, or reading recommendations for further studies.
- A too generic, vague, or long title that does not reflect the essence of the proposal. Remember to remain succinct, precise, and reflect upon the scope and the core of the proposal.
- A confusing, overly long, or not clear introduction and the research issue or problem is often lately identified in the text. Be concise, focus, and introduce the problem early in your statements. Ensure there is clarity of the novelty and rationale of the study.
- A literature review does not identify critical studies and concepts. Also, insufficient substantiation of claims and no critical analysis is a common problem. Ensure all statements made are supported, ideas flow logically, relate (rather than just list) and contrast ideas and theories. Conclude by clarifying the gap in the field.
- The problem definition and study aim lack explicit links with literature and identified gaps. They are not feasible, lack detail and justification. Remember to be realistic, precise, and detailed while drawing upon the review and the identified gap.
- A methodology, not detailed enough, not adequately justified, and not suitable for addressing the research objectives and problem. Show the appropriateness of the methods used to solve the problem and could achieve the goals of the study. Carefully select appropriate data collection and analysis tools as well as interpret the findings appropriately.
- An incomplete, unrealistic, or absent work schedule is a common problem. Carefully consider the project tasks and develop a realistic timeline of project activities.
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