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A Guide to Writing a Good Research Proposal

If you are at University reading a degree or a PhD then at some point you will be expected to write a lengthy dissertation as a part of your studies. To achieve this it will be necessary to prepare a research proposal.

A research proposal is a short document designed to provide a detailed outline of your project. Although it can appear daunting if you have not attempted a proposal previously, if you take the time to understand what is expected of you and then logically explain each step then you will be able to write an acceptable research proposal. This article will help to explain what is expected in the proposal and how you should attempt to structure it.

The purpose of a research proposal is to help the tutor establish some key areas of your dissertation. Primarily, the paper needs to demonstrate that you have a purposeful research question and that you have a firm understanding of the literature that surrounds the question. You need to be aware of all the major debates related to the topic and provide a convincing need to ask the proposed questions.

Most Universities will also need to be convinced that the research question can be suitably matched with a member of the academic staff that has the relevant knowledge. Finally, the paper must produce a reasonable plan of action for the duration of the proposed research and an estimated completion date. With all this in mind, you need to consider the following questions. Why is my research question relevant to the current debate and how will I develop my argument? To address this you should structure the proposal using the following headings.

Title: This is obviously an important part of the process. You need to engage the reader with a short, relevant title that clearly demonstrates what the problem is and why this is important.

Abstract: This should be a few short paragraphs that identifies the key questions above about the importance of your research question. Make sure that you are able to relate the specific question to the general discipline.

Literature Review: After you have established the importance of the question, you need to provide a comprehensive understanding of the research that has been carried in the field to date. It is important that you fully demonstrate your knowledge of the topic as this will allow you to argue the need for your specific research.

The Research Question: Having argued the need for further research, you should then write down the clear hypothesis of the study. Clearly define what the purpose of the research is and the goals that you intend to achieve.

Methodology: This is a critical part of the research proposal. You need to identify how you plan to carry out the research and discuss any potential problems. The methods used will vary from project to project, but should demonstrate knowledge of the relevant techniques. You need to explain how you plan to record data and how that data will be analyzed.

Ethics: Dependent on the subject, you may need to address any possible issues related to ethics. These may be simply ensuring that you have consent to use certain data for your project.

Timeframe: You should provide a brief outline of the estimated time needed to complete each section of the research.

Bibliography: Finally, you need to provide a brief bibliography of the reading that you have done at this stage of the project. This should not be a wish list, you must only include resources that you have genuinely used and reference them according to your university's guidelines.

Submitted by:

Daniel Millions

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