The purpose of a research proposal
A research proposal is aimed at justifying the need to study a problem and provide how the proposed study should be conducted practically. It must demonstrate that there is a need for the proposed study and provide a detailed methodology for researching the problem. One of the reasons for writing a research proposal in academics is to teach students how to conduct comprehensive literature review. A research proposal compels the students to conduct research and determine whether the problem has not been addressed adequately. It is also aimed at equipping students with necessary skills for identifying the logical steps for accomplishing research goals. The research proposal requires the student to detail the process and methods for conducting research. Moreover, a research proposal helps nature a sense of inquisitiveness among students to prepare them for scholarly research. It allows students to learn the research process, techniques and methodologies useful in scholarly research.
Requirements for a research proposal
A research proposal should demonstrate how the study fits into the existing knowledge about the topic and how it will add to it. As you identify the question you intend to answer in the study, you should also demonstrate its significance and how it will be applied. The evaluation committee responsible for approving the research should be convinced on the achievability, credibility, reproducibility and practicality of the research. You should aim to be persuasive, clear and balanced to convince the different categories of audience in the evaluation committee including the policy-makers, colleagues, lay audience and practitioners.In essence, your statements should be clear enough to be understood by a non-specialist while demonstrating that you have a good understanding of the existing literature. You should convince the research funding agencies, supervisors and educational institutions that the research should be approved.
Components of research proposal
Introduction is the first part of the research that presents your idea to the audience and puts it into context. The aim of introduction is to capture the attention of the audience by creating an interest in the topic. It communicates what the proposal is about, the reason for the study and the drive behind it. Some of the questions to answer in this section of the proposal include:
- Which people are interested in the area of the study?
- What is already known in the topic?
- What have the previous researches not answered adequately?
- How will the study contribute to practice, knowledge and policy?
Literature review is the existing knowledge about the topic of study. You are required to search through the large databases and libraries for previous researches related to the topic and present them in a structured manner. Link every research article to the specific subtopic of your research to help readers understand the relationship. Provide a summary of each article in a paragraph and demonstrate its relation to the topic of research. You should provide supporting data to back up your ideas as well as where the studies disagree or existing controversies. The disagreements and controversies lays the foundation for justifying your study and should be carefully and clearly explained.
Aims and objectives of the study
This section describes what the researcher wishes to achieve. You can provide the aims in the form of hypotheses and provide primary and secondary objectives.
Research design and methodology
This is the section where you need to convince the audience that the selected research design and methodology will address the research problem effectively and that they are appropriate for the topic. Discuss in detail the methods selected for the study including the main sources such as the databases and authors vital for the study. Describe how you will use the methodologies to collect information pertinent to the research project. The components of research design and methodologies include:
Population and sample: The population includes the individuals or objects that meet the criteria for inclusion in the research. A sample on the other hand is a subset of this population fitting the criteria for the study. Clearly define the criteria for including a sample in your study.
Data collection: Explain the methodology for collecting data as well as the time frame for the study. Data collection involves different participants or factors and is subject to pitfalls and thus the researcher should include how they will address any barriers or problems that may arise.
Neutrality: You should demonstrate that your research method is robust against bias to ensure that the result is purely by chance without any influence.
Consistency: the method should adopt standard methods to provide findings that can be consistent if replicated with the same participants.
Data analysis: explain the methods selected for sortingand coding the data and the tests you intend to use in data analysis. You should also indicate the names of the software and names of statisticians for data analysis.
Ethical considerations require that the rights of participants are protected, the rights include the right to privacy, right to self-determination, right to fair treatment, right to autonomy and confidentiality, and right to protection from harm. As a researcher it is your responsibility to ensure that these rights are protected and that you obtain informed consent from relevant authorities and participants before conducting the research. Ethical considerations are more pronounced in the field of medical research where there are special ethical issues as compared to other fields.
Research budget is an important consideration for approval of a study especially by the funding body such as the institution or organization. You should be able to predict the cost of the overall research project including the additional allowance for unpredictable circumstances at the proposal stage. Unpredictable circumstances are cases such as bad weather in the research area that would necessitate use of alternative transportation arrangements to reach the participants.
Include the appendices to support your application for approval such as the questionnaires, informed consent form, measurement tools, and supporting documents.
Provide citations for the sources used to write the proposal. The citation format should be similar to the general paper formatting standard such as APA or MLA.
Sample of a research proposal
Follow the link for a sample of research proposal