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Writing the Research Proposal

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Jedidiah Jacinto

on 6 January 2014

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Transcript of Writing the Research Proposal

Writing the Research Proposal
Importance of the Proposal
Proposals are offers to perform a service or to do something or a submission for approval such as a credit proposal. It is derived from the word propose and makes a proposition to the reader – a proposition the reader can accept or reject.
There are two kinds of proposal :
Internal Proposal
External Proposal
Internal Proposal
This is within the organization such as a proposal to purchase an asset or a credit proposal (in a bank)
External Proposal
This is to outsiders. This could be a proposal offering services.
A research proposal is similar in a number of ways to a project proposal; however, a research proposal addresses a particular project: academic or scientific research. The forms and procedures for such research are well defined by the field of study, so guidelines for research proposals are generally more exacting than less formal project proposals. Research proposals contain extensive literature reviews and must offer convincing support of need for the research study being proposed. Doctoral dissertations begin with research proposal; the proposal must be accepted by a panel of experts (usually professors) before the actual research can begin. In addition to providing rationale for the proposed research, the proposal must described a detailed methodology for conducting the research--a methodology consistent with requirements of the professional or academic field.
Importance of the Proposal
Components of the Proposal
Pre - writing Activities
Writing Components and Guidelines
Language and Approaches
Schedule of Activities
The Format for:
• An internal proposal is similar to that of a memo. There will be no salutation etc.
The Format for :
• An external proposal is similar to that of a letter.
As a proposal is to seek acceptance or approval, it should state at the beginning what the proposal is. It should then state the concerns/ issues and why the proposal is being made.
While making the submission
you should ensure that:
• It answers all the questions that are likely
to be raised.
• Generalities are avoided.

It must be apparent that:
It will benefit the reader from accepting your proposal.
You should explain clearly why your proposal is superior.

You know your product and that you know what you are talking about. You should speak of its superiority and if there are any weaknesses why they are irrelevant or how these would make no difference.

You know your market. This includes how big the market is and the competition. You must know the strengths and weakness of the competition.

It is professional. The proposal should be well presented and appear professional in every way. There must be no misspelled words or typographical errors. It should be reviewed thoroughly. The sentences must be grammatically correct.


I. Statement of the

The problem statement is the guiding theme of the proposal.
This section should include a statement of
the purpose of the study and should specify its objectives.

Review of the

This section will review published research related to the purpose and objectives described above. It
should be noted that references may be found throughout the proposal, but it is preferable for most of the
literature review to be reported in this section.

Purpose of the Study
This section should explain why the research is being conducted. It should establish the importance of the problem addressed by the research and explain why the research is needed.

for example, it might establish the seriousness of juvenile antisocial behavior nationally and describe the gaps that exist in the knowledge about this behavior. It might also explain why the specific knowledge gap chosen is of particular importance.
II. Review of the Literature
This section will review published research related to the purpose and objectives described above. It should be noted that the references may be found throughout the proposal, but it is preferable for most of the literature review to be reported in this section.
Three Areas that the literature
review must address:
Topic or problem area
Theory area
Topic or problem area
This part of the literature review covers material directly related to the problem being studied. There will usually be at least two substantive areas reviewed because most research involves variables that have been studied in separate substantive areas.
Theory area
Investigators must identify the social science theory which relates to the problem
area. Examples of such theories might be sex-role theory, theories of deviance, organizational
theory, small group theory, family systems theory, or conflict theory. The theory area provides
the theoretical "lens" through which the writer chooses to view and understand the problem. It
provides guidelines for explaining the etiology of problems and the linking mechanisms that
connect variables.

Investigators must review the literature which is appropriate to various aspects of
their chosen method, including design, selection of subjects, and methods of data collection.
This section describes research methods and measurement approaches used in previous
investigations in the area.
III. Methodology
Data Collection
Subjects can be individuals, families, groups, organizations, states, or countries, depending on
the unit of analysis. This section will describe how the sample in the study will be selected.
Data Collection
This section will operationalize the variables to be included in the proposed evaluation.
It is helpful to divide the variables into dependent variables, independent variables, and covariates.
Dependent variables are outcomes (e.g., drug abuse, self-esteem, depression) which are affected directly
by other variables.
IV. Data Analysis
This section will explain how the data will be analyzed once they are collected. Usually, more than one analysis is conducted. Each analysis that will be used to meet each objective listed above should be
described. Also a description of the specific effects to be examined in each analysis, such as main effects,
interaction effects. or simple main effects, should be included.

V. Bibliography
The bibliography should include full reference documentation for all articles and texts mentioned in the proposal. It is important that the investigator fully review relevant previous work in developing the proposal.

VI. Timetable
This section will describe the sequence of activities necessary to conduct the research. It will include the
time necessary to complete each activity. After reading this section, the reader will have a clear
understanding of what steps will be taken, the order in which they will occur, and the time each step will

The language of thesis writing
Books and websites that offer advice on thesis writing commonly tell student writers to use a style that is clear, concise, and logical. They sometimes warn against trying to sound too 'academic', suggesting that the result is often overly formal, full of jargon, and difficult to follow. On the other hand, students may receive comments from their supervisors that their writing is too informal or too 'simple'. To steer a course between these extremes, you need to know (especially if English is not your first language) what features are expected of academic writing.
The main feature of this writing is that it seeks to appear objective; thus, it rarely uses personal pronouns, such as "I" or "you" and it avoids using emotionally expressive language. It also uses language precisely and accurately and is more formal in expression (in other words, it avoids speechlike or journalistic writing). This formality and precision is achieved through choice of vocabulary and grammatical structures. There is often a need to express complex relationships between concepts, which can be done through the process of nominalisation; this also helps to make the writing more concise.
This section will describe the type of research design to be used. Will it be an idiographic,
survey, quasi-experimental or experimental design? Will it be cross-sectional or longitudinal? Will it be
a retrospective or a prospective design? The design should also describe the sequence of events that will occur in conducting the research.

Writing requirements and guidelines
To write a good requirement, you must write it as a complete sentence, with a subject and a predicate (usually a verb). The subject is an Actor, a stakeholder, the system under development, or a design entity that is related to the requirement. The predicate specifies a condition, action, or intended result that is done for, by, with, or to the subject.
Consistent use of the verb to be solidifies the link between the subject and the predicate. Thus, you can analyze a requirement from a grammatical point of view.
Beware of lists, bullets, and words such as all, every. and some. For example:
The order entry clerk must be able to complete 10 customer orders in less than two hours.

This requirement has a subject (the order entry clerk, who is an Actor), a specific and measurable end state (10 customer orders completed), and a performance criterion (in less than two hours).
Follow these simple guidelines in writing any requirement. For consistency, these examples are all in the context of an aircraft. [[WAS: is used throughout.]] [TEL06]

Define one requirement at a time.
The pilot shall be able to control the aircraft's angle of climb with one hand.
The pilot shall be able to feel the angle of climb from the climb control.
• Avoid conjunctions (and, or) that make multiple requirements.
The navigator shall be able to view the aircraft's position relative to the route's radio beacons.
The navigator shall be able to view the aircraft's position as estimated by inertial guidance.
• Avoid let-out clauses or words that imply options or exceptions (unless, except, if necessary, but).
• The design shall provide a rear-facing seat for each cabin crew member.
• Use simple, direct sentences.
• The pilot shall be able to see the airspeed indicator.
Schedule of Activities
Schedule of Activities
Gantt chart

a chart in which a series of horizontal lines shows the amount of work done or production completed in certain periods of time in relation to the amount planned for those periods.
A Gantt chart showing three kinds of schedule dependencies (in red) and percent complete indications.
It illustrates a project schedule. Gantt charts illustrate the start and finish dates of the terminal elements and summary elements of a project. Terminal elements and summary elements comprise the work breakdown structure of the project. Modern Gantt charts also show the dependency (i.e. precedence network) relationships between activities.
A Simple Approach to Thesis Writing
Abstract (<= 1 page)
one page stating what the thesis is about
highlight the contributions of the thesis
Chapter 1: Introduction
(~5-10 pages)
Thesis Statement (one or two sentences)
What is your thesis about and what have you done?
If you have a hypothesis what is it?
How will you test (prove/disprove) your hypothesis?
Why is this problem you've worked on important
Goals / Objectives
What are you trying to do and why?
How will you or the reader know if or when you've met your objectives?
**** Contributions *****
What is new, different, better, significant?
Why is the world a better place because of what you've done?
What have you contributed to the field of research?
What is now known/possible/better because of your thesis?
Outline of the thesis (optional)
Chapter 2: Background / Related Work (~8-20 pages)
More than a literature review
Organize related work - impose structure
Be clear as to how previous work being described relates to your own.
The reader should not be left wondering why you've described something!!

Critique the existing work - Where is it strong where is it weak? What are the unreasonable/undesirable assumptions?
Identify opportunities for more research (i.e., your thesis) Are there unaddressed, or more important related topics?
After reading this chapter, one should understand the motivation for and importance of your thesis

You should clearly and precisely define all of the key concepts dealt with in the rest of the thesis, and teach the reader what s/he needs to know to understand the rest of the thesis.
Chapter 3: Theory / Solution / Program / Problem (~15-30 pages)
continuing from Chapter 2 explain the issues
outline your solution / extension / refutation
Chapter 4: Implementation / Formalism (~15-30 pages)
not every thesis has or needs an implementation
Chapter 5: Results and Evaluation (~15-30 pages)
adequacy, efficiency, productiveness, effectiveness (choose your criteria, state them clearly and justify them)
be careful that you are using a fair measure, and that you are actually measuring what you claim to be measuring
if comparing with previous techniques those techniques must be described in Chapter 2
be honest in evaluation
admit weaknesses
Chapter 6: Conclusions and Future Work (~5-10 pages)
State what you've done and what you've found
Summarize contributions (achievements and impact)
Outline open issues/directions for future work
Bibliography / References
Include references to:
credit others for their work
help to distinguish your work from others
provide pointers to further detailed readings
support your claims (if evidence can be found in others work)
Ensure that ALL bibliographic entries are complete including: authors, title, journal or conference, volume and number of journals, date of publication and page numbers. Be careful to at least be consistent in punctuation.
Learn how to use a good typesetting program that can track and format bibliographic references (e.g., groff, latex, frame).
Within the text of the thesis, a reference with a number of people can be referred to as Lastname et al. (where et al appears in italics and the al is followed by a period).
My personal view is that URL's are not valid bibliographic references. They and their contents change and they often contain material that has not been refereed.
Include technical material that would disrupt the flow of the thesis.
Included for curious or disbelieving readers
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