How to Write a Research Proposal - Download Proposal Template
Congratulations on fulfilling your requirements for the application of your research proposal, this phase should be completed in a timely manner to ensure that you can get on with your research and thesis writing.
The research proposal is your opportunity to plan your research project and present this plan to your department’s Project Research Evaluation Committee (PREC) to convince the PREC and the university that the research has merit and should be supported.
In order to have clear understanding of your research proposal it is essential that the proposal be written in plain language, brief, defining technical terms and not assuming any prior knowledge of the research committee.
The proposal will proceed to the faculty postgraduate research committee for consideration and approval. Sometimes revisions will be requested before the proposal can be finally approved. Do not be discouraged by this. Critical peer review is a normal part of the academic process and does not imply that you do not have the ability or your research will not be successful. It is simply a way of ensuring that the foundations for your research are as sound and strong as possible. Comments received from the committee needs to be reflected in amendments or redrafting as agreed with them.
We aim to ensure that you complete your thesis with the minimum of amendments and the most positive assessment by examiners. Approval of your research proposal is the first step on the journey to achieving an excellent outcome from your research leading towards the award of degree in the relevant field. Below is the detail of how to write a research proposal:
The introduction could be 1 page in length. Here, give a brief contextual background to your study. Set the stage for your study. Briefly tell us why this study should be done. Use the proper referencing techniques. In the introduction, you should use evidence (facts, figures, and works by other authors) to convince us that your chosen research topic is:
- Not already over-researched
- Feasible (in terms of scope, resources and a time frame)
What is the problem arising from your background given above? The research problem is your compass for the rest of the steps to follow. For example: The research problem is to investigate the causes and consequences of care-giver burnout. This should be one or two paragraphs.)
Purpose of the study
This study is undertaken to find out the effect of depth of the excavation for placement of loop. Why is this study being undertaken? What is the possible contribution of this study -scientific, policy, a program, practical contribution?
Objectives of the study
If your study is predominantly quantitative, you will suggest hypotheses here. If your study is qualitative or more exploratory and descriptive, you will formulate broad objectives. List a few objectives
Use your objectives to formulate research questions. For each objective there should be a corresponding question.
SECTION 2: CONTRIBUTION TO KNOWLEDGE & STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE
This section should comprise of 1 page at the most.
Contribution to Knowledge (Academic Contribution)
Explain the benefits of the research in terms of generating new knowledge that can be disseminated to the academic community and more broadly. Explain the benefits of the research for the community or a particular section of the community, such as industry.
Statement of Significance (Practical Contribution)
Describe how the research is significant and whether the research addresses an important problem in the field of knowledge, and the relationship of the proposal to work in the field generally.
SECTION 3: LITERATURE REVIEW AND CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
The purpose of the literature review is to identify what past research has been carried out and how it bears on your research problem. The literature review also introduces the theoretical framework for the study. You will need to:
- Identify theoretical/background literature relevant to the proposed area of research.
- Analyse critically the major literature items you have identified.
- Indicate any gap(s) within the literature, in the knowledge or approaches to the field.
- Indicate how your research relates to and extends the existing literature, showing that your research topic has not been undertaken. You should be specific in your selection of literature to include.
- Finish this section with a one-paragraph summary of the “knowledge” gap you have identified.
DO NOT include literature to support the methodology of your study here. This should be discussed in Approach and Methodology.
Having critically summarised the literature, the contextual framework will identify the specific theoretical propositions behind your research, identify constructs to be investigated and possible relationships between them. At Masters level, the task is to conduct original research. The problem being addressed is often the prime focus and the study may be exploratory or descriptive.
The research question(s) address the aims in your study. You should ensure that there is a link here between the aims set out and that this section does not get longer than 5 pages.
SECTION 4: APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY
The research methodology covers the design of the research and the methodology for collecting and analysing information. The methodology section should identify what data is intended to be collected, how it is to be gathered and how it is to be analysed. The proposed method(s) to be used for the study should be explained. Any sampling techniques and justification of sample size should be described and justified where appropriate. It is not necessary to include specific however, you may do so if you believe it better describes your method
The methodology should be justified in the context of the study. That is, you need to explain how and why the method is appropriate for the study; for example if it has been used before in similar studies, or if not, how a new or different methodology illuminates the study. The method of analysis chosen should also be justified as appropriate for the study and the data collected.
You need to explain why the study is achievable; it should not be too broad or too narrow. This section should take into account the following:
- Describe the research design in a manner that enables disciplinary experts to assess its appropriateness, the scale of the research and its feasibility.
- Justify your methodology e.g. you may describe how the study will be framed and then discuss your method in this context. Show how the method you have chosen matches the research questions and propositions or hypotheses you have generated in your conceptual framework.
- Identify what data is to be collected and what data collection techniques are being used? What are their advantages/ disadvantages? If there are possible alternative techniques that are not being used indicate why (for instance, why use a survey for a particular section of the study instead of interviews?).
- How will the data be analysed
- Be clear about how the data will be used to address research questions, propositions or hypotheses.
- If possible, outline different phases of your study and how the completion of one phase leads logically into the next. This should match with your timeline in Section 6
- Indicate how your study will address the aims of the project that you have identified previous sections.
- Express how your findings can be generalised.
SECTION 5: BUDGET AND FEASIBILITY
Budget and Feasibility
Include a table of the different items that are to be acquired in your research. Mention cost and their quantity along with the unit rates so that the committee has a fair idea of the costs involved. In most cases, the university provides a limited budget and items exceeding that budget should be borne by the researcher if he wants to continue with the research. There are some funding agencies also, which can fund your research but that depends on many different factors like the availability of funds with those agencies; their preference for what type of research to fund and what not; writing a good proposal, feasibility and applicability of the research in local conditions and many other factors.
SECTION 6: SCHEDULE
Include a plan of expected progress in Gantt chart form.
Download MS Research Proposal Template