Research proposal is an important piece of writing for those individuals who want to demonstrate their command in a specific subject and research area. In order to write a high-quality research proposal that deserves the attention of the wide audience, it is important to establish close communication with your supervisor. One of the ways to get a good supervisor is to contact a school you are going to send your proposal to and get as much information as possible on the area that interests you most and available supervisors.
Nature of Proposals
In case you are going to take a part in a big research project, which will definitely be funded, you will not have to write a proposal. One more example when the proposal is not needed is when you take part in a competition, such as, for example, the NERC Doctoral Training Awards. In these two cases, while completing the application forms, you will only have to indicate the name of the project, as well as your supervisors. In all other cases you will have to prove that your research is worth attention. For this reason, research proposals are written. However, it is recommended to contact your academic department prior to writing a proposal and clarify if it is needed, its length, find out if additional evidence or information should be included, as well as some other specific features you may not know about. When all the issues are clarified, you can start writing.
Structure of Proposal
Every research proposal generally consists of the following parts (however, every school may have its peculiar requirements):
Title is important to make a specific focus. Sure, you can change or improve your title as your project develops but still, it is important to begin with some defined name for your project.
Literature and Context
In order to write a good proposal, it is necessary to show that you understand the topic and is able to identify its key aspects. For this reason, it is crucial to review the existing literature related to your research field and identify the relevant information. Be sure to meet the follow criteria:
- Demonstrate your awareness of the current situation related to your topic;
- Use literature to support you’re your position;
- Show your own knowledge based on the information obtained from the research.
In order to make your research proposal more reliable and informative, check the possibility to contact the scholars you have identified as the ones involved in your research. It will help you get a new insight into the topic and make it more focused. Research proposal is a great chance to identify the weak points of the research and offer your solutions.
Goal of the Research
The aim of every research proposal is to show that the issue you want to study is actually worth studying. As a result, it should be well oriented, perfectly structured, focused and ask clear research questions, which will help to overcome the existing gap. It will help you convince your supervisors and the audience in the importance of the research.
Provide information on the ways you want to make your research. Consider the following:
- Choose the type of data you want to use (quantitative, qualitative data of both);
- In what ways you are going to gather and analyze the data;
- Identify how the methods used will be relevant to the goals of your proposal.
If you choose some other methods you want to apply to your research, you should explain your choice. It may be caused by your previous experience. Regardless of the reason, you will have to justify your position.
Provide a Realistic Time Frame
In order to be sure that your supervisors will be able to help you, you will have to provide clear time frames for your work. It will be easier to reach your goal if your work is properly planned. You will also need to consider the following things:
- Think of the possible challenges you may face and think how to overcome them effectively;
- Determine the key points of your research;
- Clearly outline what you want to achieve during each stage of your proposal writing.
Think of the desired outcomes and explain them. It will help you better outline the purpose of the research. The outcomes may include an explanation on how your research will add to the already existing researches, etc.
Make sure that the references you use are up-to-date and relevant. If you use the researches that were undertaken dozens of years ago, it will not add credibility to your proposal.
Proofreading and Editing
Many students think that the quality of proposal is determined only based on the information it contains. However, the way information is presented also plays a very important role. As a result, it is necessary to proofread and edit the final version of your proposal considering the following:
- Is your proposal clear enough?
- Is your proposal easy to understand?
- Is your proposal properly structured? Does it follow a specific order? Does it clearly outline your intentions, methods, expectations and outcomes?
Submitting Your Proposal
Remember that submission of your proposal does not mean that you should stop your research work. Develop your topic as your own knowledge grows and add new information to already existing data.
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