Proposal writing A By Prof. Dr. Ayman Ragab B
Our lecture will cover the following outcomes: • Plan a research project • List the main sections of research proposal • Mention 6 steps to a successful research proposal • Apply the “3 Cs” rule in research proposal writing
Plan your Research Proposal • 1. Formulation of a research question. • 2. Identification of a “gap” in the research literature. • 3. Formulation of a set of hypotheses. • 4. Preparation of a literature review pertinent to the hypotheses. • 5. Choice of a methodology that is appropriate to an examination of the hypotheses.
6. Choice of techniques that are appropriate to an examination of the hypotheses. • 7. Description and justification of the chosen methodology and analyses. • 8. Organisation and presentation of material into a logical, clear, convincing statement of the proposed research.
9. Proposed timeframe: provide a brief timeline for your project • 10. Expected outcomes: what you hope to achieve • 11. References: a full list of all references cited in your proposal. Check with your faculty for preferred referencing conventions.
A good research proposal is the key to successful research • A research proposal can and should make a positive and powerful first impression about your potential to become a good researcher • You will need to demonstrate two main things: 1. that you are capable of independent critical thinking and analysis 2. that you are capable of communicating your ideas clearly
You are not expected to be an expert and to be familiar with all the specific details of your subject. However, you are expected to have a good level of knowledge about the subject and where you might make a valuable contribution to research. • A research proposal must tell the readers clearly, at least two things: What do you want to do and how do you want to do it.
The what question leads us to section A. • Step 1. There are three factors which you need to consider in choosing a research topic: • a) your interest; • b) your competence; and • c) the relevance or usefulness of the topic. • A) Interest: Chose a topic that you find interesting. • Read books, articles, reviews, reports, etc.--as much as possible on that topic. (deficiency) that you may have. Do not select a topic just because it is fashionable. Do not commit yourself to a project unless you have a solid interest
B) Competence: Make a careful self-evaluation. • Competence in this case means a mixture of your interest and some prior knowledge. Choose a topic within the range of your competence. • C) Usefulness: Make sure that your research is useful on the following counts: it is topical (that is, everyone is talking about relevant to public policy), it can help you land a research grant and/or a job, ambitiously, to humanity and knowledge per se, contribute to your discipline.
Step 2. Narrow down your topic. In narrowing down your research topic, state clearly what you are not going to do. Striking a balance between broad (incomplete) & narrow (so difficult).
Section 2: Proposal Writing • Step 1. Introduction: Say in the first paragraph what your research project is. • readers are impatient, often too lazy to read • It is a good idea to start a research proposal like this: "In the proposed study we seek to examine …“ Step 2. Review of the literature: Any research is a social activity. Don’t go alone, be a part of the group. SO read their books, be familiar with their works and in this section, review the existing literature on your proposed topic.
Step 3. Identification of the knowledge gap: • In this section, you state what we do not know from reading the existing fund of knowledge and need to know. • Step 4. Statement of the problem: Now you state clearly and precisely what your specific research problem is (research topic). • Step 5. Objectives and limitations: Stating what you are not going to do is often just as important as stating what you are going to do. • Step 6. Hypotheses (plural of the word 'hypothesis'): ‘Hypothesis’ is your intelligent guess about the possible relationship between two variables.
It is more common to disprove the hypothesis (or hypotheses) than prove it on the basis of the research findings. • Step 7a) Method: State what method you will follow in doing the proposed research. • b) Source of data (plural of datum): Tell us whether you are collecting your own data or using an existing data set. • In writing about your data sources, show some sensitivity to ethical considerations. • Step 8. Importance and contribution of the study: Make a concluding statement on • the importance of your work and tell us in what area and in what way your work is going.
6 steps to a successful research proposal • 1) a clear working title for your research project • What will you call your project? • What key words would describe your proposal? • 2) a clear statement about what you want to work on and why it is important, interesting, relevant and realistic • what are your main research objectives? • what difference do you think your research will make? • what research ‘gaps’ will you be filling by undertaking your project?
How might your research ‘add value’ to the subject? • Is your research achievable in the time allocated? (e.g. 3 years full‐time) • 3) some background knowledge and context of the area in which you wish to work, including • key literature, key people, key research findings • How does your work link to the work of others in the same or related fields? • Would your work support or contest the work of others?
4) some consideration of the methods/approach you might use • How will you conduct your research? • Will you use existing theories, new methods/approaches or develop new methods/ • approaches? • How might you design your project to get the best results/findings? • 5) some indication of the strategy and timetable for your research project and any research • challenges you may face • What would be the main stages of your project? • What challenges might you encounter and how might you overcome these?
6) a list of the key references which support your research proposal • References should be listed in the appropriate convention for your subject area • Other relevant material that you are aware of, but not actually used in writing your proposal, can also be added as a bibliography. • The appropriate length of a research proposal • A good research proposal is as long as it takes, but a guide would be 1000‐2000 words.
The perfect research proposal • An excellent research proposal also needs to: • Follow any university and college/departmental guidance on websites. • Be refined and edited a number of times before it is submitted. • Leave the reader with a clear sense as he should not have to read it twice to understand it. • Leave the reader interested, excited and wanting to find out more about your ideas, and you!
Follow the ‘3 Cs’ rule: • When you have written your research proposal, ask a friend to read it critically and provide you with feedback. Also, ask yourself whether it follows the ‘3Cs’ rule: • CLEAR: is what you have written intelligible and clearly articulated? Does it make sense, or is it vague and confusing? • CONCISE: have you written your proposal in a succinct and focused way? • COHERENT: does your proposal link together well so that it tells the reader a short story about what you want to do, why you want to do it and how you will do it?
Research Proposals: A Check-list • Ask yourself about your own proposal: • 1. Does it show imagination and intellectual craftsmanship? • 2. Is the problem clearly stated? • 3. Are hypotheses clear, unambiguous and testable? • 4. If no hypotheses, are objectives clearly stated; can they be accomplished?
Research Proposals: A Check-list Research Proposals: A Check-list • 5. Is the problem too large in scope? • 6. Is the methodology feasible? • 7. Can the data be collected? • 8. How will the data by analyzed?
Research Proposals: A Check-list • 9. Will the analysis allow the acceptance or rejection of the hypotheses? • 10. Is the population from which the sample is to be drawn receptive to the research? • 11. What might the results of the analysis look like? • 12. What would be the consequences of the following: • Experiment fails? • Data (for each major item) not available? • Analysis inconclusive?
Research Proposals: A Check-list • 13. Can major research activities be listed? • 14. Can a time estimate be attached to each major activity? • 15. Is the thesis trying to do too much? • 16. If yes to15: What would make the project more manageable?