The research proposal should be a succinct, pointed overview of the problem to be studied and the proposed means of carrying out the study. The proposal should contain the essential facts and concepts needed to enable the reader to comprehend the problem, the planning, and the execution of the research.
The proposed research should be described with sufficient detail to enable the reader to completely visualize each major element of the entire study. While the content of a proposal may vary among institutions or among fields of study or among problems, virtually all proposals contain the same basic elements.
These basic elements are named in the outline below and are defined in the following pages. Note that all sections are not included in every proposal.
Definitions: Title – The title of a research project should well inform the reader of the subject to be studied, yet not overpower her or him with detail. A major criterion for a good title is clarity; the reader must understand its meaning. Another criterion for a good title is brevity. Sufficiently descriptive titles sometimes are long, but length is secondary to clarity. Table of Contents – Major headings and their beginning page numbers should be listed Introduction
– This serves to introduce the reader to the general setting of the study and should show the relation of the study to the general stream of educational thinking in the topic area. The introduction should prepare the reader to understand the importance of the study.
– The exact nature of the problem should be described. Provide specific details about the problem. The nature of the problem must be stated clearly, as the remainder of the study flows from this element. Purpose of the Study
– Identify the purpose for the study. Provide details about the part of the problem that will be addressed in this research study. Research Questions or Hypotheses – Sometimes a researcher states questions to be answered, rather than research hypotheses. The hypotheses of a study set forth the relationship among the variables being analyzed.
– In short, why is the study worth undertaking? What will the researcher and the readers of the study learn that isn’t known already? The researcher should be able to provide three to four important reasons for conducting the study. Delimitation of the Study – The delimitation of the study essentially identifies what the researcher will not be concerned about while conducting the study.
The delimitation of the study describes the boundaries of what will be studied and sharpens the focus of the study. Definition of Terms – Any key terms, concepts, and variables requiring operational definitions should be defined. Unless the reader understands what the writer is attempting to convey, communication probably cannot proceed beyond a superficial level.
Review of Related Literature – The purpose of this section is to familiarize the reader more completely with the setting of the problem and to summarize other research findings relevant to the problem. For this course, the review of literature relevant to the problem must include at least 10 – 15 references. Design of the Study (Methods) – In this section, the logic of the study and the approach to solving the problem is explicated. Why was this approach chosen?
This section also describes the methods to be employed in carrying out the project. Population, Sample, and Sampling Procedures – The definition of the population indicates the group to whom the results of the study will be generalized. Once the population is defined, the researcher must draw a representative sample from the population; this sample will constitute the subjects (individuals or groups) who will actually participate in the study.
Identify how the sample was drawn from the population. Variables – The researcher identifies and describes the variables in the study. The researcher often identifies the level of measurement (i.e., nominal, ordinal, interval, or ratio) of each variable. Independent Variables – These variables that are manipulated, or at least measured (if only for classification), in order to observe their relationship to, or effects upon the dependent variable.
The researcher should describe what would be done to the sample during the study. Dependent Variables – These variables represent the results of the study or outcome; these variables show the effects of the independent variables. Control Variables – These variables that are not studied, but which might interfere with the relationship between the independent and dependent variables.
Instrumentation – The precise nature of the instruments to be used should be described. If ready- made instruments are used, full reference information should be given. If instruments are to be constructed by the researcher, the instruments should be included. Regardless of where the instruments are derived, validity and reliability information about the instruments should be reported in the proposal. Data Collection Procedures
– The general methods to be used in collecting the data should be stated, together with a brief explanation of why these methods are appropriate for the study. Treatment of the Data – This section describes what will be done with the data in preparing to test the hypotheses or to answer the questions, and includes two steps: Data Analysis – The statistical procedure or statistical procedures employed in the study to answer the research questions or hypotheses should be identified.
It is a good idea to state the reason for selecting the particular analysis technique. Data Tables – All data collected during the study should be presented in appropriate tables. Data might be condensed (e. g., showing means rather than individual scores). Indicate what data will be included in the data tables.
– The researcher should describe what conclusion she or he would draw if each hypothesis were rejected or the researcher failed to reject each hypothesis (or what conclusion he or she would draw if each question were answered in various possible ways). This section does not focus upon what the researcher expects to find, but should demonstrate that, for each possible outcome, the researcher knows how to interpret the information obtained and draw appropriate conclusions there from.
Summary – This should be a brief recap of the entire proposal. Usually a few paragraphs will suffice. It should remind the reader of at least the following topics: the problem, the hypotheses or questions, the treatments, the instrumentation, and the analysis. References – All documents used in preparing the proposal should be listed, whether or not they were cited in the paper. Rules for preparing the list of references can be found in numerous style manuals.
However, in education the style manual employed is the 6th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. Note: The proposal should be formatted in accordance with APA style. However, the APA manual allows for much latitude in the preparation of thesis, dissertation, and term papers. Thus, students should ascertain the rules to be followed in their class or institution.
After you identify a research problem and locate literature related to your topic, you will have the information you need to write your proposal. The research proposal should be written in the present tense. Remember to use APA style throughout your proposal. In addition, don’t forget to double space your document.
The reference list, however, should be single spaced with double spaces between individual references. The Table of Contents should mirror (or be similar to) the proposal outline presented earlier. In addition to listing the sections and sub-sections, provide the page numbers for each. Furthermore, with regard to sections and sub-sections, don’t forget to include the actual headings within your document. Major headings (e.g., Title, Introduction, Literature Review) should be centered on the page.
Under these major headings will be sub-headings (e.g., Statement of the Problem, Purpose, Sample) that should be left justified. The following sections provide writing prompts (guides) that may be useful as you begin to pull together the literature that you have found on your proposed problem of study. SECTION ONE: INTRODUCTION
Write a paragraph that introduces your topic. Mention your topic in the first sentence. What are you planning to study? What is the purpose of the study? • Part #2: Fully discuss your topic. What specifically interests you? Think of a specific research question (or questions) and state it clearly and precisely.
You can also begin to formulate your ideas on how you might study your research question, though you need not be very specific in this section. For example, if you plan to study attitudes toward school vouchers, suggest what characteristics influence how individuals feel about school vouchers (e.g., income, location, etc.).
Explain to the reader why it is important to study your topic and put it into a larger educational context. Here is where you answer the “So what?” question. That is, you plan to study XYZ. So what? Why is it important to study this topic? What is the educational importance of this research? Why is this study significant?
This is your opportunity to be broad, general, and theoretical in your thinking. Based on the outline provided/developed, you must include sub-headings within this section. You must cite references within this section to support your topic and/or claim.
Briefly restate your research topic in an opening paragraph.
Provide a short introduction about what question(s) you are trying to answer, why this is educationally interesting, and why you chose it. Also, provide a brief overview of the topics you will cover in your literature review.
Divide the literature that you have into sections of like studies. Then, for each section, write an essay summarizing the studies. Be sure to state the research purpose, method(s), and findings ONLY for the studies that are paramount to your study. [NOTE: Use transitions within your essay so that it flows and does not appear like disjointed blocks of information.]
Write a concluding paragraph that summarizes the articles. For example, how will these articles inform your research? SECTION THREE: METHODS The purpose of this section is to describe and explain your research design. This can be the hardest part of the proposal for some students; therefore, do not wait until the last minute to write this section.
When writing this section, imagine that you have received millions of dollars from a federal agency or a private company to study your topic. You have unlimited resources for your research design. Since you will not actually perform the research be creative, but appropriate, with your design.
Discuss the ways in which your research will fulfill any of the purposes of research mentioned in class and in the text. Which purpose is most important to your topic?
Indicate the following elements of your research design:
o What is your mode of observation? How will you collect your data? Examples: If
you are designing a survey, what types of questions will you ask? If you are going to perform in-depth interviews, what will you ask of your interviewees?
o What is your population of interest? Do you have a sampling frame? If so, what is it?
How will you select your sample? What kind of sampling technique will you use?
o How will you analyze your data? What unit of analysis best fits your project, and why?
o What type of time dimension is best for studying your topic, and why?
If you plan to conduct qualitative research, discuss the following issues (be as detailed and
specific as possible):
o What is the main concept you are investigating? What other concepts will be examined (note the concepts’ potential structures, processes, causes, and consequences)?
o What type(s) of qualitative analysis will you conduct?
If you plan to conduct quantitative research, discuss the following issues (be as detailed
and specific as possible):
o Clearly state your hypotheses.
o Identify and operationalize your variables. What are the levels of measurements of the variables? Discuss the causal relationships between the variables; that is, identify the independent variables and the dependent variable.
Identify the strengths and weaknesses of your design.
Finally, write a concluding paragraph that summarizes the research design and proposal.
DO NOT PLAGIARIZE! Your Introduction, Literature Review, and Methods Sections should be double-spaced, with standard margins and font, and a minimum of 15 well-written pages. The Title Page and Table of Contents are separate and are not included within the 15 page count. The Reference section should contain a minimum of 20 references in APA format.