Research Proposal Writing Guide: 7 Steps to Come Up With a Masterpiece

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A research proposal is an essay that points out to a project to be undertaken in the future. The proposal is addressed to your supervisors, but in most cases, it’s intended for seeking a scholarship placement. The proposal contains the step by step processes for conducting the study from the beginning. The main aims of the proposal are asking for funding for the project or approximating the total cost of the study.

Research Proposal Format

A compelling research proposal should document your zeal for conducting the study. You should leave your readers with feelings like, ”Wow! Can’t wait to see how it turns out!”

In general, your research proposal should comprise of the following:

1. Introduction

Even if your research proposal might be a course of your assignment, you should treat the opening as a pitch to a research problem that will be under thorough scrutiny. After reading it, your readers should not only have a clue about what your research problem is but they should have an aftertaste of your passion for the subject.

It’s important to note that the abstract doesn’t fall before the introduction of most proposals.

Your introduction should be a narrative succinctly answering the following questions.

  • What is the primary research problem?
  • What’s the topic of study?
  • What methodology will be used for analysis?
  • Why is this research significant?

2. The Background and Significance of the Study

Depending on the proposal type, this section can be conjoined to the introduction. It’s here where you outline everything in detail concerning the significance of the study. Don’t make the mistake of laying down all the facts you know concerning the topic but only point out the relevant points and goals of the study.

There are no hard and fast rules, but this section should shed light on the following:

  • Should state the research problem and explain the purpose of the study.
  • Show why the study is worth doing.
  • Describe the big issues you aim to address to through your research
  • Explain the method you’ll use in conducting the research
  • Show the area of study
  • Define the terms.

3. Literature Review

This section of the proposal is dedicated to previous studies by scholars on the same research problem under investigation. The deliberate synthesis of prior studies places your project in the broader scope of exploration. It also shows the originality and creativity of your work to your readers. Here is where you point out the questions other researchers have asked and your understanding of their findings. You can also challenge their stands here and challenge the conclusions of their research.

A literature review has a lot of information, and it’s, therefore, necessary to structure it well so that the reader can garner the key points. The literature review should be broken down into conceptual categories. A poor literature review with no conceptual categories is very repetitive in the conclusions and recommendations.

To keep your literature review flawless and neat, consider using the following techniques:

  • Citation. Always cite to revolve the primary focus of the investigation on your research problem.
  • Compare the methods, theories, methods, and controversies of the authors and shed light on their significant areas of disagreement.
  • Contrast the approaches used by the previous researchers. What’s the cause of discord between them? Where do they agree?
  • Feel free to critique the other authors. Which of their approaches do you find persuasive and why? Pay close attention to the verbs you use to assert the stand of other authors, e.g., asserts, demonstrates, etc.
  • Connect. Finally, your significant burden on this section is to show how your work draws from these prior works. What new perspective do you bring in?

4. Research Design and Methodology

This section needs to be well written and logically organized. This is because you have not yet done your research but your reader should feel it’s worth pursuing. The objective of this section is to convince the reader that your design approach will adequately address the problem at hand.

Here you should draw some ideas from your literature review, consider the methods other researchers used and also the ways they didn’t use but could’ve been useful. Be specific concerning the approaches you’ll use. When describing your methodology, be sure to cover the following:

  • Specify all the research operations you’ll tackle and your method for interpreting results.
  • Justify why your approach to solving the research problem is the best way to investigate the issue.
  • Acknowledge the potential barriers in your study and how you plan to approach them.

5. Research Design and Methodology

Just because you’ve not yet conducted the study doesn’t mean you should skip the analytical process. Drawing from the objectives of your research, explain how your results will impact future research, interventions and policy making. Note that any discussions here may be of substantive significance.

This section should not dwell on idle speculation or opinions based on unclear evidence. Its purpose is to focus on gaps in the study and how you intend to fill them. The following questions should be answered in this section:

  • What might be the results in regards to the theoretical framework of the study?
  • What suggestions could come up from the possible outcomes?
  • Will the results affect policy making?
  • How will the results be implemented?
  • What will be improved as a result of the study?
  • How might the results affect socio-economic problems?

6. Conclusion

This is the closing of the matter that reiterates the significance of the study and gives a summary of it. If someone reads the conclusion, people should get knowledge of:

  • Why the study should be done
  • The specific purpose of the investigation and the research question it answers
  • Potential implications
  • How the study fits into the entire research problem.

6. Citations

As with any scholarly research paper, you must cite your sources in the proposal. They can take either the form of references or a bibliography. In any case, this section attests that sufficient research was done and the investigation is not a duplicate of other studies.




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