Academic Writing

Genres in academic writing: Research proposals

At undergraduate level, you may be asked to write a research proposal before a major piece of writing such as an end of year project or a final year dissertation. The purpose of the proposal is to show how you intend to tackle the study and whether or not you have thought through the practicalities. Your lecturer will want to see that you have planned your research carefully in order for you to succeed.

It will probably include the following:

  • Preliminary title. What is the topic? What exactly is the research question?
  • What exactly do you hope to show? What is the purpose of your work? Describe your research problem. What are your aims and objectives?
  • Why the research is important? An argument as to why that problem is important, what problems still need to be solved.
  • What do you already know about this topic? The proposal should begin by giving the background to the subject area in which the research is situated. It will describe the important theoretical and practical issues it plans to address. This should be supported by some reference to recent literature. It should finish by indicating a problem that your research will solve.
  • How will the research be conducted? A description of the proposed research methodology. A provisional work schedule in the form of a time line or Gantt chart may be required. What methods do you intend to use? How do you intend to anayse the data?
  • What resources will be needed? What resource implications are there for the prposed research with regard to materials, equipment, libary recources etc?
  • How will the findings be useful?  A description of how the research findings will be used and/or communicated to others.
  • References. This includes full references to all the works you have cited in your proposal and may also include a preliminary reading list. This gives some idea of the reading you have already done.
  • End matter: Any material that supports your data collection.

The typical stages involve in a research proposal would be the following:

Research Proposal:

Title

Brief description of research proposal

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Purpose

Describe in detail what you what to find out: Aims and objectives

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Justification

Present an argument to justify your research.

Explain why it is important

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Literature review

Report any previous research

Give examples of previous research

Evaluate any previous research

Identify any gaps

Describe how you intend to fill the gaps

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Method

Describe your proposed research methodology: Qualitative or quantitative etc

Describe your time frame

Describe how you intend to do this in the time available

Describe your resources

Deal with any ethical or access issues

Describe how you intend to do your research with the available resources, what methods you intend to use.

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Dissemination

Describe how the findings will be used

Evaluate this use

Describe how the research findings will be disseminated.

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References

References to workd cited, plus a list of the books and articles you might find useful

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End matter

May include letters giving permission etc.

 

See: Writing Functions 1: DescribingWriting Functions 8: ExamplesWriting Functions 12: EvaluatingWriting Functions 2: ReportingWriting Functions 16: ReasonsWriting Functions 18: SupportingWriting: SummaryWriting Functions 13: ComparingWriting Functions 23: ConcludingWriting Functions 14: GeneralisingWriting Functions 24: RecommendingWriting Citation Introduction

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