I. IntroductionAfter reading the introduction, yourreaders should not only have an understanding of what you want to do, but theyshould also be able to sense your passion for the topic and be excited aboutits possible outcomes.Think about your introduction as anarrative written in one to three paragraphs that succinctly answers thefollowing four questions:What is the central research problem?What is the topic of study related to that problem?What methods should be used to analyze the researchproblem?Why is this important research?II. Background andSignificanceThis section can be melded into yourintroduction or you can create a separate section to help with the organizationand flow. This is where you explain the context of your project and outline whyit’s important. Approach writing this section with the thought that you can’tassume your readers will know as much about the research problem as you do.Note that this section is not an essay going over everything you have learnedabout the research problem; instead, you must choose what is relevant to helpexplain your goals for the study.To that end, while there are no hardand fast rules, you should attempt to deal with some or all of the following:State the research problem and give a more detailedexplanation about the purpose of the study than what you stated in theintroduction.Present the rationale of your proposed study andclearly indicate why it is worth doing. Answer the ‘So what? question[i.e., why should anyone care].Describe the major issues or problems to be addressedby your research.Explain how you plan to go about conducting yourresearch. Clearly identify the key sources you intend to use and explainhow they will contribute to the analysis of your topic.Set the boundaries of your proposed research in orderto provide a clear focus.Provide definitions of key concepts or terms, ifnecessary.III. LiteratureReviewConnected to thebackground and significance of your study is a more deliberate review andsynthesis of prior studies related to the research problem under investigation. The purpose here is toplace your project within the larger whole of what is currently being explored,while demonstrating to your readers that your work is original and innovative.Think about what questions other researchers have asked, what methods they’veused, and what is your understanding of their findings. Assess what you believeis still missing, and state how previous research has failed to examine theissue that your study addresses.Since a literaturereview is information dense, it is crucial that this section is intelligentlystructured to enable a reader to grasp the key arguments underpinning yourstudy in relation to that of other researchers. A good strategy is to break theliterature into ‘conceptual categories’ [themes] rather thansystematically describing materials one at a time. To help frame yourproposal’s literature review, here are the ‘five C’s’ of writing aliterature review:Cite: keep the primary focus on the literaturepertinent to your research problem.Compare the various arguments, theories,methodologies, and findings expressed in the literature: what do theauthors agree on? Who applies similar approaches to analyzing the researchproblem?Contrast the various arguments, themes,methodologies, approaches and controversies expressed in the literature:what are the major areas of disagreement, controversy, or debate?Critique the literature: Which arguments are morepersuasive, and why? Which approaches, findings, methodologies seem mostreliable, valid, or appropriate, and why? Pay attention to the verbs youuse to describe what an author says/does [e.g., asserts, demonstrates,etc.].Connect the literature to your own area ofresearch and investigation: how does your own work draw upon, depart from,or synthesize what has been said in the literature?IV. Research Designand MethodsThis section must bewell-written and logically organized because you are not actually doing theresearch. As a consequence, the reader willnever have a study outcome from which to evaluate whether your methodologicalchoices were the correct ones. The objective here is to ensure that the readeris convinced that your overall research design and methods of analysis willcorrectly address the research problem. Your design and methods should beabsolutely and unmistakably tied to the specific aims of your study.Describe the overall research designby building upon and drawing examples from your review of the literature. Bespecific about the methodological approaches you plan to undertake to collectinformation, about the techniques you will use to analyze it, and about testsof external validity to which you commit yourself [i.e., the trustworthiness bywhich you can generalize from your study to other people, places or times].When describing the methods you willuse, be sure to cover these issues:Specify the research operations you will undertake andthe way you will interpret the results of these operations in relation toyour research problem. Don’t just describe what you intend to achieve fromapplying the methods you choose, but state how you will spend your timewhile doing it.Keep in mind that a methodology is not just a list ofresearch tasks; it is an argument as to why these tasks add up to the bestway to investigate the research problem. This is an important pointbecause the mere listing of tasks to perform does not demonstrate thatthey add up to the best feasible approach.Be sure to anticipate and acknowledge any potentialbarriers and pitfalls in carrying out your research design and explain howyou plan to get around them.V. PreliminarySuppositions and ImplicationsJust because you don’t have toactually conduct the study and analyze the results, it doesn’t mean that youcan skip talking about the process and potential implications. The purpose of this section is toargue how and in what ways you believe your research will refine, revise, orextend existing knowledge in the subject area under investigation. Depending onthe aims and objectives of your study, describe how the anticipated results ofyour study will impact future scholarly research, theory, practice, forms ofinterventions, or policy. Note that such discussions may have eithersubstantive [a potential new policy], theoretical [a potential newunderstanding], or methodological [a potential new way of analyzing]significance. When thinking about the potential implications of your study, ask thefollowing questions:What might the results mean in regards to thetheoretical framework that frames the study?What suggestions for subsequent research could arisefrom the potential outcomes of the study?What will the results mean to practitioners in the’real world’?Will the results influence programs, methods, and/orforms of intervention?How might the results contribute to the solution ofsocial, economic, or other types of problems?Will the results influence policy decisions?What will be improved or changed as a result of theproposed research?How will the results of the study be implemented, andwhat innovations will come about?VI. ConclusionThe conclusion reiterates theimportance or significance of your proposal and provides a brief recap of theentire study. Thissection should be only one or two paragraphs long, emphasizing why yourresearch study is unique, why it advances knowledge, and why the researchproblem is worth investigating.Someone reading this section shouldcome away with an understanding of:Why the study was done,The specific purpose of the study and the researchquestions it attempted to answer,The research design and methods used,The potential implications emerging from your proposedstudy of the research problem, andA sense of how your study fits within the broader scholarshipabout the research problem.VII. CitationsAs with any scholarly researchpaper, you must cite the sources you used in composing your proposal. In astandard research proposal, this section can take two forms, so speak with yourprofessor about which one is preferred.References — lists only the literature that you actually used orcited in your proposal.Bibliography — lists everything you used or cited in your proposalwith additional citations of any key sources relevant to understanding theresearch problem.In either case, this section shouldtestify to the fact that you did enough preparatory work to make sure theproject will complement and not duplicate the efforts of other researchers.Start a new page and use the heading ‘References’ or’Bibliography’ at the top of the page. Cited works should always usea standard format that follows the writing style advised by the discipline ofyour course [i.e., education=APA; history=Chicago, etc]. This section normallydoes not count towards the total length of your proposal.
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