Guidelines on writing a research proposal by Matthew McGranaghan This is a work in progress, intended to organize my thoughtson the process of formulating a proposal. If you have any thoughtson the contents, or on the notion of making this available to students,please share them with me.
The same principles apply to dissertation proposalsand to proposals to most funding agencies. It includes a model outline, but advisor, committee and funding agency expectations varyand your proposal will be a variation on this basic theme.
Use these guidelines as a point of departurefor discussions with your advisor. They may serve as a straw-man against which to build your understanding both of your project and of proposal writing.
Proposal Writing Proposal writing is important to your pursuit of a graduate degree. The proposal is, in effect, an intellectual scholastic (not legal) contract between you and your committee.
It specifies what you will do, how you will do it, and how you willinterpret the results. In specifying what will be done it also gives criteriafor determining whether it is done.
In approving the proposal,your committee gives their best judgment thatthe approach to the research is reasonableand likely to yield the anticipated results. They are implicitly agreeing that they willaccept the result as adequate for the purpose of granting a degree.
(Of course you will have to write the thesis in acceptable form,and you probably will discover things in the course of your researchthat were not anticipated but which should be addressed in your thesis,but the minimum core intellectual contribution of your thesis willbe set by the proposal. The objective in writing a proposal is to describe what you will do,why it should be done, how you will do it and what you expect will result. Being clear about these things from the beginningwill help you complete your thesis in a timely fashion.
A vague, weak or fuzzy proposal can lead to a long, painful,and often unsuccessful thesis writing exercise. A clean, well thought-out, proposal forms the backbone for the thesis itself.
The structures are identical and through the miracle of word-processing,your proposal will probably become your thesis. Once you have a good idea, you can draft the proposal in an evening. Getting a good idea hinges on familiarity with the topic. This assumes a longer preparatory period of reading, observation,discussion, and incubation.
Read everything that you can in your area of interest.
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Then just write the important parts as the proposal.
Filling in the things that we do not know and that will help usknow more: that is what research is all about. Proposals help you estimate the size of a project.
Our MA program statement used to say thata thesis is equivalent to a published paper in scope.
Thesedays, sixty double spaced pages, with figures, tables and bibliography, would be a long paper. Your proposal will be shorter, perhaps five pages and certainlyno more than fifteen pages.
(For perspective, the NSF limits the length of proposal narratives to 15 pages, even when the requestmight be for multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars. ) The merit of the proposal counts, not the weight.
Shoot for five pithy pages that indicate to a relatively well-informed audiencethat you know the topic and how its logic hangs together,rather than fifteen or twenty pages that indicate that you have read a lot ofthings but not yet boiled it down to a set of prioritized linked questions. Different Theses, Similar Proposals This guide includesan outline that looks like a "fill-in the blanks model" and, while in the abstract all proposals are similar,each proposal will have its own particularvariation on the basic theme.
Each research project is different and each needs aspecifically tailored proposal to bring it into focus. Different advisors, committees and agencies have different expectationsand you should find out what these are as early as possible; ask your advisor for advice on this.
Further, different types of thesis require slightlydifferent proposals. What style of work is published in your sub-discipline? Characterizing theses is difficult.
In the end, they may well all be interpretations of observations,and differentiated by the rules that constrain theinterpretation.
(Different advisors will have different preferences about the rules, the meta-discourse, in which we all work Best websites to get a legal issues thesis proposal US Letter Size Premium 71 pages / 19525 words. | 10.01.2018| Where to buy custom legal issues thesis proposal British US Letter Size Academic confidentiality Best website to order a college legal issues thesis proposal Academic British single spaced confidentiality..
) In the abstract all proposals are very similar.
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To that end, a proposal needsto show how your work fits into what is already known about the topicand what new contribution your work will make. Specify the question that your research will answer, establishwhy it is a significant question, show how you are going to answerthe question, and indicate what you expect we will learn.
Theproposal should situate the work in the literature, it should showwhy this is an (if not the most) important question to answer in the field,and convince your committee (the skeptical readers that they are)that your approach will in fact result in an answer to the question. Theses which address research questions that can be answeredby making plan-able observations (and applying hypothesis testing or model selection techniques)are preferred and perhaps the easiest to write.
Because they address well-bounded topics, they can be very tight,but they do require more planning on the front end. Theses whichare largely based on synthesis of observations, rumination,speculation, and opinion formation are harder to write,and usually not as convincing, often because they addressquestions which are not well-bounded and essentially unanswerable.
(One 'old saw' about research in the social sciences is that thefinding is always: "some do and some don't". Try to avoid such insight-less findings; finding "who do and who don't" is better.
) One problem with this type of project is that it is often impossibleto tell when you are "done". Another problem is that the nature of argument for a positionrather than the reasoned rejection of alternatives to itencourages shepherding a favored notion rather than convergingmore directly toward a truth.
A good proposal helps one see and avoid these problems.
Literature review-based theses involve collection of informationfrom the literature, distillation of it, and coming up with new insighton an issue. One problem with this type of research is that you might find theperfect succinct answer to your question on the night before (orafter) you turn in the final draft --- in someone else's work.
This certainly can knock the wind out of your sails. (But note thateven a straight-ahead science thesis can have the problem of discovering,late in the game, that the work you have done or are doing has already been done; this is where familiarity with the relevant literatureby both yourself and your committee members is important.
) A Couple of Models for Proposals A Two Page (Preliminary Proposal) Model Here is a model for a very brief (maybe five paragraph)proposal that you mightuse to interest faculty in sitting on your committee. People who are not yet hooked may especially appreciate its brevity.
In the first paragraph, the first sentence identifies the general topic area. The second sentence gives the researchquestion, and the third sentence establishes its significance.
The next couple of paragraphs gives the larger historical perspectiveon the topic. Essentially list the major schools of thought on the topicand very briefly review the literature in the area with its major findings. Who has written on the topic and what have they found? Allocate about a sentence per important person or finding.
Include any preliminary findings you have,and indicate what open questions are left.
Restate your question in this context, showing how itfits into this larger picture Window on Internet. What does a good thesis statement look like There is one big tip on writing a good essay almost every article on the web gives you Thesis on internet privacy Research paper Writing Service BrandonGaille com Thumbnail image of item number in Changing Privacy Concerns in the Internet Era..
It tells how will youapproach the question, what you will need to do it.
The final paragraph outlines your expected results, how you willinterpret them,and how they will fit into the our larger understanding i. The (Longer) Standard Model The two outlines below are intended to show both what are the standardparts of a proposal and of a science paper.
Notice that the only real difference is that you change "expected results" to "results" in the paper, and usually leavethe budget out, of the paper. A Basic Proposal Outline: Introduction Topic area Research question Significance to knowledgeLiterature review Previous research others & yours Interlocking findings and Unanswered questions Your preliminary work on the topic The remaining questions and inter-locking logic Reprise of your research question(s) in this contextMethodology Approach Data needs Analytic techniques Plan for interpreting resultsExpected resultsBudgetBibliography (or References) The Basic Thesis Outline Introduction Topic area Research question (finding?) Significance to knowledgeLiterature review Previous research others & yours Interlocking findings and Unanswered questions Your preliminary work on the topic The remaining questions and inter-locking logic Reprise of your research question(s) in this contextMethodology Approach Data needs Analytic techniques Plan for interpreting resultsResultsDiscussion and ConclusionsBibliography Another outline (maybe from Gary Fuller?).
Introduction Topic area Research Question and its significance to knowledgeLiterature review Previous research Your preliminary work on the topic The remaining questions and their inter-locking logic Reprise of your resulting question in this contextMethodology Approach to answering the question Data needs Analytic techniques Plan for interpreting resultsBudgetExpected resultsBibliography / References Each of these outlines is very similar. You probably see alreadythat the proposal's organization lends itself to word-processingright into the final thesis.
It also makes it easy for readersto find relevant parts more easily. The section below goes into slightly more detail onwhat each of the points in the outline is and does.
The Sections of the Proposal The Introduction Topic Area A good title will clue the reader into the topicbut it can not tell the whole story. The introduction provides a brief overview that tells afairly well informed (but perhaps non-specialist) readerwhat the proposal is about. It might be as short as a single page,but it should be very clearly written, andit should let one assess whether the research is relevant to their own.
What is your proposal about? Setting the topical areais a start but you need more, and quickly.
Get specific about what your research will address. Question Once the topic is established,come right to the point.
What are you doing? What specific issue or question will your work address? Very briefly (this is still the introduction) say howyou will approach the work. What will we learn from your work? Significance Why is this work important? Show why this is it important to answer this question. What are the implications of doing it?How does it link to other knowledge?How does it stand to inform policy making? This should show how this project is significant to our body of knowledge.
Why is it important to our understanding of the world?It should establish why I would want to read on.
It should also tell me why I would want to support,or fund, the project Of course, finding an appropriate problem to do research on is not that easy. Sometimes, in order to figure out how to write a good paper, you have to try out several topic options, conduct a more thorough research and analysis, make up a rough outline, etc. As a rule, an outline of thesis proposal consists of the parts where .
Literature Review State of our knowledge The purpose of the literature review is to situate your research inthe context of what is already known about a topic. It need not beexhaustive, it needs to show how your work will benefit the whole.
It should provide the theoretical basis for your work,show what has been done in the area by others,and set the stage for your work. In a literature review you should give the reader enough ties tothe literature that they feel confident that you have found, read,and assimilated the literature in the field.
It might do well toinclude a paragraph that summarizes each article's contribution,and a bit of 'mortar' to hold the edifice together, perhaps thesecome from your notes while reading the material. The flow should probably move from the more general to the more focused studies,or perhaps use historical progression to develop the story.
Outstanding questions This is where you present the holes in the knowledge that need to be plugged, and by doing so, situate your work.
It is the place where you establish that your work will fit in andbe significant to the discipline. This can be made easier if there is literature that comes out and says"Hey, this is a topic that needs to be treated! What is the answer tothis question?" and you will sometimes see this type of piece in theliterature.
Perhaps there is a reason to read old AAG presidential addresses. Research Questions in Detail Your work to date Tell what you have done so far.
It might report preliminarystudies that you have conducted to establish the feasibility of yourresearch. It should give a sense that you are in a position toadd to the body of knowledge.
Methodology Overview of approach This section should make clear to the readerthe way that you intend to approach the research questionand the techniques and logic that you will use to address it. Data Collection This might include the field site description,a description of the instruments you will use,and particularly the data that you anticipate collecting.
You may need to comment on site and resource accessibility in the time frame and budget that you have available, to demonstrate feasibility,but the emphasis in this section should be to fully describespecifically what data you will be using in your study. Part of the purpose of doing this is to detect flaws in theplan before they become problems in the research.
Data Analysis This should explain in some detail how you will manipulate the datathat you assembled to get at the information that you will use to answer your question. It will include the statistical or other techniquesand the tools that you will use in processing the data.
It probably should also include an indication of the range ofoutcomes that you could reasonably expect from your observations. Interpretation In this section you should indicatehow the anticipated outcomes will be interpreted to answer the research question. It is extremely beneficial to anticipate the range of outcomesfrom your analysis, and for each know what it will mean in terms of the answer to your question.
Expected Results This section should give a good indication ofwhat you expect to get out of the research.
Research proposal doing a literature review what is a literature review?
It will be a good place to summarize the significance of the work 24 Dec 2017 - Summary problem: morten lindeberg supervisors: a visual presentation essay done in microsoft office from uc- 3 ranked criminology school 6 Jan 2016 Best websites to order an pharmacology thesis proposal standard 30 nbsp Best website to get an term paper legal studies college sophomore a4 .
It is often useful from the very beginning of formulating your workto write one page for this section to focus your reasoning asyou build the rest of the proposal.
Bibliography This is the list of the relevant works. I think that the Graduate Division specifies that you call it "Bibliography". Others like to see only the literature which you actually cite.
Most fall in between: there is no reason to cite irrelevant literaturebut it may be useful to keep track of iteven if only to say that it was examined and found to be irrelevant. Order the references alphabetically,and use "flag" paragraphs as per the University's Guidelines. Read everything you can find in your area of interest. Take notes, and talk to your advisor about the topic. If your advisor won't talk to you, find another one or rely on 'the net'for intellectual interaction.
Email has the advantage of forcingyou to get your thoughts into written words that can be refined, editedand improved. It also gets time stamped records of when you submitted what to your advisor and how long it took to get a response.
Write about the topic a lot, and don't be afraid to tear up (delete)passages that just don't work. Often you can re-think and re-type fasterthan than you can edit your way out of a hopeless mess.
Very early on, generate the research question, criticalobservation, interpretations of the possible outcomes, and the expected results. These are the core of the project and will help focusyour reading and thinking.
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You can sort, regroup,layout spatial arrangements and work on the beach.
Possibly a slightimprovement is to use a word-processor file that contains bibliographic reference information and notes, quotes etc. This can be sorted, searched, diced and slicedin your familiar word-processor. You may even print the index cardsfrom the word-processor if you like the ability to physically re-arrange things.
Even better for some, is to use specialized bibliographicdatabase software. Papyrus, EndNote, and other packages are availablefor PCs and MacIntoshs.
The bib-refer and bibTex software onUNIX computers are also very handy and have the advantage ofworking withplain ASCII text files (no need to worry about getting at yourinformation when the wordprocessor is several generations along). All of these tools link to various word-processorsto make constructing and formating your final bibliography easier,but you won't do that many times anyway.
If they help you organize your notes and thinking, that is the benefit. Another pointer is to keep in mind from the outset that thisproject is neither the last nor the greatest thing you will do in your life.
The length to shoot for is "equivalent to a published paper",sixty pages of double spaced text, plus figures tables,table of contents, references, etc. In practice, most theses try to do too much and become too long. Cover your topic, but don't confuse it with too many loosely relevantside lines.
This is not complete and needs a little rearranging. The balance between Introduction and Literature Review needs to bethought out.
The reader will want to be able to figure out whetherto read the proposal. The literature review shouldbe sufficiently inclusive that the reader can tell where the boundsof knowledge lie.
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The balance may change between the proposal and the thesis.
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Refer to the work that actually islinked to your study, don't go too far afield (unless your committeeis adamant that you do ;-).
How to Prepare a Research Proposal:Guidelines for Funding and Dissertations in the Social and BehavioralSciences . Recent National Science Foundations Guidelines for Research Proposalscan be found on the NSF website, . "The Method of Multiple Working Hypotheses",reprinted in Science, Vol 148, pp754-759.
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