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WRITING A RESEARCH PROPOSAL INTRODUCTION

Most students and beginning researchers do not/fully understand what a research proposal means, nor do they understand its importance. The introduction is the part of the paper that provides readers with the background information for the research reported in the paper. Its purpose is to establish a framework for the research, so that readers can understand how it is related to other research A research proposal is intended to convince others that you have a worthwhile research project and that you have the competence and the work -plan to complete it. Generally, a research proposal should contain all the key elements involved in the research process and include sufficient information for the readers to evaluate the proposed study. Regardless of your research area and the methodology you choose, all research proposals must address the following questions: What you plan to accomplish, why you want to do it and how you are going to do it. The proposal should have sufficient information to convince your readers that you have an importan t research idea, that you have a good grasp of the relevant literature and the major issues, and that your methodology is sound. The quality of your research proposal depends not only on the quality of your proposed project, but also on the quality of your proposal writing. A good research project may run the risk of rejection simply because the proposal is poorly written. Therefore, it pays if your writing is coherent, clear and compelling.
STRUCTURE OF A PROPOSAL

The elements of research proposal include  Introduction  Title  Back ground and significance of the problem  Purpose of the study
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 Statement of the problem  Objectives of the study  Review of Literature  Operational definition  Conceptual frame work  Hypothesis  Research Methodology  Research approach  Study design  Setting  Population  Sample  Sampling technique  Inclusion and exclusion criteria  Tools and techniques  Pilot study  Plan for data collection  Plan for data analysis  Work plan  Ethical consideration  Budget  Reference  Appendices
Writing style and verb tense

The proposal must be written in a scientific style the researchers thinking about the problem is taking place now and hence written in present tense. Review of literature in past tense and methodology in future tense.
Abstract:

It is a brief summary of approximately 300 words. It should include the research question, the rationale for the study, the hypothesis (if any), the
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method and the main findings. Descriptions of the method may include the design, procedures, the sample and any instruments that will be used.
Introduction:

The main purpose of the introduction is to provide the necessary background or context for your research problem. How to frame the research problem is perhaps the biggest problem in proposal writing. If the research problem is framed in the context of a general, rambling literature review, then the research question may appear trivial and uninteresting. However, if the same question is placed in the contex t of a very focused and current research area, its significance will become evident. The introduction typically begins with a general statement of the problem area, with a focus on a specific research problem, to be followed by the rational or justification for the proposed study. The introduction generally covers the following elements: 1. State the research problem, which is often referred to as the purpose of the study. 2. Provide the context and set the stage for your res earch question in such a way as to show its necessity and importance. 3. Present the rationale of your proposed study and clearly indicate why it is worth doing. 4. Briefly describe the major issues and sub-problems to be addressed by your research. 5. Identify the key independent and dependent variables of your experiment. Alternatively, specify the phenomenon you want to study. 6. State your hypothesis or theory, if any. For exploratory or phenomenological research, you may not have any hypotheses. (Pleas e do not confuse the hypothesis with the statistical null hypothesis.) 7. Set the delimitation or boundaries of your proposed research in order to provide a clear focus.
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8. Provide definitions of key concepts. (This is optional.)


Title:

It should be concise and descriptive. For example, the phrase, "A study to . . ." could be omitted. Often titles are stated in terms of a functional relationship, because such titles clearly indicate the independent and dependent variables. However, if possible, think of an informative but catchy title. An effective title not only pricks the reader's interest, but also predisposes him/her favourably towards the proposal.
Background and significance of the problem

Back ground of the problem indicates what is there in the current situation. It points out how your study relates to the larger issues and uses a persuasive rationale to justify the reason for your study. It makes the purpose worth pursuing. The significance of the study answers the questions:

1. Why is your study important? 2. To whom is it important? 3. What benefits will occur if your study is done? Significance of the Study indicate how your research will refine, revise, or

extend existing knowledge in the area under investigat ion. Note that such refinements, revisions, or extensions may have either substantive, theoretical, or methodological significance. Think pragmatically.
Purpose of the study

The purpose statement should provide a specific and accurate synopsis of the overall purpose of the study (Locke, Spirduso, & Silverman, 1987). If the purpose is not clear to the writer, it cannot be clear to the reader Briefly define and delimit the specific area of the research.Try to incorporate a sentence that begins with The
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purpose of this study is . . . This will clarify your own mind as to the purpose and it will inform the reader directly and explicitly. Clearly identify and define the central concepts or ideas of the study .
Statement of the Problem

The problem statement describes the context for the study and it also identifies the general analysis approach (Wiersma, 1995). It is important in a proposal that the problem stand out that the reader can easily recognize it. Effective problem statements answer the question Why does this research need to be conducted. If a researcher is unable to answer this question clearly and succinctly, and without resorting to hyperspeaking then the statement of the problem will come off as ambiguous and diffuse.
Objective of the study

It should be presented in chronological order of importance or ordered to be consistence with the hypothesis or guiding question. State in achievable and measurable term. It should be found on the bases of specific question to be answered.
Literature Review:

Sometimes the literature review is incorporated into the introduction section. However, most professors prefer a separate section, which allows a more thorough review of the literature.
Contents of Literature review

 Overview of structure and content  Summary and critique of comparable research which has been publish relating to the problem or components of problem.  The critic of the method available for answering the research questions.  A final one- paragraph summary of the literature, which is then related to the proposed area of study.
y Most students' literature reviews suffer from the following problems:

 Lacking organization and structure


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 Lacking focus, unity and coherence  Being repetitive and verbose  Failing to cite influential papers  Failing to keep up with recent developments  Failing to critically evaluate cited papers  Citing irrelevant or trivial references  Depending too much on secondary sources .
Operational definition

This is the clarification of terms in such a way that they are potentially observable. It is the specification of the operation the researcher must performed in order to collect the required information's.
Conceptual frame work

Research should be based on conceptual frame work. If the investigator should explain the frame work of the concept in which the problem is linked. The framework should explain inter relationship among the phenomena under investigation.
Hypothesis or guiding questions

It is a prediction of expected outcome. Hypothesis which are to be tested should be stated clearly on the basis of objectives of study. Hypothesis are generated for experimental, quasi experimental or co -relation of study.
Research Methods:

The methods or procedures section is really the heart of the research proposal. The activities should be described with as much detail as possible, and the continuity between them should be apparent The Method section is very important because it tells your Research Committee how you plan to tackle your research problem. It will provide your work plan and describe the activities necessary for the completion of your project.

The guiding principle for writing the Method section is that it should contain sufficient information for the reader to determine whether methodology is sound. Some even argue that a good proposal should contain sufficient details for another qualified researcher to implement the study. You need to demonstrate your knowledge of alternative methods and make the case that your approach is the most appropriate and most valid way to address your research question. For quantitative studies, the method section typically consists of the following sections: 1. Design Is it a questionnaire study or a laboratory experiment? What kind of design do you choose? 2. AssumptionAn assumption is a statement whose truth is either considered self evident and has been satisfactorily established by early results. This will act as a foundation of accepted knowledge. 3. Subjects or participants Who will take part in your study ? What kind of sampling procedure do you use? 4. Instruments What kind of measuring instruments or questionnaires do you use? Why do you choose them? Are they valid and reliable? 5. Research MethodologyIt has to explain  Selection of research approach  Selection of research design  Research setting Where we are going to conduct the study?  Population sample and sampling technique.  Development of instruments
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 Reliability and validity of testing instruments  Plan for data collection - Outline the general plan for collecting the data. This may include survey administration procedures, interview or observation procedures. Include an explicit statement covering the field controls to be employed.  Plan for data analysis - Specify the procedures you will use, and label them

accurately (e.g., ANOVA, MANCOVA, ethnography, case study, grounded theory). If coding procedures are to be used, describe in reasonable detail. If you triangulated, carefully explain how you went about it. Communicate your precise intentions and reasons for these intentions to the reader. This helps you and the reader evaluate the choices you made and procedures you followed. 10. Work plan This is the plan according to which various task and subtasks will be accomplished by the investigator.

Pilot studies

These are invariably vital to a successful stir and are undertaken for a variety of reasons (eg: reliability or validity testing of instrumental tester reliability; to identify ambiguous questions in a questionnaire; to estimate the time needed to complete data collection; to reveal unforeseen limitations in study design and allow modifications; trial procedures for data collection to test the data collec tion forms; to identify and control or eliminate extraneous variables; to provide sample' data for pilot data management and analysis procedures). The proposal should include an outline of any pilot studies which will be carried out prior to the main study. If pilot studies have already been completed at the time of writing the proposal, then the outcomes from these should be included together with information as to how the main study has been developed in the light of the findings.

Ethical considerations

A statement of the ethical considerations of the study should be included and a copy of the information consent document included in an appendix
Budget and resources

It is the proposed expense towards the investigation in terms of money, material and manpower. The resources may include subject experts, equipment and related facility. Financial cost may include such items as photocopying , telephone calls, computer disk, cost of any procedure (eg: scan, x -rays).
References:

These should start on a new page and the list should contain only those references which are cited with the proposal.
Appendices

Appendices should be numbered in sequence as mentioned in the test and each should start on a new page. Informed consent ,copies of data collection form, evidence of ethics approval etc can be included.
Discussion:

It is important to convince your reader of the potential impact of your proposed research. You need to communicate a sense of enthusiasm and confidence without exaggerating the merits of your proposal. That is why you also need to mention the limitations and weaknesses of the proposed research, which may be justified by time and financial constraints as well as by the early developmental stage of your research area.
Common Mistakes in Proposal Writing

1. Failure to provide the proper context to frame the research question. 2. Failure to delimit the boundary conditions for your research. 3. Failure to cite landmark studies. 4. Failure to accurately present the theoretical and empirical contributions by other researchers. 5. Failure to stay focused on the research question.
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6. Failure to develop a coherent and persuasive argument for the proposed research. 7. Too much detail on minor issues, but not enough detail on major issues. 8. Too much rambling going "all over the map" without a clear sense of direction. 9. Too many citation lapses and incorrect references. 10. Too long or too short. 11. Failing to follow the same style. 12. Slopping writing.
Conclusion

The planning and writing of a proposal is invariably very time consuming activity. The writer should expect to have to revise and edit part or all of the proposal many times. The quality of a research proposal depends not only on the quality of your proposed project but also on the quality of yo ur proposal writing.
REFERENCES

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