Writing a research proposal might be even more challenging than conducting research itself, as it requires following the variety of rules, the specific consequences of steps and an enormous amount of time for the preliminary research you have to do before you draft a proposal. Try concentrating on the basic concepts and avoid going with the flow. Make the plan and follow it meticulously. If you feel confused about from where to start, we are happy to provide you with our vision and some useful rules on research proposal writing. It is necessary to “from the general to the particular” principle.
Consider the following points:
- First of all, systematize the theoretical information on the topic;
- Then study and analyze the activities of a particular organization (for example), based on the theoretical provisions of the first part;
- Then identify the problems and determine the best ways to solve them;
- Summarize and draw conclusions.
The Basic Terms You Need to Know and Employ
Object and Subject. The object of the study is a system, process or phenomenon in which there is a problem. The subject of research is an element of the object (a separate part or a characteristic), the bearer of the features of the object. The solution of the problem is possible when studying the results of an impact on a subject as a part of the object.
Goal and Hypothesis. For scientific research, the goal may be experimental confirmation of new facts, data about the object, phenomenon, process, the new interpretation of known data, systematization of existing representations, new methods or approaches to research. The most important thing is the elements of new knowledge – they are the goal of any scientific work. To formulate a goal, the following formula can be used: the result of the study + the object of the study + the path to the result. At the stage of goal-setting, it is possible to put forward a hypothesis – a supposed solution to the problem. posed. A hypothesis should be checked by existing methods and contain the scientifically available concepts.
Novelty and Topicality. The topicality (relevance, actuality) of the topic is the degree of its importance in modern science (in a separate field). Scientific novelty is the difference of work from other similar studies, the difference of results from the results obtained by other researchers.
Literature Review. Analytical review of the literature, the purpose of which is to study and evaluate the existing state of the scientific problem. It is important not only to list the results of the most authoritative studies but also to give their critical analysis (to argue agreement or disagreement with the viewpoint of the researcher).
Theoretical research. It is most often based on methods of:
- modeling, etc.
The author gives theoretical positions, then analyzes them and draws conclusions.
Experimental part. The research paper which contains the experiment should be based on both theoretical and practical methods of research — measurement, observation, experiment, etc.
4 Pitfalls of Research Proposal Writing and How to Avoid Them
- Pitfall #1. Overestimating your resources and abilities. We know you are a capable student, maybe even a talented and a diligent one. However, it is a known paradox that we tend to overestimate our abilities in the given time when it comes to some specific tasks. You might think that you need 5 hours — writing a plan, 7 hours — literature analysis, and you are sure that 1.5 days are enough for these points in your plan. But you oversleep one day, and you feel dizzy another day, and someone calls you to help with some force-majeure, and you just can say no. It happens to everyone, it happens all the time, and it can ruin absolutely any plan. So when planning, just double the time you think you need and stay on the safe side.
- Pitfall #2. Ignoring the professor’s “help hours.” There is a constant rumor among students that professors always have better things to do than to supervise students writing research proposals and other complex papers. It might be true in some cases, and we are sorry if your case is among them, but mostly this problem is solvable, students feel reluctant to deal with it. You have all the rights to receive assistance and feedback from your professor. Make it a priority to “hunt” him or her in his or her official “help hours” and ask questions, writing down the answers. Some students even use a recorder. In this case, you won’t find yourself in the situation in which you show your final draft, and it comes back 80% marked with some negative comments. Sometimes to save time, you need to spend time.
- Pitfall #3. Leaving formatting for later. You think that professors care for the information you provide them with, and formatting is just an annoying academic way to make the student’s life harder. It might be so, but it is necessary as it influences your final score greatly. Put all the citing into the right formatting style from the very beginning and consult Purdue Owl rules while writing, not 1 hour before the paper is due.
- Pitfall #4. Missing a “novelty” point. Your professor will most probably correct this pitfall, but it is better if you deal with it on your own. The topicality, the actuality of the research should be clearly stated and even proved. Don’t make your audience, readers, committee reading your proposal look for it more than several minutes. Come up with several bright sentences that prove the actuality of your research and emphasize them intensely.
If you feel like the task is too big and feel reluctant even to start, divide the assignment into the smallest pieces possible and don;t look too much into the general plan. It will be easier for you to concentrate on small tasks, as the pressure will be decreased. No matter which style, which writing and planning way you use, we wish you patience and luck! If you feel completely stuck, we are here to help you out, be it the entire research proposal or only one part of it.
Faithfully yours, Useful Research Papers Team