Detailed outline of Research Proposal


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Detailed outline of Research Proposal

  1. 1. By: Shantiram Dahal TITLE OF THE RESEARCH PROPOSALA Research Proposal Submitted to the Department of Curriculum andEvaluation in Partial Fulfillment for the Master’s Degree in Education. Submitted by Name: Roll No:…….. T.U Reg. No:………………… Tribhuvan University Department of Curriculum and Evaluation Janta Multiple Campus Itahari, Sunsari 2011……… 1. Elements of a Research Proposal and Report
  2. 2. All research reports use roughly the same format. It doesnt matter whether youve done a customersatisfaction survey, an employee opinion survey, a health care survey, or a marketing researchsurvey. All have the same basic structure and format. The rationale is that readers of researchreports (i.e., decision makers, funders, etc.) will know exactly where to find the information theyare looking for, regardless of the individual report.Once youve learned the basic rules for research proposal and report writing, you can apply them toany research discipline. The same rules apply to writing a proposal, a thesis, a dissertation, or anybusiness research report. 2. Developing your proposalThe process includes: • Choosing a topic • Narrowing and focusing your topic • Formulating research objectives or questions and ideas for analysis • Outlining the key literature in the topic area • Deciding on research methodology, research design and methods, sampling etc. • Proposing an approach to data analysis • Proposing a format e.g. how many chapters and suggested chapter headings • Developing a timeline • Developing a budget and resources you will need (if necessary) • Developing a bibliography3. The Research Proposal and Report • General: Title page, Recommendation letter, Approval sheet, Acknowledgement, Executive Summary, Content, List of figure, Abbreviation. • Style, layout, and page formatting • Outline of the chapters and sections • Chapter I - Introduction • Chapter II – Literature Review • Chapter III - Methodology • Chapter IV – Analysis and Interpretation • Chapter V – Findings, Conclusions and Recommendations4. General considerationsResearch papers usually have five chapters with well-established sections in each chapter. Readersof the paper will be looking for these chapters and sections so you should not deviate from thestandard format unless you are specifically requested to do so by the research sponsor.Most research studies begin with a written proposal. Again, nearly all proposals follow the sameformat. In fact, the proposal is identical to the first three chapters of the final paper except that itswritten in future tense. In the proposal, you might say something like "the researchers will securethe sample from ...", while in the final paper, it would be changed to "the researchers secured the 2
  3. 3. sample from ...". Once again, with the exception of tense, the proposal becomes the first threechapters of the final research paper.The most commonly used style for writing research reports is called "APA" and the rules aredescribed in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. Any library orbookstore will have it readily available. The style guide contains hundreds of rules for grammar,layout, and syntax. This paper will cover the most important ones.Avoid the use of first person pronouns. Refer to yourself or the research team in third person.Instead of saying "I will ..." or "We will ...", say something like "The researcher will ..." or"The research team will ...".A suggestion: Never present a draft (rough) copy of your proposal, thesis, dissertation, or researchpaper...even if asked. A paper that looks like a draft, will interpreted as such, and you can expectextensive and liberal modifications. Take the time to put your paper in perfect APA format beforeshowing it to anyone else. The payoff will be great since it will then be perceived as a final paper,and there will be far fewer changes.5. Style, layout, and page formatting a. Title pageAll text on the title page is centered vertically and horizontally. The title page has no pagenumber and it is not counted in any page numbering. b. Page layoutLeft margin: 1½"Right margin: 1"Top margin: 1"Bottom margin: 1" c. Page numberingPages are numbered at the bottom. There should be 1" of white space from the top of the pagenumber to the top of the paper. Numeric pager numbering begins with the first page of Chapter 1(although a page number is not placed on page 1). d. Spacing and justificationAll pages are single sided. Text is double-spaced, except for long quotations and the bibliography(which are single-spaced). There is one blank line between a section heading and the text thatfollows it. Do not right-justify text. Use ragged-right. e. Font face and size 3
  4. 4. Any easily readable font is acceptable. The font should be 12 points in Times New Roman and 14points in Kantipur or Preeti. Generally, the same font must be used throughout the manuscript,except 1) tables and graphs may use a different font, and 2) chapter titles and section headings mayuse a different font. f. ReferencesAPA format should be used to cite references within the paper. If you name the author in yoursentence, then follow the authors name with the year in parentheses. For example:Khanal (2004) found that...If you do not include the authors name as part of the text, then both the authors name and year areenclosed in parentheses. For example:One researcher (Jones, 2004) found that...A complete bibliography is attached at the end of the paper. It is double spaced except single-spacing is used for a multiple-line reference. The first line of each reference is indented.Examples: Bradburn, N. M., & Mason, W. M. (1964). The effect of question order on response. Journal ofMarketing Research 1 (4), 57-61. Bradburn, N. M., & Miles, C. (1979). Vague quantifiers. Public Opinion Quarterly 43 (1),92-101.6. Outline of Chapters and SectionsTITLE PAGETABLE OF CONTENTS 4
  5. 5. CHAPTER I – Introduction Background Introductory paragraphs Statement of the problem Significance of the study Objectives of the research Research questions and/or hypotheses Delimitation of the study Definitions of the term used (Operational definitions)CHAPTER II – Literature Review Theoretical literatures thematic literatures Conceptual FrameworkCHAPTER III - Methodology Research design Population Sampling Sources of Data Instrumentation (include copy in appendix) Validity and reliability of Instrumentation Analysis plan (state critical alpha level and type of statistical tests) Procedure and time frame Analysis and Interpretation Strategy to conduct researchREFERENCESAPPENDIX For Thesis OnlyCHAPTER IV – Analysis and InterpretationCHAPTER V – Findings, Conclusions and recommendations Findings (explanation of findings - why do you think you found what you did?) Conclusion (Summary of what you did and found) Recommendations (based on your findings)REFERENCESAPPENDIX Chapter I - Introduction1.1 Introductory Paragraphs 5
  6. 6. Chapter I begins with a few short introductory paragraphs (a couple of pages at most). The primarygoal of the introductory paragraphs is to catch the attention of the readers and to get them "turnedon" about the subject. It sets the stage for the paper and puts your topic in perspective. Theintroduction often contains dramatic and general statements about the need for the study. It usesdramatic illustrations or quotes to set the tone. When writing the introduction, put yourself in yourreaders position - would you continue reading?1.2 Statement of the ProblemThe statement of the problem is the focal point of your research. It is just one sentence (with severalparagraphs of elaboration).You are looking for something wrong. ....or something that needs close attention ....or existing methods that no longer seem to be working.………..provision in law but, lack in implementationAfter writing this section, make sure you can easily identify the single sentence that is the problemstatement.1.3 Research Questions and/or Hypotheses and/or Null HypothesesChapter I lists the research questions (although it is equally acceptable to present the hypotheses ornull hypotheses). No elaboration is included in this section. An example would be:The research questions for this study will be: 1. What are the attitudes of... 2. Is there a significant difference between... 3. Is there a significant relationship between...Suggestions for Defining Clear Objectives • Determine what information is critical to advancing or terminating the project. • Start with the end in mind. Ask yourself, "At the end of the research, what do I want to have learned?" • Take time before the research to solicit questions / objectives from other team members prior to meeting with the moderator. • Ask your moderator to include the research objectives at the top of the discussion guide. This will ensure that the moderator understood and internalized your objectives. In addition, when observers come to the research and review the discussion guide, the first thing they will read will be the objectives of the research. • Once your objectives have been set, take time to review them once more before the research. Make adjustments if necessary.The purpose/ objective is a single statement or paragraph that explains what the study intends toaccomplish. A few typical statements are: 6
  7. 7. The Objectives/goal of this study is to... ... overcome the difficulty with ... ... discover what ... ... understand the causes or effects of ... ... refine our current understanding of ... ... provide a new interpretation of ...1.4 Significance of the StudyThis section creates a perspective for looking at the problem. It points out how your study relates tothe larger issues and uses a persuasive rationale to justify the reason for your study. It makes thepurpose worth pursuing. The significance of the study answers the questions: Why is your study important? To whom is it important? What benefit(s) will occur if your study is done?1.5 Delimitation of the study:- The delimitations of a study are those characteristics that limit the scope (define the boundaries) ofthe inquiry as determined by the conscious exclusionary and inclusionary decisions that were madethroughout the development of the proposal. Among these are the choice of objectives andquestions, variables of interest, alternative theoretical perspectives that could have been adopted,etc. The first limiting step was the choice of problem itself; implicit are other, related problems thatcould have been chosen but were rejected or screened off from view. Go back and review each ofthese decisions. You will want to prepare a statement of purpose or intent that clearly sets out whatis meant to be accomplished by the study but that also includes a declaration of what the study doesnot intend to cover. In the latter case, your decisions for excluding certain territory should havebeen based on such criteria as "not interesting"; "not directly relevant"; too problematic because...";"not feasible" and the like. Make this reasoning explicit.Scope of the Research in terms of population, Sampling, research method, Study area etc.1.6 Definition of the terms:-Chapter I should also contain a definition of terms section when appropriate. Include it if yourpaper uses special terms that are unique to your field of inquiry or that might not be understood bythe general reader. "Operational definitions" (definitions that you have formulated for the study)should also be included. An example of an operational definition is: "For the purpose of thisresearch, improvement is operationally defined as posttest score minus pretest score". Chapter II – Review of the Related Literature 7
  8. 8. Chapter II is a review of the literature. It is important because it shows what previous researchershave discovered. It is usually quite long and primarily depends upon how much research haspreviously been done in the area you are planning to investigate. If you are planning to explore arelatively new area, the literature review should cite similar areas of study or studies that lead up tothe current research. Never say that your area is so new that no research exists. It is one of the keyelements that proposal readers look at when deciding whether or not to approve a proposal.2.1 What is ‘the literature’?The literature broadly refers to information relevant to your topic of interest. Such worksmay deal specifically or more generally with your topic of interest. While such informationmay be obtained from a variety of sources, including books, journal articles, reports, etc., thefocus is on scholarly published materials.2.2 Types of literature review: 1. Theoretical literature: A theoretical framework is a theoretical perspective. It can be simply a theory, but it can also be more general -- a basic approach to understanding something. Typically, a theoretical framework defines the kinds of variables that you will want to look at. 2. Thematic literature: these are contemporary literatures which are conducted by many researchers related to your study area. 3. Conceptual framework: It is the gist of your Review of the literature what have you understood by reading literatures and how you relate various literatures with your research.2.3 What is a literature review?A literature review may be presented as a paper on its own, or it can be contained as an integral partof an article, research proposal, research report or dissertation.It describes, compares, contrasts and evaluates the major theories, arguments, themes,methodologies, approaches and controversies in the scholarly literature on a subject. It alsoconnects, compares and contrasts these arguments, themes and methodologies etc., with theconcerns of a proposed piece of research (that is, the aims of the essay, research project or thesis,the research questions, and the central hypothesis). The literature review is:• not an annotated bibliography• not a summary of each of your sources listed one by one• not just a descriptive summary of the historical background to your topicIn a literature review, your central focus is examining and evaluating what has been said before on atopic, and establishing the relevance of this information to your own research. You may alsoidentify what has notbeen said in the literature on a subject (this is called ‘a gap in the literature’, and filling such gapswith new knowledge is a particular interest of postgraduate scholarship). You may also need todiscuss the methodologies that have been used in the literature and how these relate to your chosenmethod. 8
  9. 9. 2.4 The generic conventions of literature reviewsKeep your primary focus on the literature. When writing be sure that you: • evaluate the literature rather than just summarizing it; • compare/contrast sources to each other rather than writing discrete sections; and • connect the literature to your research. If you are completing a literature review for a research project you may also need to: • include some theoretical discussion about your chosen methodology; and • argue why your research is necessary.2.5 The 5 C’s of writing a literature review:Since a literature review is information dense, it is crucial that the work is intelligently structured toenable a reader to grasp the key arguments with ease. 1. Cite (source): keep the primary focus on the literature. 2. Compare the various arguments, theories, methodologies, approaches and findings expressed in the literature: what do the authors agree on? Who employs similar approaches? 3. Contrast the various arguments, themes, methodologies, approaches and controversies expressed in the literature: what are the major areas of disagreement, controversy, debate? 4. Critique the literature: which arguments are more persuasive, and why? Which approaches, findings, methodologies seem most reliable, valid, or appropriate, and why? Pay attention to the verbs you use to describe what it is an author says/does: e.g. asserts, demonstrates, etc. 5. Connect the literature to your own area of research and investigation: how does your own work draw on/depart from/synthesise what has been said in the literature?2.6 How to organize a literature reviewThere are a number of ways of organizing a literature review. Here is one suggestion: 1. Introduction: define the topic, together with your reason for selecting the topic. You could also point out overall trends, gaps, particular themes that emerge, etc., 2. Body: this is where you discuss your sources. Here are some ways in which you could organize your discussion: o Chronologically: for example, if writers views have tended to change over time. There is little point in doing the review by order of publication unless this shows a clear trend; o thematically: take particular themes in the literature, for example in the literature review of poverty and disability cited in the next section, the author takes the themes of the prevalence and structure of disability, education, employment, income and 9
  10. 10. poverty, causes of disability, the path from poverty to disability and vice versa, and finally, policies for disabled people; o Methodologically: here, the focus is on the methods of the researcher, for example, qualitative versus quantitative approaches. 3. Conclusion: summarize the major contributions, evaluating the current position, and pointing out flaws in methodology, gaps in the research, contradictions, and areas for further study. Chapter III - MethodologyThe methodology section describes your basic research plan. It usually begins with a few shortintroductory paragraphs that restate purpose and research questions. The phraseology should beidentical to that used in Chapter I. Keep the wording of your research questions consistentthroughout the document.3.1 Research Design: A research design is a framework or blueprint for conducting the researchproject. It details the procedures necessary for obtaining the information needed to structure and/orsolve research problems the research is either qualitative or quantitative design. You should decidewhich design you would follow.3.2 Population and samplingThe basic research paradigm is: 1) Define the population 2) Draw a representative sample from the population 3) Do the research on the sample 4) Infer your results from the sample back to the populationAs you can see, it all begins with a precise definition of the population. The whole idea ofinferential research (using a sample to represent the entire population) depends upon an accuratedescription of the population. When youve finished your research and you make statements basedon the results, who will they apply to? Usually, just one sentence is necessary to define thepopulation. Examples are: "The population for this study is defined as all adult customers whomake a purchase in our stores during the sampling time frame", or "...all home owners in the city ofMinneapolis", or "...all potential consumers of our product".While the population can usually be defined by a single statement, the sampling procedure needs tobe described in extensive detail. There are numerous sampling methods from which to choose.Describe in minute detail, how you will select the sample. Use specific names, places, times, etc.Dont omit any details. This is extremely important because the reader of the paper must decide ifyour sample will sufficiently represent the population.3.3 Instrumentation 10
  11. 11. If you are using a survey that was designed by someone else, state the source of the survey.Describe the theoretical constructs that the survey is attempting to measure. Include a copy of theactual survey in the appendix and state that a copy of the survey is in the appendix.3.4 Procedure and time frameState exactly when the research will begin and when it will end. Describe any special proceduresthat will be followed (e.g., instructions that will be read to participants, presentation of an informedconsent form, etc.).3.5 Analysis planThe analysis plan should be described in detail. Each research question will usually require its ownanalysis. Thus, the research questions should be addressed one at a time followed by a descriptionof the type of statistical tests that will be performed to answer that research question. Be specific.State what variables will be included in the analyses and identify the dependent and independentvariables if such a relationship exists. Decision making criteria (e.g., the critical alpha level) shouldalso be stated, as well as the computer software that will be used.3.6 Validity of the ToolsIf the survey youre using was designed by someone else, then describe the previous validity andreliability assessments. When using an existing instrument, youll want to perform the samereliability measurement as the author of the instrument. If youve developed your own survey, thenyou must describe the steps you took to assess its validity and a description of how you willmeasure its reliability. Chapter IV - Results4.1 Description of the sampleNearly all research collects various demographic information. It is important to report thedescriptive statistics of the sample because it lets the reader decide if the sample is trulyrepresentative of the population.4.2 AnalysesThe analyses section is cut and dry. It precisely follows the analysis plan laid out in Chapter III.Each research question addressed individually. For each research question: 1) Restate the research question using the exact wording as in Chapter I 2) If the research question is testable, state the null hypothesis 3) State the type of statistical test(s) performed 4) Report the statistics and conclusions, followed by any appropriate table(s) 11
  12. 12. Numbers and tables are not self-evident. If you use tables or graphs, refer to them in the text andexplain what they say. An example is: "Table 4 shows a strong negative relationship betweendelivery time and customer satisfaction (r=-.72, p=.03)". All tables and figures have a number and adescriptive heading. For example:Table 4The relationship between delivery time and customer satisfaction.Avoid the use of trivial tables or graphs. If a graph or table does not add new information (i.e.,information not explained in the text), then dont include it.Simply present the results. Do not attempt to explain the results in this chapter. Chapter V - findings, Conclusions and recommendationsBegin the final chapter with a few paragraphs summarizing what you did and found (i.e., theconclusions from Chapter IV).5.1 FindingsDiscuss the findings. Do your findings support existing theories? Explain why you think you foundwhat you did. Present plausible reasons why the results might have turned out the way they did.5.2 Conclusion: summarize your study in brief.5.3 RecommendationsPresent recommendations based on your findings. Avoid the temptation to presentrecommendations based on your own beliefs or biases that are not specifically supported by yourdata. Recommendations fall into two categories. The first is recommendations to the study sponsor.What actions do you recommend they take based upon the data. The second is recommendations toother researchers. There are almost always ways that a study could be improved or refined. Whatwould you change if you were to do your study over again? These are the recommendations to otherresearchers. ReferencesList references in APA format alphabetically by authors last name AppendixInclude a copy of any actual instruments. If used, include a copy of the informed consent form. 12
  13. 13. References:Best, J.W, and Khan, J.V.,2003, Research in Education, Practice hall of India, Newdelhi.Karlinger, Fred N., 1986, Foundation of Behavioural Research (3rd ed.) New York, Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Kumar, Ranjit.2006.Research methodology: A step-by-step guide for beginners (2nd ed.), Dorling Kindersly (India) Pvt. Ltd., Pataparaganj, Newdelhi. Shantiram Dahal 13