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How to Write a Research Proposal(Part 1)By: Paul T.P.Wong, Ph.D., C.Psych.Research Director, Graduate Programin CounselingPsychologyTrinity Western Universitythe method may include the design, procedures, the sample and any instruments that will be used.IntroductioThe 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 context of a very focused and current research area, its significance will become evident.Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules on how to frame your research question just as there is no prescription on how to write an interesting and informative opening paragraph.A lot depends on your creativity, your ability to think clearly and the depth of your understanding of problem areas.However, try to place your research question in the context of either a current "hot" area, or an older area that remains viable.Secondly, you need to provide a brief but appropriate historical backdrop.
Thirdly, provide the contemporary context in which your proposed research question occupies the central stage.Finally, identify "key players" and refer to the most relevant and representative publications.In short, try to paint your research question in broad brushes and at the same time bring out its significance.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 studyThe introduction generally covers the following elements: State the research problem, which is often referred to as the purpose of the study.Provide the context and set the stage for your research question in such a way as to show its necessity and importance.
Present the rationale of your proposed study and clearly indicate why it is worth doing.Briefly describe the major issues and subproblems to be addressed by your research.Identify the key independent and dependent variables of your experiment.Alternatively, specify the phenomenon you want to study.State your hypothesis or theory, if any.For exploratory or phenomenological research, you may not have any hypotheses.(Please do not confuse the hypothesis with the statistical null hypothesis.) Set the delimitation or boundaries of your proposed research in order to provide a clear focus.Provide definitions of key concepts.(This is optional.) 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.
The literature review serves several important functions: Ensures that you are not "reinventing the wheel".Gives credits to those who have laid the groundwork for your research.Demonstrates your knowledgeof the research problem.Demonstrates your understanding of the theoretical and research issues related to your research question.ows your ability to critically evaluate relevant literature information.Indicates your ability to integrate and synthesize the existing literature.Provides new theoretical insights or develops a new model as the conceptual framework for your research.
Convinces your reader that your proposed research will make a significant and substantial contribution to the literature (i.e., resolving an important theoretical issue or filling a major gap in the literature).Most students' literature reviews suffer from the following problems: Lacking organization and structure Lacking focus, unity and coherence Being repetitive and verboseFailing 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 Your scholarship and research competence will be questioned if any of the above applies to your proposal.There are different ways to organize your literature review.
Make use of subheadings to bring order and coherence to your review.For example, having established the importance of your research area and its current state of development, you may devote several subsections on related issues as: theoretical models, measuringinstruments, crosscultural and gender differences, etcIt is also helpful to keep in mind that you are telling a story to an audience.Try to tell it in a stimulating and engaging manner.
Do not bore them, because it may lead to rejection of your worthy proposal.(Remember: Professors and scientists are human beings too.)Methods: 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.
Please note that your research question may be best answered by qualitative research.However, since most mainstream psychologists are still biased against qualitative research, especially the phenomenological variety, you may need to justify your qualitative method
Furthermore, since there are no wellestablished and widely accepted canons in qualitative analysis, your method section needs to be more elaborate
Tips for starting a comcec proposal
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