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Page history last edited by Aiden Yeh 11 years, 4 months ago

Research Proposal Outline


1. Cover Page

2. Abstract Page

3. Proposed Research Topic [provide a brief description or a descriptive title or a research question]

4. Introduction

  1. State the research problem, which is often referred to as the purpose of the study. [Expand on the topic/question by describing what you hope to accomplish, and the desired outcomes (especially the practical or theoretical benefits to be gained)] See http://www.wbs.ac.za/download_files/research/research_problem_statement.pdf
  2. Provide the context and set the stage for your research question in such a way as to show its necessity and importance. Background [Describe the context of the proposed research, making it clear how this context will allow you to accomplish your stated purposes]
  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. Scope: [Describe such things as the time you will invest, when the field work will take place, the number of participants, and the number of interviews you will conduct]
  6. State your thesis. 
  7. Set the delimitation or boundaries of your proposed research in order to provide a clear focus.
  8. Provide definitions of key concepts. (This is optional.)


5. Literature Review

Theoretical Framework [Briefly identify and explain the theoretical framework you will use to guide your investigation, how it fits your purpose and its implications for the research methods]



  1. Ensures that you are not "reinventing the wheel".
  2. Gives credits to those who have laid the groundwork for your research.
  3. Demonstrates your knowledge of the research problem.
  4. Demonstrates your understanding of the theoretical and research issues related to your research question.
  5. Shows your ability to critically evaluate relevant literature information.
  6. Indicates your ability to integrate and synthesize the existing literature.
  7. Provides new theoretical insights or develops a new model as the conceptual framework for your research.
  8. 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).



6. Research Methods [Describe in detail the steps you will take in attempting to answer your research question]


  1. Design -Is it a questionnaire study or a laboratory experiment? What kind of design do you choose?
  2. Subjects or participants - Who will take part in your study ? What kind of sampling procedure do you use?
  3. Instruments - What kind of measuring instruments or questionnaires do you use? Why do you choose them? Are they valid and reliable?
  4. Procedure - How do you plan to carry out your study? What activities are involved? How long does it take?


7. Results:

Obviously you do not have results at the proposal stage. However, you need to have some idea about what kind of data you will be collecting, and what statistical procedures will be used in order to answer your research question or test you hypothesis.


8. 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.


Limitations [Describe conditions beyond your control that place restrictions on what you can do and the conclusions you may be able to draw]


9. References

[List all references cited. Use APA referencing style]



Refer to pp 26-29 of your textbook

How to write a research proposal


See http://www.meaning.ca/archives/archive/art_how_to_write_P_Wong.htm


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