A research proposal is a document that you write to suggest to an institution or your supervisor or professor that you have a study topic that you want to research, and you require their approval to do the research.
The approval will also indicate the kind of support that they will provide during your research process. Most institutions will offer financial support in the form of research grants, travel grants to your research location, and scholarships, and some can offer equipment for conducting the research.
In writing a winning proposal, there are some steps to be followed. Proposal writing has two parts to consider;
Part one: The application process.
This part is based on understanding the basics of the application process and the requirements from the host institution or the supervisors involved.
Read the application and note the requirement of the project you will be undertaking. Note down things such as – cost breakdown and all expenses and any other requirements to be presented with or within the proposal.
Other requirements such as identification documents, educational background, experiences, qualifications and skills, etc.
The details should be as specific as possible.
Understand the project description. The project description should give you a rough idea of what the project is all about, what is required during the study, the location of the research and any other requirements that they will require from you apart from what they require from the application process. For example, they might need to know if you have specific skills that will be useful in the project. Skills such as driving, swimming, survival skills, communication skills, work ethics, etc.
Answer all that they asked for. For instance, cost, motivation, goals, location, skills, experiences, qualifications, etc. As an applicant, you should fill in exactly as they require and not give false information about yourself, as this will lead to disqualification of your application.
This step comes after you have written your project proposal. You must ensure that your work is well organized and perfect for the application. Edit your proposal to be more systematic. It should explain how it is going to be successful and valid with the techniques you will be using.
Read the application form and your proposal again. Do they match? Did you answer all the required questions? Do your answers fit exactly what the institution requires from you? If the answer is yes, go ahead and edit, and check the grammar and spelling. Do any other remaining work on it, such as;
Citations – you should cite different past work (if there is any) for the purpose of referencing.
References – use proper styles as requested by the application. This is very important in your proposal
Figure descriptions – Ensure that you add captions to any figures added to the proposal.
Let other people read your work and suggest any corrections. The people reading should preferably be from your line of career field and understand what your research is all about. You can give it to your classmates, professor or any other researcher in your field of study to review it, indicate any corrections and give their honest reviews about it.
This will help you see your project from a different perspective and be able to have other people evaluate any correctable mistakes. Do any suggested corrections in your proposal and at this point, you are all set to do the application.
Part two: The proposal writing.
After understanding the basic requirements of the project, it is now time to write your proposal. A good proposal should be between 2000 and 2500 words, but depending on the project specifications, you can only write up to the number of words that have been specified.
There are 8 different sections in a proposal.
The title is the keyword phrase that will describe what your project is all about. It should be brief and include all the crucial information about the project.
This is the summary of your research. It comprises research questions, methodology, the results and the discussion of your work. This section should be about a 100-word statement that highlights the issues to be discussed in the proposal.
The research background
It gives more information to the reader to understand the meaning and the setting that determine your project, the gap that is there in the literature, the tendency of knowledge in the topic and other people’s opinions on your chosen topic, the current debates and your point of view regarding the project.
The research questions
These are the question that shows if the topic had been done before or not. The questions should consist of one or two main questions and some sub-questions that lead to answering the two questions. They are categorized as specific hypotheses and general hypotheses.
The research methods
This is your approach on how to answer the research questions. This explains why you’ve chosen to use a certain method and make a brief justification of your method. The methodology determines the success of your project.
You explain why using a certain method to collect, analyze and present data is more effective and more convenient than using other methods.
You also have to include limitations of your methods and expound on them. This way, the reader will understand that you are being more open to the use of other methods, putting into consideration the results of your project.
Significance of your project
What is the importance of your project to the research world? How is your work original and different from other research that has been done before?
How is your work going to contribute to the work that had already been studied?
This section explains those questions.
This gives the timeframe of your project and states how long your project is going to be undertaken. It also allows the institution to plan and also know when to expect your project report.
The reference list
Your key citation in the proposal should be around 5-10 research papers. This section gives a detailed list of the work that you have cited in your proposal.
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