How to Write a Research Proposal

Proposals are a common genre of technical writing and are persuasive documents. Proposals can be “stand alone” documents, but are often part of a longer writing process leading to other types of documents, like a recommendation report. Proposals can be submitted as part of a grant gaining process (like an engineer or scientist might submit to the National Science Foundation to gain project funding).

You will write a collaborative proposal with your team. But your team’s proposal cannot be written until your team decides on a proposal scenario, and initial research questions are drafted, research is preformed, and your initial research is provided.

Getting Started with a Scenario:
Your team will start by brainstorming a scenario to use for the proposal and presentation (Project 4). Creating scenarios requires critical thinking and a little bit of make believe. Scenarios must make use of all team member’s fields of study. Please see the scenarios listed on the discussion board for scenario examples. You will be ready to start creating and researching individual research questions once your scenario is approved by your whole team, posted on the discussion board, and approved by your instructor. Individual research questions will be the first draft of the collaborative proposal.

The first piece of your team’s proposal turned in for credit will be your individual research question (part 1). To supplement the final collaborative proposal (part 2), each team member will be responsible for researching, writing, and drafting their own research question and research question section. The research question you write about comes directly out of your team’s proposal scenario. You will start with a list of research questions created by the whole team and each member will be assigned one to research and respond to for the proposal. Your individual research question (part 1) will be peer reviewed, submitted via Canvas, and individually graded prior to the full proposal (see due date for individual research questions on our class schedule). You will then incorporate all of your team’s individual research questions into the proposal. Keep in mind that individual research questions must eventual come together in the proposal and must, taken collectively, be persuasive to a reader. In the end, the proposal must propose something to the reader.
You will need to find and use at least 3 sources to support, expand, and start explaining your individual research question. More than 3 sources are encouraged (using 3 sources merely meets assignment requirements, but does not exceed them).
Part 1 Rhetorical Context
Dependent on your team’s scenario, your audience will be those who would have power to accept or reject a proposal. They may work within your field (or they may not). For example, if you are a team of engineering students, you could imagine your proposal for a new student solar car team design might be submitted to an OSU student club funding committee. Writing for a mid-context audience would be appropriate for this assignment.
1. To explore your research topic and find quality sources for Part 2.
2. To create content for Part 2.
What does this audience want or need? Why is it inappropriate to “dumb” concepts down for this audience (and how might this actually be counterproductive in serving this audience)? How will you simplify a technical concept or your research to make it accurate, informative, and engaging?
Part 1 Assignment Content Requirements
Need at least 3 credible, reliable, and appropriate sources.
Note: When you compile your team’s individual research question sections, you will also compile your reference lists into one reference list at the end of the proposal.

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Tips for Writing a Research Proposal

Writing a Research Proposal…

Your research proposal is not just a part of your research process, it is your research…because it implies you are already doing your research, or at least; it is a major part of it. If you do not have a good research proposal, you will not get a good research as a result. The main difference between your research paper and research proposal is that in the second case you write about plans for research, and in the former – about research already done. Keep this in mind when writing your research proposal.

Writing the perfect research proposal can be challenging, but is possible if you know how to do it. First of all, you should remember that all research proposals should consist of:

  • Title
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Literature review
  • Methods of research
  • Results
  • Discussion

The title of your research proposal should not start with the words “A study of…” It’s better to write something catchy and informative, so that your readers find your topic interesting.
When writing your abstract you need to pay attention to its length. Be precise and do not exceed 300 words. Include your research question, hypothesis (if your research has it), methodology and the main results of your study. In the methodology section, describe in brief all methods which you will use, and the procedure of the research.

The introduction should provide your readers with some understanding of the research problem. Usually it is important to:

  • State the specific problem (main goal of your study)
  • Cover the current situation with research on your topic (if there has not been much research done you may emphasize on the necessity and significance of your research)
  • Write about the rationale of your research stating why it is so important to conduct it
  • Present the dependent and independent variables in your research
  • Write your hypothesis
  • Describe the limits of your study
  • Give definitions to the key concepts

After writing your introduction, make a general overview of the literature. It is important to mention the most significant studies, publications, and books on your research problem, and then what aspects they cover.

Do the same with your methodology. Cover all the methods that you are going to use to do your research. Describe the procedure, instruments, and main characteristics of the methods, and how they help you to get the answers to your research problems.
At the conclusion of your research proposal you have to present the main results of your study. Well, to tell the truth, you cannot have the results at the stage of proposal writing. But at least you should know what you are going to prove, disprove, or answer in your research.

The last part of your proposal is a discussion part. Here you need to say what impact your research could have in future and what will be missed because of your financial, or any other limitations. Also, speak about the possible weaknesses and strengths of your research.

Only if your proposal includes all these elements and is written in accordance to the latest academic standards will you be allowed to continue writing your research on the selected topic.

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