A research proposal is a concise and coherent summary of your proposed research. It sets out the central issues or questions that you intend to address. It outlines the general area of study within which your research falls, referring to the current state of knowledge and any recent debates on the topic. It also demonstrates the originality of your proposed research. The proposal is the most important document that you submit as part of the application process.
It gives you an opportunity to demonstrate that you have the aptitude for graduate level research, for example, by demonstrating that you have the ability to communicate complex ideas clearly, concisely and critically. The proposal also helps us to match your research interest with an appropriate supervisor. What should you include in the proposal? Regardless of whether you are applying for the MJur, MPhil or PhD programmes, your research proposal should normally include the following information: 1.
Title This is just a tentative title for your intended research. Related case studies PhD research fellow Literature review This section discusses the most important theories, models and texts that surround and influence your research questions, conveying your understanding and awareness of the key issues and debates. It should also focus on the theoretical and practical knowledge gaps that your work aims to address, as this ultimately justifies and provides the motivation for your project.
Methodology Here, you'll be expected to outline how you'll answer each of your research questions. A strong, well-written methodology is always crucial, but especially so if your project involves extensive collection and significant analysis of primary data.
The methodology identifies the data collection and analytical techniques available to you, before justifying the ones you'll use in greater detail. You'll also define the population that you're intending to examine. Do not be afraid to challenge the conclusions of prior research. Assess what you believe is missing and state how previous research has failed to adequately examine the issue that your study addresses.
Since a literature review is information dense, it is crucial that this section is intelligently structured to enable a reader to grasp the key arguments underpinning your study in relation to that of other researchers. A good strategy is to break the literature into "conceptual categories" [themes] rather than systematically describing groups of materials one at a time. Note that conceptual categories generally reveal themselves after you have read most of the pertinent literature on your topic so adding new categories is an on-going process of discovery as you read more studies.
How do you know you've covered the key conceptual categories underlying the research literature? Generally, you can have confidence that all of the significant conceptual categories have been identified if you start to see repetition in the conclusions or recommendations that are being made.
Compare the various arguments, theories, methodologies, and findings expressed in the literature: what do the authors agree on? Who applies similar approaches to analyzing the research problem? Contrast the various arguments, themes, methodologies, approaches, and controversies expressed in the literature: what are the major areas of disagreement, controversy, or debate? Critique the literature: Which arguments are more persuasive, and why? Which approaches, findings, methodologies seem most reliable, valid, or appropriate, and why?
Connect the literature to your own area of research and investigation: how does your own work draw upon, depart from, synthesize, or add a new perspective to what has been said in the literature? Research Design and Methods This section must be well-written and logically organized because you are not actually doing the research, yet, your reader must have confidence that it is worth pursuing.
The reader will never have a study outcome from which to evaluate whether your methodological choices were the correct ones. Thus, the objective here is to convince the reader that your overall research design and methods of analysis will correctly address the problem and that the methods will provide the means to effectively interpret the potential results. Your design and methods should be unmistakably tied to the specific aims of your study.
Describe the overall research design by building upon and drawing examples from your review of the literature. Consider not only methods that other researchers have used but methods of data gathering that have not been used but perhaps could be. Be specific about the methodological approaches you plan to undertake to obtain information, the techniques you would use to analyze the data, and the tests of external validity to which you commit yourself [i. When describing the methods you will use, be sure to cover the following: Specify the research operations you will undertake and the way you will interpret the results of these operations in relation to the research problem.
Don't just describe what you intend to achieve from applying the methods you choose, but state how you will spend your time while applying these methods [e. Keep in mind that a methodology is not just a list of tasks; it is an argument as to why these tasks add up to the best way to investigate the research problem.
This is an important point because the mere listing of tasks to be performed does not demonstrate that, collectively, they effectively address the research problem. Be sure you explain this. Anticipate and acknowledge any potential barriers and pitfalls in carrying out your research design and explain how you plan to address them. No method is perfect so you need to describe where you believe challenges may exist in obtaining data or accessing information.
It's always better to acknowledge this than to have it brought up by your reader. Preliminary Suppositions and Implications Just because you don't have to actually conduct the study and analyze the results, doesn't mean you can skip talking about the analytical process and potential implications.
The purpose of this section is to argue how and in what ways you believe your research will refine, revise, or extend existing knowledge in the subject area under investigation.
Depending on the aims and objectives of your study, describe how the anticipated results will impact future scholarly research, theory, practice, forms of interventions, or policymaking. Note that such discussions may have either substantive [a potential new policy], theoretical [a potential new understanding], or methodological [a potential new way of analyzing] significance.
Again, a narrow question that you can research in detail is better than a broad one that you will not be able to cover in full. Your research question s should be ones that have not been fully answered in previous research so that you are adding to the literature.
However, you want your literature review to have at least something to report, so an area where there is already plenty of research is better than a completely new topic. You can always find a sector, study group, or other unique element that will make the research worthwhile, even if others have done similar studies before. Thinking about your research topic, ask yourself it is that you actually want to find out?
Frame it as a question that you could ask somebody: good research questions often begin with asking words like who, what, when, where, why, how, and how much. Once you have brainstormed several questions related to your topic, look at each one individually against the following checklist of considerations.
Is the question interesting? Is there a social or practical value in knowing the answer to this question? Is the scope of the question specific enough that you would realistically be able to answer it within the limits time and cost of the project you are going to undertake? If not, you may need to narrow down the focus even further.
It also demonstrates the originality of your proposed research. What suggestions for subsequent research could arise from the potential outcomes of the study? You should include a brief overview of the general area of study within which your proposed research falls, summarising the current state of knowledge and recent debates on the topic. In addition, when a research proposal is made to a funding body or when plans for communication are not implicit in the project e.
Your PhD research proposal must passionately articulate what you want to research and why, convey your understanding of existing literature, and clearly define at least one original question and your approach to answering it. However, you want your literature review to have at least something to report, so an area where there is already plenty of research is better than a completely new topic. It is much easier to take irrelevant text and references out later than to add them in and remember where the ideas came from. Does the question suggest the kind of information you would need to answer it, and how you would go about getting that information? It is important to bear in mind that specific funding bodies might have different word limits. How will the results of the study be implemented, and what innovations will come about?
The Academic Proposal.
How is it significant within the subject areas covered in my class? Final checks Before submitting this document along with your PhD application, you'll need to ensure that you've adhered to the research proposal format. We therefore recommend that you contact a member of our staff with appropriate expertise to discuss your proposed research.