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Writing a research proposal


Writing a research proposal Communication Research Week 4 What is a research proposal? A research proposal aims to introduce your reader or supervisor to the proposed ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Writing a research proposal

Writing a research proposal
  • Communication Research
  • Week 4

What is a research proposal?
  • A research proposal aims to introduce your reader
    or supervisor to the proposed purpose and
    direction of a research project you are planning
    with the purpose of persuading them that the
    research will be worthwhile.
  • The process is important as it can help you
    determine your focus, clarify what is involved in
    your project and plan its development.

The Context
  • The Research Proposal is the document you will
    present to plead your case for funds for your
    research project.
  • You will probably use the development of your
    research proposal to refine details of your
    proposed project.

The Proposal document
  • The information needs to be argued well,
    presented in a formal yet familiar style and
    structure, and with no fat.
  • Write a tightly organised and convincing
  • Expect it to be 1500 2500 words.

How is it set out?
  • Often as a report or memo report eg
  • Uses headings and subheadings and a numbering
    system to guide the reader
  • Uses page numbers, includes a bibliography and an
    appendix for supplementary material

Introduction 1 Topic problem
  • The research topic formulates a problem that is
    worthy of research
  • The topic should be
  • stated clearly in one or two sentences
  • framed as a research question or hypothesis
  • framed as a problem or question in need of an
  • The topic provides the pivot or focus

The Research Question
  • Research is about finding answers to questions in
    order to discover new knowledge
  • The most difficult part of the project is
    deciding what research question to ask

The next logical question
  • The formulation of a problem might be more
    difficult than its solution.
  • Albert Einstein

Developing the research question
  • Write down lots of possible arrangements of the
  • Many of them wont lead you anywhere, but
    eventually you will come up with something that
    fits your requirements
  • In particular, it will follow from the research
    youve been reading

Introduction 2 Context
  • Your research topic needs to be located in its
    context and background
  • In sketching this background, you need to show
    how and why this topic is important and why it is
    worth researching
  • This can be done by
  • Contextualizing the research problem how does
    it arise?
  • Outlining its significance what will be the
    outcomes and for whom?
  • Referring to key issues that are associated with
    the topic

Introduction 3 Background
  • Background can be provided in several ways. These
    might include
  • A brief overview or history of the problem or
    issue using examples or statistics in support
  • A theoretical overview of the issue
  • A brief description of the context in which the
    problem has occurred
  • An overview or analysis of your position or
    assumptions on the issue

Introduction 4 Literature review
  • All research should be contextualized in terms of
    relevant scholarly or academic literature related
    to or around the problem or topic
  • The literature may not refer to the problem
    exactly but may explore similar or related issues
    or other research that sheds light on the problem
  • The purpose is to demonstrate that you are
    familiar with other bodies of research around
    your topic

Literature Review
  • Many researchers argue their perspectives through
    the literature review
  • The best researchers attempt to make their
    hypotheses evolve out of the literature search

The Literature Search
  • The literature review explores relevant research,
    and hypotheses evolve from past research
  • The literature is usually found in a search that
    is carefully directed by a desire to research a
    particular question
  • What happens next is determined from studying the

Using scholarly databases
  1. Use your topic as your search term to search
    scholarly databases and library catalogues for
    papers that will support your research
  2. Formulate some more specific search terms. The
    more closely the search term matches the area
    that you want to research, the more likely it is
    that the hits will be useful

Keep searching
  • Dont get sidetracked into reading the papers at
    this stage just keep searching until youve
    found some papers
  • You will want a lot of papers maybe 30 or so
    because you will probably throw half of them away
    in the next stage, when you filter out those that
    will not be useful to your research project

Filtering the research documents
  1. Display the article in your browser. Select the
    whole document, then Copy it to the Windows
  2. Open Microsoft Word and paste the document into
  3. Use Words Find feature (in the Edit menu) to
    look for your search term

In each paper
  • What specific question is being asked?
  • How does it address the question?
  • How convincing are the results?
  • What aspects of the research question remain
  • What is the next logical question?

Filtering the research documents
  • The context in which your search term is used and
    the number of times its used give you a good
    indication of whether that document will be
    useful in your research.
  • If you decide to use it, save the document and
    move on.
  • If you have less than 12 papers you need to keep

Fictional example Literature Review
  • Smith and Brown (2001) reported SMS usage
    against telephone and face-to-face communication
    and separated their data by gender preferences.
    In contrast, Zhou et al (2003) showed that while
    many people readily accept the use of SMS as a
    dating communication tool, many people of the
    25-40 age group, and women in particular, oppose
    it. Harries (2002) suggested that the opposition
    is related to the unromantic nature of SMS and
    Norris (2002) showed a belief that SMS is
    considered insufficient for the business of
    finding a mate for long term cohabitation and
    reproduction. Jones et al (2003) also reported
    SMS dating across age groups. Cruikshank and
    Johnson (2001) said that arranging dates by SMS
    was readily accepted by 83 of their female
    respondents and 87 of male respondents.
    Findings were corroborated by Stuart (2004) and
    Nicholson (2005) but with less detail. Henriks
    et al (2003) found that respondents in the 16-24
    age group and those over 40 readily accepted SMS
    as a dating tool, while respondents in the 25-40
    age group opposed it. Other studies (Findus et
    al (2003), Horace and Fawn (2002) and Halley et
    al (2003)) corroborate their findings, but few
    respondents made any mention of ending
    relationships by SMS, leading to our research
    question Is it acceptable to end a relationship
    by SMS message?
  • The research will attempt to differentiate
    responses by gender and age.

  • A detailed description of the research methods
    you intend to develop or employ and a
    justification of why you have chosen them. You
    should describe
  • Exactly how you intend to conduct the research
    eg a survey that will be distributed to 100
    randomly selected people between the period of x
    to y 2005
  • Research instrument eg 20 question survey
    comprising a selection of open and closed

  • The timeframe of the research
  • How you plan to analyse the data to address the
    research question
  • Any problems or issues that you anticipate in
    collecting and analyzing the data
  • What ethical issues might be encountered and how
    do you plan to address these?

Other parts include
  • Research plan and timeline (use a table with real
  • Conclusions
  • Bibliography listed alphabetically using APA
    style (see style guide on CR homepage)
  • Appendix additional or supplementary material
    such as a draft survey or draft observation

  • Make sure all the references in your literature
    review are included and set out correctly.
  • Use the APA referencing system
  • If in doubt, check here http//www.psychwww.com/

Appendix 1
  • Your appendix should contain a copy of the
    Protocol Application Form that you would normally
    submit to the UWS Human Research Ethics
  • http//www.uws.edu.au/about/adminorg/devint/ors/e

Appendix 2
  • Another appendix should contain a copy of your
    draft survey (if you plan to use this method),
    observation schedule etc
  • This demonstrates that you have thought the
    research question through, and you have created a
    set of questions that address the research
    question properly.

And now write the proposal
  • Use Times for your body text. Set the size to 12
    point and 1½ space
  • Use Arial bold for your headings, and set the
    size to 14 point
  • Dont underline anything except the obligatory
    underlining of URLs.
  • Use paragraph space (6pt) between your paragraphs
    (some journals may prefer indents so in these
    cases follow the style guide. As a general rule
    of thumb, I prefer paragraph space)

Spelling and Grammar
  • Dont use the grammar checker.
  • Dont rely on the spelling checker. Use a
    dictionary. A real, hard-copy one, with pages
    made of paper.
  • Many online dictionaries are good, but
  • Usually dont give the meaning of the word, so
    you can have the wrong spelling.
  • Might be Standard English (whatever that is).
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