As it suggests, a research proposal is a formally-written proposal that student produce with a view to attracting approval, financial aid or sponsorship to undertake research work. Simply put, it is an expression of the wish to conduct a particular piece of research. Research proposals are more commonly found at senior academic levels, such as Master’s or PhD, where in-depth and sophisticated research projects are an absolute requirement of a course program.
Research proposal differ from one to another according to the academic level, the type of research, the intensity of the project and the educational establishment sponsoring it. It is often the case that sponsoring organizations or funding bodies will request specific information to be outlined in the research proposal.
Irrespective of the nature of the research the student wants to undertake, the research proposal should, at minimum, include the reason for the research, a profile or a background description on the subject of the research, a description of why that subject matter is important, why that student is well placed to undertake the project, what methods they will employ and the research budgetary requirements.
Depending on the objectives of the research work, the student may need to provide more detailed information for consideration. If the research proposal contains a request for financial sponsorship, then the student should provide a breakdown of the budgetary estimation for the project together with a justification of how the finance will be advantageous to the work.
Where a student is requesting financial sponsorship from an individual instructor or an establishment, he or she should explain why they believe that individual or establishment is the most relevant source of funding. A research proposal request should also state what is expected of the sponsor i.e. a review schedule of the work, the provision of research resources or, perhaps, just added academic credibility through sponsorship of the work.
A dissertation begins its life with a research proposal which has been approved by its associated establishment before work commences. The first step is to notify your instructor of your study subject. This forms the platform for further research, supported by a detailed methodology statement and a literature review. The methodology statement lists the means you intend to use e.g. experimental work, case studies, surveys, quantitative and qualitative analysis and so on. This is done in line with the normal requirements of that field of study.
In their research proposal, each student must outline the key reason for the research, clearly demonstrating the areas that require additional investigation. The document should provide a detailed explanation of the study method, a description of how the findings will add value in that area and the appropriateness of the work should be emphasized. The length of a research proposal can vary from 3 to 5 pages as a beginner, to upwards of 30 to 40 pages as the requirement becomes more advanced.