Writing a Research Proposal

Structuring Research Proposal Specifies

You are about to commence a new research project in a field of your choice. You are expected to write a report that constitutes a research proposal.

  1. Working individually, you will:

Have chosen a clear and specific research question/ aim/ hypothesis for your research;

Have contextualised your research question/ aim within the academic literature

Understand the philosophical and methodological bases for your research

Have a sound method to address the research question/ aim/ hypothesis

  1. Use Harvard style in-text citation and referencing.
  2. Do not copy any materials you use word for word unless you identify these sections clearly as quotations.
  3. If you paraphrase any materials, you must identify sources through in-text referencing.
  4. This is an individual assignment please do not work closely with anyone else.
  5. Write 3000 words (+ or – 10%) excluding the header sheet, cover page, contents page, reference list, footnotes and appendices.
 Marks for criteria: Criteria
10% Focus and Completion Does the proposal address the set tasks in a meaningful manner?
20% Research Objective Does the proposal clearly articulate
20% Synthesis and Soundness Does the proposal place the research objective in the context of the relevant academic literature and any relevant past studies? Does the discussion demonstrate a

Comprehensive understanding of that literature?


30% Research Methods and Methodology Does the proposal sensibly outline methods for accessing sources of data that will address or answer the research objective? Is the method consistent with the methodology?
10% Clarity of Approach Is the proposal well organised, logically constructed and attentive to the needs of the reader? Does the timeline include an Gantt chart or key milestones for research?
10% Mechanical Soundness Is the portfolio clearly written, spell

Structuring the research proposal

  1. Introduction (~200 words)

Explain the issue you are examining and why it is significant.

Describe the general area to be studied

Explain why this area is important to the general area under study (e.g., psychology of language, second language acquisition, teaching methods)

  1. Background/Review of the Literature (~1000 words)

A description of what has already known about this area and short discussion of why the background studies are not sufficient.

Summarise what is already known about the field. Include a summary of the basic background information on the topic gleaned from your literature review

Discuss several critical studies that have already been done in this area (cite according to Harvard style).

Point out why these background studies are insufficient. In other words, what question(s) do they leave unresolved that you would like to study?

  1. Research Objective (~500 words)

A contextualization and description of the questions you are examining and an exploration of the claims.

Outline the methodological position you will take (ontology and epistemology)

Outline the overarching research aim, objective or hypothesis that you will explore.

List the specific question(s) that you are exploring.

Explain how these research questions are related to the larger issues raised in the introduction.

  1. Method and Design (~900 words)

A description of how you would go about collecting data and test the questions your are exploring. (You are not required to come up with a new or original method!).

Describe the general method you choose for your study, in order to explore your research objective or test your hypothesis (es).

Explain why this method is the best for your purposes.

Explain any potential difficulties in collecting data and how these will be overcome

Explain the design features that ensure acceptability for ethical purposes

Describe the participants (if any) and explain how you selected the sample

Explain how you will present the collected data and how it will be able to be analysed the results to explore the research aim or to test the research hypothesis.

Research Proposal

  1. Significance and Conclusion (~400 words)

Discuss, in general, how your proposed research would lead to a significant improvement over the original studies, and how it would benefit the field. (In other words, why should someone care?

  1. References (not in word count)

Include all references in Harvard style.

Appendix: (not in word count)

Dissertation structure in chapters

Gantt chart or timeline


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