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Writing a Research Proposal

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									Writing a Research
      Proposal
   Honours Research Projects
            2006

        Prof Urmilla Bob
       bobu@ukzn.ac.za
Why write a research proposal?
   Purpose of a proposal is to be persuasive
   A proposal demonstrates competence and
    the work-plan to undertake research
   Used for evaluation and monitoring
   Address three key aspects:
    • The importance of the research idea
    • A thorough understanding of the relevant
      literature and the major issues
    • Sound and appropriate methodology
              Preparation
   Reading
   Networking
   Focus
   “Fit”
   Target/ audience
             Identifying a research topic
   Is it doable/ realistic?
   Supporting literature
              Key questions
   Why is the research being conducted?
   What will be the focus/ parameters of the
    research?
   How will the research be conducted?
   Who will be conducting the research?
   Where will the research be undertaken? –
    utilization of the case study approach
   What are the assumptions and limitations?
   How long will it take to complete the
    research?
   How much will the research cost?
    Overview of a typical proposal
   Title
   Introduction
   Motivation for the study
   Aim
   Research objectives/ questions
   Hypothesis (if applicable)
   Methods
   Conclusion
   Timeframes and budget
   References
                                    Title
    Concise and descriptive
    Informative and catchy

Examples:
The effectiveness of community gardens as a tool for agricultural and community
     development in the Hammersdale area, KwaZulu-Natal

Amadiba’s ‘road’ to poverty alleviation in the Eastern Cape Province, South
    Africa

Trace metal contamination of sediments in the Durban Harbour, KwaZulu-Natal

Impacts of wastewater on the Mlambo residents: Case Study of the Zheng Yong
     textile factory

Wattle we do? Utilisation and management of an invasive alien plant in rural
     South Africa
    Introduction and motivation for the
                   study
   Background or context for the study
   Allude to the significance of the
    study
   Incorporates review of key literature
                    Aim
   Concise
   Statement of the problem

Example:
This research endeavour is aimed at
  examining the role/s of community-based
  organisations in sustainable land use and
  management in marginalised rural
  communities in KwaZulu-Natal.
Research objectives/ questions
   Expected specific outcomes of the
    project (preferably in measurable
    terms)
   Clear objectives/ research questions
                           Example
   To generate detailed, locality specific information on community-
    based organisations that focus on land use and management in
    specific marginalised communities in KwaZulu-Natal.
   To examine the roles of various stakeholders (especially
    community-based organisations, NGOs and governmental
    institutions) in developing ecologically, socially and economically
    sustainable land use and management strategies within the
    broader framework of current livelihood systems.
   To investigate current land use management systems, including
    traditional and governmental institutional arrangements at the
    local level.
   To examine the opportunities and constraints for community-
    based organisations to sustainably manage and use land
    resources in marginalised rural communities.
   To evaluate the sustainability of current policies and institutional
    governance structures relating to land use and management in
    Zombodze.
                      Hypothesis
    A tentative prediction or explanation of the relationship
                between two or more variables.
     A prediction of the answer to the research question.



   Is the hypothesis:
    • Clear
    • Concise
    • Testable by specific experiments?
               Methodology
   Plan of action of how the objectives or
    research questions will be addressed
    (identify activities)
   Specific appropriate methods identified
    and discussed (substantiate choice)
   Description of methods, design, sampling
    approach (inclusion/ exclusion criteria),
    instrumentation, analysis
   Choice will be based on research
    objectives/ questions
   Ethical considerations
Objective   Data to be Specific Data
            gathered measure collection
              Conclusion
   Summarize key intentions
   Emphasize benefits
    Activities, Timeframe and Budget
   Is it realistic?
   Link budget and timeframe to key
    activities
   Funding sources
ACTIVITY               TIME-FRAME     BUDGET
Literature review      8/3-8/5/06     R500 (printing, books,
                                      articles)
Development of         15/3-15/6/06   -
research instruments
Data collection/       15/6-1/8/06    R1000
fieldwork                             (fieldworkers)
                                      R1000 (transport)
                                      R1000 (accommodation and
                                      subsistence)
Data analysis          15/7-30/8/06   R500 (SPSS)
                                      R1000 (water testing)
                                      R500 (GIS data in shape file
                                      format)
Write-up               Continuous     -
                       30/8-26/9/06
Submission             16/10/06       -
TOTAL                  -              R5500
What would a typical project look like?
    Title page
    Abstract/ Executive summary
    Table of Contents and list of abbreviations
    Chapter 1: Introduction (motivation for the
     study, aim, objectives, hypotheses, chapter
     outline)
    Chapter 2: Literature review
    Chapter 3: Background to the case study
    Chapter 4: Methodology
    Chapter 5: Data analysis
    Chapter 6: Recommendations and conclusions
    References
    Appendixes
                   Literature review
   Ensures that you are not "reinventing the wheel"
   Gives credits to those who have laid the groundwork for your
    research
   Demonstrates your knowledge of the research problem
   Demonstrates your understanding of the theoretical and research
    issues related to your research question
   Shows your ability to critically evaluate relevant literature
    information
   Indicates your ability to integrate and synthesize the existing
    literature
   Provides new theoretical insights or develops a new model as the
    conceptual framework for your research
   Convinces your reader that your proposed research will make a
    significant and substantial contribution to the literature (i.e.,
    resolving an important theoretical issue or filling a major gap in
    the literature)

Source: Internet
     Common errors/ concerns

   Failure to provide the proper context
   Too broad
   Make sweeping statements/ assertions/
    assumptions
   Inability to cite key literature
   Ability to develop a coherent and persuasive
    argument for the proposed research
   Too verbose rather than concise
   Poor structure/ organisation
   Slopping writing (technical errors)
              Supervision
   Process and procedures
   Expectations and roles
   Timeframes

								
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