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Writing a Research Proposal Honours Research Projects 2006 Prof Urmilla Bob firstname.lastname@example.org 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
"Writing a Research Proposal"