A research proposal is a phase preceding writing a bigger paper like a master's thesis or a doctoral dissertation. Many think of a research proposal as of a preliminary agreement between the researcher and the research committee (the institution). By accepting the proposal the committee agrees that the topic (problem) has been selected reasonably; that it acknowledges what is going to be done within the framework of the study and that they will accept the result towards earning a degree. Such agreement will contain such elements as presentation of the problem, brief overview of academic literature, problem analysis and suggested ways of directing the research.
Research proposals can take different forms, depending on the field of study and the stage the paper is in. For example, there can be a pre-proposal stage (preliminary document indicating researcher's readiness to carry out the research) - it usually takes one or two pages, or the standard proposal, taking anywhere from 6 to 15+ pages, depending on the institution, department and the academic level.
Research proposals: Significance
A research proposal explains your committee what is going to be done; will explain the problem and substantiate why the problem needs to be addressed, how it will be done and what you are expecting to achieve by researching the issue. Because of rather strict limits of a research proposal, clear and laconic style is of vital importance. The research proposal is the backbone for your thesis, the latter will be only expanded further in your writing. Besides requirements concerning the form, rather strict requirements are set forth for the contents of the thesis. A good research proposal has to revolve around a good idea. It goes without saying that if the research idea is worthwhile, it can become a good research proposal and, respectively, a thesis. Experience shows that good idea is based on good knowledge of the subject. In order to build up familiarity, preparation will be needed - read, discuss, think it over, read again. Get as much materials relevant to the topic as you can get. If you feel there are still some lacunae left, find people who you can talk to or try to find materials from "adjacent" researchers. Internet and search engines are also an important part of finding the information you need. You will have to live with your topic - go to bed and get up with it, talk about it with anyone who is more or less proficient in the field. When the entire picture regarding your research proposal gets clear, start drafting the main parts. It's best to write about just what you know - the missing parts can be filled in afterwards.
Writing a research proposal will get you an idea of your research project. One thing to consider - in most cases big size of your proposal will simply show that you have read a lot of literature on the topic, but haven't yet got a clear idea of what direction you want your paper to take; likewise 5-7 pages of well written informative text show how well you know the topic.
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