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Guide in Writing Research Proposal

Guide in Writing Research Proposal

A very detail explanation on how to write your proposal.

1. Overview 
This part covers a general idea of topic that you are interested to investigate, which include the research motivation, why the research is important and significant, to whom it is important.

2. Research Questions and hypothesis 
Research questions are: 
a. an area or topic in which you have an interest
b. ideas or issues which you wish to explore in detail
c. problems detected and needing a solution in practical or theoretical terms

It should be as specific as possible. In some cases, you may make two or more research questions to cover a complex topic.

Research hypothesis: 
A hypothesis is a statement that can be proved or disproved. A research question can be made into a hypothesis by changing it into a statement.

3. Research objectives are:
a. Statements (not question) of what you intend to do to find the answer to your research question
b. Your objectives are structured using action-words like: assess or reassess, develop, provide (an understanding of …), examine, analyse, interpret, elucidate, articulate, establish, construct, evaluate or re-evaluate
c. Objectives are numbered in a list
d. Successive steps you need to take in order to answer your research question
e. There should be a logical sequence to your objectives. Therefore it should include a list of stages or the order in which you’ll be finding things out—for example:
  • To identify a problem 
  • To develop a solution 
  • To design and implement the solution 
  • To assess its impact 
4. Literature Review 
Literature review should include three main issues in the research context
a. Historical issues – what past work has been done in this area?
b. Theoretical issues – what past and present frameworks of explanation have been used?
c. Methodological issues- how have others have tackled similar (or even very different) problems?

However literature review ISN’T: a descriptive list, a series of paragraphs beginning with yet another author's name and a series of summaries. Literature review helps you to:
a. Ask what is the significance of your research? What is known and not known? What has and has not been done? What questions need further research/creative exploration?
b. Shape your research question and objectives by thinking laterally and creatively about other potential search areas
c. Choose appropriate approaches and methodologies by identifying areas of theoretical or methodological debate or disagreement, controversy or inconsistency
d. Practice and develop research techniques and skills
  • to read in a targeted way 
  • to develop skills of critical appraisal and capacity to identify the objectives and arguments of those you are reading 
  • and to articulate their strengths and weaknesses 
Literature review need not be lengthy, however it should be comprehensive. It should trace the central themes in the literature, highlight major areas of disagreement, and reflect a critical stance toward the materials reviewed.

5. Methodology 

This section describes several methods that are used during the research in order to meet its main objective. This section consists of a description of plans for collecting and analyzing the data. What instruments will be used? Why are they appropriate for this study? Is there evidence of the instruments' reliability and validity? How and to whom will they be administered? What procedures will be followed in the data analysis? 
Survey on architectures, algorithms, approaches or development models and research prototypes are also part of the research methodology activities. For research projects with a development component, an appropriate development methodology must be reflected. 

6. Research Contribution 

An explanation of how the research findings will contribute to the existing body of knowledge. 

7. Research Scope and Limitation 

Define your research scope and its limitation. 

8. Work Plan 

This section indicates exactly what will be done, the sequence of the various activities, and the products of deliverables that will be prepared. Specify the tasks, deliverables, and schedule in some detail. It is important that the proposed task structure includes all of the activities necessary for completing the project. Work plan can be presented in a Gantt chart.

Sources: Dr. Noorhidawati Abdullah, FCSIT, UM, 30 Jan 2009

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