Produce a Research Proposal. The objective here is to identify and characterise a suitable research topic that you wish to investigate, to provide a rationale for why the proposed topic is of interest and worth analysing, and to outline the proposed approach to developing and conducting your research.
In producing this Research Proposal, you will need to consider and indicate whether it is the basis for an Academic Dissertation or a Professional Report in your 3rd year of study.
(I prefer Academic Dissertation)
N.B. Please be reassured that as part of the normal process of conducting research, a topic often evolves from the original proposal. Hence, there will be some flexibility when moving into your 3rd year and deepening your research as part of the Academic Dissertation or Professional Report. At this current stage, you are expected to write a proposal, rather than complete a full research project.
As part of your Research Proposal, you should:
• State clearly your proposed topic
• Provide a robust rationale (justification, explanation) for the proposed research, including the research question(s) you seek to answer and your main argument or approach
• Specify key objectives of your proposed research
• Conduct and summarise your literature search, specifying key texts, the main arguments contained therein, and their relevance to your topic
• Outline an indicative methodology, explaining what methods/techniques may be suitable for investigating your topic
• Outline an indicative time plan, explaining key elements and milestones of the proposed research
• List a preliminary bibliography.
Word limit: 2500 words
Please note that the preliminary bibliography is excluded from the above word limit.
Research Proposal Structure
Provide a clear title for your Research Proposal. The title should inform the reader of the angle of your topic. Indicate your argument (or ‘thesis’), approach to policy debate to be evaluated, and/or significant methods. Include a longer subtitle if it helps to further specify the proposed research.
Type of research: Academic Dissertation or Professional Report
Indicate whether your proposal is intended for an Academic Dissertation or Professional Report.
Rationale (approx. 500 words)
Explain the topic you are proposing to research, and the reasons for your choice. State the research question you seek to answer, and your main argument and approach. Outline the main aims. Explain what motivates your interest in the topic. Importantly, refer to key theories and/or analytical perspectives as a way of contextualising your proposed research. Overall, the rationale serves to make a strong case for your proposal and to place it in the wider field of knowledge and/or practice to which you wish to contribute.
Objectives (approx. 50-100 words)
List 3-6 main objectives of your research project. Objectives build on the underlying research aims by specifying step-by-step what the research seeks to achieve. Objectives should begin with an infinitive verb (‘to identify…’, ‘to investigate…’, ‘to evaluate…’, ‘to design…’, etc.), and should be action- and outcome-oriented.
Literature search and summary (approx. 1500 words)
Search and evaluate literatures relevant to your proposal. Identify what knowledge relating to your topic already exists, and what are current gaps. Follow the seminar guidelines on how to search, organise and summarise relevant sources. Make sure that the literatures searched are from credible sources (academic journals, policy reports from reputable organisations or practice communities etc.) Explain your literature search and summarise preliminary findings, showing how these inform your research proposal. Remember: research takes place in relation to an established field of knowledge or practice, by challenging earlier findings or expanding on them in new ways; it thus has to be grounded in relevant literature (academic, policy etc.).
Methodology (approx. 250 words)
Explain the proposed methodological approach to your research, and how this helps to address your research aims and objects and how it relates to the wider body of theory or policy practice to which your project seeks to contribute. Outline specific methods and techniques suitable for carrying out the proposed research. Discuss the type of research data to be generated and what data analysis will be needed. Identify any methodological challenges as relevant.
Time plan (approx. 100-150 words)
Outline a time plan for the proposed research. Include key steps and milestones. In setting out an indicative time schedule, you can demonstrate that you have thought through the proposed research in sufficient detail to make it manageable and feasible within the context of you studies. You may illustrate your time plan using e.g. a Gantt chart.
List the cited literature (see ‘literature search’, above) and any additional references in the bibliography section at the end of your proposal. In doing so, you must provide full details and follow academic conventions for listing bibliographical references. N.B. The bibliography is excluded from the word count