The research proposal is made to clarify what the Researcher intends to do in his research. By making a Research Proposal, the researcher puts himself, his intentions, and his ideas in front of others for any queries, new ideas, criticism, or improvements in his research project plan. In this article, you will know the structure of research proposal and its need.
Research Proposal must also be submitted for approval by the concerned authorities, i.e., the guide of the client or the funding agency, etc. It also helps create budget estimates, costs, time, etc., statements.
Need for Research Proposal
1. Organizing the ideas of the Researcher
The Researcher is overwhelmed with several ideas about what, why, and how he would conduct various research activities. His mind is bogged down with several ideas crossing and jumping. The research proposal acts as a platform where the Researcher has to put his ideas in a systematic shape in written form. We know written communication is more systematic than oral or unrecorded. So, here he gets the full opportunity to organize and write down his ideas about the proposed research.
2. Convincing the Audience (Tutor, Guide, client, etc)
Often the research is undertaken where we need to convince somebody else about the importance of the proposed research. It may be a student who has to get approval from his guide/tutor/Board of University for his research degree or some private researcher/research company asking for approval from the client before embarking on the study. Such authorities can be convinced by the submission of the research proposal, which they can study and appreciate.
3. Contracting with Client/Funding Agency
The Researcher sometimes gets funds for his research from some other agency. It may be a funding body like University, University Grants Commission, AICTE, etc., or a client. In such cases, it becomes obligatory for Researcher to get their final ‘yes’ about the what, how, why, etc. So that he can work freely and these questions are not asked of him repeatedly. This enhances trust and confidence.
Structure of Research Proposal
Usually, the research proposal is prepared by specifying certain information in a structured manner. For this, you have to prepare the structure of research proposal. A generally accepted style of research proposal includes the following headings:
1. Title of Research Project
i) The title should be suitable
The title should be decided after giving it enough thought. The title should suit the problem and convey the overall meaning to the readers. It should indicate the nature of the problem being handled and generally reflect the area of concern. The other scholars or users searching for research literature do so through computer search engines. A suitable title helps the Researcher get selected in the search, while an unsuitable title may not.
ii) Title should be broad
The title should be written to encompass good angles of the problem and should be enough to convey the intended scope. There is a danger of some crucial aspects getting left out of the scope. A too-narrow title will prevent the Researcher from venturing outside the scope of the title and may limit the total scope of the research adversely.
iii) Title should not be too broad
While a narrow title limits the scope of the research work adversely, a too-broad title expands the boundary of the research much beyond. It may become challenging to justify the title as it dramatically raises the expectations of readers and users. The Researcher will again not be focused if the title throws open a huge scope to be covered in the project.
2. Define the Problem
Here, the Researcher describes the ‘why’ part of his project. It is the structure of research proposal. He discusses the initial nature and background of the problem to be addressed. He explains the project’s rationale by elaborating upon his research’s need, significance, and contribution to various stakeholders/sections of the populace/clients. He can also take a cue from the objectives which he wants to cover. He dwells on his existing knowledge, studies, and any relevant concepts or theories, etc. He links his proposed study with these theories or banks of knowledge. He also may point to various important literature sources he has considered or will consider.
3. Research Objectives
The Researcher tries to specify concrete statements of the problem. These statements are based on the title and rationale of the study. He breaks up the title into several objectives he proposes to achieve through his research project. These objectives then serve as a vital guiding force for keeping the Researcher focused on these points. It comprises the structure of research proposal. He should remember that at the end of the study, he must justify the attainment of all the objectives which he lays down now at this stage.
Thus, the objectives should be made such that they lead the Researcher toward the study’s final outcome. The number of objectives should not be too less or too many. A small number of objectives may indicate work inefficiency and many objectives make it difficult to focus on all of them. Generally, 5-8 objectives have been frequently found in the academic field.
4. Methodology of Research
This part is the longest part of the proposal. Here the Researcher describes the ‘How’ of his project. He tries to explain how he will approach various activities and also specifies the reasons (‘why’) for his choosing a particular approach. He must declare his various choices to be followed in other project stages. He also specifies the ‘where,’ ‘sections,’ or ‘boundary’ of the scope of the study. He also specifies population and collection sources of secondary and primary data, i.e., surveys/interviews/examinations/experiments, or any combination. He describes his sample design, sampling method, method of recording, ethical issues and their treatment, the probable approaches and methods of data analysis, etc.
5. Time Line Marking (Time Schedule)
Time scheduling helps plan and control the various activities to complete them in the stipulated/allotted/permitted/given period. Time is an essential factor in the total project’s viability. Time creates the deadline as some other decisions may be waiting for the outcome of the research. Time is also essential as the cost is also related to time. Costs of various resources like manpower etc., being used for research may go up, or the cost of work after the research outcome is highly affected adversely by time delay. It is the structure of research proposal.
The time planning and its display to others can be done using computer software like Timeline or Gantt Chart. The software makes time planning relatively easy and neat, and the job gets done efficiently. Otherwise, it also indicates if the project is feasible within time constraints. On the other hand, it reflects if any extra resources are required to complete the project in the stipulated period.
6. Need of Resources
Required resources may put a question mark on the feasibility of the research. Resource requirement loads the project with costs. The Researcher also specifies the monetary value of the resources required by him. The funding agency has to consider the implication of costs. Resources may be classified as manpower, equipment, building/space, traveling, funds, contingency, etc. It is the structure of research proposal. The Researcher defines each resource unit and provides a calculation of estimate for each such resource, and then the units are converted into monetary value.
The Researcher mentions here the sources of information he has collected or intends to collect. It may be published books, articles, the internet, etc. Currently, only essential references mentioned are directly linked with the proposal. The exhaustive list of references may be given during actual project report preparation.