Research Assignment 8: The Research Proposal
A proposal is NOT a five page draft of the paper. Rather, a proposal can be viewed in two ways: first as an advocacy piece, whereby you seek to convince your classmates and the instructor that you can complete an adequate research study on the topic you have selected. As such, you should write the proposal in the first person. The second way to think of the proposal is as a plan for your research project. If you write a good proposal, completing the research project is not difficult. All you need to do is follow your plan.
||Introduction. In one page, summarize the nature of the problem or issue you plan to investigate. Why is the topic interesting? Why is it relevant or important? Why should you spend your time on it? (Why should we spend our time reading it?)
||Research Hypothesis. In one sentence, state the hypothesis you plan to examine, or the main point you plan to make in the paper. At this stage the thesis may be a tentative one but it should be as specific as possible, and it should be testable. For example, “This paper will attempt to prove that the demand for hula hoops is not sensitive to their price.”
||Literature Survey. What are the major studies that have been published on this topic? What contributions do they make to understanding the topic? What are their shortcomings?
||Research Design. What is your plan for completing this research? Your plan should address the following questions:1. What is the conceptual framework of the model? For example, “This research will apply the theory of demand to study consumer spending on hula hoops.” Note that the research hypothesis should follow from this conceptual analysis.2. In an ideal world, what data would you need to test your hypothesis? For example, sales of hula hoops, their price, personal disposable income, some measure of their “coolness.”
3. What data have you found to test your analysis and what is the source of that data? For example, “I plan to test the hypothesis using data on hula hoop sales and prices, as well as disposable income obtained from the National Income and Product Accounts, Survey of Personal Consumption Expenditures. I was unable to find a measure of coolness.”
4. How will you test your analysis empirically? For example, “This research will conduct a regression study over the time period of 1972-1999.” Explain how this design should produce reliable and valid results.
||References. List all the references you have read so far on your topic. Use the appropriate bibliographic style. This list should demonstrate that you have identified the major studies done relevant to your topic.
In sum, the proposal should answer four questions. What is the issue or problem your research will investigate? What hypothesis will you attempt to prove? How will you prove it? Do you have adequate sources to do the job? If the proposal does not convince the reader that it answers all four questions sufficiently, it is not an acceptable proposal.
Here are two sample proposals that you may want to look at as models for your own: