The research proposal should be at least 8-10 pages in length not including title page, abstract, or references.
Your title page should include the working title of your research project, your name, date, and course title. You should also have an abstract (and keywords) after your title page.
Your proposal should have the following sections:
Introduction: The introduction is where you identify your specific research question and where you set the general context for the study. In this section you need to include:
- a statement of the problem or general research question and context leading to a clear statement of the specific research question (this can be put under a subheading of Problem statement);
- background and contextual material justifying why this case or topic should be studied; and
- a purpose statement (what is the ultimate point of doing the research — keeping mind that the purpose of research is to answer the question, but maybe there is a policy issue you want to address AFTER you complete the research).
Literature Review: This short preliminary literature review section reviews the literature important to your specific research question. The literature review focuses on discussing how other researchers have addressed the same or similar research questions. It introduces the study and places it in larger context that includes a discussion of why it is important to study this case. It provides the current state of accumulated knowledge as it relates to your specific research question.In your literature review you should also discuss the theoretical framework to be used in the study. You should ensure you cover the following in your discussion:
- a summary of the theory or model to be used in the study, including a diagram of the model if appropriate (you can put this under a separate theoretical framework section, if you’d like);
- organize the lit review around variables that you plan to use in the methodology. This is where you summarize the articles that you found, but you have to figure out ways to organize the conclusions of the scholars who have written about this theory before you. Try not to write one paragraph per article. Try to organize around the concepts that you find.
- Hypothesis in the lit review conclusion
- To really drive this home you want to end your literature review with a discussion of the current knowledge gaps. (You can put this in the lit review conclusion section with the hypothesis.) This is an opportunity to once again promote the importance of your own research. How will your research fit within this larger body of knowledge? What are you doing differently? What gaps will your research fill?
- For some additional information on how to organize your theoretical framework into your paper, check out this USC Library guide on Theoretical Frameworks.
From here you would then include a transition into your methodology section.
Research Design and Methods: Describes how you will answer your research question or test the hypothesis. This section describes your overall research design and how you plan to collect, synthesize, and interpret your data. It should include:
- identification and operationalization (measurement) of variables;
- a sampling plan (i.e., study population and sampling procedures, if appropriate);
- justification of case studies used (if you are going to use case studies as your research method);
- data collection/sources (secondary literature and where you will get that OR primary research and how you propose the collection of your own data, interviews, surveys, etc.);
- a summary of analysis procedures (pattern-matching, etc.); and
- the limitations of study and bias discussion.
Conclusion: Reemphasizes the importance of your study and ties the proposal together.
Reference List: As with all academic papers you need to references the works that you have cited (direct quotes or paraphrases) in the text of your document and incorporate a complete reference list or bibliography at the end. This list needs to be in the style used within your field. APA= Criminal Justice, Turabian for all others in this course.
Remember that the references you use demonstrate your knowledge of the topic area. This research proposal is meant to convince your professor that you not only have identified a worthy question in need of investigation, but that you are also capable of carrying out the research involved to successfully answer that question. At the very least you should have referenced 12-15 peer-reviewed sources in this proposal.
Since multiple writing styles are in use within this course, on your title page, please note which style you are using within your assignment. This will help me cater my comments to the style you are using. The style you use need to be the one that is used within your program of study.
Standard academic format will suffice: 1-inch borders on all four sides, double spaced, with times new roman 12-point font.
As you proof read your assignment I encourage you to work with Belcher, Wendy Laura. 2009. “Editing Your Sentences” In Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success. Sage. This resource has a nice step by step process for enhancing your writing.