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Anatomy of a Research Proposal
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: Comment by N Drum: This should flow as a narrative. You should not have a bunch of subheading here calling out “Purpose statement” and the like. It should be clear from your writing what you are talking about and why its relevant. Make sure your discussion flows logically.
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 this section you should: Comment by N Drum: In your assignment for this course you were asked to do a literature review specific to a substantive theory.
You should NOT cut and paste that paper into this section. Instead here you should be synthesizing the literature specific to what we already know about the topic you’d like to assess. What studies have already been carried out here that inform the development of your research question but just don’t go far enough? In the literature review section is also where you will discuss your substantive theory. In terms of organization you can do this first and then get into the studies that have already been carried out or last, each proposal is different so you need to feel this out for yourself and what makes sense for your research topic. You should be synthesizing the literature around your substantive theory. Here you might be able to further synthesize (condense) what you already wrote for your assignment 4.
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:
From here you would then include a transition into your methodology section.
NOTE: Literature reviews can be a bit tricky to write. Think back to how you wrote your short theory lit review in week 4. Chances are you already started to write in a style similar to what one does when completing a literature review. Check out this video (the same one you were guided to in week 4) to help you further prepare to write this section of your proposal. This will not be the last time that you are asked to write a literature review in your academic career so its important to master this skill.
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: Comment by N Drum: This section should be to the research design and methods you plan to use for your proposed study. This proposal needs to be something that is realistic that you yourself can carry out on your own (not with a team of researchers, or with a ton of money). Think about a project that you can complete in 8 to 16 weeks. This should be a proposal for a research paper that you could present (once the project has been completed) to a professional conference, or as your MA thesis.
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. Comment by N Drum: The only references that should appear on this list are the ones you actually reference in the body of the paper. This is the rule across all papers unless your professor says otherwise. At the grad level papers the merit of papers often comes from the body of work that informs them so you really want to pack these in and show off your knowledge of the literature.
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.
Anatomy of a Research Proposal
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