Before looking at the 7 Questions You Need To Answer Before Writing A Research Proposal. Let’s first get to understand what a research proposal is.
What is a Research Proposal ?
A research proposal is a relatively brief document that contains an outline plan for a research project. It is produced at the beginning of the research process in advance of any data collection. A well-constructed research proposal offers a blueprint for the research that shows what the parts look like and how they will fit together.
It describes what will be done, explains how it will be done, and justifies why the research should be undertaken.
A research proposal is an important part of the research process because the success of any project depends on forward planning and organization. A good proposal is based on careful thought about how the project will be conducted and involves the kind of advance planning that is required if a project is to run smoothly.
The Seven Basic Questions To Answer
There is logic to research proposals, and it is really very simple. It can be expressed as a sequence of seven basic questions that it is reasonable to ask about any proposed research. These questions determines a way of thinking about research and are the ones that most readers will have in their minds when they consider whether a proposal is worthwhile and whether it is feasible.
Successful proposals, however, have this in common: they manage to address the seven questions in a way that satisfies the requirements of their particular audience.
Question 1: What is your research all about?
This is a fundamental question that your readers will ask about any research proposal. First and foremost, they will want to know what the topic is and they will be looking for precise information about the subject matter of the research. And they are also entitled to ask what the research is trying to accomplish.
What is the purpose of the research and what is it trying to achieve? Without this information the readers of the research proposal cannot evaluate the proposal. And they will get frustrated and annoyed if they do not get this information supplied clearly, precisely, and succinctly in the proposal.
Question 2: What do we already know about the subject?
Having addressed the question of what the research is all about, the next logical thing that readers of a proposal will ask is: What do we already know about the subject? What has previous research revealed and where have we got to in terms of our knowledge about the topic?
This is a relevant and important question to pose in this context. Primarily, this is because a review of the existing information can prevent us from undertaking research that is not necessary. There is no point in ‘reinventing the wheel’. If the information already exists, there is no point in repeating the research (unless you have a specific aim of checking the validity of the earlier findings).
Question 3: What does the research seek to find out?
Once readers are clear about the aims of the research and the topic is already known, the next step logically is for them to ask what new information is needed. A review of the existing information not only tells us what we already know, but also tells us what we don’t know and what it would be useful to find out. This allows the proposed research to be targeted where it will be most useful.
It helps to pinpoint the kind of things that need to be studied to shed some light on the topic – the factors (variables, indicators, relationships, etc.) that it will prove useful to focus upon if the research is to produce findings that are relevant in terms of saying anything new or useful about the topic of research.
Readers will be looking for these things to be spelled out clearly and precisely, usually in the form of ‘research questions’.
Question 4: How will you get the necessary information?
Having established precisely what the research needs to find out, the next question is fairly obvious: How will the necessary information be obtained? A description of the research methods is called for in order to answer this question.
Proposals always include an account of how the researcher intends to collect the data, how much data will be collected, and what techniques will be used to analyse the data. Armed with such information readers can draw
their own conclusions about whether the methods are suitable or not for the task at hand, and whether or not the proposed methods are likely to work in practice.
It is these kind of judgements, of course, that are crucial when it comes to deciding whether a proposal appears to be worthwhile and feasible, and ultimately whether it is successful or not.
Question 5: What will it cost and how long will it take?
Research takes time and costs money, and this is something that readers of research proposals will recognize. It will be of concern to them in terms of the feasibility of the proposed project. They will want to know what resources are necessary for the successful completion of the research, and they will be looking for evidence within the proposal that the researcher has planned the research in according with the amount of time that is available and the amount of money at his or her disposal for the completion of the project.
Question 6: Is the research socially acceptable?
Readers will want to feel assured that the proposed research will be conducted in a manner that meets socially accepted standards governing research activity.
They will realize that if there are any doubts on this point it is almost certain that the research project will not be allowed to proceed. Mindful of this, they will look for guarantees that the research will be conducted in a manner that abides by the principles of research ethics and accords with the law of the land.
Question 7: What are the benefits?
Most readers will expect a piece of research to be justified on the basis that it will produce some specific, identifiable benefits. Indeed, it is rarely the case that research can be justified ‘for its own sake’.
For this reason, it is important for research proposals to address questions about the outcomes of the research
and the end-products that it is hoped will arise from the research. They need to contain a clear account of the ‘deliverables’ from the project and an explanation of who, or what, might benefit as a direct result of the project.