If you have ever read a news article online where it included the phrase "In a recent study..." you got a small glimpse of a parallel world. Out in this world, scholars and scientists are putting the scientific method to good use. Unless you know to look for it, you wouldn't know it was there.
Think about where you get your information on a daily basis. It's probably the internet, tv, social media, and from your friends and family. There are other sources of information that you might have never encountered (directly) before coming to SHU. As you enter college, you meet your professors who are here to teach you, yes, but they have other responsibilities too. Outside of their teaching duties, your professors must continue their research which means publishing articles in peer-reviewed journals, chapters in books, or even entire books.
Before diving into a research project, scholars (including your professors) often have to write research proposals. Even experts need to prove that their research is important and valuable. Research proposals are required when applying for grant money from different organizations, so scholars need to make a good argument that proves their project deserves to be funded. Sometimes there is fierce competition for limited funds. Even a good research project (because, let's be honest, some are bad) needs a good research proposal to help it be completed.
You might be thinking to yourself, "I am not applying for a grant, why is my professor making me do a research proposal?"
A research proposal is a great way to introduce you to research without making you write a long research paper (sounds nice, no?). It is preparing you for future classes where you might have to write a paper whether you research the same topic or not. If you do research the same topic, a research proposal gives you a huge head start because you end up having done a lot of prep work for the final project. This makes the entire process less stressful for you. If you don't use the same topic, you still have a better idea of how the process works for a new research project.
Research proposals force you to think about why the topic matters, not just to yourself, but to a wider audience. You get to learn about the scholarly conversation already going on and how you might be able to contribute to it with your own research.
The first thing you need to do is figure out what you want to research. This is probably going to be the hardest part.
You'll be spending some time on this project and you don't want to get bored by it. There are a few places to look when you are stuck on finding an interesting research topic.
An Abstract is a concise summary of a research paper or article. It is a 150-250 word paragraph that provides a quick overview of your work and explains how it is organized. It should express your thesis or main idea and your key points. It should also suggest any implications of the research you discuss.
An abstract describes the work.
It begins with a brief statement of the research problem or question, followed by a description of the research method and design.
Below are three main sections you should have in a Research Proposal.
NOTE: Always refer to the assignment prompt from your class or syllabus. Your professor likely has specified a few things that you need to include in your Research Proposal.
Again, this depends on your professor. It can be as short as 4 pages or as long as 20.
This always depends on the subject you are studying. In the Social Sciences, you will probably need to use APA or Chicago Style (Author-Date).
Here are some examples of research proposals to give you a little inspiration. Just consider the examples and follow format on above.
For more information about research proposal writing, read through the book Research Proposals: A practical Guide. Click on the link below to access the eBook.