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People sitting at a table planning and discussing research steps
Planning, planning and more planning. The success and integrity of your research depends on it.

Moving forward with your research idea

It’s time to consolidate what we have learnt so far and produce a short planning document for your portfolio. This document will bring together key aspects of this course in relation to your research question. Ultimately, it will also help you prepare for a more comprehensive research proposal, that you may wish to undertake at a later stage.

Be on the lookout for Course 5 in this series ‘Why Planning Matters’, which will lead you through detailed steps of all aspects of planning for your research proposal.

What is a research proposal and why will I need one?

Research proposals are prepared for a number of reasons. They help guide your study and ensure your research is well thought out prior to proceeding. They are also needed to gain approval (where required) to conduct the research. Keep in mind, research can be expensive, so the proposal may also be used to apply for funding to conduct the research.

What’s contained in a research proposal?

Although you don’t need to know everything about a research proposal at this stage, it’s helpful to know what you’re working towards. When the time comes, your proposal should include the following elements as a minimum:

  • A title for your research project.
  • Detailed background information, which includes a well considered, evidence-based rationale for your research topic.
  • A review of the scholarly literature on the topic.
  • The aims of your study and its anticipated significance. You’ll need to justify why you think it is worth doing the research and detail the benefits.
  • The outcomes expected from the research.
  • A research plan, which details your chosen methodology, including sampling procedures, techniques for collecting and analysing data and your rationale for choosing these methods.
  • You also need to comment on what you foresee as the study limitations (as all studies have limitations), how long you expect the study will realistically take, and what you foresee as the ethical issues involved in conducting the study. You will need to highlight how these ethical issues will be addressed. Course 4 in this series, Why Ethics Matter, will step you through the ethics application and more.
  • Information on how the study will be administered, the resources required, and the costs associated with this.

It is also important that your proposal is concisely written. Your research supervisor, approver, ethics board or funding board, will not want to read a lengthy document…and may not have the time to do so.

If you’re still in the early stages of your project, the full research proposal is still some time away. There are more courses in this series that will continue to lead you in your journey. In the meantime though, let’s roll up our sleeves and complete one last important task for the course that you can add to your portfolio.

Your task

Reflecting on all that we have covered so far, produce a short planning document for your portfolio that addresses each of the criteria below.

Before you get started, first review step 2.10 from the first course in this series, Why Research Matters, to refresh your knowledge on portfolio activities and suggested tools you can use to produce this document.

  • Detail your research question and explain why you think it’s important.
  • Who is your target audience for this research? Think about who would be interested in knowing about your findings.
  • Do you have a hypothesis? If so, what’s led you to this theory?
  • What qualitative approach is the best fit for your research question? Briefly justify your response.
  • Explain who your participants would be and how you will collect the data you need.
  • Recalling the identity audit, what issues, biases or subjectivity do you bring to this research which could cloud your approach?

Once you have finished, share a link to your document in the comments section below. Take the time to review at least two other people’s work from the group and provide constructive feedback.

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This article is from the free online course:

Why Experience Matters: Qualitative Research

Griffith University

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