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The structure of a research proposal

It’s time to put your proposal together.
Consrtuction site view across a body of water
© Deakin University and Griffith University
If you’ve been diligent with your portfolio, your research proposal is not far off. All that remains is to put it all together and to review it.
In Step 1.5 Sections of your proposal, we listed, well, the sections of a research proposal. Now that you have a first draft together, it makes sense to discuss how you might assess it.
Assessing a research proposal requires you to ask a series of critical questions. When experts assess your research proposal, they’ll ask themselves a series of questions. You should do the same. The more questions you can answer with an emphatic ‘yes,’ the stronger your proposal.
  • Does the research matter?
    Have you proposed genuinely new and innovative research that will have clear benefits to the community and/or will be worthy of publication?
  • Is the research justified by the relevant literature?
    This criteria relates to your literature review. If you synthesise the literature relevant to your problem from a variety of fields and demonstrate how this has generated your research approach, you’re doing well.
  • Is the problem researchable?
    This one asks whether or not you’re really able to answer the question you’re asking with the method you’re proposing. In other words, your proposal needs to show clear and consistent links between your research problem, aims, questions, methods and anticipated research outcomes.
  • Have you created a feasible research plan?
    What evidence can you provide that you have the skills, resources and time that you’ll need to complete your project on time and within budget? You’ll need to demonstrate that you’ve taken all necessary steps to ensure access to these skills and resources if you want to get the best possible mark.
  • Is your methodology sound?
    This is usually considered to be the big one. Can you demonstrate that your proposal contains a well-developed, rigorous and defensible set of methods for comprehensively responding to the research question?
  • Is your research ethical?
    Does your ethics framework ensure that you’ve comprehensively addressed all potential ethical issues and your governance framework align with best practice?
  • Is your proposal understandable?
    Last but not least, could someone else understand what you’ve presented? Your proposal must be clear, coherent, concise and free of error. As well as that, you need to make sure your ideas can be understood by a specialist and non-specialist audience alike.
If you are completing the assessment course, you can use the assessment task 2 rubric to help you answer these questions.

Your task

Open your portfolio.
Go through each section of your portfolio and review it. Ensure that it is up to date.
As you do so, try to look at your proposal as if it were unfamiliar to you and it was someone else’s work. Be honest with yourself; don’t be too soft or too hard.
Identify what you think the strengths and weaknesses of your proposal are, and let your fellow learners know in the comments.
Leave your fellow learners messages of encouragement and support.
© Deakin University and Griffith University
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