- Current Students
- Study with Us
- Work with Us
How to Write a Research Proposal for a Master's Degree
Unsure how to start your research proposal read below our top tips from banking and finance student, nelly, on how to structure your proposal and make sure it's a strong, formative foundation to build your dissertation..
It's understandable if the proposal part of your dissertation feels like a waste of time. Why not just get started on the dissertation itself? Isn't 'proposal' a just fancy word for a plan?
It's important to see your Master's research proposal not only as a requirement, but a way of formalising your ideas and mapping out the direction and purpose of your dissertation. A strong, carefully prepared proposal is instrumental in writing a good dissertation.
How to structure a research proposal for a Master's
- Motivation: introduce your research question and give an overview of the topic, explain the importance of your research
- Theory: draw on existing pieces of research that are relevant to your topic of choice, leading up to your question and identifying how your dissertation will explore new territory
- Data and methodology: how do you plan to answer the research question? Explain your data sources and methodology
- Expected results: finally, what will the outcome be? What do you think your data and methodology will find?
Top Tips for Writing a Research Proposal
Choose a dissertation topic well in advance of starting to write it, allow existing research to guide you , make your research questions as specific as possible , collate your bibliography as you go , colour code your notes based on which part of the proposal they apply to , write your motivation after your theory, make sure your data and methodology section is to-the-point, and succinct, link your expectations to existing research, we hope you have found this blog post useful. if you're a postgraduate student wondering what life on campus will be like this year, why not read our latest blog on what campus will look like in 2020 .
Published By Nelly on 01/09/2020 | Last Updated 28/10/2020
Cost-of-living crisis: how we can support you
Are you worrying about the cost-of-living crisis and how you might be affected when you go to university? According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 92% of higher education students say...
Inside our new Engineering Building: The Makerspace
We are transforming our historic Stephenson into a home for the next generation of visionary engineers to come together and create the technology of tomorrow. Opening in September 2023, our...
Experiment takes flight with European Space Agency
Four Newcastle University PhD students represented the UK when they put their research to the test during a European Space Agency (ESA) programme. Koren, Tom, Kitty and Alex of Team SUGAR –...
You May Also Like
- Graduate School
How to Write a Master's Thesis Proposal in
How to write a master’s thesis proposal is one of the most-asked questions by graduate students. A master's thesis proposal involves a copious amount of data collection, particular presentation ethics, and most importantly, it will become the roadmap to your full thesis. Remember, you must convince your committee that your idea is strong and unique, and that you have done enough legwork to begin with the first few drafts of your final thesis. Your proposal should serve as a foundational blueprint on which you will later build your entire project. To have the perfect thesis proposal, you need to have original ideas, solid information, and proper presentation. While it is a good idea to take assistance from thesis writing services , you still need to personally understand the elements that contribute to a master’s thesis proposal worthy of approval. In this blog, we will discuss the process of writing your master’s thesis proposal and give you tips for making your proposal strong. Stay tuned!
Note : If you want us to help you with your applications, interviews and/or standardized tests, book a free strategy call . If you are a university, business, or student organization representative and want to partner with us, visit our partnerships page .
Article Contents 8 min read
How to decide the goals for your master's thesis.
If you are pursuing a master’s or a PhD , you will be undertaking a major research paper or a thesis. Thus, writing a thesis proposal becomes inevitable. Your major objective for pursuing a master’s degree is to improve your knowledge in your field of study. When you start your degree, you delve deeper into different concepts in your discipline and try to search for answers to all kinds of questions. If you come across a question that no one can answer, you can select that question as your research thesis topic.
A master's thesis proposal will have multiple sections depending on your decided layout. These sections will continuously support your argument and try to convince the reader of your core argument. The structure will also help you arrange the various parts of the paper to have a greater impact on the readers. A paper should always begin with you giving a brief summary of the topic and how you have come across it. The introduction is particularly important because it will give the readers a brief idea about the topic of discussion and win their interest in the matter.
After the summary has been given, slowly you need to progress into the body of the thesis proposal which would explain your argument, research methodology, literary texts that have a relation to the topic, and the conclusion of your study. It would be similar to an essay or a literary review consisting of 3 or 4 parts. The bibliography will be placed at the end of the paper so that people can cross-check your sources.
Let's take a look at the sections most master's thesis proposals should cover. Please note that each university has its own guidelines for how to structure and what to include in a master’s thesis proposal. The outline we provide below is general, so please make sure to follow the exact guidelines provided by your school:
Restate your primary argument and give us a glimpse of what you will include in the main master\u2019s thesis. Leave the reader wanting more. Your research proposal should talk about what research chapters you are trying to undertake in your final thesis. You can also mention the proposed time in which you will complete these chapters. ","label":"Conclusion and proposed chapters","title":"Conclusion and proposed chapters"}]' code='tab1' template='BlogArticle'>
A thesis proposal needs to be convincing enough to get approval. If the information is not enough to satisfy the evaluation committee, it would require revision. Hence, you need to select and follow the right methodology to make your argument convincing. When a research proposal is presented, the reader will determine the validity of your argument by judging the strength of your evidence and conclusions. Therefore, even writige:ng a proposal will require extensive research on your part. You should start writing your thesis proposal by working through the following steps.
Interested in a summary of the points covered below? Check out this infographic:
Exploring your topic in detail
You need to delve deeper into your chosen topic to see if your idea is original. In the process of this exploration, you will find tons of materials that will be supportive of your argument. When choosing your research topic and the problem you want to explore, you should always consider your primary research interest (yes, the one which you had mentioned in your research interest statement during grad school applications) for a better master’s thesis. You have a high probability of performing better in an area that you have always liked as compared to any other research area or topic.
Reviewing the literature
You have to include all the sources from where you have formed your argument and mention them in the thesis proposal. If you neglect to mention important source texts, the reader may consider it to be plagiarism. Furthermore, you want to keep track of all your research because it will be easier to provide references if you know the exact source of each piece of information.
Finding opposing arguments for your study
You should also mention any texts that would counter your argument and try to disprove their claims in the thesis. Make sure to use evidence if you try to disprove the counterarguments you face.
Emphasizing the importance of your research
At the end of the thesis proposal, you need to convince the reader why your proposal is important to your chosen field of study, which would ultimately help you in getting your topic approved. Thus, it is essential to outline the importance of your research thoroughly.
Drafting your proposal
After doing proper research, you should go ahead and draft your proposal. Remember you will not get it right in just one draft, it will take at least 50 attempts to come up with a satisfactory proposal. You should proofread your draft several times and even have a fellow student review it for you before sending it further to your research supervisor.
Getting your proposal evaluated by your supervisor
After you have written sufficient drafts, you need to get your proposal evaluated by your research supervisor. This is necessary to meet the graduate research requirements. It will ensure the clarity and correctness of your proposal. For your supervisor to evaluate your proposal, you should complete the research methodology part along with sufficient proposed work.
Since your supervisor will play a crucial role in your master's research thesis, you must choose a supervisor who can be your ultimate guide in writing your master's thesis. They will be your partner and support system during your study and will help you in eliminating obstacles to achieving your goal.
Choosing the ideal supervisor is a pretty daunting task. Here’s how you can go about the process:
You should approach your professor with an open mind and discuss the potential goals of your research. You should hear what they think and then if you both mutually agree, you can choose them as your supervisor for your master\u2019s thesis. "}]'>
Length of a Master’s Thesis Proposal
The length of a master’s thesis proposal differs from university to university and depends on the discipline of research as well. Usually, you have to include all the above-mentioned sections, and the length is around 8 pages and can go up to 12-15 pages for subjects such as the liberal arts. Universities might also define the number of words in the guidelines for your master’s thesis proposal and you have to adhere to that word limit.
Are you debating between pursuing a Masters or a PhD? This video has details that can help you decide which is best for you:
How to Format a Research Thesis Proposal Correctly?
Now that you know how to write a thesis proposal, you must make it presentable. Although your school might give your specific instructions, you can keep in mind some of the general advice:
- You can use some basic font like Times New Roman and keep the font size to 10 or 12 points.
- The left margin should be 1.5 inches and all other margins should be 1 inch each.
- You should follow double-spacing for your content.
- The first line of paragraphs should be indented 0.5 inches and the paragraphs should be left or center aligned.
Tips to Write a Strong Master's Thesis Proposal
When you are writing your master’s thesis proposal, you should keep these tips in mind to write an excellent master’s thesis proposal with all the correct elements to get approval from the evaluating committee:
Select your research objectives wisely
You should be clear on what you wish to learn from your research. Your learning objectives should stem from your research interests. If you are unsure, refer to your grad school career goals statement to review what you wanted out of grad school in the first place. Then, choose your objectives around it.
Write a clear title
The title of your research proposal should be concise and written in a language that can be understood easily by others. The title should be able to give the reader an idea of your intended research and should be interesting.
Jot down your thoughts, arguments, and evidence
You should always start with a rough outline of your arguments because you will not miss any point in this way. Brainstorm what you want to include in the proposal and then expand those points to complete your proposal. You can decide the major headings with the help of the guidelines provided to you.
Focus on the feasibility and importance
You should consider whether your research is feasible with the available resources. Additionally, your proposal should clearly convey the significance of your research in your field.
Use simple language
Since the evaluation committee can have researchers from different subject areas, it is best to write your proposal in a simple language that is understandable by all.
Stick to the guidelines
Your university will be providing the guidelines for writing your research proposal. You should adhere to those guidelines strictly since your proposal will be primarily evaluated on the basis of those.
Have an impactful opening section
It is a no-brainer that the opening statement of your proposal should be powerful enough to grasp the attention of the readers and get them interested in your research topic. You should be able to convey your interest and enthusiasm in the introductory section.
Peer review prior to submission
Apart from working with your research supervisor, it is essential that you ask some classmates and friends to review your proposal. The comments and suggestions that they give will be valuable in helping you to make the language of your proposal clearer.
You have worked hard to get into grad school and even harder on searching your research topic. Thus, you must be careful while building your thesis proposal so that you have maximum chances of acceptance.
If you're curious how your graduate school education will differ from your undergraduate education, take a look at this video so you know what to expect:
Writing the perfect research proposal might be challenging, but keeping to the basics might make your task easier. In a nutshell, you need to be thorough in your study question. You should conduct sufficient research to gather all relevant materials required to support your argument. After collecting all data, make sure to present it systematically to give a clearer understanding and convince the evaluators to approve your proposal. Lastly, remember to submit your proposal well within the deadline set by your university. Your performance at grad school is essential, especially if you need a graduate degree to gain admission to med school and your thesis contributes to that performance. Thus, start with a suitable research problem, draft a strong proposal, and then begin with your thesis after your proposal is approved.
In your master’s thesis proposal, you should include your research topic and the problem statement being addressed in your research, along with a proposed solution. The proposal should explain the importance and limitations of your research.
The length of a master’s thesis proposal is outlined by the university in the instructions for preparing your master’s thesis proposal.
The time taken to write a master’s thesis proposal depends upon the study which you are undertaking and your discipline of research. It will take a minimum time of three months. The ideal time can be around six months.
You should begin your master’s thesis proposal by writing an introduction to your research topic. You should state your topic clearly and provide some background. Keep notes and rough drafts of your proposal so you can always refer to them when you write the first real draft.
The basic sections that your master’s thesis proposal should cover are the problem statement, research methodology, proposed activities, importance, and the limitations of your research.
A master’s thesis proposal which clearly defines the problem in a straightforward and explains the research methodology in simple words is considered a good thesis proposal.
You can use any classic font for your master’s thesis proposal such as Times New Roman. If you are recommended a specific font in the proposal guidelines by your institution, it would be advisable to stick to that.
The ideal font size for your master’s thesis proposal will be 10 or 12 points.
Want more free tips? Subscribe to our channels for more free and useful content!
Have a question? Ask our admissions experts below and we'll answer your questions!
Anything we didn't cover? Have a question? Ask below or share your comments!
Statement of Purpose Examples for Graduate School in
40 Thesis Defense Questions in
Common and Difficult Graduate School Interview Questions
Research Interest Statement Sample & Writing Guide
Get Started Now
Talk to one of our admissions experts
FREE Training Webinar:
How to make your grad school application stand out, (and avoid the top 5 mistakes that get most rejected).
Time Sensitive. Limited Spots Available:
We guarantee you'll get into grad school or we don't get paid.
Swipe up to see a great offer!
- Examples of Research proposals
- Find a course
Examples of research proposals
How to write your research proposal, with examples of good proposals.
Your research proposal is a key part of your application. It tells us about the question you want to answer through your research. It is a chance for you to show your knowledge of the subject area and tell us about the methods you want to use.
We use your research proposal to match you with a supervisor or team of supervisors.
In your proposal, please tell us if you have an interest in the work of a specific academic at York St John. You can get in touch with this academic to discuss your proposal. You can also speak to one of our Research Leads. There is a list of our Research Leads on the Apply page.
When you write your proposal you need to:
- Highlight how it is original or significant
- Explain how it will develop or challenge current knowledge of your subject
- Identify the importance of your research
- Show why you are the right person to do this research
- Research Proposal Example 1 (DOC, 49kB)
- Research Proposal Example 2 (DOC, 0.9MB)
- Research Proposal Example 3 (DOC, 55.5kB)
- Research Proposal Example 4 (DOC, 49.5kB)
- Campus and facilities
- How to find us
- London Campus
- Academic Schools
- Working with the community
- Donate or support
- Policies and documents
- Admissions documents
- Access and Participation Plan
- Academic dates
- Programme specifications
- Module documents
- Quality gateway
- Welcome guide for new students
Back to the top
York St John University, Lord Mayor’s Walk, York, YO31 7EX | Phone: 01904 624624 | Media: 01904 876466
- Freedom of information
- Accessibility statement
- Modern slavery and human trafficking statement
© York St John University 2022
Experience University of Idaho with a virtual tour. Explore now
- Discover a Career
- Find a Major
- Experience U of I Life
- Admitted Students
- International Students
- Find Financial Aid
- View Deadlines
- Find Your Rep
Helping to ensure U of I is a safe and engaging place for students to learn and be successful. Read about Title IX.
- Clubs & Volunteer Opportunities
- Recreation and Wellbeing
- Student Government
- Student Sustainability Cooperative
- Academic Assistance
- Safety & Security
- Career Services
- Health & Wellness Services
- Register for Classes
- Dates & Deadlines
- Financial Aid
- U of I Library
- Upcoming Events
Review the events calendar.
- Vandal Family Newsletter
- Here We Have Idaho Magazine
- Living on Campus
- Campus Safety
- About Moscow
The largest Vandal Family reunion of the year. Check dates.
Benefits and Services
- Vandal Voyagers Program
- Vandal License Plate
- Submit Class Notes
- Make a Gift
- View Events
- Alumni Chapters
- University Magazine
- Alumni Newsletter
U of I's web-based retention and advising tool provides an efficient way to guide and support students on their road to graduation. Login to VandalStar.
- Administrative Procedures Manual (APM)
- Class Schedule
- OIT Tech Support
- Academic Dates & Deadlines
- U of I Retirees Association
- Faculty Senate
- Staff Council
College of Graduate Studies
Physical Address: Morrill Hall Room 104
Mailing Address: College of Graduate Studies University of Idaho 875 Perimeter Drive MS 3017 Moscow, ID 83844-3017
Email: [email protected]
Master's Thesis Proposal Tips
By Jodie Nicotra, Department of English and Amy Ross, U of I Writing Center
Writing an overview of your project is designed not only to formally announce your intentions as far as your Master’s thesis goes, but also to help you become more fluent in and informed about the topic for your project. 7-8 double-spaced pages should probably be enough.
Broken into fully developed sections, each with a heading, this overview should include:
Have a language expert improve your writing
Run a free plagiarism check in 10 minutes, generate accurate citations for free.
- Knowledge Base
- Starting the research process
- How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates
How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates
Published on October 12, 2022 by Shona McCombes and Tegan George. Revised on January 3, 2023.
A research proposal describes what you will investigate, why it’s important, and how you will conduct your research.
The format of a research proposal varies between fields, but most proposals will contain at least these elements:
- Research design
While the sections may vary, the overall objective is always the same. A research proposal serves as a blueprint and guide for your research plan, helping you get organized and feel confident in the path forward you choose to take.
Table of contents
Research proposal purpose, research proposal examples, research design and methods, contribution to knowledge, research schedule, frequently asked questions about research proposals.
Academics often have to write research proposals to get funding for their projects. As a student, you might have to write a research proposal as part of a grad school application , or prior to starting your thesis or dissertation .
In addition to helping you figure out what your research can look like, a proposal can also serve to demonstrate why your project is worth pursuing to a funder, educational institution, or supervisor.
Research proposal length
The length of a research proposal can vary quite a bit. A bachelor’s or master’s thesis proposal can be just a few pages, while proposals for PhD dissertations or research funding are usually much longer and more detailed. Your supervisor can help you determine the best length for your work.
One trick to get started is to think of your proposal’s structure as a shorter version of your thesis or dissertation , only without the results , conclusion and discussion sections.
Download our research proposal template
Writing a research proposal can be quite challenging, but a good starting point could be to look at some examples. We’ve included a few for you below.
- Example research proposal #1: “A Conceptual Framework for Scheduling Constraint Management”
- Example research proposal #2: “Making Healthy Connections: Mentoring, Monitoring and Measurement”
- Example research proposal #3: “Medical Students as Mediators of Change in Tobacco Use”
Here's why students love Scribbr's proofreading services
Discover proofreading & editing
Like your dissertation or thesis, the proposal will usually have a title page that includes:
- The proposed title of your project
- Your supervisor’s name
- Your institution and department
The first part of your proposal is the initial pitch for your project. Make sure it succinctly explains what you want to do and why.
Your introduction should:
- Introduce your topic
- Give necessary background and context
- Outline your problem statement and research questions
To guide your introduction , include information about:
- Who could have an interest in the topic (e.g., scientists, policymakers)
- How much is already known about the topic
- What is missing from this current knowledge
- What new insights your research will contribute
- Why you believe this research is worth doing
As you get started, it’s important to demonstrate that you’re familiar with the most important research on your topic. A strong literature review shows your reader that your project has a solid foundation in existing knowledge or theory. It also shows that you’re not simply repeating what other people have already done or said, but rather using existing research as a jumping-off point for your own.
In this section, share exactly how your project will contribute to ongoing conversations in the field by:
- Comparing and contrasting the main theories, methods, and debates
- Examining the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches
- Explaining how will you build on, challenge, or synthesize prior scholarship
Following the literature review, restate your main objectives . This brings the focus back to your own project. Next, your research design or methodology section will describe your overall approach, and the practical steps you will take to answer your research questions.
To finish your proposal on a strong note, explore the potential implications of your research for your field. Emphasize again what you aim to contribute and why it matters.
For example, your results might have implications for:
- Improving best practices
- Informing policymaking decisions
- Strengthening a theory or model
- Challenging popular or scientific beliefs
- Creating a basis for future research
Last but not least, your research proposal must include correct citations for every source you have used, compiled in a reference list . To create citations quickly and easily, you can use our free APA citation generator .
Some institutions or funders require a detailed timeline of the project, asking you to forecast what you will do at each stage and how long it may take. While not always required, be sure to check the requirements of your project.
Here’s an example schedule to help you get started. You can also download a template at the button below.
Download our research schedule template
If you are applying for research funding, chances are you will have to include a detailed budget. This shows your estimates of how much each part of your project will cost.
Make sure to check what type of costs the funding body will agree to cover. For each item, include:
- Cost : exactly how much money do you need?
- Justification : why is this cost necessary to complete the research?
- Source : how did you calculate the amount?
To determine your budget, think about:
- Travel costs : do you need to go somewhere to collect your data? How will you get there, and how much time will you need? What will you do there (e.g., interviews, archival research)?
- Materials : do you need access to any tools or technologies?
- Help : do you need to hire any research assistants for the project? What will they do, and how much will you pay them?
Once you’ve decided on your research objectives , you need to explain them in your paper, at the end of your problem statement .
Keep your research objectives clear and concise, and use appropriate verbs to accurately convey the work that you will carry out for each one.
I will compare …
A research aim is a broad statement indicating the general purpose of your research project. It should appear in your introduction at the end of your problem statement , before your research objectives.
Research objectives are more specific than your research aim. They indicate the specific ways you’ll address the overarching aim.
A PhD, which is short for philosophiae doctor (doctor of philosophy in Latin), is the highest university degree that can be obtained. In a PhD, students spend 3–5 years writing a dissertation , which aims to make a significant, original contribution to current knowledge.
A PhD is intended to prepare students for a career as a researcher, whether that be in academia, the public sector, or the private sector.
A master’s is a 1- or 2-year graduate degree that can prepare you for a variety of careers.
All master’s involve graduate-level coursework. Some are research-intensive and intend to prepare students for further study in a PhD; these usually require their students to write a master’s thesis . Others focus on professional training for a specific career.
Critical thinking refers to the ability to evaluate information and to be aware of biases or assumptions, including your own.
Like information literacy , it involves evaluating arguments, identifying and solving problems in an objective and systematic way, and clearly communicating your ideas.
The best way to remember the difference between a research plan and a research proposal is that they have fundamentally different audiences. A research plan helps you, the researcher, organize your thoughts. On the other hand, a dissertation proposal or research proposal aims to convince others (e.g., a supervisor, a funding body, or a dissertation committee) that your research topic is relevant and worthy of being conducted.
Cite this Scribbr article
If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.
McCombes, S. & George, T. (2023, January 03). How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates. Scribbr. Retrieved March 13, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/research-process/research-proposal/
Is this article helpful?
Other students also liked, how to write a problem statement | guide & examples, writing strong research questions | criteria & examples, how to write a literature review | guide, examples, & templates, what is your plagiarism score.
How to write your research proposal
A key part of your application is your research proposal. Whether you are applying for a self-funded or studentship you should follow the guidance below.
If you are looking specifically for advice on writing your PhD by published work research proposal, read our guide .
You are encouraged to contact us to discuss the availability of supervision in your area of research before you make a formal application, by visiting our areas of research .
What is your research proposal used for and why is it important?
- It is used to establish whether there is expertise to support your proposed area of research
- It forms part of the assessment of your application
- The research proposal you submit as part of your application is just the starting point, as your ideas evolve your proposed research is likely to change
How long should my research proposal be?
It should be 2,000–3,500 words (4-7 pages) long.
What should be included in my research proposal?
Your proposal should include the following:
- Your title should give a clear indication of your proposed research approach or key question
2. BACKGROUND AND RATIONALE
You should include:
- the background and issues of your proposed research
- identify your discipline
- a short literature review
- a summary of key debates and developments in the field
3. RESEARCH QUESTION(S)
You should formulate these clearly, giving an explanation as to what problems and issues are to be explored and why they are worth exploring
4. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
You should provide an outline of:
- the theoretical resources to be drawn on
- the research approach (theoretical framework)
- the research methods appropriate for the proposed research
- a discussion of advantages as well as limits of particular approaches and methods
5. PLAN OF WORK & TIME SCHEDULE
You should include an outline of the various stages and corresponding time lines for developing and implementing the research, including writing up your thesis.
For full-time study your research should be completed within three years, with writing up completed in the fourth year of registration.
For part-time study your research should be completed within six years, with writing up completed by the eighth year.
- a list of references to key articles and texts discussed within your research proposal
- a selection of sources appropriate to the proposed research
Fees and funding.
How much will it cost to study a research degree?
Find out if you can apply for a Research Degree at the University of Westminster.
Research degree by distance learning
Find out about Research Degree distance learning options at the University of Westminster.
By accepting you agree to cookies being stored on your device.
Some of these cookies are essential to the running of the site, while others help us to improve your experience.
Functional cookies enable core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility.
Analytics cookies help us improve our website based on user needs by collecting information, which does not directly identify anyone.
Marketing cookies send information on your visit to third parties so that they can make their advertising more relevant to you when you visit other websites.
Dr. Kendra Gaines
Writing a Master's Thesis or Dissertation Proposal
The proposal for a thesis or dissertation is essentially an outline of the research - kind of like an architectural blueprint for building a house. The clearer the plan, the more timely and successful the completion of the house. And the clearer the plan, the more likely it is that it will be approved by your advisor or dissertation committee, with a high probability that the final paper will also be accepted. A well - done, acceptable proposal, therefore, is a kind of personal contract between you the candidate, and your committee.
The challenge lies - as usual - in deciding exactly what topic you want to propose! It is true that some fortunate students may be offered a specific topic or problem to pursue by a mentor whose preferences agree with the student's own. But more often, your job is to come up with a specific topic or research question that shows promise for extended study. Do not worry if a topic does not suggest itself to you immediately. Be ready and willing to try out a number of possibilities to see how they develop. How do you "try out" a topic? - by doing a topic analysis.
This is really a simplified proposal form that includes the following parts:
- Problem, hypothesis, or question
- Importance of research
- Significant prior research
- Possible research approach or methodology
- Potential outcomes of research and importance of each
(thanks to Davis & Parker)
Analyzing a potentially useful topic in this step?by?step way forces you to look at it objectively and precisely within two to four pages. Here are some points to watch for:
- If you are unable to write your topic in either the form of a hypothesis or a clear statement, you need to refine and clarify the topic. It must be stated specifically , not in vague, imprecise terms.
- You'll need to be able to justify what you're doing and prove that it's worthy of your time and energy. It's always handy if you can quote a major authority who is stating a need for the research. But if you don't have an authority on hand, try to demonstrate that your research is in some way significant to a major activity.
- Be sure you have a reasonable (if not exhaustive) grasp of what's been done before. This will help support #2.
- Extremely important part! Exactly how do you plan to approach the research? Try to explain as precisely as possible, and include an alternative methodology. This part may still be in rough form, but it should indicate the likely nature of your approach.
- This will be important in assessing the worth of your topic. For example, let's say you might propose the use of a questionnaire to collect evidence. You would then need to analyze the results of the questionnaire. Your potential outcomes (speaking generally) might be a positive correlation between two factors, a negative one, none at all, or unsatisfactory responses. Perhaps only one of these outcomes could lead to a dissertation. That result could suggest the need for a different approach to the issue, which in turn could lead you down a more productive path.
Let's say that's what has happened, and you're now in the happy position of writing the first draft of your formal proposal. This is an expansion of the topic analysis and will be your final work plan, so it will probably end up being anywhere from ten to forty pages. Again, here's a generally accepted proposal with an idea of expected page length:
Note : A master's thesis can often be less detailed and elaborate than the above plan. Also, individual departments usually have their own unique preferences. The above plan is meant only as a general guide. Always check with your own department for specific Guidelines !
(1-4) the first four sections are about the same as those in your topic analysis, only amplified and refined. The prior research section in particular must be more comprehensive, although you may certainly summarize your report of prior research if there is a great deal of it. Your actual dissertation will be the obvious place to go into more detail.
The research approach or methodology section (5) should be explained explicitly. For example, what questions will you include on your questionnaire? If your work includes an experiment, what apparatus will you use, what procedures will you follow, what data do you intend to collect, and what instruments will you use in data collection? List any major questions yet to be decided.
In the limitations section (6) make clear what your study will not attempt to do.
The contributions section (7) will simply be more detailed than in your topic analysis, and your chapter descriptions (8) should be as specific as possible. Just remember this is a proposal, so keep descriptions brief, and try to highlight the structure of each chapter. Most dissertations follow a standard chapter format:
- Introduction (general problem area, specific problem, importance of topic, research approach, limitations, key assumptions, and contribution to research)
- Description of what has been done in the past. (a.k.a. literature review; this documents that your own research has not already been covered.)
- Description of the research methodology. (how your research was conducted).
- Research results. (What you found out).
- Analysis of the results (explains the conclusions that can be drawn from data, and implications of a theory).
- Summary and conclusions (emphasize the results obtained and contribution made. Outline suggestions for further research.)
With this general framework in mind, along with the specific characteristics of your own dissertation, you can define your chapters clearly for your formal proposal.
Remember that it's often necessary to refine the first proposal, most likely by narrowing the scope of your study. But this is all part of the essential process of formulating a working plan for a dissertation that will yield a successful result. If you think of your proposal in this light, you're more apt to remain patient as you, work your way to the final draft.
A checklist for self-appraisal, from Davis & Parker:
- Does the proposal have imagination?
- (a) hypothesis clear? testable?
- (b) if no hypothesis, are objectives clearly stated? Can they be accomplished?
- (c) problem perhaps too large?
- (a) can data be collected?
- (b) how will data be analyzed?
- (c) will the analysis allow the acceptance or rejection of the hypothesis?
- (d) is the sample population overused?
- What might the results of the analysis look like? (tables, graphs, etc.)
- (a) the experiment fails;
- (b) data cannot be obtained;
- (c) analysis is inconclusive;
- (d) hypothesis is rejected or accepted?
- Can major research activities be listed?
- Can a time estimate be made for each activity?
- Again, are the dimensions of the project manageable?
Top Tips for Writing a Research Proposal · Choose a dissertation topic well in advance of starting to write it · Allow existing research to guide
In this video, learn A-Z of research proposal writing for Masters/PhD applications, thesis dissertations or funding grants.
Select your research objectives wisely · Write a clear title · Jot down your thoughts, arguments, and evidence · Focus on the feasibility and
Research proposals · Highlight how it is original or significant · Explain how it will develop or challenge current knowledge of your subject · Identify the
Writing an overview of your project is designed not only to formally announce your intentions as far as your Master's thesis goes, but also to help you become
Research proposal purpose ; Approach, Make a case for your methodology. Demonstrate that you have carefully thought about the data, tools, and
What should be included in my research proposal? · 1. TITLE. Your title should give a clear indication of your proposed research approach or key question · 2.
Introduction (general problem area, specific problem, importance of topic, research approach, limitations, key assumptions, and contribution to research)
As part of the application process, candidates are required to submit a research proposal with a maximum of 1000 words (Masters by Research) or 1000-2000
A step towards gaining approval for thesis and/or dissertation. A way to receive funding for research. Ex. Write a proposal for grant money