A research proposal is a comprehensive plan for a research project. It is a written description of a research plan that has to be undertaken. It determines the specific areas of research, states the purpose, scope, methodology, overall organization and limitations of the study. It also estimates its requirements for equipment (if necessary), finance and possible personnel.
The research proposal is of great significance both to the researcher and the readers.
1. It makes known one’s intentions of getting involved with research work and this is done through the researcher spelling out the objectives of his/her study.
2. The process of writing a proposal allows the researcher to plan and review the steps that will be undertaken in the project. It gives the researcher an opportunity to spot flows in the logic, errors in assumptions and even problems that are not adequately addressed by the objectives and design of the study.
3. In general, it provides justification for funding, if one is out in the business/consultancy world. One has to justify the use of resources. If one is in an academic setting, the proposal must provide justification for acceptance as contributing to either existing knowledge or adding to it (that is either extending the current field of work or providing additional knowledge to the existing field).
4. After the proposal is done and approved, the document serves as guide for the researcher throughout the investigations, ie, progress can be monitored.
5. The proposal provides a basis for the evaluation of the document; it gives the research advisor a basis for assisting the researcher.
6. A well-designed research proposal helps the researcher to avoid the tiring and time consuming alterations once the research project takes off.
7. The proposal forces time management and budget estimate. These estimates allow researchers to plan the project in such a way that the work progresses steadily towards the deadline. Since many people tend to follow the work, having a schedule helps researchers
work towards the completion of the project.
8. A proposal also provides an opportunity for the researcher to discuss the research efforts of others who have worked on related areas.
9. A proposal is also able to suggest the data necessary for solving the problem and how the data will be gathered, treated, and interpreted.
10. In addition, the proposal of a contact researcher must present its plan, services and credentials in the best possible way to encourage its selection over competitors. In contract research, the survival of companies depends on their ability to develop wining proposals.
A note on Sponsor Uses
All research has a sponsor in one form or another. The student researcher is responsible to the class instructor. In a corporate setting, whether the research is being done in-house by a research department or under contract to an external research firm, management sponsors the research. University, government, or corporate sponsored (grant) research uses grant committees to evaluate the work.
• A research proposal allows the sponsor to assess the sincerity of your purpose, the clarity of your design, the extent of your background material, and your fitness for undertaking the project.
• The proposal displays your discipline, organisation, and logic. A poorly planned, poorly written, or poorly organised proposal damages your reputation more than the decision not to submit one.
• Depending on the type of research and sponsor you have, various aspects of a standard proposal design are emphasised.
• The proposal, then, provides a document the sponsor can evaluate based on current organisational, scholastic, or scientific needs. It allows the research sponsor to assess both the researcher and the proposed design, to compare them against competing proposals, and to make the best selection for the project.
• Comparison of the results with the proposal is the first step in the evaluation process. It provides a basis for the sponsor to evaluate the results of a project. By comparing the final product with the stated objectives, it is easy for the sponsor to decide if the research
goals have been achieved.
• Another benefit of the proposal is the discipline it brings to the sponsor. Many managers, requesting an in-house, departmental research project, do not adequately define the problem they are addressing. The research proposal acts as a catalyst for discussion between the person conducting the research and the manager. The researcher translates the management question, as described by the manager, into the research questions and outlines the objectives of the study. Upon review, the manager may discover that the interpretation of the problem does not encompass all the original symptoms. The proposal, then, serves as the basis for additional discussion between the manager and the researcher untill all aspects of the management question are understood