Research Proposal Guideline

Research Proposal Guideline-70
Proposal writing is important to your pursuit of a graduate degree.The proposal is, in effect, an intellectual scholastic (not legal) contract between you and your committee.

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One problem with this type of research is that you might find the perfect succinct answer to your question on the night before (or after) you turn in the final draft --- in someone else's work.

This certainly can knock the wind out of your sails.

(One 'old saw' about research in the social sciences is that the finding is always: "some do and some don't".

Try to avoid such insight-less findings; finding "who do and who don't" is better.) One problem with this type of project is that it is often impossible to tell when you are "done".

The proposal should situate the work in the literature, it should show why this is an (if not the most) important question to answer in the field, and convince your committee (the skeptical readers that they are) that your approach will in fact result in an answer to the question.

Theses which address research questions that can be answered by making plan-able observations (and applying hypothesis testing or model selection techniques) are preferred and perhaps the easiest to write.

Because they address well-bounded topics, they can be very tight, but they do require more planning on the front end.

Theses which are largely based on synthesis of observations, rumination, speculation, and opinion formation are harder to write, and usually not as convincing, often because they address questions which are not well-bounded and essentially unanswerable.

This guide includes an outline that looks like a "fill-in the blanks model" and, while in the abstract all proposals are similar, each proposal will have its own particular variation on the basic theme.

Each research project is different and each needs a specifically tailored proposal to bring it into focus. In the end, they may well all be interpretations of observations, and differentiated by the rules that constrain the interpretation.


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