Friday, 29 June 2012

How to Write A Research Proposal

For some research projects, you may need to submit a proposal early in the process of your writing a dissertation or thesis. How to write a research proposal is certainly your first question in mind. The proposal aims to show that the research is valid (makes good scholarly sense), to argue that research is valuable (will lead to significant knowledge), to communicate your enthusiasm for the project, and to demonstrate that your plan is workable within all constraints of the assignment – all in order to gain your instructor’s feedback and approval.

The guidelines for writing a research proposal will vary depending on its purpose. Note the parts modeled in the same proposal. You must understand the part of a research proposal.

Title Page: Most universities usually specify the format to be followed. Regardless of the format used, the title of the proposal should accurately reflect the contents and the scope of the suggested study.

Abstract: Most research proposals, with the possible exception of dissertation proposals, should provide a short summary or abstract of 200 words. The abstract should touch on every major component of the proposal except the budget, if there is one. Some readers read only the abstract and other rely on it for a quick overview of the proposal. So write your abstract with absolute care.

Table of Contents: A table of contents is not always deemed necessary, but it is useful for presenting an overview of the organization of the proposal. In addition to outlining the major components, it may provide list of illustrations, tables, appendices and so on.

Introduction: In a brief paragraph, state your research idea, explaining why the topic is important and worth researching. Provide any background information that the instructor may need.

Description: Discuss your proposed research topic by identifying the central issue or concern about the topic. Indicate the main question that you want to answer through your research. List secondary questions relate to the main question. Start a working thesis or hypothesis in response to the main question, and explain the research outcomes that you expect from the study.

Literature Review: This is in effect an expansion of the description presented. It cites and briefly reviews the related research studies conducted earlier. You should not include nonresearched reports and ‘opinion pieces’ unless they are too important or represent all described earlier.

Methodology: Explain how you plan to answer your questions, how you plan to research your topic. Include an explanation of your primary research (the ‘first-hand’ investigation), a description of research tools you plan to use (e.g., catalogs, reference works, lab equipment, survey software), and a working bibliography indicating your initial survey of resources.

Schedule: List deadlines that are part of the assignment and deadlines that you have set for yourself. It is often appropriate to provide a schedule for the various stages of your research.

Approval Request: Ask for feedback and approval from your instructor.

Friday, 18 May 2012

The Art of Essay Writing

Essay writing is a journey. If you are returning to education after a break, have never written an essay before, are unfamiliar with the demands and expectations of the  higher education system or simply need a refresher, there are some sources you can turn to for help.  On the websites, there are many links to web pages giving you guidance on essay writing help.  Surfing the web will also lead to other sites giving help on essay writing.

In general terms, an essay should have an introduction, main body and conclusion. In the introduction, the main thrust of your argument and an outline of how you will answer the question should be included.  The main body should, in a systematic, structured, coherent, and logical way build your argument and makes your points, using examples or evidence supported by the literature.  You might, if appropriate, wish to consider obvious criticisms of your argument, and give sound reasons for dismissing them.

An analytical approach should be taken through out, and descriptions/narratives/historical overviews should be kept to the minimum and be focused on the question.  The conclusion should emerge from the arguments made throughout the essay, and new material or issues should not be introduced in the conclusion. 

Remember that word limits are important. One of the key skills essays are testing is the ability to make your arguments within specified word limits. Never turn your essays that are more than 10% below or above the specified word limit.

Focus on answering the question set, take time to plan and structure your essay, and be analytical (looking at why things happened or are the way they are, not telling us historical facts and stories).  If you have problems, contact your tutors for help. 

The first essay you submit is deliberately weighted at only 30% of the overall mark for the course.  You will find that when it is marked and returned, the tutor will comment on your essay writing technique, giving you time to act on those comments and improve your work for the second more substantial essay. Have a nice journey!