Applying for a scholarship can be a bit daunting, especially if one is applying for the first time. There are several procedures to follow and a number of documents to submit. One such document being ‘A Research Proposal’. A Research proposal is mandatory for Ph.D. applicants. It can also be required from master’s and bachelor’s applicants. It gives the scholarship committees deep insights into the research potential and intellectual level of the scholarship applicant.
A research proposal is a formal document that outlines what research project the prospective student will be undertaking along with its objectives, the importance of it, and the methodology that will potentially be followed for carrying out the research project.
If you are a master’s degree scholarship applicant then you need to submit a study plan instead of a research proposal.
Research Proposal Format & Short Outline
The formats of writing research proposals vary according to the level of studies. Students should know beforehand what format of writing will be most suited for them. Still, most of the research proposals have the following segments.
- A cover page
- Introduction of the research
- Review of the Literature
- Research Methodology
- Prospective outcome/s
- The time frame required
- Budget for the research
- Citations or References.
Reasons to Write a Research Proposal:
There are two major reasons why a research proposal is required from a researcher or a student. One is to get funding from potential sources by showing them how your research can contribute to society or that organization in particular. The other is to get the research project approved by the supervisors. Both of the reasons essentially just persuade the higher authorities that the research is worth undertaking.
A research proposal should be convincing, i.e. it should be relevant to your area of study, you should know every advancement that has happened in your area of research, and your research should have a strong impact in the academic world.
You should be able to compel the readers that you know the best way to arrive at the projected results. It would involve making a strong case for your methodology, data collection methods, and the deployment of the most appropriate tools and techniques. An impressive research proposal should convince that the research project will be completed within the proposed time frame and within the available funding.
Segments of a Research Proposal:
- The Cover Page:
The cover page is just meant to have information about the applicant or researcher. It contains the title of the research, the name of the student/researcher, the name of the supervisor, institution, and department. Students should check with their institutions whether they have a specific format that needs to be followed for the cover page.
The introduction part should be crafted carefully as it gives the readers insight into your research. It introduces the research project, provides some background information, identifies the research problem, and poses research questions. Some questions that need to be answered in the introductory part of the research proposal are as follows:
- To whom the research is intended? Is it supposed to be read by scientists, policymakers, or academicians?
- What knowledge gap this research intends to fill?
- What new information will be revealed through this research?
- Review of the Literature:
A strong review of the previous literature proves that the researcher has a firm grasp of his/her subject matter. It convinces the scholarship jury that the proposed project is unique in its very nature and is not just intended to repeat the work that has already been done. It should compare the work that has been done before with the work that is being proposed to be done. It should be able to point out the loopholes in the work previously done and should offer to fill those loopholes with the new research.
- Prospective Methodology:
This segment is meant to describe what methods will be deployed to solve the research questions and to achieve the aims and objectives of the research. The methodology should be detailed and unambiguous. The data collection techniques will also be discussed. Also, the methodology selected should be the one that has the least chances of error or being failed.
- Expected Results or Outcomes:
The researchers should also briefly talk about what kinds of results do they expect from their research project. What kinds of breakthroughs the research can provide and what are the chances of its success or failure.
- The Proposed Time Frame:
Some funding sources are keen on the fact that the applicants should be able to provide them with a realistic time frame within which the research will be completed. This is meant to help them track the research progress. The time frame should be comprehensive i.e. it should describe how much time each step of the research will take. You can use infographics software for that purpose as well.
It is vital to state how much funding will be required in the smooth execution of the research project. The researcher also needs to state from where does he/she intends to acquire the required funds. These funding sources will then reassess the budget allocated to each step of the research to make sure that their funds are going at the right place.
- References or Citations:
A strong research proposal should honestly cite every source of information that has been used in the course of writing the research proposal. The references should be detailed and should include the name of the authors and the publication. The applicants should confirm with their departments what kind of referencing styles do they prefer and should follow the ones prescribed by them.