Generally speaking, a proposal should be around 3,000 words which you write as part of the application process.
Potential supervisors, admissions tutors and/or funders use research proposals to assess the quality and originality of your ideas, your skills in critical thinking and the feasibility of the research project.
Remember, however, that it may not be possible to guarantee that you are supervised by a specific academic.
Crucially, it is also an opportunity for you to communicate your passion in the subject area and to make a persuasive argument about what your project can accomplish. It is normal for students to refine their original proposal in light of detailed literature reviews, further consideration of research approaches and comments received from the supervisors (and other academic staff).
Proposal presents students with a chance of finding out if their research aims and objectives are valid and if the methods they are planning to use are suitable and feasible.
The purpose for writing dissertation proposal is to get it approved by your supervisor to be able to start the actual research. These can relate to the elimination of gap in the literature, practical benefits of the research, and its contribution to your long-term career objectives. This part includes explanations of methods of data collection and analysis. You have to explain how you are going to address issues of ethics related to the study.
The Proposal needs to be able to communicate the following three critical points to the supervisor: Total wordcount requirement for a Research Proposal can range between 1500 – 4000 words. This part is a brief introduction to the research area with some background information. These need to comply with SMART principle where the acronym stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. Ideally, the proposed research has to make some practical contributions as well. Research Background Some universities require a brief research background to be included in dissertation proposal. Definitions of main terms, explanation of search strategy for the literature, brief outline of the most relevant models and theoretical frameworks need to be included in this part. Moreover, proposal methodology needs to address research philosophy, research approach, its design and sampling issues. In studies that involve primary data collection ethical issues can be addressed by including the following statements in your proposal, and a) Respondents are going to participate in the survey voluntarily; b) Questionnaire/Interview/Focus group questions are not going to contain offensive, discriminatory, or other unacceptable language; c) Privacy and anonymity of sample group members are going to be maintained ; d) The works of other authors that are going to be used in any part of the proposed study are going to be acknowledged with the use of Harvard/APA/Vancouver referencing system according to the Dissertation Handbook; e) The author will attempt to maintain high levels of objectivity in discussions and analyses throughout the research. Gantt-Chart is one of the most effective, yet simple tools to illustrate research schedule.
The proposal can be prepared in the following format: 1. Some universities require proposal abstract or summary to be included as well. Research problem needs to be explained in a detailed manner in at least 2-3 pages. Here, you can briefly discuss the most noteworthy contributions to the research area. It is important to make it clear what specific issues are going to be explored during the research process, as well as, what issues will be left out. In studies that do not involve primary data collection, on the other hand, ethical issues are going to be limited to the points d) and e) above. Table below represents a sample Gantt-Chart that can be used to complete a dissertation. Appropriate referencing is critically important when writing dissertation proposal the same way as it is important for the final draft of the work.
This Research Guide provides tips and tools for postgraduate students to complete their research.
Please see Prof Mc Naught's excellent presentation for an overview of the research process: Learning the Art of Research: Combining organizational skills, critical thinking and creative thinking by Prof.