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By : Ummed Singh

Chapter Outline

2.0 Introduction

2.1 Objectives

2.2 What is Research Proposal?

2.2.1 Importance of a proposal before conducting a research

2.2.2 Main components of a research proposal

2.3 Selecting a suitable topic for research

2.4 Preparing Background for the problem

2.5 Searching relevant literature and researches

2.6 Statement of the Problem

2.7 Operational definitions

2.8 Research objectives

2.9 Research hypotheses or questions of the study

2.10 Research design

2.11 Population and sample

2.12 Designing reliable and valid research tools

2.13 Data collection

2.14 Selecting suitable statistical techniques for data analysis

2.15 Time line for research

2.16 Details about cost estimate and budget

2.17 Styles of writing references

2.18 Let’s sum up

2.19 Further reading and references

2.20 Answers to Self-Assessment Questions

SLMinto.png Introduction

In the previous unit you studied about the nature, concept and types of educational research and the characteristics of scientific inquiry. To conduct any type of research, it is very important to know how to develop a research proposal. You know that the research is a fact finding activity. In this unit we will discuss ‘What is a research proposal’, ‘How to develop a research proposal’ and discuss the important components of an effective research proposal. In this unit, after each section, you have to work as per instructions to get maximum learning.

SLMobj.png Learning Objectives
After reading this chapter, you are expected to learn about:
  • Describe research proposal and its importance;
  • List the components of a research proposal;
  • Know to develop different components;
  • Explain reliability and validity of tool(s), population and sample;
  • Develop realistic budget and timeline for research; and
  • Develop skills to write references in APA style.

2.2 What is Research Proposal?

Research proposal is a specific kind of document written for a specific purpose. Research involves a series of actions and therefore it presents all actions in a systematic and scientific way. In this way, Research proposal is a blue print of the study which simply outlines the steps that researcher will undertake during the conduct of his/her study.Proposal is a tentative plan so the researcher has every right to modify his proposal on the basis of his reading, discussion and experiences gathered in the process of research.Even with this relaxation available to the researcher, writing of research proposal is a must for the researcher.

2.2.1 Importance of a proposal before conducting a research

Writing the research proposal is very important before actual conducting of any research. Because research is a team work and you have opinion of others if it is in written form. Research Proposal is used for finalization of a research plan after presentation and discussion before research committee or board. It is also necessary to submit for applying grants to any agency. Once developed, it serves as a plan for conducting the research.
In reality, as Best (1983) puts it, no worthwhile research can result in the absence of a well designed proposal.
By formulating a research proposal, researcher wants to show that the problem propose to investigate is significant enough, the method plan to use is suitable and feasible, and the results are likely to prove fruitful and will make an original contribution. In short, through research proposal researcher wants to convince the other peoples (reader or audience) regarding selected problem.

2.2.2 Main components of a research proposal

There are no hard and fast rules governing the structure or components of a proposal. It mostly depends on the nature of a research or format approved by a particular university or sponsoring agency. Generally, in a typical format main components of a research proposal are as below :

  1. Topic of a research
  2. Background for the problem
  3. Relevant literature & researches
  4. Problem and its key terms
  5. Objectives
  6. Questions of the study/ hypothesis(es)
  7. Research design
  8. Population and sample
  9. Research tools
  10. Procedures for data collection
  11. Statistical techniques for data analysis
  12. Time schedule
  13. Cost estimate and budgeting
  14. References/ bibliography

SLMsaq.gif Self-Assessment Questions (SAQs) -1
Fill in the blanks :

1. Research proposal is a --------- (i) --------- of the study by which you can demonstrate your understanding of research and communicate your actions in a ---(ii)---- & ---(iii)---- way to others.

2. The first component of a research proposal is -----------/ ----------- of the study.

3. The last part of the proposal consists of ---------------/ ------------------.

2.3 Selecting a suitable topic for research

Selecting a suitable topic and stating it, is the first thing that a researcher does in beginning.Topic/Problem should be chosen with care. Selecting a suitable topic require a clear research question and current significance. Researcher gets research questions from many different places such as from existing theory, previous research, practical experiences, personal interest etc. A vast reading is always helpful in generating a good research question.It is always a good idea to generate all possible research questions and than choose the best one. The best one can be selected looking into :
your own interest,
skills and ability,
available time,
financial support and equipment,
and most important is the significance of the selected problem.

SLMsaq.gif Self-Assessment Questions (SAQs) -2
1. What are the five important aspects in selecting a suitable topic for research?

2.4 Preparing Background for the problem

Preparing background for the problem is important in highlighting the justification for selection of a particular topic. The reader wants to know why the study was undertaken in general and specifically why it was conducted the way it was with the sample taken. This is what is meant by the rationale of the study. The researcher taps different sources for preparing background for selected study. The analysis of the related studies may help in writing the rationale of the study. When one goes through the researches conducted in a particular area, one may locate several gaps there, one may find inconsistencies in the results reported and one may find data from which some more information may be extracted, if these were reviewed in a different way. These become the background for the problem.

SLMsaq.gif Self-Assessment Questions (SAQs) -3
Fill in the blanks :

1. Developing background for a problem serves the purpose of highlighting the -----(i)-------- for -----(ii)------ of a particular problem.

2.5 Searching relevant literature and researches

"The review of the literature provides the background and context for the research problem. It should establish the need for the research and indicate that the writer is knowledgeable about the area" (Wiersma, 1995, p. 406).

Review of the writing of recognized authorities in the area and research studies previously carried out would make the researcher familiar with what is already known and what still remains to be done. Systematic review of related literature is expected to yield among other things, insight and information needed. The review of related literature is expected to assist the researcher in several ways in finalization of undertaken study. Searching should contain only those studies or literature which is related to the problem either as a whole or to some aspect (s) of the problem. The review of researches should be as concise as possible. It should include the surname of the author followed by the year of publication in parenthesis, the objectives of the study, the hypothesis (es) if there is any, the sample, its size, characteristics, sampling technique, and the tools used along with their reliability and validity coefficients, etc. If the study is of experimental type, the details regarding the design, treatment, duration, etc. must be included in the review. The statistical techniques used or analyzing the data, and the findings of the study should also be presented in a why that they lead the reader rather than the reader exerting to find out what he is reading about. One paragraph should lead to another. With each additional paragraph the reader should feel that he is clearer over the discussion than he was before. The review of literature must have continuity in thoughts.

SLMsaq.gif Self-Assessment Questions (SAQs) -4
Fill in the blanks :

1. Review of literature make the researcher -----(i)---- with what is already known and helpful in -----(ii)------ of various aspects of undertaken study.
2. The review should be as ----(i)---- as possible and must have ----(ii)----in thoughts.
3. What is the importance of reviewing available relevant literature/ researches?

2.6 Statement of the Problem

Once the background for undertaking the study has been put forth, the researcher should write the statement of the problem generally in bold letters. Statement of the problem should come without any unnecessary introduction. It presents an overview of the problem that researcher has in his/her mind.
An appropriate topic/ title is the first source for a reader to know about the nature and contents of a research study. It is therefore expected that the topic/title will have complete correspondence with the contents of the study. Topic of a research study should have adequacy, relevancy and simplicity.
Normally a research topic should satisfy the following criteria: (i) state the key variables included in the study, (ii) state relationship between variables, (iii) state population to which results would be applicable, (iv) avoid redundant words, and (v) use only acceptable scientific terms. Besides, a topic should neither be too long to be over explicit nor too short to be over implicit. It should be concise and to the point.

SLMsaq.gif Self-Assessment Questions (SAQs) -5
Fill in the blanks :

1. Statement of the problem presents an ----------- of the problem.

2. Statement of the problem should have -----(i)----, -----(ii)-----,& -----(iii)-----.

2.7 Operational definitions

There are certain terms which may be interpreted in different ways. In such a case it is better to give an operational definition to avoid vagueness and misinterpretation. The operational definition as far as possible should be in the words of the researcher and it should be direct and simple worded. For example the key words such as intelligence, achievement, creativity, problematic child, gifted child, infrastructure, adjustment, etc need to be spelt out. For example operational definition of adjustment may be as below: In the present study adjustment of the students of Std. X means their adjustment measured by the adjustment inventory made by R.P.Singh related to five aspects i.e home, school, social, health & emotion.

SLMsaq.gif Self-Assessment Questions (SAQs) -6
Fill in the blanks :

1. Operational definitions are important to avoid --------------& ---------------.

2.8 Research objectives

Writing the objectives of the study is very important. Every study has certain objectives and they need to be presented after the statement of the problem. The objectives should be started in very clear-cut and pin pointed manner. They may be written in the form of statements or questions. One statement or question should stand for one objective. Many issues should not be raised in one statement or question. For example : If topic of research is ‘Effectiveness of Media with reference to Classroom Ethos’ than one of the objectives may be – 1. To know the ‘actual’ classroom ethos of an experimental group after receiving instruction through programmed learning material (PLM) in book format (print medium)

SLMsaq.gif Self-Assessment Questions (SAQs) -7
Fill in the blanks :

1. Objectives should be written in ------------ & ------------ manner.

2.9 Research hypotheses/questions of the study

Research hypothesis(es) or questions gives elaborations and specific direction to the research objectives of the study. An hypothesis is nothing but a statement that describes a relationship between variables. Hypotheses / questions give direction to the data to be gathered. The hypotheses should be stated either in the present tense or in the future tense. They may be stated in the null or directional form. One hypothesis should state only one relationship between two variables. Stating several relationships in one hypothesis confuses the reader. One should not state hypothesis in those cases where the collected data cannot be put to the testing.

Example :

1. There will be no significant difference between mean pre and post test scores of an experimental group receiving instruction through PLM in book format (print medium).

SLMsaq.gif Self-Assessment Questions (SAQs) -8
Fill in the blanks :

1. The aim of writing hypotheses is to give elaborations & specific ----(i)----- to ----(ii)----- of the study.
2. Hypothesis describes relationship between -------------.
3. Hypothesis may be stated in ----(i)--- or ---(ii)--- tense & may be written in --(iii)-- or ------(iv)----- form.

2.10 Research design

Design of the study refers to the research plan. It specifies the various steps taken to answer the questions raised or test the hypotheses formulated. The design of the study is important for survey type studies because the reader wishes to know how the researcher has planned his study to obtain a representative set of data. In descriptive and evaluative surveys the design is the direct description of the plan of the study to collect the desired data. On the other hand in the experimental type of studies the design should include the description of the experimental design such as random design, block design, factorial design, etc., stating the treatment and its duration.

SLMsaq.gif Self-Assessment Questions (SAQs) -9
Fill in the blanks :

1. Research design ----(i)----- the various steps taken to ---(ii)--- the questions or --(iii)-- the hypotheses.

2.11 Population and Sample

The first aspect of sampling is the ‘identification of the population’ for the study. The researcher should spell out the characteristics of the members of the population so that the reader may understand the applicability of the findings of the study. Secondly, the researcher should write the sampling technique used for selecting the sample with rationale. Thirdly, the researcher should write the size of the sample and rationale for selecting the size. Lastly, the researcher should spell out the characteristics of the sample so that these enable the reader to form judgment as to the representative of the sample.

SLMsaq.gif Self-Assessment Questions (SAQs) -10
Fill in the blanks :

1. Identification of population helps in selecting proper -------- technique.
2. A good sample is a representative of its ----------.

2.12 Designing reliable and valid research tools

In research studies three types of instruments are used: (i) Standardised instruments, (ii) Non-standardised instruments and (iii) instruments constructed by the researcher for the present study.
(i) Standardised instruments: The standardised instruments have reliability and validity established and data are easily available to the researchers. The researcher should mention these in detail and also describe the sample on which the instrument was standardised. These informations help the present researcher to find out the appropriateness of the instrument for the present study.
(ii) Non-standardised but earlier used instruments: These instruments, while not considered standradised have never the less been used in previous studies in the problem are, it is possible that the reliability and validity estimates previously obtained will be a characteristic to be assumed and so, no matter how limited the study, some estimate should be obtained of the reliability of every instrument constructed by the investigator. For validity, the logical estimates are often accepted without requiring a statistical estimate.
(iii) Self-constructed Instrument: For the self constructed instrument, the researcher must report: (a) the purpose for which it was constructed, (b) the different aspects and total number of statements under each aspect, (c) the nature of the statements, and (d) its reliability and validity coefficients.

SLMsaq.gif Self-Assessment Questions (SAQs) -11
1. How many types of research instruments may be available for data collection?

2. What aspects are more important in selecting a research instrument?

2.13 Data collection

In preparing research proposal, it is also important to make decision regarding planning and executing the strategy of data collection. An insightful thinking reduces the problems and helps in overcoming the difficulties successfully. Data collection starts from getting permission from concerned authorities and ends at getting reliable and valid data from respondents.

2.14 Selecting suitable statistical techniques for data analysis

The data can be analysed qualitatively and quantitatively. The quantitative analysis should include details regarding the statistical technique used, the rationale for choosing the statistical techniques and the level of significance. The details of all these should be written for each objective of the study separately. In the case of qualitative analysis, the description of the ‘base’ is necessary on which the analysis is performed.

SLMsaq.gif Self-Assessment Questions (SAQs) -12
Fill in the blanks :

1. Quantitative data can be analysed through suitable ----------- techniques.
2. If data is in descriptive form, the ----------- analysis can be made.

2.15 Time line for research

Researcher has to provide a time schedule budgeting the time and energy at his disposal. With this in mind, he may divide his project into a number of manageable phases and assign time limit to each phase for its completion. These stages may cover :

a) Preparatory work, including appointment of JPF
b) Library work
c) Construction of tools including their pre-testing
d) Field work
e) Data processing and analysis
f) Preparation of report

SLMsaq.gif Self-Assessment Questions (SAQs) -13
1. Why time schedule budgeting is important in a proposal?

2.16 Details about cost estimate and budget

The cost of the project is to be estimated in terms of total duration of the project and facilities needed. It may contain the following items:

i. Salary of Junior Project Fellow
ii. Travel expenses (TA/DA) of Principal Investigator and JRF
iii. Purchase of Books and tools
iv. Development/Adaptation of Research Tools
v. Printing of tools & correspondence etc.
vi. Hiring charges
vii. Data Processing (Computer)
viii. Report writing, photocopying, binding etc.
ix. Contingency (stationery, postage, etc.)

2.17 Styles of writing references

A list of reference is an integral part of the research report. It may be headed as ‘References’ or ‘Bibliography’. But bibliography is a comprehensive term which includes, in addition to referred literature, some other related and very useful literature which readers may like to read which perhaps the researcher has himself read but not referred to it in the text of the thesis.
All the literature has been referred to in the text must appear in the reference list. In writing references / bibliography researcher must follow the guidelines given by American Psychological Association (APA). In which the details required to cite the reference are: the name of the author(s) starting with surname, year of publication, title of the book, edition, place of publication, name of the publisher(s)(in case of books.When there is more than one author, the initial of the first author must be followed by ‘a comma’. The wording of the title should appear exactly as it does on the title page of the book or first page of the article. The name of the journal should either appear as it is or be abbreviated according to accepted abbreviations.
For better understanding regarding writing references in APA style, kindly go through the references given under the title Further reading and references in this unit.

SLMsaq.gif Self-Assessment Questions (SAQs) -14
1. What is full form of APA?

2. What are the details required for writing a reference in case of book?

SLMsum.png Results

SLMfeedb.png Answers to SAQs


1.(i)blue print , (ii)systematic , (iii)scientific 2. topic / title 3. references / bibliography.


1.(i)interest, (ii)skill and ability, (iii)available time, (iv)financial support and equipment, and(v) its significance.


1.(i) justification , (ii) selection


1.(i) familiar (ii) finalization 2.(i) concise (ii) continuity 3.The review of related literature is expected to guide the researcher in several ways in finalization of undertaken study. It would make the researcher familiar with what is already known and what still remains to be done.


1.overview 2.(i) adequacy, (ii) relevancy, (iii) simplicity


1.vagueness , misinterpretation


1.clear cut/ specific, pin pointed


1.(i) direction (ii) objectives 2.variables 3 (i) present (ii) future (iii) null (iv) directional




1. sampling 2. population


1.In research studies three types of instruments are used: (i) Standardised instruments, (ii) Non-standardised instruments and (iii) instruments constructed by the researcher. 2.Its reliability and validity.


1.statistical 2.qualitative


1.Research is a systematic and planned activity. Therefore, time schedule budgeting indicate an insightful planning and executing ability of a researcher.


1. American Psychological Association 2. Name of the author(s) starting with surname, year of publication, title of the book, edition, place of publication and name of the publisher(s).

SLMref.png References and Further Readings

American Psychological Association (APA). (1994). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (Fourth edition). Washington, DC: Author.
Centre of Advanced Study in Education (1999-2000). Research Methodology, Vadodara : The M.S.University of Baroda.
Centre of Advanced Study in Education (2001-02). Research Methodology in Education, Vadodara : The M.S.University of Baroda.
Centre of Advanced Study in Education (2003-04). Methodology of Teaching,Evaluation & Research, Vadodara : The M.S.University of Baroda.
Cochran, W.G.(1963). Sampling Technique, 2nd Ed., New York : John Wiley & Sons.
Cohen, L. and Manion, L.(1989). Research methods in education, 3rd edition. London: Croom Helm.
Cook, Thomas D. and Reichardt, Charles S. (1979) Qualitative and quantitative methods in evaluation research. Beverly Hills, Ca.: Sage.
Crabtree, Benjamin F. and Miller, William L., eds.(1992) Doing qualitative research. Newbury Park: Sage.
Creswell, J. W. (1994). Research design: Qualitative & quantitative approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Cryer, Pat (2000) (2nd ed). The Research Student's Guide to Success. Buckingham; Open University Press.
Darren Langdridge (2003). Introduction to Research Methods and Data analysis to Psychology, New Delhi : Pearson Books.
Edwards, Allen L.(1969).Techniques of Attitude Scale Construction, New York : Appleton-Century-Crofts.
Elliott, John (1991). Action research for educational change. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.
Fisher, R.A.(1960).The Design of Experiments,7th Ed., New York : Hafner-Publishing Company.
Fraenkel, J. R. & Wallen, N. E. (1990). How to design and evaluate research in education. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Kerlinger, F. N. (1979). Behavioral research: A conceptual approach. New York : Holt, Rinehart, & Winston.
Krathwohl, D. R. (1988). How to prepare a research proposal: Guidelines for funding and dissertations in the social and behavioral sciences. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.
Locke, L. F., Spirduso, W. W., & Silverman, S. J. (1987). Proposals that work: A guide for planning dissertations and grant proposals (2nd ed.). Newbury park, CA: Sage.
Marshall, C., & Rossman, G. B. (1989). Designing qualitative research: Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Miller, Delbert Charles (1991) Handbook of research design and social measurement, 5th edition. Newbury Park: Sage.
Neuman, William Lawrence (1991) Social research methods: qualitative and quantitative approaches. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Nirman, Pooja (2007). Encyclopedia of Research Methodology in Education, New Delhi : Anmol Publishing Pvt. Ltd.
Patton, Michael Q. (1990) Qualitative evaluation and research methods, second edition. Newbury Park, Ca.: Sage.
Phillips, Estelle and Pugh, D. (2000) (3rd ed). How to get a PhD. Buckingham; Open University Press.
Potter, Stephen (Ed) (2002) Doing Postgraduate Research. London; Sage Publications.
Shavelson, R. J. (1988). Statistical reasoning for the behavioral sciences (second edition). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Wiersma, W. (1995). Research methods in education: An introduction (Sixth edition). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Wilkinson, A. M. (1991). The scientist's handbook for writing papers and dissertations. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.