Chapter 2: The research proposal

Activity 1

Get to know the resources that are available to you.

  • Before you write your research proposal you should investigate what resources are ‘out there’ to help you.
  • Ask your research tutor or supervisor if there are examples of research proposals from previous students that you can look at.
  • The study skills section of your institutions website may have examples.
  • Look at YouTube presentations on the topic. (A note of caution here: some presentations will be more relevant than others. Quantitative research proposals are different from qualitative proposals, although the basic structure will be similar. Don’t be put off if the video you are interested in is directed at masters or PhD students, again the principles will be the same.)

Activity 2

Case study: Betty is studying for a degree in Early Childhood Studies. She has a placement for 2 days a week in a day care setting with children aged 3–4. She wants to investigate parents’ views on how much screen time children should be exposed to, and whether or not this is an area of conflict between them and their children. She decides to conduct a qualitative study, using a questionnaire containing open questions to all parents using the setting, together with in-depth informal interviews with four parents.

  • Outline a research proposal for this study (no need to conduct a literature review).
  • Who are the ‘gatekeepers’ that will need to give permission for the study to go ahead?

Activity 3

Sage research methods content

Abdulai, R.T. and Owusu-Ansah, A. (2014) ‘Essential ingredients of a good research proposal for undergraduate and postgraduate students in the social sciences’, SAGE Open, 4(3): 1–11.

This article is a comprehensive guide to writing research proposals. It is recommended that you read Chapters 1 and 2 in the textbook before you read this article as the article looks at both research proposals and research design. You will discover that terminology is not fixed. Different authors will use different terms to describe the same thing. For example, in this article the research question is called the research objective. Your institution may expect you to use specific terminology, but as long as you define your terms and use them consistently, these differences are of no account.

Wharewera-Mika, J., Cooper, E., Kool, B., Pereira, S. and Kelly, P. (2015) ‘Caregivers’ voices: the experiences of caregivers of children who sustained serious accidental and non-accidental head injury in early childhood’, Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 21(2): 268–86.

This article looks at parents’ experiences of caring for children who received a head injury before the age of 5. It is a New Zealand study. Imagine you were the researchers at the beginning of the research process. They were required to present a research proposal to one of New Zealand Health and Disability Ethics Committees. Outline what their proposal might look like (minus the literature review).