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The purposes of the research proposal

Organizing your ideas Section 14.1 notes that writing can be the best way of clarifying our thoughts. This is a valuable purpose of the proposal. Not only will it clarify your thoughts but it will help you to organize your ideas into a coherent statement of your research intent. Your reader will be looking for this.

Convincing your audience

However coherent your ideas and exciting your research plan, it counts for little if the proposal reveals that what you are planning to do is simply not possible. As part of research methods courses many tutors ask students to draft a research proposal. This is then discussed with a tutor. What usually happens is that this discussion is about how the proposed research can be amended so that something more modest in scope is attempted.

Initially work that is not achievable in the given timescale is proposed. The student’s task is to amend their initial ideas and convince the module tutor that the proposed research is achievable within the time and other resources available. Contracting with your ‘client’ If you were asked to carry out a research project for a commercial client or your own organization it is unthinkable that you would go ahead without a clear proposal that you would submit for approval.

Acceptance of your proposal by the client would be part of the contract that existed between you. So it is with your proposal to your project tutor or academic committee. Acceptance implies that your proposal is satisfactory. While this is obviously no guarantee of subsequent success, it is something of comfort to you to know that at least you started your research journey with an appropriate destination and journey plan. It is for you to ensure that you do not get lost!

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