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Graduate Writers’ Workshop Week 3. Crafting an Effective Research Proposal Dr. Erica Cirillo -McCarthy Assistant Director of Graduate and ADEP Writing. What is a Research Proposal?. Varies among disciplines, so read some from your field to discover defining characteristics

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graduate writers workshop week 3

Graduate Writers’ WorkshopWeek 3

Crafting an Effective Research Proposal

Dr. Erica Cirillo-McCarthy

Assistant Director of Graduate and ADEP Writing

what is a research proposal
What is a Research Proposal?
  • Varies among disciplines, so read some from your field to discover defining characteristics
  • A contextualized and clear roadmap of your intended research
  • A specific declaration of what you intend to do in your thesis or dissertation
  • Usually vetted by an advisor or thesis/dissertation committee
  • Separated into discipline-specific sections – ask for and read proposals in your discipline and in your program
think about audience and purpose
Think about audience and purpose
  • Audience:
    • For an audience of advisors, professors, experts in the field
    • Must be clear, specific, and focused in its goals and the niche into which it fits
  • Purpose:
    • Indicates your readiness to conduct your own research and contribute to the ongoing conversation
    • Clearly articulates your grasp of the topic and familiarity of the conversation surrounding your topic
    • Illustrates your ability to become the expert in this topic
writing exercise
Writing Exercise:
  • Freewrite (don’t worry about grammar, word choice, sentence structure – this is just for you) what draws you to your research. Why did you enroll in this program? Why are you interested in your topic? This part will help position yourself as a person and a researcher and lead to other sections.
  • Next, freewrite what you envision doing with your research. Do you want to publish it? Extend it? Use it in your career? How? Try to be specific – this part will help in the justification part of the research proposal.
how do i write a research proposal
How do I write a research proposal?
  • Identify gaps in the literature:
    • This is usually done after you have written a literature review
    • Begin by mapping out research on your topic
    • How do the different articles/books relate to each other? Ex. Do they add on to each other? Contradict each other? Take another methodological approach?
    • Your critique in the literature review leads to your own research space: why and how will your research add, flesh out, contribute to the larger conversation?
how do i write a research proposal cont d
How do I write a research proposal, cont’d?
  • Outline the questions you plan to address in the dissertation or thesis:
    • What are the four or five questions driving your research?
    • The lenses, theoretical and methodological, that you employ?
    • These questions will be revised and revised, but you must start somewhere and seek guidance from your advisor.
  • Establish a strong research design or theoretical framework for your study:
    • This is crucial for your credibility. While it is no doubt a challenge to new researchers, it is important for your advisor to see that you understand the theories that underscore your research design and general approach.
how do i write a research proposal cont d1
How do I write a research proposal, cont’d?
  • Describe the topics you plan to cover in each chapter of the thesis or dissertation:
    • Break it down by chapter. This will allow you and your audience to see the full arc of the research project.
  • Speculate upon potential results of your study:
    • Again, this might change depending on the results, but it allows you to once again establish your confidence in the field and the conversation surrounding your topic.
  • Discuss the importance of your study to the field:
    • This section is also called the justification section. If the literature review section was done comprehensively, you should be able to write this with few problems. Why is this important to you, to your field, to other researchers, to the participants? This is the big “why” question.
writing exercise 2
Writing exercise 2
  • Go back and read over your earlier freewriting. You articulated what brought you to your research and what you plan on doing with it. Now broaden your lens to include the significance of your research to others in your field. What can other researchers learn from this study? What can it potentially contribute to the field?
writing exercise 3
Writing Exercise 3
  • Let’s work on the research questions. Freewrite five research questions for your proposal. They do not have to be perfect, but consider them as a starting point.
  • After, look at the questions and consider:
    • Are there questions that need to be answered before these questions can be asked?
    • What assumptions can we find in these questions? How can we back up and start our questions from a point of fewer assumptions?
    • What questions have previous researchers asked? How do your questions add/challenge/critique these questions?
moving forward
Moving forward…
  • You now have three different entry points into your research proposal: your position as a researcher, your stated goal of the research, and a few research questions.
  • Use these documents as the basis of your proposal. Remember that the proposal, by its nature, will be revised many times before it is ready to go. Rely on your advisor - they are there to help and mentor you as you move into the position of a researcher.
  • Read other research proposals to demystify the genre.
  • Head to the Writing Center to work with a graduate tutor on revising your proposal.
  • Good luck and thank you!