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Developing Research Proposals
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Developing Research Proposals

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January 2012 | 160 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Writing a research proposal is one of the most important tasks facing academics, researchers and postgraduate students. Yet there is a good deal of misinformation and a great lack of guidance about what constitutes a good research proposal and what can be done to maximise one's chances of writing a successful research proposal.

 

Denicolo and Becker recognise the importance of developing an effective research proposal for gaining either a place on a research degree programme or funding to support research projects and set out to explore the main factors that that proposal writers need to attend to in developing successful proposals of their own.

 

Developing Research Proposals will help readers to understand the context within which their proposal will be read, what the reviewers are looking for and will be influenced by, while also supporting the development of relevant skills through advice and practical activities.

 

This book:

  • Explores the nature and purpose of different kinds of proposals
  • Focuses on the actual research proposed
  • Discusses how best to carry out and structure the literature review
  • Examines the posing and phrasing of research questions and hypotheses
  • Looks at how methods and methodology should be handled in a proposal
  • Discusses the crucial issues of planning, strategy and timing in developing targeted proposals

Denicolo and Becker draw together the key elements in the process of preparing and submitting a proposal and concludes with advice on responding to the results, successful or not, and their relevance to future proposals.

The Success in Research series, from Cindy Becker and Pam Denicolo, provides short, authoritative and accessible guides on key areas of professional and research development.  

Avoiding jargon and cutting to the chase of what you really need to know, these practical and supportive books cover a range of areas from presenting research to achieving impact, and from publishing journal articles to developing proposals. They are essential reading for any student or researcher interested in developing their skills and broadening their professional and methodological knowledge in an academic context.

 
Prologue
Serendipity

 
Intended Readers

 
Overview of the Rook

 
The Task Before You

 
 
What is a Research Proposal?
A Pervasive Task Defined

 
A Celebration of Difference

 
First Steps in Meeting the Needs of Your Readership

 
Finding out about Research Degree Opportunities

 
Finding out about Research Funding Opportunities

 
General Preliminary Explorations

 
Skills Inventory

 
 
When Is a Research Proposal Required and Why?
Motivation

 
Sources of Funding

 
Gaining a Richer View of Funders' Requirements

 
Gaining Financial Awards for Study

 
Identifying Potential Supervisors/Advisors

 
Securing a Place on a Higher Degree by Research Programme

 
Sections Within a Proposal - What Funders or Research Degree Reviewers Are Looking for

 
Main Features of Proposals

 
 
What Are the Key Aspects of Proposal Preparation?
Pre-Preparation

 
The Title, Abstract and Covering Letter

 
The Body of the Proposal - Audience and Style

 
Developing Your Proposal Draft

 
Language Register, Voice and Verb Tense

 
The Conceptual Framework

 
Stages in the Production of Proposal - Advance Planning

 
The Constraints of Time

 
 
What Should Be Included in the Introduction, Rationale and Literature Review?
Orientating Your Reader to Your Purpose

 
The Introduction

 
The Rationale

 
Preparing for the Literature Review

 
The Literature Review Itself

 
The Process of Searching the Literature

 
Constructing Your Argument

 
 
What Is the Significance of the Aims, Objectives, and Research Questions/Hypotheses?
Level of Specificity Required

 
Clarification of Terms - Aims and Objectives

 
Research Questions and Hypotheses

 
Paradigms

 
Why Paradigm Identification Is Important

 
The Link between Aims/Objectives and Research Questions/Hypotheses

 
 
What Should Be Included in the Methodology/Research Implementation Sections?
Consistency between Purpose and Procedures

 
Clarification of 'Shorthand' Terms

 
Methodology - Approach and Justification

 
Consistency and Justification

 
Research Using Positivist Approaches

 
Presenting and Analysing Quantitative Results

 
Research Using Interpretivist Approaches

 
Presenting and Analysing Qualitative Results

 
Using the Right Language

 
Ethical Considerations

 
Evaluation Plan

 
 
What Financial Considerations Are Required?
The Ground Rules of Budgeting

 
The Financial Demands of a Research Degree Project

 
Financial Considerations for All Researchers

 
Types and Styles of Budgets for Funding Applications

 
Key Elements of the Budget: Personnel

 
Key Elements of the Budget: Operating Costs

 
The Budget after Submission of the Proposal

 
 
What Planning and Organisation Details Are Required?
Establishing Goals and Deadlines

 
Project Planning and Time Management

 
Implementation Plans

 
Research Governance

 
People Management

 
Schedules and Timelines

 
 
Who Are the other Potential Contributors to and Referees for Your Project?
Building Professional Relationships

 
Building on Overviews of Requirements

 
Making Contacts and Seeking Help

 
Developing Collaborations and Partnerships

 
The Review Process

 
What Reviewers Are Seeking from Proposals

 
Reality Check - Grit Your Teeth!

 
 
Where Does It End? Reactions, Reflections and Anticipations
After Submission

 
Receiving Feedback from Reviewers

 
Reasons for Rejection

 
Responding to Feedback

 
Back to the Beginning

 
The Continuous Cycle of Proposal Writing

 
Appendix 1 Funding Sources

 
Appendix 2 Resources

 
Glossary

 
Index

 

Supplements

Success in Research free tools

A collection of free tips, exercises and resources from all books in the Success in Research series

This is a sound introduction to proposal writing, especially for those unfamiliar with the process. It is clearly presented and written in largely jargon-free language that will appeal to the neophyte... The work is useful as an introduction to the proposal-writing process.

Maryam Nazari
Online Information Review


This book is essential reading for those writing research proposals for a PhD application as well as those writing proposals to funding bodies. It is intended for those who are writing proposals for the first time but also for those who may have written proposals before, but never succeeded in getting funding... For me, this book is perfectly pitched. It is simple, but not simplistic. It offers practical advice, but also interrogates your thinking about the actual research design...This book is an excellent addition to any newer researcher's bookshelf as well as for administrative staff and those in research offices who support academics writing proposals. You get a sense that the authors are true experts and genuinely want to support new and early academics in what is an increasingly competitive part of modern day academia.
Annika Coughlin
SRA News


Developing Research Proposals is a very accessible and authoritative guide, and part of Sage’s informative Success in Research Series... Overall, the authors have written a book providing a wealth of information and advice that would come in handy not only to those interested in maximizing their chances to get a research degree place or funding for project in a complex and demanding environment, but also to those interested in their personal development as researchers.
Andreea Moise
LSE Review of Books


essential reading for part time masters students undertaking research methods module

Dr Brian Nyatanga
Health, The University of Worcester
August 25, 2017

This textbook covers well the basic elements for tailoring and designing a professional research proposal. However, it should be combined with other textbooks as it is not extensive.
Strongly recommended.

Dr Bruno Schivinski
Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University
December 20, 2016

A very clear and step-by-step approach to writing research proposals.
Very useful when undertaking research for the first time. I would recommend it to any new researcher.

Miss Karine Mangion
Management and HR, Regent's University London
March 25, 2015

Proposals are so strange to students new to research. They cannot understand the need of justification but jump straight in to wanting to do things. This text will help understand the need to plan

Mr Martyn Jarvis
Faculty of Business and Society, Department of Law, Accounting and Finance, University of South Wales
March 9, 2015

Excellent book that clearly takes the students through the process of planning a research proposal.

Miss Sharon Brooks
Faculty of Higher Education, City College Plymouth
October 16, 2014

a useful addition to research methods module reading list

Mrs Carolyn Felton
Osteopathy, NESCOT
October 8, 2014

I am recommending this as supplemental reading to PhD students in the first part of their doctoral research. It is as very helpful tool to aid thinking about exactly how to develop their proposals. I also am recommending it to colleagues seeking to become research active.

Dr David Preece
School of Education, Northampton University
September 27, 2014

Important book for classes with applied research projects for students and advanced Master's.

Mrs Claudia Seifert
Communication, Technical University of Dresden
September 3, 2014

Very handy text to provide straightforward advice on developing good quality research proposal.

Dr Ricky Li
School of Law Accounting and Finance, University of South Wales
August 1, 2014

Sample Materials & Chapters

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