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Guidance of writing a research proposal (can be used as a template)


You are required to write a 3,000 word Research Proposal (excluding cover page, timescale, resources, references sections) as Research Methods module assessment. Below provides a guide for the contents and quality in each section and can be used as a Template). Cover page The cover page should include: Name of the University Title of your research project Your name and student ID Course name Module name and cohort Tutors name of research methods module

Title (normally 10 20 words) Try here to reflect as accurately as possible the content of the proposal Introduction (around 1000 words) This is an important part of the proposal. You should place the proposed study in a context which will assist your assessor in understanding why it is you have chosen this particular topic. In short, you need to convince the assessor that the research is worth pursuing: not just by you as part of the course, but by a competent researcher who will add to an understanding of the particular topic you are studying. Therefore you may wish to demonstrate the topical relevance of your proposal if it is concerned with something that is generating current debate and your assessor will be keen to see if you are knowledgeable about the topic and can relate it to existing theory. Research questions and objectives (around 200 words) The research questions may be one overall question, or a number of questions that the research process will address. Research objectives are clear, specific and formulated statements that identify what the research process seeks to achieve as a result of doing the research. So the movement from research questions to research objectives is a developmental one: objectives follow questions to provide precision to that which is more general. Literature review (around 1000 words) A critical review is something that you would normally include in a final written project report (e.g. a dissertation). However, in a proposal, your assessor is more concerned with if you are knowledgeable about the literature that relates to your research topic. Therefore you should use this opportunity to explain how your proposal relates to the academic debate which is being conducted in the literature. You will be expected to show a clear link between the previous work that has been done in your field of research interest and content of your proposed. Put simply, you should show in your review of the literature where your research questions came from and how your research objectives will move the debate forward by, say, applying a new perspective or setting your research in a new context: the literature is both a point of departure and a signpost pointing to your destination. Clearly, you should include references to key articles and texts, but you must show that you appreciate their relevance to your research area.
Adapted by Dr Junjie Wu from Saunders and Lewis (2012, pages 201-216): Doing Research in Business & Management An Essential Gide to Planning Your Project.

2 Methods (around 800 words) This section flows directly from your research objectives and shows how you will go about achieving them. In the method section, you have the opportunity to show the assessor the extent to which you really understand the research process through ensuring this close connection between research objectives and methods. Whether it is possible to collect the data is an important consideration for your assessor. A key question that will be going through your assessors mind will be, Are the methods being proposed likely to deliver credible results that can lead to sound and valid conclusions? Therefore it is vital that you think this through thoroughly when preparing the method section of your proposal. This raises the issue of validity and reliability. Validity is the extent to which: (a) data collection method or methods accurately measure what they were intended to measure and (b) the research findings are really about what they profess to be about. Reliability is the extent to which data collection methods and analysis procedures will produce consistent findings. You should justify your choice of methods in the light of the question about credibility. Your methods section can be divided by into two parts: research design and data collection. Research design In this part, you should explain why you chose the particular design. Your reasoning will be judged against the extent to which your choice of design is consistent with your research objective and the need to provide credible data. You will also need to describe and justify the population from which you propose to collect data. Data collection In this part, you should include an explanation of the way in which you intend to carry out the research. It could involve, say, examination of secondary data, questionnaires, semi-structured or unstructured interviews, observation, or use a combination of data collection techniques. It is essential to explain why you have chosen your approach and this explanation should reflect upon whether this is the most effective way of meeting your research objectives and providing credible data. The data collection section should be much more detailed about how specifically the data are to be collected. For example, if you are using questionnaires, you should specify your population and sample size, and how your sample will be collected. You should also clarify how the questionnaires will be distributed, the likely response rate, and how the data will be analysed. If you are using interviews, you should explain how many interviews will be conducted, how long they will last, whether they will be audio recorded, and how they will be analysed. You should show your assessor that you have thought carefully about all the issues regarding your method and their relationship to your research objectives and data credibility. Research ethics You should write a short statement to inform how your research will follow research ethical principles and how you plan to protect your participants. You are also required to submit a research ethics form (see Appendix) with your proposal. If your project is not involving human participants, i.e. only conducting secondary data, you are required to sign and submit the LOCAL LEVEL AUTHORISATION form and provide the information indicated in the form. If your project is involving human participants, e.g. conducting primary data by questionnaire, and/or interview, you are required to sign and submit the LOCAL LEVEL APPROVAL
Adapted by Dr Junjie Wu from Saunders and Lewis (2012, pages 201-216): Doing Research in Business & Management An Essential Gide to Planning Your Project.

3 form, and provide the information indicated in the form. Please seek advice from your dissertation coordinator (the Research Ethics Coordinator)/Research Methods tutor/supervisor as to the level of ethics clearance required based on your study. Timescale This is a useful part of your research proposal. Clearly breaking down the research process into a series of steps will show you whether it is reasonable to expect the various tasks to be done within the timescale. An example timescale for a research project as follows: An example timescale for a research project Task Begin research idea formulation and first coverage of literature Main part of literature research completed, research questions and objectives defined Research proposal submitted Make arrangements of data collection Literature research finished and review written Secondary data research Primary research and analysis Draft dissertation Revised draft of dissertation Final submission of dissertation

To be completed by 01/10/2011 20/11/2011 30/11/2011 31/12/2011 31/12/2011 31/12/2011 20/02/2012 31/03/2012 15/05/2012 30/05/2012

Resources You may list the resources required for the completion of the project you propose. This will assist your assessor in considering the viability of your proposal, i.e. your data availability. For example, if you are using secondary data, you should indicate the database and contents of data. If you are using primary data (e.g. questionnaires or interviews), you need to convince your assessor that you get access to the potential respondents. References You should impress your assessor with a long list of references. You should only list those references that clearly use the literature to inform the choice of topic, the questions and objectives and research methods. You should list them by the Harvard referencing style.

Adapted by Dr Junjie Wu from Saunders and Lewis (2012, pages 201-216): Doing Research in Business & Management An Essential Gide to Planning Your Project.

4 Appendix: Research Ethics Clearance Forms LOCAL LEVEL AUTHORISATION: POSTGRADUATE RESEARCH PROJECT Project not involving human participants Name

Programme (identify taught postgraduate programme, or target research award eg PhD)

Project Title Sources to be used These need not be specified in detail. An outline indication only, eg titles of main books, journals, archive material etc. should be given. Please continue on a separate sheet if necessary.

Student Undertaking I confirm that I am proposing to undertake this research project in the manner described. I understand that I may not approach any human participants or involve human subjects in the course of this work. I also understand that I am required to abide by the terms of this authorisation throughout the life of the project; and that if I subsequently wish to involve human participants or human subjects I will seek approval for this immediately, and will not undertake such research unless and until approval is granted. I understand that if I infringe the terms of this authorisation my work may not be marked. Signed . Supervisors agreement Name Date .

Signature ..

Date

Authorisation Research Ethics Co-ordinator Name Signature

Date

... This form will be retained for the purposes of assurance of compliance and audit for the duration of the research project and for five calendar years thereafter.

Adapted by Dr Junjie Wu from Saunders and Lewis (2012, pages 201-216): Doing Research in Business & Management An Essential Gide to Planning Your Project.

5 LOCAL LEVEL APPROVAL: POSTGRADUATE RESEARCH PROJECT Low risk project involving human participants Name Programme (identify taught postgraduate programme, or target research award eg PhD) Project Title

Human Participants Involved These should be specified in full on an attached sheet including numbers and description e.g. 20 members of University staff; 30 residents on a named estate; and how it is proposed to select these.

Relations with Human Participants Details of the proposed inter-action should be given on an attached sheet. A draft information and consent form which should detail the right of the participant to withdraw from the project MUST be included.

Student Undertaking I confirm that I am proposing to undertake this research project in the manner described. I understand that I am required to abide by the terms of this approval throughout the life of the project. I also understand that I may not make any substantial amendments to this project without consent; and that if I wish to make significant amendments to the project I will seek approval for this immediately, and will not undertake such research unless and until approval is granted. I understand that if I infringe the terms of this approval my work may not be marked. Signed Supervisors agreement Name Date .

Signature ..

Date

Approval Research Ethics Co-ordinator Name Signature

Date

... This form will be retained for the purposes of assurance of compliance and audit for the duration of the research project and for five calendar years thereafter.

Adapted by Dr Junjie Wu from Saunders and Lewis (2012, pages 201-216): Doing Research in Business & Management An Essential Gide to Planning Your Project.

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An example of a SHORT Research Proposal: Research Proposal BA (Hons) Business and Management An exploration of learning in alliances between organisations in the Information and Communication Technology sector in the UK Introduction There are two principal interests attracting the researcher: firstly the learning organisation, and secondly working with teams to improve their effectiveness. These teams could be formal in the line management sense, or virtual teams such as project teams or alliance. It is proposed to conduct this research into alliance in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector in the UK. Research question and objectives Alliances are widespread in the UK (ICT) sector. This sector has undergone rapid consolidation through mergers and acquisitions in recent years, bringing together significantly different practices and cultures to the management of their alliances. The overall research question is to what extent do UK-based businesses of global organisations in the ICT sector plan to learn from and with their alliance within the same sector? This research sets out to explore the extent to which the UK-based global ICT organisations to plan to learn from and/or with their alliance partners within the same sector. The specific research objectives are: 1. To establish the performance characteristics regarded as important by each party to an alliance; 2. To examine the degree to which both parties to an alliance agree on the important performance characteristics; 3. To explore the extent to which organisations within an alliance set out to learn from each other; 4. To discover how organisations share and learn from their collective experiences and the topics of learning; 5. To analyse the extent of double loop learning in the alliances studies.

Literature review Alliance Yin and Stanley (2008) define an alliance in terms of an agreement between two or more firms with a view to jointly manage assets and achieve objectives. The amount of alliances appears to be increasing (Qui, 2010). But the dominant view in the literature is that the majority of these alliances fail (Dyer et al., 2001). The research that has been published on alliance concentrates upon the criteria for selecting alliance partners (Pidduck, 2006), identifying critical success factors (Stanek, 2004) and selecting the appropriate contractual vehicle (Pett and Dibrell, 2001). Learning in alliance A learning organisation is one that facilitates the learning of the members and continuously transforms itself. It needs to maintain knowledge about new products and processes, understand what is happening in the external environment and produce creative solution utilising the knowledge and skills of all within the organisation. Such creativity demands co-operation between individual and groups, effective communication, and a culture of trust (Argysis, 1999). Such research that has been done on learning in alliances (e.g. Das et al., 2003) suggests that the dominant mode of organisational learning is single loop: the examination of processes and organisational relationships to identify areas for improvement. Argyris (1999) recommends that double loop learning is necessary for real improvement to occur. This learning mode challenges the organisations values and norms (rtenblad, 2010).
Adapted by Dr Junjie Wu from Saunders and Lewis (2012, pages 201-216): Doing Research in Business & Management An Essential Gide to Planning Your Project.

Research methods Research context The study will use two case study organisations for this research: ABC and DEF. Both organisations have formed alliances with other organisations in the ICT sector. ABC has an alliance with GHI and DEF with JKL. The researcher has contacts in ABC and DEF and will use these contacts to arrange the data collection. Both ABC and DEF are UK-based subsidiaries of global companies with long-term experience of forming and managing alliance. Each has significant numbers of alliances. Data collection and analysis The researcher plans to collect data by interviewing employees in each organisation. Participants will include the alliance managers and key operational staff from each organisation. Between six and ten people will be interviewed individually in each organisation. As this research is focused on the nature of the relationship, the number of participants per organisation is not critical. Interviewing will take place in two stages. Stage one treats each of the four organisations separately, concentrating on the employees in each of those individual organisations. The second stage combines organisations ABC and GHI, and, separately, DEF with JKL. Interviews will be with pairs (where possible) of employees, each pair comprising an employee from each of the organisations. The interviews will concentrate on discussions based on the five research objectives. They will be unstructured and led by the researcher who will seek permission to audio-record the interviews and then make notes of the key points following each interview. Each interview will take a maximum of one hour. The data will be analysed manually by sifting through the data and finding key themes which will respond to the five research objectives. Research ethics Confidentiality will be guaranteed to each organisation in that any information which the researcher receives which may be commercially sensitive will not be disclosed. In addition, the researcher will guarantee anonymity to all participants. Neither the participating organisations nor individuals will be named in the research project. Timescale (omitted by the adapter) Resources (omitted by the adapter) References (omitted by the adapter)

Adapted by Dr Junjie Wu from Saunders and Lewis (2012, pages 201-216): Doing Research in Business & Management An Essential Gide to Planning Your Project.

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