Think about your introduction as a narrative written in one to three paragraphs that succinctly answers the following four questions:
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- What is the central research problem?
- What is the topic of study related to that problem?
- What methods should be used to analyze the research problem?
- Why is this important research?
II. Background and Significance
This section can be melded into your introduction or you can create a separate section to help with the organization and flow. This is where you explain the context of your project and outline why it’s important.
III. Literature Review
Connected to the background and significance of your study is a more deliberate review and synthesis of prior studies related to the research problem under investigation.
To help frame your proposal’s literature review, here are the “five C’s” of writing a literature review:
- Cite: keep the primary focus on the literature pertinent to your research problem.
- Compare the various arguments, theories, methodologies, and findings expressed in the literature: what do the authors agree on? Who applies similar approaches to analyzing the research problem?
- Contrast the various arguments, themes, methodologies, approaches and controversies expressed in the literature: what are the major areas of disagreement, controversy, or debate?
- Critique the literature: Which arguments are more persuasive, and why? Which approaches, findings, methodologies seem most reliable, valid, or appropriate, and why? Pay attention to the verbs you use to describe what an author says/does [e.g., asserts, demonstrates, etc.].
- Connect the literature to your own area of research and investigation: how does your own work draw upon, depart from, or synthesize what has been said in the literature?
IV. Research Design and Methods
This section must be well-written and logically organized because you are not actually doing the research.
V. Preliminary Suppositions and Implications
Just because you don’t have to actually conduct the study and analyze the results, it doesn’t mean that you can skip talking about the process and potential implications. T
The conclusion reiterates the importance or significance of your proposal and provides a brief recap of the entire study. This section should be only one or two paragraphs long, emphasizing why your research study is unique, why it advances knowledge, and why the research problem is worth investigating.
- References — lists only the literature that you actually used or cited in your proposal.
- Bibliography — lists everything you used or cited in your proposal with additional citations of any key sources relevant to understanding the research problem.