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Briefly describe the context in which the research question arose.

 

    If your research is particularly related to your workplace - you need to briefly describe that.  If it relates to a particular aspect of organisational policy or practice - then you will need to explain the situation as it is at present.  If it arose as a result of a specific incident - then you might usefully describe that.  If your research relates to a recent (Government) policy or initiative - then you need to briefly explain that.  

 

The "research question" - What it is you want to find out.  Your starting hypothesis. (In other words; You may think that something is likely to be true - but you need to carry out some research to prove that it is.)

 

    Remember to be focused.  If you are too vague in the way you define your research question then it is likely that your research will be unmanageable.  A carefully thought-out question will have far more impact.  

 

Explain why you believe it is important to find out the answer to your question.  Describe the possible benefits of your findings.

 

    Be realistic.  It is unlikely that the research you are proposing will have earth-shattering results - but it may nevertheless alter policy or practice within the context of your organisation - and that can have important consequences for individuals.  

 

What research has been done already?

 

    After all, you do not want to be re-inventing the wheel - although you might want to confirm that someone else's research findings also pertain within a different context or with a slightly different target group.  Be sure to state how your research planning is dependent on previous research. (This is more properly the purpose of a Literature Review - but you could summarise the findings here.  )  

 

What is your research methodology? 

 

    In other words; what will you do?  What data do you plan to collect? From where or from whom? How will you collect it? (Questionnaire; survey; focus group; interview; existing statistical data; etc.)  At this stage you do not need to be too precise but you do need to have a "pretty good idea" of what is involved (target groups; sample size and composition; timescales; cost; etc.)  You also need to consider what steps you will take to ensure validity of data, confidentiality and any ethical issues that may arise.  

 

How will you analyse the data you have collected?

 

    Obviously you do not know from the outset the data you will collect - but you do know what type of data it is and, if it is numerical (quantitative), how it can be manipulated and how results can be represented.  
 

 

How will you present your findings

 

 
    It is most likely that you will present your findings in the form of  a written report but not necessarily (or exclusively) so.  

 

It may be appropriate to set out a timeline (or schedule) of your proposed research.

 

    This is particularly important if the research is to be phased (for example, to collect data over a period of time - or "before" and "after" a specific intervention.  

 

You may find the following website useful:

 

Guide to writing a research proposal (Bear in mind that this is aimed at Postgraduate students.)