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Whether or not you are required to submit a research proposal before your dissertation, it is good practice to summarise what you plan to do, and why, before you start as it will help to keep your research on track.A research proposal is a document in which you outline the case for undertaking the research project, your dissertation or thesis, and present your plans for carrying out the work.You can always find a sector, study group, or other unique element that will make the research worthwhile, even if others have done similar studies before.
Any study involving human or animal subjects will need ethical approval, which will usually be from the university’s ethics committee.
There is likely to be a standard form to complete, which you may need to submit as part of your research proposal.
Summarise the texts that you read and group ideas into themes as you go, not forgetting to reference very carefully.
It is much easier to take irrelevant text and references out later than to add them in and remember where the ideas came from.
Frame it as a question that you could ask somebody: good research questions often begin with asking words like who, what, when, where, why, how, and how much.
Once you have brainstormed several questions related to your topic, look at each one individually against the following checklist of considerations.Check the university’s requirements, and if necessary consult your supervisor about what to include.An example ethical committee approval form may include questions such as: Will you provide written information to participants indicating the nature and purpose of the research, that their participation is voluntary, that they may withdraw at any time, and provide contact details for further information about the study?Once you have defined your research questions, you need to set out broadly what you plan to do to answer them, and why.Everything that you do should have a clear reason ‘I thought it might be fun’ is not considered good enough.Keep a note of ideas and questions, and then send a single email to your supervisor requesting an appointment, and setting out your broad thinking, preferably with your outline research questions.Your supervisor will soon make clear whether they think your ideas are too broad for study and will hopefully help you to narrow them down.Your research proposal may be a part of your dissertation, submitted in advance, or submitted as a separate piece of work.You may also be required to write a research proposal as part of a grant application.Once you have identified your field of interest, you can then start to identify one or more research questions to answer.Again, a narrow question that you can research in detail is better than a broad one that you will not be able to cover in full.