Over the decades, the author has found that students find it hard to draft attractive research proposals because they are not aware of what research proposal entails. In fact, most students may have hardly heard the word “research proposal” as at the time they were asked to write one. This makes it difficult for them because they do not even know what a research proposal is talkless of writing one. This paper therefore, aimed to expose students to what a research proposal is all about. The paper however, commences with explanation of what a research proposal is since it was difficult writing a proposal without understanding the concept first. More detailed steps were also presented to aid students draft their own research proposal independently. An example of what a research proposal should look like was also presented as a guide.
Writing a research proposal should perhaps be the easiest thing to do. This is because it is just a format or blueprint or say a hallmark of what a student intend to study. As a student, it is expected that from your previous years, you may have attempted or developed interest on a particular topic to write on in your final year. So, a proposal shows how well you know about that topic. Unfortunately, your supervisor may not approve your topic of interest for you. They feel that you may have an already-made material for such topic so, they will change the topic just to scatter your copy-copy (intended plagiarized) plans.
Sometimes, if your supervisor do not change the topic, he/she may twist the variables of the study to change the whole settings. Now, if the variables are changed, most part of the work is useless and you will be forced to re-write. In any case, don’t bother using an already material because this material will guide you to write a professional research proposal and project.
I remembered in my final year when I was asked by my supervisor to tender a research proposal. It was really difficult since I was not taught how to write a proposal. What we anticipated and bargained for was only project writing. So, I was so absorbed in the project that I hardly even expected that I will submit a proposal. Now, enough of all these intros. What is a proposal? And how can you write a good proposal? Let us read on!
Concept of a Research Proposal
A research proposal can be defined in many ways provided it lays out the most important issues to be addressed. The University of Birmingham (n.d) defined a research proposal as a concise and coherent summary of your proposed research. It sets out the central issues or questions that you intend to address. It outlines the general area of study within which your research falls, referring to the current state of knowledge and recent debates on the topic. It also demonstrates the originality of your proposed research. However, according to Business Dictionary (online), a proposal is a document that is typically written by a scientist or academic which describes the ideas for an investigation on a certain topic. The research proposal outlines the process from beginning to end and may be used to request financing for the project, certification for performing certain parts of research of the experiment, or as a required task before beginning a college dissertation.
A research proposal is a document proposing a research project, generally in the sciences or academia, and generally constitutes a request for sponsorship of that research. Proposals are evaluated on the cost and potential impact of the proposed research, and on the soundness of the proposed plan for carrying it out. Research proposals generally address several key points:
- What research question(s) will be addressed, and how they will be addressed?
- How much time and expense will be required for the research?
- What prior research has been done on the topic?
- What is the research design, population and sample of the study, instrument for data collection, administration, retrieval and analysis of data?
- How the results of the research will be evaluated.
- How the research will benefit the sponsoring organization and other parties.
From the above definitions, and assertions, it can be deducted that a research proposal is a guideline or structure that outline the procedures on which a researcher intend to adopt in carrying out his/her study. This is to say that all tenses have to be in future terms. Hence, instead of ‘was’, you use ‘will’ or ‘will be’. In this way, you tell your supervisor that the work has not been carried out.
A Research Proposal Format
So, here we go. Now, at an undergraduate level (which is the focus of this material), do not focus on the format of a research proposal. What you should bother about is the content. The reason for this is that a proposal do not necessarily need to be written in chapters like the main project itself – even though it can also be in chapter especially when your supervisor use the term proposal to refer to chapter one to three. What matters most is the procedure. Any other thing is an addition.
The most important contents to include are the:
- Abstract (possibly)
- Introduction (should not be the same with your ‘Background to the Study)
- Research questions
- Significance of the study
- Theoretical framework upon which the study will be based (optional)
- Research design
- Sample and sampling technique
- Validity of instrument
- Reliability of instrument
- Administration of instrument
- Methods of data analysis
- Then, add the table of proposed contents from chapter one to five, references and questionnaire. This indicates that you are aware of the structure of the intended work.
Please, note that this type of research proposal MAY not be your chapter one to chapter three, references and questionnaire. In fact, you are not expected to use any subtopic like RESEARCH DESIGN, POPULATION etc. as listed above. When I write my proposals, either for clients or personal, I write it in the form of prose or say summary. I run everything together. It is only during the research proper that I demarcate one subtopic from another. Nevertheless, if your supervisor uses proposal to mean chapter one to three, then, you are to commence your full project writing with all subtopics intact. Please, refer to your faculty format to see all faculty subtopics.
Another thing you must also know is that you have to avoid any sentence that will show that the study has already been carried out since it is a proposal. You have to tell your supervisor that the study is only intended and not concluded or already carried out halfway.
Some other supervisors however, will use a proposal to mean your chapter one to three. Hence, they require you to bring your materials for immediate correction. In this case, you will write your proposal like a proper research project having chapter one, two, three, references and questionnaire. But the difference is that you will avoid ‘WAS’ and use ‘WILL’ or ‘WILL BE’. Please, take note of these statements.
Take note of the following sentences:
- The instrument for data collection will be a questionnaire (proposal, future tense)
- The instrument for data collection was a questionnaire (main project, past tense)
What do you make of the two phrases above? One refers to a future activity while the second one refers to a past activity. Your proposal must refer to something in the future, that is the essence, the only difference that separates it from a completed project. So, even if you have an already-made material to copy, have enough sense to hide some figures already calculated to show that the work has not been done and change all WAS OR WERE to WILL or WILL BE.
In the event your supervisor used a proposal to mean chapter one to three, the use of ‘will’ or ‘will be’ will not be reflected in chapter two. This is because the review of literature is based on other author’s works and not the current/ongoing studies, so, feel free to carry on with the review without any change to future tense.
Sample of a Research Proposal
EFFECT OF PRIVATE SECTOR DEVELOPMENT ON ECONOMIC GROWTH IN NIGERIA
NAME OF STUDENT
A RESEARCH PROPOSAL SUBMITTED TO THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATIONS, FACULTY OF EDUCATION, IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE AWARD OF BACHELOR OF EDUCATION (B.Ed) DEGREE IN EDUCATIONAL MANAGEMENT/ECONOMICS OF THE NIGER DELTA UNIVERSITY
This study on effect of private sector development on economic growth in Nigeria will be carried out to determine the extent to which private sector development affect the Nigerian economy. The objectives of the study will be to determine the effect of the banking subsector, agriculture subsector, small scale business enterprises subsector and manufacturing subsector sector on the economic growth in Nigeria. The study will be guided by four research questions which are what is the effect of the banking subsector on the economic growth in Nigeria? What is the effect of agriculture subsector on the economic growth in Nigeria? What is the effect of small scale business enterprises subsector on the economic growth in Nigeria? What is the effect of manufacturing subsector on the economic growth in Nigeria? The research design that will be adopted will be a descriptive survey. The population of the study will comprise of hundred (400) personnel from the four subsector used for the study. However, the sample for the study will consist of sixty percent (60%) of the population, which is two hundred and forty (240). The instrument for data collection will be a questionnaire titled “Private Sector Development and Economic Growth in Nigeria Questionnaire (PSDEGNQ). The instrument will be validated by the supervisor through corrections and its reliability will be tested using the Pearson Product Moment Correlation Coefficient and the result thereof will be used to determine the reliability. The instrument will be administered personally by the researcher with the aid of a research assistant and will be retrieved immediately to ensure that they are not lost, misfilled or malhandled by the respondents. Data retrieved will be analyzed using mean and standard deviation. A criterion Mean of 2.50 will be used as a yardstick for rating mean scores either to be accepted or rejected.
Over the years, several factors have proved to have influenced the performance of the Nigerian economy. However, this study shall focus on factors from the private sector like the banks (i.e. effect of bank loans on business performances), agricultural sector and small and medium scale industries. This study will be restricted to these three sub-variables in order to be properly guided.
In the current view of economic growth, most of the theoreticians think that it is a process that generates economic and social, quantitative, and particularly, qualitative changes, which causes the national economy to cumulatively and durably increase its real national product (Alina, 2012). In contrast, when compared to development, economic growth is, in a limited sense, an increase of the national income per capita, and it involves the analysis, especially in quantitative terms, of this process, with a focus on the functional relations between the endogenous variables. In a wider sense, it involves the increase of the GDP, GNP and NI of the national wealth, including the production capacity, expressed in both absolute and relative size, per capita, encompassing also the structural modifications of economy (Alina, 2012).
The effect of the private sector development on the economic growth in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized. Firstly, when banks are well equipped with effective banking policies by the CBN, it influences their profit also, and in turn, boost their lending capacity to small and medium scale business owners, which in turn, increases the fortune and the chances of survival of businesses. Research shows that small and medium scale enterprises formed 70% of the national income, hence, going by this finding, increase in small scale business capacity also means increase for the Nigerian economy.
Secondly, development of the agricultural sector will/may also likely boost the Nigerian Economy. Unfortunately, the current situation in the country is one with so many mouthwatering and promising policies from the government without tangible commitment. What is obtainable to day in the country is a far cry from what is in the papers. However, when the agricultural sector is well developed and equipped with modern farming implements, unfettered access to loans, seminars and lectures on modern farming practices for local farmers, provision of local farm tools etc., local yields will be increased. This will result to national food increase and in turn, exportation of food items can be visible.
Small and medium scale industries are another area within the private sector that can be developed to influence national economic growth. Small-scale enterprises help stimulate local economies by providing local individuals with jobs, as well as products and services to community members. Moreover, such enterprises help diversify and grow their respective industries, as many young men and women amongst other minorities make significant contributions to the small-business world. When there is a rise in small-scale enterprises, countries see real time reforms in the economy (Migromsi, 2017).
Finally, the manufacturing sector also plays a key role in developing the Nigerian economy. Manufacturing formed a large portion of economies of developed countries like the United States and Britain, unlike Nigeria whose major export is crude oil. It is however, believed that when the manufacturing sector is developed to manufacture tangible consumables and luxurious goods, the Nigerian export can then be increased, therefore, improving the economy.
The above are mere assertions, or at best, opinions of the researcher. A study such as this requires both qualitative and quantitative measures to exhaustively determine the extent to which the development of these aspects of the private sector can meaningfully affect the Nigerian economy, hence, the need for the current study
Noted: The four variables in the study has been discussed above saliently. They are banking sector, agricultural sector, small and medium scale industries and manufacturing sector.
Objectives of the Study
The main aim of this study is to investigate the effect of private sector development on economic growth in Nigeria. The study will:
- determine the effect of the banking subsector on the economic growth in Nigeria.
- ascertain the effect of agriculture subsector on the economic growth in Nigeria.
- investigate the effect of small-scale business enterprises subsector on the economic growth in Nigeria, and
- determine the effect of manufacturing subsector sector on the economic growth in Nigeria.
The following research questions will be utilized to guide the study.
- What is the effect of the banking subsector on the economic growth in Nigeria?
- What is the effect of agriculture subsector on the economic growth in Nigeria?
- What is the effect of small-scale business enterprises subsector on the economic growth in Nigeria?
- What is the effect of manufacturing subsector on the economic growth in Nigeria?
The research design that will be adopted for the study will be a descriptive survey. This is to enable the researcher use the responses from the respondents as they were, without any further alterations, and to use these to describe the characteristics of the population. The population of the study will comprise of hundred (100) personnel from each of the subsector used for the study. This is to say that 100 personnel will be selected from the banking sector, another 100 from the agricultural sector, small and medium scale enterprises and manufacturing sectors. This will give a total population of four hundred (400). However, the sample for the study will consist of sixty percent (60%) of the population, which is the general standard for sampling technique. Therefore, 60% of the population will give two hundred and forty (240) which will constitute the sample for the study. The instrument for data collection will be a questionnaire titled “Private Sector Development and Economic Growth in Nigeria Questionnaire (PSDEGNQ). The instrument will sought for both demographic data on respondents and at the same time sought for opinions on items drafted from the research questions. The instrument will be validated by the supervisor through corrections and its reliability will be tested using the Pearson Product Moment Correlation Coefficient and the result thereof will be used to determine the reliability. The instrument will be administered personally by the researcher with the aid of a research assistant and will be retrieved immediately to ensure that they are not lost, faked, misfilled or mishandled by the respondents. Data retrieved will be analyzed using mean and standard deviation. A criterion Mean of 2.50 will be used as a yardstick for rating mean scores either to be accepted or rejected.
To ensure proper documentation, a carefully analyzed and selected references will follow up. Any authority not cited in the body of the work will not be referenced while all referenced authorities will be those properly cited. All cited materials will also be modern materials as no old materials will be utilized. The study will be typed in double line spacing, with font theme Times New Roman, font size 14. The structure of the project will be in line with the faculty format, i.e:
Proposed Content Structure for the Study
Table of contents
List of tables
List of figures (if any)
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background to the Study
1.2 Statement of the Problem
1.3 Purpose of the Study
1.4 Research Questions
1.5 Significance of the Study
1.6 Scope of the Study
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
2.1 Theoretical Framework
2.2 Conceptual Review
2.3 Empirical Evidence
2.4 Summary of Literature
CHAPTER THREE: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
3.1 Research Design
3.2 Population of the Study
3.3 Sample and Sampling Techniques
3.4 Instrumentation (i.e. Description of the Instrument(s) used)
3.5 Validity of the Instrument
3.6 Reliability of the Instrument
3.7 Administration of the Instrument/Method of Data Collection
3.8 Method of Data Analysis
CHAPTER FOUR: PRESENTATION, ANALYSIS OF DATA AND
DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS
4.1 Analysis of Demography (Personal) Variables
4.2 Analysis of Research Questions
4.3 Discussion of Findings
CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
5.3 Educational Implications of the Study
5.5 Limitations of the Study
5.6 Suggestions for Further Research
Note: Please, understand that all proposal must note take this form. In a future endeavour, a higher volume of this paper will be produced to reflect current practices in research. Meanwhile I sincerely believe this will act as a guide to you. Also note that your introduction need not to be long like the one in this sample. However, if it is well conducted, then you can even lift it to be your main background to the study.
Business Dictionary, (online). Research proposal. Retrieved December, 20th, 2017, fromhttp://www.businessdictionary.com /definition/research-proposal.html
Migromsi, O. N. (2017). Impact of commercial bank lending on small scale industries development in Nigeria. Undergraduate Research Project. Department of Finance and Accounting, Niger Delta University.
University of Birmingham, (online). How to Write a Research Proposal. Retrieved December, 20th, 2017, fromhttps://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/law/ courses/research/research-proposal.aspx