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Preparing Research

Proposals and Reports


Chapter Twenty-Four

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2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights

Preparing Research Proposals and Reports


Chapter Twenty-Four

McGraw-Hill

2006 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights

What is a Research Proposal?

It is a written plan of a study.


It spells out in detail what the researcher
intends to do.
It permits others to learn about the
intended research and to offer suggestions
for improving the study.
It also helps the researcher clarify what
needs to be done and to avoid
unintentional problems.

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The Major Sections of a Research Proposal

There are four topics addressed in this


area:
1)
2)
3)
4)

The purpose of the study


The justification for the study
The research question/hypothesis, including
variables to be investigated
The definition of terms
See Figure 24.1, Organization of a Research Report.

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Organization of a Research Report (1)


(Figure 24.1)
Introductory section
Title Page
Table of Contents
List of Figures
List of Tables
Main Body
I. Problem to be investigated
A. Purpose of the study (including assumptions)
B. Justification of the study
C. Research question and hypotheses
D. Definition of terms
E. Brief overview of study
II. Background and review of related literature
A. Theory, if appropriate
B. Studies directly related
C. Studies tangentially related
III. Procedures
A. Description of the research design
B. Description of the sample
C. Description of the instruments used
(including scoring procedures)
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Organization of a Research Report (2)


(Figure 24.1)
D. Explanation of the procedures followed (the
what, when, where, and how of the study)
E. Discussion of internal validity
F. Discussion of external validity
G. Description and justification of the statistical
techniques or other methods of analysis used
IV. Findings
Description of findings pertinent to each of the
research hypotheses or questions
V. Summary and conclusions
A. Brief summary of the research question being
investigated, the procedures employed, and
the results obtained
B. Discussion of the implications of the
findingstheir meaning and significance
C. Limitationsunresolved problems and
weaknesses
D. Suggestions for further research
References (Bibliography)
Appendixes
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Purpose of the Study

The purpose states succinctly what the researcher


proposes to investigate.
This should be a concise statement, providing a
framework to which details are added later.
Clarification of the field of interest should be
considered here.

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Justification of the Study

The researcher must make clear why this


particular study is important to investigate.
He or she must present an argument for the study.
A good justification should also include any
specific implications that follow if relationships are
identified.
There could be an implication that current
methods are not good enough, however, this
should be made explicit.

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Research Question or Hypothesis

The particular question to be investigated


should be stated here.
Favoring hypotheses will help clarify and
become a strategy point.
It should be clearly stated as concisely as
possible.
There should be any inference made if a
hypothesis is well-stated.

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Definitions

All key terms should be defined.


The researchers task is to make the
definitions as clear as possible.
Sometimes, terms will have to be modified
to fit the present study.
While it is probably impossible to eliminate
all ambiguity, the clearer the terms used,
the fewer the difficulties that will be
encountered with the study.

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Background and Review of Literature

This may be a lengthy section since it is a partial


summary of previous work related to the focus of
the study.
The researcher should demonstrate a familiarity
with previous research and understand the
relevance of the study being planned.
A major weakness of many literature reviews is
that they cite references without indicating their
implications for the planned study.

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Procedures

The procedures section includes discussion


of the following:

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Research Design
Sample
Instrumentation
Procedural detail
Internal validity
Data analysis

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Results/Findings

Results of a study can be presented only in a


research report.
Results are usually not found in the proposal
section.
This section is found near the end of the research
report and constitutes the description of what kind
of analyses were performed.
The data are revealed by the form of statistical
analysis that was applied to the data, and any
significance that was observed.

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Discussion

The discussion section of a report presents the


authors interpretation of what the results imply
for theory and/or practice.
Researchers place their results in a broader
context.
Here, difficulties as well as limitations of the study
are noted, and suggestions for future
considerations are included.
Results and Discussion sections should be kept
separate, since the Discussion section goes
beyond the data.

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General Rules to Consider

A research report should be written as clearly


and concisely as possible.
Research reports are always written in the past
tense and free from jargon.
A style manual (APA manual) should be
consulted before beginning the report.
Once the report is completed, it is a good idea
to have a thesis formatter/editor check for style
and grammar.
Computerized programs have made research
reports easier to complete, due to self-correcting
programs.

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