Department of Business Information Technology Faculty of Management http://www.uj.ac.za/bit
Research Project Proposal
To complete this research project proposal process, learners must locate a supervisor and submit a research proposal detailing the proposed research project to be undertaken before registering. The purpose of this research proposal is to help the learner design and plan a research project which the learner is interested in undertaking and to explain this project to other people. The proposal should include: ? what you plan to do in your research ? why this work is necessary or desirable ? specifications for how you will do it ? a persuasive argument that you are the right person for the position Your Supervisor will have the expert knowledge about your task, and will be best able to judge the merits of your objectives and plan of attack. The evaluators will be less well informed about the background and motivation of your research, so you will have to provide information that will help them put the details in perspective. No two proposals are alike, and there is no general recipe which, if followed to the letter, will guarantee a good proposal. Most proposals do share?ªor can share?ªa few common structural features, however. These are indicated by the headings below. A good proposal includes either a hypothesis (keep in mind that a hypothesis is not a foregone conclusion but a testable scientific idea) or a problem statement (a recognized problem in need of a solution). It is important to be realistic about the impact of your research project. While it may be unlikely that your project will result in a major breakthrough, indicate how it is a part of a research plan to address a larger scientific question. Do not repeat sections of your proposal as it can make reading a proposal difficult. If a point is important, revisit it, but not in a repetitious manner. PLAN AHEAD and provide yourself with enough time prior to the application/proposal deadline to prepare a quality product. Have a friend or family member read the proposal to determine if it is easily understood, well written and convincing. Please spell check your final draft and review your final
copy for content and presentation. Use an easily read font like Arial 10 point, being sure to include space between paragraphs and sections. Meet the application/proposal deadline as requests for extension of the deadline and/or failure to meet the deadline may be interpreted as a lack of ability on your part to get a project completed in a timely fashion. A good proposal will anticipate and answer questions that an
informed (and somewhat sceptical) person might ask. A proposal of between 5 and 10 pages, carefully thought out and precisely worded, should be sufficient to make all the important points. To get an idea of the end product of such a research undertaking, it is advised that the learner has a look at completed dissertations and /or theses that are available in the university library.
Full Name & Surname: Student number: Qualification: Email: Contact Numbers: (W) (C) Supervisor:
1. Project Title
The title should be short but descriptive enough so that anyone reading it would know what to expect.
The Introduction supplies sufficient background information to allow the reader to understand and evaluate the proposal of your work without needing to refer to previous publications on the topic. Choose references carefully to provide the most important background information. The following questions should be addressed in this section: ? What is the general technical/application area in which you will be working? (for example Project Management, Risk Management, Information Security, E-Commerce, IT management). Reference should be made to any standards or de facto theories in the area. What is the general problem that you are trying to solve, and how did the problem arise? Provide proof that this is indeed a problem by using references. This should lead to the more detailed problem statement in the next section. Why is its solution interesting or worthwhile? What benefits would there be to solving this problem? What value would it have to the specific research community, the industry, society, South Africa or the world? What will be the contribution or significance of your research if it is successful? How will it contribute to the existing body of knowledge in this field? Why should anyone be interested in your research?
In this section you should motivate why this would be a good research project.
3. Review of Literature
In this section you should show where in current literature the problem was first recognised as well as what serves as the foundation for your research proposal. The more references you can find that relate to the given problem statement, the more credibility it will have. This will give the reader an idea whether you have done your ??homework?? and know enough about the topic to start with the research project. A basic understanding of the field is required. Any fundamental theories
relating to your research proposal should also be stated, for example, if your research topic is project management, reference should be made to current standards, best practices and any de facto documents.
4. Project Description
This part of your proposal may include the following:
a. Problem statement
What is the problem for which a solution is being sought? It is very important that a real-world problem must exists for which there is currently no effective solution. It should be an academic problem, i.e. one that requires academic research to be performed. Industry problems seldom make good academic research problems. Trying to solve a problem a specific organisation is experiencing has too narrow focus. The problem should be wide enough to apply to a whole industry. The project goal would be to solve the problem. If possible, refer to other research that have been done in this area. The solution must have both academic, social and practical value. End this section of with a single statement that is the problem statement. Make this statement bold so that it stands out.
b. Project scope
A scope statement is a paragraph used to develop and confirm a common understanding of the project scope. It should include: a. Research project justification ?C Why are you doing it? b. Brief description of the research project??s products ?C What will the research deliver, for example a model, framework, method, prototype? c. Summary of all project outputs (by-products) ?C Apart from the product as mentioned above, what else will be delivered by the research? d. Statement of what determines project success ?C How do you know the research was successful? What will you use as a measure? e. Exclusions ?C is there anything that is explicitly excluded from the project, i.e. that you will not look at or take into consideration? f. Assumptions ?C Do you start the research project using any assumptions due to a lack of facts?
c. Project objectives
The project scope statement is broken down into several project objectives that each relate to the project scope. If all the objectives have been met then the research would have been successful. The objectives will also help you identify the chapter framework as each objective will be addressed by at least one chapter. It is important to keep in mind that an objective must be measurable. It is therefore necessary that show how you will measure whether an objective has been met or not. You should have at least five objectives.
d. Research approach
The approach refers to the research method that you will use. This has to be a formal, scientifically recognized method. The questions
that should be answered in this section are: ? How will you accomplish your objective? What will you do? Will you follow a quantitative of qualitative approach? Will be using action research, phenomenology, grounded theory or another methodology? Give a brief summary of what this method entails (the process or steps) and motivate why it is suitable to your research problem?
What equipment or other resources will you need? Which of these are inherited, and which will you have to make or procure? With what other people or groups will you be collaborating, e.g. professional bodies, companies, other universities, other departments in the same university?
e. Project deliverables
What do you aim to deliver at the end of the project? Describe all documents, for example a dissertation, thesis, articles, conference presentations, prototypes, programmes, that you intend to hand in.
This section should give a brief outline and short description of the chapters of the dissertation/thesis. Each chapter should be linked to a research objective. The following structure might be used: ? ? ? ? ? ? Chapter 1 ?C Introduction (based on the content of this proposal) Chapter 2 ?C Background / Overview (summary of literature review) Chapter 3 ?C Research methodology (explanation and motivation of research method to be used) Chapters [n] ?C The body of the research Chapter [last chapter ?C Conclusion (Show how the objectives were achieved) For each chapter, a brief description should be given to explain the intended content.
6. Project plan
This part of your proposal should contain a month-by-month breakdown of what you intend to do to achieve your project objectives and milestones. Making a schedule of the principal activities and events is a good way of showing the readers that you are taking a systematic approach to planning your work. You need to take into consideration times that you will not be able to work on your research, for example holidays or other commitments. The project plan should
also include activities such as proof reading of your final document, writing articles and putting the whole document together.
7. Limitations or constraints
Document the limitations that could prevent you from successfully completing this project, for example a lack of reference material or limited access to required resources. Another constraint might be the amount time you have available to do research.
8. List of references / sources
A List of resources and links you will use and why they will benefit your research. List all pertinent papers or reports that you have consulted to prepare your proposal. Also list all relevant standards or de facto documents for the field you are going to do research in. Are there any ISO, BS or SABS standards? It is suggested that you use the Harvard referencing technique as you will have to use it for the rest of your research project.
References for Research
Some references you might want to look at before starting to write your proposal are: 1. Basic research methods
http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/tutorial/tutorial.htm 2. Proposal writing http://john.regehr.org/reading_list/proposal.html http://lrs.ed.uiuc.edu/tse-portal/proposal/dan-ryan-proposal/propweb.htm 3. Writing a dissertation / thesis
http://www.tele.sunyit.edu/ThesisHandbook.html 4. Referencing http://general.uj.ac.za/library/lidi/ujlic/Reference_Techniques.pdf http://www.des.emory.edu/mfp/tipsonreferences.html
http://lis.newport.ac.uk/sz/publications/Harvard_referencing.pdf 5. General academic writing
http://www.utoronto.ca/writing/advise.html 6. What is expected from you http://www.cs.indiana.edu/how.2b/how.2b.html 7. Doing research http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs.cmu.edu/user/mleone/web/how-to.html http://www.kyvl.org/html/tutorial/research/