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Research Tools: Writing Research Proposals

Writing a Research Proposal

A research proposal is similar to a project proposal except that it focuses on one particular aspect of academic or scientific research. The guidelines for research proposals are very formal. The proposal must be written with exact criteria and procedures that have been defined by the field of study. Proposals contain literature reviews, a rationale for the proposed research and detail the methodology for conducting the research. The methodology should follow the standard defined
by the field of study.

A Basic Proposal Outline:
  Topic area 
  Research question 
  Significance to knowledge
Literature review
  Previous research
   others & yours 
  Interlocking findings and Unanswered questions
  Your preliminary work on the topic
  The remaining questions and inter-locking logic
  Reprise of your research question(s) in this context
  Data needs
  Analytic techniques
  Plan for interpreting results
Expected results
Bibliography (or References) 

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

Primary Sources are directly taken from an individual or group of individuals, while secondary sources take information from an individual or group and analyze the topic. In simple terms, primary sources come firsthand from the source or person. Some primary sources are diaries, court records, interviews, emails, letters, films, short stories, plays, poems, photographs, court cases, journal articles, newspaper events, and speeches. For example, a speech by President Obama would be a primary source.

Secondary sources are sources that are written about primary sources. If a magazine writer wrote about a speech President Obama gave, it would be a secondary source. The information is not original, but it is an analysis of the speech. Many secondary sources are used to argue someone's thesis or main points about a topic.

Research studies about experiments and information that has been stated but not interpreted is a primary source. Sometimes a source can be a primary source in one journal article and a secondary source in another journal article. It depends upon the relationship the writer has in the journal article. If the writer has been an active part of the research and custom-writes about it then this is a primary source. If the writer writes about research done by others then this writing will be a secondary source.