A black and white photo of Yoda


Grades on Canvas.

Speaking the language of your audience

Research proposals have to reach an audience, and often an important one. You present a proposal to your Master’s or Ph.D. adviser, your boss, or a potential funder. The goal of any proposal is to sell this decision maker on your research, that: it’s necessary, it’s a good idea, and you are equipped to do it.

This means that jargon is a bad idea, unless you know for certain the audience will understand it, which is always risky. Here’s a link to a Plain Language resource on jargon to help you avoid it: http://www.plainlanguage.gov/howto/wordsuggestions/jargonfree.cfm

Solid precedents

A lot of people who are new to research proposals think that presenting something that is entirely new is a good idea. This is rarely the case. If no one has ever done a research project like yours, chances are you’re going too far out on a limb. Either that, or you haven’t found other research that is like yours.

Precedents are research studies that you’re building on, and they are important. Mine your literature review for birds of a feather: researchers that you want to imitate. Showing that you are aware of other studies like yours also shows that you’re building your study on a solid foundation, rather than creating an entirely new methodology that may or may not work

Solid research design

Along with precedents, you need to make sure that the overall design of your study conforms to best practices. These best practices can be found in your precedents. They are the things that experienced researchers do with studies like yours. Look especially to the ways that more experienced craft research questions, explain their own precedents, and talk about how they used their research methods to collect and analyze data and . These three areas are the ones that new researchers tend to have the most difficulty explaining properly.

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