Topic Proposal Outline

  1. Topic Proposal And Outline
  2. Topic Proposal Outline
  3. Mla Topic Proposal Format
  4. Topic Proposal Sample
  5. Topic Proposal Format
  6. Topic Proposal Example Mla
  7. Research Topic Proposal Outline

The proposal for a thesis or dissertation is essentially an outline of the research - kind of like an architectural blueprint for building a house. The clearer the plan, the more timely and successful the completion of the house. And the clearer the plan, the more likely it is that it will be approved by your advisor or dissertation committee, with a high probability that the final paper will also be accepted. A well - done, acceptable proposal, therefore, is a kind of personal contract between you the candidate, and your committee.

A Basic Proposal Outline: a. The proposal title and the student's name, printed on a separate cover page. A synopsis of the proposed project, including the rationale for the proposed research, a statement of specific aims and objectives, the experimental approaches to be used, and the potential significance of the research.

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The thesis proposal is a type of detailed summary and outline of your research work. It provides a layout regarding how you will transform an unformed idea into a thoroughly researched concept. Moreover, it also identifies the problem, questions, and methods you will use in your thesis. The best way through being able to write a product of clear thinking is writing an outline first. But you won’t have an outline to write if you haven’t chosen a topic, so your first task is choosing what topic to write about so that you can create a proposal outline about it later. You may also see Research Project Proposal Outline.

The challenge lies - as usual - in deciding exactly what topic you want to propose! It is true that some fortunate students may be offered a specific topic or problem to pursue by a mentor whose preferences agree with the student's own. But more often, your job is to come up with a specific topic or research question that shows promise for extended study. Do not worry if a topic does not suggest itself to you immediately. Be ready and willing to try out a number of possibilities to see how they develop. How do you 'try out' a topic? - by doing a topic analysis.

This is really a simplified proposal form that includes the following parts:

  1. Problem, hypothesis, or question
  2. Importance of research
  3. Significant prior research
  4. Possible research approach or methodology
  5. Potential outcomes of research and importance of each

(thanks to Davis & Parker)

Topic Proposal Outline

Analyzing a potentially useful topic in this step?by?step way forces you to look at it objectively and precisely within two to four pages. Here are some points to watch for:

  1. If you are unable to write your topic in either the form of a hypothesis or a clear statement, you need to refine and clarify the topic. It must be statedspecifically, not in vague, imprecise terms.
  2. You'll need to be able to justify what you're doing and prove that it's worthy of your time and energy. It's always handy if you can quote a major authority who is stating a need for the research. But if you don't have an authority on hand, try to demonstrate that your research is in some way significant to a major activity.
  3. Be sure you have a reasonable (if not exhaustive) grasp of what's been done before. This will help support #2.
  4. Extremely important part! Exactly how do you plan to approach the research? Try to explain as precisely as possible, and include an alternative methodology. This part may still be in rough form, but it should indicate the likely nature of your approach.
  5. This will be important in assessing the worth of your topic. For example, let's say you might propose the use of a questionnaire to collect evidence. You would then need to analyze the results of the questionnaire. Your potential outcomes (speaking generally) might be a positive correlation between two factors, a negative one, none at all, or unsatisfactory responses. Perhaps only one of these outcomes could lead to a dissertation. That result could suggest the need for a different approach to the issue, which in turn could lead you down a more productive path.

Let's say that's what has happened, and you're now in the happy position of writing the first draft of your formal proposal. This is an expansion of the topic analysis and will be your final work plan, so it will probably end up being anywhere from ten to forty pages. Again, here's a generally accepted proposal with an idea of expected page length:

Page Length
1. Summary1-2
2. Hypothesis, problem or question1-3
3. Importance of topic1-2
4. Prior research on topic1-7
5. Research approach or methodology2-8
6. Limitations and key assumptions1-2
7. Contributions to knowledge
(for each potential outcome,if there are more than one)
8. Descriptions of proposed chapters in dissertation2-3

Note: A master's thesis can often be less detailed and elaborate than the above plan. Also, individual departments usually have their own unique preferences. The above plan is meant only as a general guide. Always check with your own department for specific Guidelines!

(1-4) the first four sections are about the same as those in your topic analysis, only amplified and refined. The prior research section in particular must be more comprehensive, although you may certainly summarize your report of prior research if there is a great deal of it. Your actual dissertation will be the obvious place to go into more detail.

The research approach or methodology section (5) should be explained explicitly. For example, what questions will you include on your questionnaire? If your work includes an experiment, what apparatus will you use, what procedures will you follow, what data do you intend to collect, and what instruments will you use in data collection? List any major questions yet to be decided.

In the limitations section (6) make clear what your study will not attempt to do.

The contributions section (7) will simply be more detailed than in your topic analysis, and your chapter descriptions (8) should be as specific as possible. Just remember this is a proposal, so keep descriptions brief, and try to highlight the structure of each chapter. Most dissertations follow a standard chapter format:

  1. Introduction (general problem area, specific problem, importance of topic, research approach, limitations, key assumptions, and contribution to research)
  2. Description of what has been done in the past. (a.k.a. literature review; this documents that your own research has not already been covered.)
  3. Description of the research methodology. (how your research was conducted).
  4. Research results. (What you found out).
  5. Analysis of the results (explains the conclusions that can be drawn from data, and implications of a theory).
  6. Summary and conclusions (emphasize the results obtained and contribution made. Outline suggestions for further research.)

With this general framework in mind, along with the specific characteristics of your own dissertation, you can define your chapters clearly for your formal proposal.

Remember that it's often necessary to refine the first proposal, most likely by narrowing the scope of your study. But this is all part of the essential process of formulating a working plan for a dissertation that will yield a successful result. If you think of your proposal in this light, you're more apt to remain patient as you, work your way to the final draft.

A checklist for self-appraisal, from Davis & Parker:

  1. Does the proposal have imagination?
  2. Is the problem stated clearly?
    • (a) hypothesis clear? testable?
    • (b) if no hypothesis, are objectives clearly stated? Can they be accomplished?
    • (c) problem perhaps too large?
  3. Is the methodology feasible?
    • (a) can data be collected?
    • (b) how will data be analyzed?
    • (c) will the analysis allow the acceptance or rejection of the hypothesis?
    • (d) is the sample population overused?
  4. What might the results of the analysis look like? (tables, graphs, etc.)
  5. What are the consequences if
    • (a) the experiment fails;
    • (b) data cannot be obtained;
    • (c) analysis is inconclusive;
    • (d) hypothesis is rejected or accepted?
  6. Can major research activities be listed?
  7. Can a time estimate be made for each activity?
  8. Again, are the dimensions of the project manageable?
Assistant Professor, Applied Linguistics
Portland State University
[email protected]

Topic Proposal And Outline

Outline for Research Project Proposal

(adapted from Course Materials for Psycholinguistics)

When writing, please use section headings to indicate where theinformation can be found. Subheadings need not be used, though in longsections they may facilitate organization.

1. Introduction
Explain the issue you are examining and why it is significant.

  • Describe the general area to be studied
  • Explain why this area is important to the general area under study (e.g.,psychology of language, second language acquisition, teaching methods)
  • 2. Background/Review of the Literature

    A description of what has already known about this area and short discussionof why the background studies are not sufficient.

  • Summarize what is already known about the field. Include a summary of thebasic background information on the topic gleaned from your literaturereview (you can include information from the book and class, but the bulkshould be outside sources)
  • Discuss several critical studies that have already been done in this area(citeaccording to APA style).
  • Point out why these background studies are insufficient. In other words,what question(s) do they leave unresolved that you would like to study?
  • Choose (at least) one of these questions you might like to pursue yourself.(Make sure you do not choose too many questions)
  • 3. Rationale

    A description of the questions you are examining and an explorationof the claims.

    • List the specific question(s) that you are exploring.
      • Explain how these research questions are related to the larger issues raisedin the introduction.
      • Describe what specific claim, hypothesis, and/or model of psycholinguisticsyou will evaluate with these questions.
    • Explain what it will show about the psychology of language if your hypothesisis confirmed.
    • Explain what it will suggest about the psychology of language if your hypothesisis disconfirmed.

    Topic Proposal Outline

    4. Method and Design

    A description of how you would go about collecting data and test thequestions your are examining. You are not required to come up with a newor original method (though you can try!). Look journal articles to determinewhat methods are standardly used to assess knowledge of language in yourchosen area and adapt one of these for your needs.

    Method: How would you collect the data and why?

  • Describe the general methodology you choose for your study, in order totest your hypothesis(es).
  • Explain why this method is the best for your purposes.
  • Participants: Who would you test and why?
  • Describe the sample you would test and explain why you have chosen thissample. Include age, and language background and socio-economic information,if relevant to the design.
  • Are there any participants you would exclude? Why, why not?
  • Design

    Mla Topic Proposal Format

    : What would the stimuli look like and why?
  • Describe what kinds of manipulations/variations you would make or testfor in order to test your hypothesis(es).
  • Describe the factors you would vary if you were presenting a person withstimulus sentences.
  • Explain how varying these factors would allow you to confirm or disconfirmyour hypotheses.
  • Explain what significant differences you would need to find to confirmor disconfirm your hypothesis(es). In particular, how could your hypothesis(es)be disconfirmed by your data?
  • Controls: What kinds of factors would you need to control for in your study?
  • Describe what types of effects would be likely to occur which would makeyour results appear to confirm, or to disconfirm your hypothesis(es).
  • Describe how you can by your design rule out or control for apparent effects.
  • Procedure

    Topic Proposal Sample

  • How are you going to present the stimuli?
  • What is the participant in the experiment going to do?
  • Analysis
  • How will you analyze the results?
  • What kind of results would confirm your hypothesis?
  • What kind of results would disconfirm your hypothesis
  • Topic Proposal Format

    5. Significance and Conclusion
    Discuss, in general, how your proposed research would lead to a significantimprovement over the original studies, and how it would benefit the field.(In other words, why should someone care? If you were applying for moneyto do this, why would someone fund you? If you wanted to publish your results,why would they be interesting?)

    Topic Proposal Example Mla

    6. References
    Include all references in APA style.

    Research Topic Proposal Outline

    © Lynn Santelmann, 2001