Writing the Research Grant Proposal
Grant proposals generally require the following elements. Of course, you should always consult your grant guidelines carefully before submitting a specific proposal. You are writing a general proposal for this assignment, and you will not actually collect data.
Research proposals generally begin with an introductory section that describes the research problem and establishes its significance. This section answers the following kinds of questions: What exactly do you want to study? Why is it worth studying? You will want to situate the problem within the context of past research in the topic area. Provide a succinct summary of the extent of research on your topic—is there a study or a groups of studies you want to build from/found relevant? If you cannot find anything on your topic, it is also important to note that the topic has not been well-studied.
Your specific research question(s) or hypotheses should be stated clearly either at the end of the description of the problem/objective.
This section describes how you will conduct your study. Regardless of the type of research you plan to do, you need to indicate how you will carry out your study so others may judge its viability and strength. This should include your unit of analysis, whether you are doing quantitative or qualitative research, what design you will use, and how you will obtain or collect your data.
Subjects for study
Describe the subjects (people or objects, e.g. texts) for your study, considering carefully the type and number you need. Explain your method of selecting your subject(s) (and if a sample, describe the population and how the sample will be drawn).
Describe the kinds of measures you intend to use and explain why you have selected these (have they been used previously or are you developing your own?). A discussion of measurements generally considers the following questions: What are the key variables in your study? How will you define and measure them? Do your definitions and measurements draw on or differ from those of previous research in this area? (If you are using a writing prompt, or a survey questions, or other such written material, it is usually appropriate to include a copy of this in an appendix at the end.)
Describe the kind of analysis you plan to conduct, and explain the logic and purpose of your analysis. The kind(s) of analysis you plan will, of course, be contingent on the subjects, the measures and the data collection as well as on your research question. These all work in tandem with one another. Whether you’re conducting a quantitative or qualitative, a study of some combination or a study of some other kind, you need to explain how you will analyze the data you collect. This section typically answers the following kinds of questions: Do you intend to simply describe the what and how of a given phenomenon? Do you intend to examine relationships among variables? or Do you intend to explain why things are the way they are? What possible explanatory variables will your analysis consider and how will you know if you’ve explained the variables adequately? If you plan to use specific statistical procedures (whether descriptive, inferential, or some combination), state these.
Most proposals require a schedule that outlines the various stages of the project along a time line. Typically, this is written as a chronological list of procedures you will follow in carrying out your study. Even when this is not required, it is a good idea to generate a timeline because this task forces you to think through the entire research process realistically and may alert you to problems that you might otherwise overlook. A timeline also helps you later on to stay on task during the research project.