Research proposal: Its meaning and
A. Identification of research topic: sources
B. Review of related Literature
C. Rationale and need for the study
D. Definition of Terms
F. Research questions, objectives and
G. Scope, limitations and delimitations
H. Method, sample and tools
I . Significance of study
J . Technique for data analysis
L. Time frame
On completion of this unit, you will be able
1) State meaning of research design
2) Describe purpose of research design
3) Distinguish between research method and
4) Discuss purposes of research proposal
5) List down various components of research
6) Prepare write up for research proposal for a
MEANING, DEFINITION, PURPOSE AND
COMPONENTS OF RESEARCH DESIGN
Meaning of Research Design : Before
starting a research, the investigator will look
for problem, he will read books, journals,
research reports and other related literature.
Based on this, he will finalize the topic for
research. During this process, he will be in
close contact with his guide. As soon as the
topic is decided, first task is to decide about
Definition Of Research Design
―A design is general strategy for conducting
a research study. The nature of the
hypothesis, the variables involved, and the
constraints of the ―real world‖ all
contribute to the selection of design.
Kothari (1988) says, ―Decisions regarding
WHAT?, WHERE?, WHEN?, HOW
MUCH?, by WHAT?
it can be said that research design is an
outline of what the researcher will do from
writing of objectives, hypotheses and its
operational implications to find analysis of
data. Research design should be able to
Research design should be able to
What is the study about?
Where will study be carried out?
What type of data is necessary?
Where necessary data is available?
How much time is needed to complete the
What will be the sampling design?
Which tools will be identified to collect
How data will be analyzed?
Depending upon the types of research the
structure of design may vary. Suppose, one
is conducting an experimental research,
then identification of variables, control of
variables, types of experimental design etc.
be discussed properly. If someone is
conducting qualitative research, then one
should stress on understanding of setting,
nature of data, holistic approach, selection
of participants, inductive data analysis
Thus, according to nature and type of study
the components of design will be decided.
In short, any efficient research design will
help the researcher to carry out the study in
a systematic way.
PURPOSE OF RESEARCH DESIGN :
1. A research design helps the investigator to
obtain answers to research problem and
issues involved in the research, since it is
the outline of entire research process.
2. Design also tells us about how to collect
data, what observation are to be carry out,
how to make them, how to analyze the data.
3. Design also guides investigator about
statistical techniques to be used for analysis
4. Design also guides to control certain
variables in experimental research.
Thus, design guides the investigator to carry
out research step by step in an efficient way.
The design section is said to be complete /
adequate if investigator could carry out his
research by following the steps described in
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TERMS
RESEARCH METHOD AND RESEARCH
While preparing the design of the study, it is
necessary to think of research method. It is
simply the method for conducting research.
Generally, such methods are divided into
quantitative and qualitative methods.
Such quantitative methods include
descriptive research, evaluation research
and assessment research.
Assessment type of studies include surveys,
public opinion polls, assessment of
educational achievement. Evaluation
studies include school surveys, follow up
studies. Descriptive research studies are
concerned with analysis of the relationships
between non manipulated variables
Qualitative research methods include
ethnomethodology, narrative research,
grounded theory, symbolic interaction and
Thus, the researcher should mention about
methods of research used in his research
with proper justification for its use
The term ‗methodology‘ seems to be
broader, in the sense it includes nature of
population, selection of sample, selection /
preparation of tools, collection of data and
how data will be analysed. Here the method
of research is also included.
RESEARCH PROPOSAL : ITS
MEANING AND NEED :
Preparing the research proposal is an
important step because at this stage, entire
research project gets a concrete shape.
Researcher‘s insight and inspiration are
translated into a step by step plan for
discovering new knowledge
Proposal is more than research design.
Research design is a subset of proposal.
Ordinarily research design will not talk
much about theoretical frame work of the
study. It will be also silent about the review
of related studies. A strong rationale for
conducting research is also not part of
At the stage of writing proposal, the entire
research work shapes into concrete form. In
the proposal, the researcher demonstrates
that he is familiar with what he is doing.
Thus, a research proposal serves mainly
(i) It communicates researcher‘s plan to all
(ii) It serves as a plan of action.
(iii) It is an agreement between researcher and
(iv) Its presentation before experts provide
further rethinking on the entire work.
Following components are generally
included in the research proposal. It is not
necessary to follow this list rigidly. It
should provide useful outline for writing of
any research proposal
Normally, a research proposal begins with
an Introduction, this gives clearly the
background or history of the problem
selected. Some also calls this as a
theoretical / conceptual framework. This
will include various theories / concepts
related to problem selected. Theoretical
frame work should have logical sequence.
Suppose researcher wants to study the
achievement of class IX students in
mathematics in particular area,
then conceptual frame may include:
1. Objectives of teaching mathematics, its
purpose of secondary school level
2. Importance of achievement in mathematics
Level of achievement as studied by other
3. Factors affecting achievements of
4. Various commissions and committees
views on achievement in mathematics.
All these points can be put into sequence
logically. Whenever needed theoretical
support be given. This is an important step
in research proposal. Generally any
proposal begins with this type of
A. Identification of Research Topic :
Sources and Need :
As discussed earlier, researcher will spell
out as to how the problem emerged, its
social and educational context and its
importance to the field. Some researchers
name this caption as background of the
study or Theoretical / Conceptual frame
work of the study. In short, here the entire
topic of the research is briefly introduced
along with related concepts and theories in
B. Review of Related Literature :
In this section, one presents what is so far
known about the problem under
investigation. Generally theoretical /
conceptual frame work is already reported
in earlier section. In this section researcher
concentrates on studies conducted in the
area of interest. here, a researcher will
locate various studies conducted in his area
and interest. Try to justify that all such
located studies are ‗related ‗to your work.
For locating such studies one will refer
For locating such studies one will refer
following documents / sources.
Surveys of research in education
Ph. D. Theses available in various libraries
Current Index to Journals in Education
Dissertation Abstract International (DAI)
Educational Resources Information Centre
(ERIC) by U.S. office of education.
Various national / International journals,
In research proposal, the review of studies
conducted earlier is reported briefly. There
are two was of reporting the same. One
way could be all such related studies be
reported chronologically in brief indicating
purpose, sample, tools and major findings.
Of course, this will increase the volume of
research proposal. Second studies with
similar trends be put together and its
important trend/s be highlighted. This is bit
difficult, but innovative.
The researcher should conclude with
following points :
What has been done so far in this area?
Where? (Area wise) When? (Year wise)
How? (Methodology wise)
What needs to be done?
Thus, the researcher will identify the
C. Rationale and Need of the Study :
Rationale should answer the question –
‗why‘ this study is conducted? It ‗why‘ is
answered properly, then rationale a strong
one. For strong rationale, the earlier
section of review will be of much help.
Identified research gaps will convey as to
why this study is conducted.
D. Definition of Terms :
Every research study involves certain key or
technical terms which have some special
connotation in the context of study; hence it
is always desirable to define such key
words. There are two types definitions, (i)
Theoretical / constitutive and (ii)
E. Variables :
Variables involved in the research need to be
identified here. Their operational
definitions should be given in the research
proposal. Especially in study where
experimental research is conducted,
variables be specified with enough care.
Their classification should be done in terms
and dependent variables, independent
variables, intervening variables, extraneous
F. Research questions objectives and
While reading the statement of the problem,
there may be bit confusion to avoid such
confusions there is a need to have
specification of a research problem. This
specification can be done by writing
research questions, objectives, hypotheses,
by writing operational definitions thus,
objectives give more clarity to researchers
Formulation of hypothesis
Formulation of hypothesis is an indication
that researcher has sufficient knowledge in
the area and it also gives direction for data
collection and analysis. A hypothesis has to
(I) testable, (ii) have explanatory power,
(iii) state expected relationship between
variables. (iv) consistent with existing body
H. Scope, Limitations and Delimitations:
In any research, it is not possible to cover
all aspects of the area of interest, variables,
population and so on. Thus, a study has
always certain limitations. Limitations are
those conditions beyond the control of the
researcher that may play restriction on
conclusions. Sometimes, the tool used is not
revalidated. This itself becomes limitation
of the study. Thus limitation is a broad
term, but delimitation is a narrow term. It
indicates boundaries of the study.
J. Significance of the Study :
If we have already reported strong rationale
then, hardly there is any need to go for
significance. In rationale part, one must
describe as to how this study will contribute
to the field of education. How the findings /
results of particular research will influence
educational process in general need to be
reported in the rationale only.
K. Technique/s of Data Analysis :
This is crucial step in proposal. As to how
collected data will be tabulated and
organized for the purpose of further analysis
is to be reported in this section. If it is a
quantitative research, parametric or non-
parametric statistical techniques will be
used need to be reported. Before applying
any technique for data analysis, verify the
needed assumptions about that particular
M. Time Frame :
The proposal submitted for Ph.D. degree,
generally do not require time frame in all
universities, but there is a fixed limit for
these courses. It is always advisable to give
detailed schedule if research work, as it
helps to keep researcher alert. Proposals to
be submitted to funding agency definitely
ask for time frame. Time frame need to be
reported keeping following points in view..
Time / duration mentioned by funding
agency be properly dividend
Time required for preliminary work like
review of literature.
Time required for preparing tool/s.
Time require for data collection, field visits
Time required for data analysis and report
N. Budget :
The proposal submitted to the funding agency
needs details regarding financial estimates.
It may include expected expenditure
keeping various budget needs. Following
budget needs be kept in view along with
Expenditure towards purchase of books,
journals, tools etc.
Expenditure towards printing, xeroxing,
Expenditure for data entry, tabulation and
analysis of data.
Expenditure for field work, travel for
monitoring purpose etc.
Expenditure for preparing final report.
Select one topic for research and write a
various steps of research proposal at length.
Suggested Readings :
1) Best, J.W. and Kahn, J.V. (2004), Research
in Education, New Delhi, Prentice Hall of
2) Gay, L.R. and Airasian, P. (2000),
Educational Research : Competencies for
Analysis and Application, New Jersey :
3) Kothari, R.C. (1985), Research
Methodology, New Delhi : Wiley Eastern