Research Proposal Writing

PROPOSAL WRITING SUPPORT

1. Introduction: Background to the Study

We at KENPRO take our clients through the following introductory parts of chapter one of most of research projects undertaken by college and university students:

1.1 Background of the Study

1.2 Statement of the Problem

1.3 Objectives/ Questions/Hypothesis

1.4 Significance of the Study

1.5 Scope of the Study

1.6 Limitation of the Study

1.7 Conceptual OR Theoretical Framework

1.8 Operational Definition of Key Terms

Note:

It should be noted that there are a little variations on this outline depending on the individual requirements of various colleges and universities. However, this outline constitutes the key parts of the introduction in essence.

We assist our clients in developing background to the study. We have nuemrous authoritative and scholarly online resources to build the most comprehensive up-to-date background to any education and social sciences research.

There are other critical parts of this introduction that students of research find difficulties. These include research problem analysis in order to up with good research questions or objectives to guide the study. Other parts include drawing up a good conceptual framework while taking into account both dependent and independent variables or constructs. 

Research Problem Analysis

The identification of research problem is the first and foremost step that every researcher has to undertake. At times, it becomes rather difficult for an inexperienced researcher or a novice/beginner in research to conceptualize a research problem. In general, a research problem should be understood as some difficulty, unclear situation which a researcher experiences in practical or theoretical context and wants to obtain a tangible explanation, clarification or offer solution to it. For students, this problem may be as a result of theoretical encounter in the area of specialization. As such, before embarking on any research, you should identify the major research area of your interest, mostly the area of your specialization. For instance from: Education, Social sciences, Humanities, Business administration among others.

Once you have the broad area, you narrow down the area by selecting a particular topic. This should be done after going through most of the literature related to the area. The topic should further be narrowed down to a specific researchable problem.

Components of a Research Problem. For a research problem to exist, there are a number of core elements that have to be inherent. There must be:

1. An individual or community or an organization/institution to whom the problem could be attributed.

These occupy a certain geographical area. For instance, teacher/parental factors affecting students performance in private secondary schools in Embu Municipality. In this study, there are individuals (parents, teachers, students), there are institutions (private secondary schools), and there is the area of study (Embu Municipality).

2. Some Objectives for pursuing the problem

There must be some objectives pursuing the problem, otherwise, it would be repugnant to reason and common understanding to undertake the research. For example: To find out teacher/parental factors affecting the students academic performance in private secondary schools in Embu Municipality.

3. Some lines of action to be taken

There must be at least two lines of action to be taken to attain the objective. For example, poor academic performance may be attributed to negative teacher and parental factors. Thus altering negative teacher factors and parental factors become the lines of action to be pursued. Here, the underlying question is “what is the cause of this problem – poor academic performance?” It is in answering this question that you must pursue some lines of action through stating some variables (teacher factors and parental factors).

We at KENPRO help our customers in identifying research topic(s). Once identified, the client is supposed to agree with the supervisor to be allowed to proceed.

2. Literature Review

We support our customers by providing literature resources that may be required for both theoretical and empirical review. We have access to hundreds of online international journals and digital libraries.

A literature review is an evaluative report of information found in the literature related to your selected area of study. The review should describe, summarize, evaluate and clarify this literature. It should give a theoretical base for the research and help you (the researcher) determine the nature of your research. Works, which are irrelevant, should be discarded and those, which are peripheral, should be looked at critically.

In general, the literature review should:

  • Provide a context for the research
  • Justify the research
  • Ensure the research hasn’t been done before
  • Show where the research fits into the existing body of knowledge
  • Enable the researcher to learn from previous theory on the subject
  • Illustrate how the subject has been studied previously
  • Highlight flaws in previous research
  • Outline gaps in previous research
  • Show that the work is adding to the understanding and knowledge of the field of study
  • Help refine, refocus or even change the topic

This chapter is generally divided according to the specific research objectives guiding the study. Each research objective / question should be reviewed. Such review helps in identifying knowledge gaps in the previous related studies and in the discussion of the findings.

Charges:

Literature resources retrieval depends on the topic and the number of resources required. They may vary depending on the clients program of study and educational level. Roughly, we charge as low as Ksh. 250 /- to 1000/- per page.

3. Research Design and Methodology

We assist our clients in coming up with Research Design and methodology.

The most common sections of the methodology include the following:

3.1 Research Design

3.2 Target Population

3.3 Sample and Sampling procedure

3.4 Description of instruments

3.5 Validity of the Research Instruments

3.6 Reliability of the Research Instrument

3.7 Data collection procedure

3.8 Data analysis procedure

3.9 Ethical Considerations

Research Design: The most commonly used research designs in education and social sciences research include survey research design, the case study and naturalistic research designs. As a student of research, be ware of confusion between research designs and research approaches (qualitative and quantitative research approaches or paradigms).

Sample and sampling procedure: This is another tricky part of methodology which can pose a great challenge to a student of research or even a practitioner. There are a number of approaches that are used to arrive at the sample size. Some maintain that at least 10% (Gay, 1996) of the total population is representative; Others 30% (Gall, Borg and Gall, 2003). However, this is disputed. As such, use of Krejcie, and Morgan, table of determining sample size which is formula based is encouraged. One may also opt to use the formula to determine the sample size.

Reliability: Determining reliability of data collection instruments is also tricky. We encourage students to validate and determine the reliability of the instruments. To determine the reliability of research instruments, one must conduct a pilot test using related target population which does not form part of the final sample. Correlations (spearman’s rank correlation, Pearson’s correlation or Cronbach’s apha may be used to determine reliability). IBM SPSS is a valuable tool in computing reliability.

We offer support in drawing up research design and methodology.

Developing Data Collection Instruments

We assist our customers in developing research instruments. This MAINLY include Questionnaires and Interview guides. However, there are other instruments that we assist our clients to develop like observations guides among others depending on varied research designs:

Questionnaire Method

One method which can be used to ask questions is to use a questionnaire. This is a set of written questions on a sheet with spaces provided for respondents to reply to the questions. Questionnaires are frequently self-administered or they may be used during an interview. A questionnaire is most useful when you want to collect a small amount of clearly defined facts from a large number of people. Although very useful, there are two important disadvantages of self-administered questionnaires: Only people who can read and write can answer them (many street children are not literate); Less opportunity exists for street children to explain confusing answers.

Interview

Interviewing is one of the commonest method of collecting information from individuals. It is not surprising, then, that interviewing takes several forms:

Structured interviews, in which the wording of the questions and their sequence is the same from one interview to another; the respondents must choose from a limited number of answers that have been written in advance.

Semi-structured interviews, in which the interviewer asks important questions in the same way each time but is free to alter the sequence of the questions and to probe for more information; respondents can answer the questions in any way they choose.

Unstructured interviews, in which interviewers have a list of topics they want respondents to talk about but are free to phrase the questions as they wish; the respondents are free to answer in any way they choose.

Focus Group Discussion

Some important points to remember about the focus group as a means of collecting information:

a) This method is frequently used to explore a new issue in monitoring and evaluation studies and to discover what a group of people or project workers might think or feel about a question or problem.

b) The goal is to provide an opportunity for participants to talk to one another about a specific topic.

c) The facilitator is there to guide the discussion but should avoid intervening in the discussion.

Observation Method

It is, perhaps, the technique most closely related to everyday life. It involves watching and recording the behaviour of individuals or groups, or the events that occur in a particular place. One of the advantages of using this approach is that you may choose when and where to carry out the observation procedure and so ensure that you will have a good chance of seeing the people or the behaviour you wish to observe.

Charges:

The charges range between Kshs.1,500 to Kshs. 3,500.

Note

The charges depend on the level of the study (Diploma, Degree, Undergraduate and Postgraduate) and on the types and the number of instruments (Questionnaires, Interview guides, Observation schedules, etc).

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