Tips to Winning a Scholarship: Writing Research Proposal for Scholarship Application: Applying for a scholarship can be an exciting as well as tedious exercise if one does not know the best efficient and effective way of going about it. There are several processes and procedures involved in the scholarship application pathway, one of such is writing a good research proposal that will get the attention of the scholarship selection committee. Some scholars do not know that their research proposals speak volume about their career achievements and their intellectual capacity. A research proposal is a description of what the researcher will be investigating, why the chosen area is important and how the entire research process will be carried out. Research proposal formats varies between fields and researchers and students should be able to know the format that is peculiar to their field of study.
Although there is variation in the format of research proposals from field to field, most proposals should contain at least the following sections:
- A cover page
- Literature Review
- Research design or methodology
- Expected outcome
- Research Timeline or schedule
- Research Budget
- List of References
Why is a Research Proposal Important?
Often times, researchers and students will have to write a research proposal for several reasons which may be to access funding or to get a thesis or dissertation approved in the case of a student. The importance of writing a research proposal is to persuade an assessor such as a funding organization, educational institution or a supervisor that your research work is worth researching. A research proposal should be relevant to the researcher’s field or the thematic area in which the funding organization is interested in. Being relevant means that the proposal should be able to convince the reader that the research work is original and important.
A research proposal should show to the readers that you are familiar with the field of study and that you have a thorough understanding of recent advances in the topic and that the idea you are proposing has a strong academic connotation.
A research proposal tells the reader that you know the best approach to use in other to arrive at the expected result. It entails making a case for your choice methodology, the type of data to use, the tools and the procedure you will deploy to carry out the research. A good research proposal should also show that the proposed research can be done within the time and funds available.
Sections of a Research Proposal:
Cover page: The cover page should contain enough information about the researcher or student. It should contain the following:
- The researcher or student’s proposed title
- The name of the researcher
- The name of the researcher’s supervisor
- The department and institution affiliation
However, students and researchers are encouraged to check with the institution or funding organization for any specific format requirements.
Introduction: The opening section into the proposal is the introduction and it is important for the student to structure it perfectly as it is the initial pitch of your research. The introduction should be able to introduce the topic, provide background information as well as outline the statement of problem and the research questions. Some salient questions to guide the introduction section which students and researchers should look out for include:
- Knowing the audience for which the research proposal will be made for. For example, will the proposal be read by scientists who are interested in the topic, practitioners, policymakers etc.
- What is already known about the subject matter?
- What is the knowledge gap in the proposed topic?
- What new insights will your proposed research bring?
If the introduction is lengthy, one might choose to segment the different sections with detailed information about the background to the study, statement of problem, aim and objectives and the research questions.
Literature Review: The literature review section shows how knowledgeable the researcher is with the topic of interest. A good literature review convinces the reader or assessor that the research work has a solid foundation in existing body of knowledge. It shows that the research work is not a repetition of work that has been done by other researchers. The section should compare and contrast existing theories, methods and controversies about the topic of interest. It should show the strengths and weaknesses of other research work.
Research Designs or Methodology
The section should describe in detail the approach that will be employed to answer the research questions and it should show the step by step approach that will help in achieving the aim and objectives of the research. It should state the methods of data generation and collection while also looking out for the best approach that will give the best result while avoiding or limiting errors.
Research Timeline or Schedule
Some funding organization or academic institution require that students and researchers give a detailed timeline or schedule of their research project. The essence is to help keep track of the progress achieved so far. A Gantt Chart can be employed to show a pictorial view of the progress of work and how each steps of the research is accomplished.
It is important to state the funds that will be required for a successful execution of the research proposal. The funding body in most cases will have to assess the budgetary allocation to each item to ensure compliance.
Lists of References
A good research proposal must include proper citation for every source from which information was sourced and full publication details provided in the reference list. It is important for the researcher or student to know the referencing style that is preferred by the funding organization or institution to ensure compliance.