The Purpose of Your Research

Research is, after all, finding out something you don’t know. You will use the research proposal and paper as an opportunity to learn as much as possible about the topic. You will want to focus on a topic that is currently a “hot” issue, or an older topic that remains viable. As you research your topic you can either write a thesis that: reviews and explains collated factual data, studies the topic in depth by reviewing literature; discusses and/or debates a certain topic; or supports a new hypothesis/theory. Note also this assignments also serves to introduce you to the concept of scholarly and academic literature and resources. If you are not familiar with this concept, click here to be connected to reading in the Library’s Online Study in Information Literacy which details the difference between popular and scholarly information.

The proposal should have sufficient information to convince your readers that you have an important research topic, that you have a good grasp of the relevant literature and the major issues, and that your thesis and expected outcomes are sound. To put it bluntly, one’s research is only as a good as one’s proposal.

Research Paper Proposal Format

Use the following format for the research proposal as your “guide.” Note the word “guide” because you may find a need, given the specific topic you have selected, to modify.

Title Page

It should be concise and descriptive–creative wouldn’t hurt!

The Purpose of Your Research

State the purpose of your research and why it interests you. You are encouraged to select a topic that fosters your professional growth and development. You should also identify the audience for your work. Your research may traverse several fields (eg. Sports Psychology research might be of interest not just to psychologists, but also to teachers, doctors and parents). Your target audience determines what style of writing you may use, and/or what theories to apply.

Opening Statement, Argument or Hypothesis

The opening statement, argument or hypothesis focuses your ideas for the paper; it’s your argument, insight or viewpoint summarized into a sentence or two that gives the reader your main idea. It present the rationale for you paper and clearly indicates why it is worth exploring. If you are not sure about how to refine, narrow or broaden your thesis, return to #2 above.

Summarize two Internet Sources that Support your Topic

Your proposal should summarize two web-based resources that support your topic. Choose the sources carefully. They should demonstrate your understanding of the research issues related to your topic and show your ability to critically evaluate/integrate the literary sources. Choose current, relevant, scholarly sources, such as books or professional journal articles, that can be found by visiting the Empire State College Online Library link opens in a new window. If you are not sure how to do research or use the Empire State College Online Library, return to #1.

Document and Cite your Sources

By citing your sources you are letting your reader know that you’ve consulted experts whose ideas and information back up your own thoughts and ideas. You must cite your sources correctly so that your academic integrity is not called into question. If you don’t document, you could inadvertently plagiarizing. Visit the Empire State College’s Writing Resource Center link opens in a new window to get help with documenting sources or visit Diana Hacker’s Research and Documentation link opens in a new window site.

Expected Outcomes

State here your expected outcomes from the research you will conduct on your topic. If you stated a new hypothesis you will need to state certain expected outcomes that you intend to prove.

Is It Set In Stone?

Goodness, no! The idea behind research is exploration. If it is set in stone, we might as well not bother with research. Your proposal outlines your intentions and a plan. Once you delve further into research you very well may find that your opinion, opening statement, etc. may need to be tweaked and edited.

Online Resources to Assist You in Completing Your Written Assignment

There are three main resources that you should rely on when completing a written assignment (links open in a new window):

  1. Empire State College’s Library and Research Resources – link here for the web-based online Library’s home page that can be reached any time of day or night.
  2. Writing Resource Center – link here for access to writing resources developed by Empire State College and the Genesee Valley Center Writing Program.
  3. Empire State College’s Writer’s Complex – link here for writing tips and assistance.
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