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Friday, March 12, 2010

Writing of the Introduction and Literature Review in a Research Proposal

What should go into the Introduction and Literature review of your Research proposal?
At first there was quite a difference in opinion in class where Pooja said the what of your research and why you're doing it should go into it, where as I said it should start with a brief background of your area of research and then go to talk about what is your domain and purpose, briefly.
We were then made to refer a standardised format where we learnt that a little bit of everything goes into the introduction!

The format is as follows

The synopsis is a brief out line (about four A-4 size pages or 1000 words is the maximum limit) of your future work.

TITLE: Should reflect the main purpose of the study. It is generally written after the whole synopsis has been written so that it is a true representative of the plan (i.e. the synopsis).

• As the name suggests the introduction introduces your work.
• It must clearly state the purpose of the study.
• Should contain brief background of the selected topic.
• It must identify the importance of study
• Should emphasize the relevance and justification of the study.
• If possible also mention the applicability of results.

• A comprehensive review of the current status of knowledge on the selected topic must be included.
• It should be a collective review and critique in the candidate's own words of various viewpoints.
• The review should be properly referenced.
• References should preferably be of the last five years, including some published in the recent past.
• However, older references can be cited provided they are relevant and historical.
• This should also include work published in recognized journals and in publications of various societies, as well as abstracts of meetings, conferences or seminars, websites etc.
• Data collected by others, whether published or unpublished, must be acknowledged whenever included.

HYPOTHESIS: A hypothesis is a statement showing expected relation between two variables.
RESEARCH QUESTIONS: A Research Question is a statement that identifies the phenomenon to be studied.
(The hypothesis or research question is optional. These may not be a part of your research proposal)

• Objective should start with an action verb and be sufficiently specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound (SMART). (Eg. To find, to measure…etc.)
• Objectives are statements of mentions.
• They inform the reader clearly what the researcher plans to do in his/her work.
• The must identify the variables involved in research.


• STUDY DESIGN: Mention the name of the appropriate study design.
• SETTING: Name and place where the research work is to be conducted.
• DURATION OF STUDY: How long will the study take with dates.
• SAMPLE SIZE: How many respondents will be included. If there are groups how many per group?
• SAMPLING TECHNIQUE: Type of sampling technique employed.
o Inclusion criteria: on what bases will respondents be inducted in the study.
o Exclusion criteria: On what bases will respondents be excluded from the study.
• DATA COLLECTION PROCEDURE: A detailed account of how the researcher will perform research; how s/he will measure the variable. It includes:
o Identification of the study variables
o Methods for collection of data
o Data collection tools (proforma/questionnaire)
• DATA ANALYSIS PROCEDURE: Relevant details naming software to be used, which descriptive statistics and which test of significance if and when required, specifying variables where it will be applied.

The timeline for your project. Look at the course schedule to keep your due dates in mind and set up certain milestones (by day or by week) that you will accomplish to keep yourself on track.

A brief outline of the parts of the paper

CONCLUSIONS: What will be the outcome of the study.

REFERENCES: A list of references contains details only of those works cited in the text.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: A bibliography lists sources not cited in the text but which are relevant to the subject and were used for background reading.

To sum the introduction up, you should introduce and ground your area of research in the Introduction.
Most importantly the Review of Literature is not just about quoting every scholar's work in your area of research. It is about building up an argument to establish that your work of study has not been done before, by locating fragments connected to your area of study in other works (and sometimes other fields).
You are basically to provide a 'backward history to your question,' by going back and referring various other works done in your area or field of research.
Certainly put us into perspective about the much misunderstood Literature Review.
Thank you :)

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