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Research proposal and report writing – combined

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When writing the research paper, be it a report, dissertation or thesis, we should appreciate that there are generally five or six chapters, with the proposal (complete) having only first three chapters (introduction, review of related literature and the research methodology, writes Professor Edgar Nyanga for Zambian Eye.

Below, the writer outlines, in brief coverage of the research/ proposal.


Title of the study/ research: This should be not more than 15 words. The first word should one which will woo the reader. Words such as; evaluate, analyze, find out, and related are used on the title.


Chapter one: Introduction to the study: The following are the subheadings that you are covered in this chapter:

  1. Introduction- this covers the subheadings discussed in the chapter, with a few lines at first introducing the study. Two paragraphs are enough.
  2. Background: gives information about the study. Normally, the funnel theory is applied here where the researcher writes about general information on the study at global level, continental level and then bringing down to national level and then to the study area. This can be as many pages as possible.
  3. Statement of the problem: this specifically outlines the reason for the study.
  4. It states the main reason someone has thought of this study. It can be a half to one page.

  5. Note: there is no need to have another subtitle; “aim of the study” if you have the “statement of the problem”.
  6. Research objectives; this is divided into main objective and specific objectives.
  7. The man objective is always the general one related to the title.
  8. Specific objectives goes further to bring out the specific issues in the study.
  9. Words used in specific objectives include; to find out, to analyse, to evaluate, to observe, to identify….
  10. Specific objectives can be minimum three and maximum five.
  11. Research question or hypothesis: Questions are derived from the objectives, turning the objectives into questions.
  12. Hypothesis is an argument that helps find reality through the objectives. There can be two or three arguments, these are hypotheses of the study. There is only need to choose one of them.
  13. Significance of the study; it outlines the importance of the study. It brings out the benefits and beneficiaries of the study findings.
  14. Scope and delimitation of the study. what the researcher covers in the study, can be the coverage of the study; ‘where’ and ‘who’ are questions asked.
  15. Limitations of the study: simply put, the challenges during the study.
  16. Defining the Key words used: Every study has its own words defined by the researcher for the purpose of the study.
  17. Research organisation; This where the researcher explains how the study is organised especially during the report writing.
  18. conclusion: Always ensure that you give a conclusion of every chapter.
  19. Chapter two: Review of related literature
  20. This is divided into three parts: The literature reviewed general: This is generally covers about policies, benefits derived, and somehow history of the topic.

  21. Theoretical or conceptual framework: Theoretical framework covers the any theory that relates to the study. At one theory but up to three is not bad.
  22. Conceptual framework is what the researcher feels is the result of problem. It all depends on the researcher to formulate the conceptual framework.

  23. The Empirical Studies: Relatedness and gaps: The empirical studies outline those studies that are closely related to the present one.
  24. It shows how related it is and how it leaves out some gaps which the current researcher wishes to research on.
    Chapter three: Research methodology
    This covers the following subheadings:
  25. The research design
  26. The study area
  27. The target population
  28. The sample size and sampling procedure/techniques.
  29. The sampling tools/instruments
  30. Data collection methods
  31. Description of research instruments
  32. Data analysis
  33. Ethical considerations
  34. Conclusion
  35. Time frame (only in research proposal).
  36. Budget (only in research proposal)
    Note: This is the last chapter if you are writing a proposal only.
    Chapter four: Presentation of research findings. This chapter presents the findings as collected from the sample. It is normally guided by the objectives of the study.
  37. Normally, the objectives are the subheadings in this chapter. At this time, chapter one to three would have been put into past tense.
  38. Initially, they are written in future tense, proposing to do a study. Sometimes, some researchers present the findings and at same time discussing the outcome which others take to chapter five.
  39. Note: This chapter is one which is done after the proposal has been accepted and the supervisor tells you to go ahead and collect data.

  40. Chapter five: discussion of the research findings. If one decides to separate chapter four which on findings presentation, there is chapter five where they can discuss fully the findings in chapter four.
  41. In this chapter, the researcher discusses the findings using the objectives as subtitles but also theoretical or conceptual frameworks are added as subheadings. Subheading also on empirical studies are well discussed in the chapter.

  42. Chapter six: conclusion, recommendations, and suggestions for future studies
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