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Developing Research Proposals

Developing Research Proposals

First Edition
Additional resources:

January 2012 | 160 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Writing a research proposal is one of the most important tasks facing academics, researchers and postgraduate students. Yet there is a good deal of misinformation and a great lack of guidance about what constitutes a good research proposal and what can be done to maximise one's chances of writing a successful research proposal.


Denicolo and Becker recognise the importance of developing an effective research proposal for gaining either a place on a research degree programme or funding to support research projects and set out to explore the main factors that that proposal writers need to attend to in developing successful proposals of their own.


Developing Research Proposals will help readers to understand the context within which their proposal will be read, what the reviewers are looking for and will be influenced by, while also supporting the development of relevant skills through advice and practical activities.


This book:

  • Explores the nature and purpose of different kinds of proposals
  • Focuses on the actual research proposed
  • Discusses how best to carry out and structure the literature review
  • Examines the posing and phrasing of research questions and hypotheses
  • Looks at how methods and methodology should be handled in a proposal
  • Discusses the crucial issues of planning, strategy and timing in developing targeted proposals

Denicolo and Becker draw together the key elements in the process of preparing and submitting a proposal and concludes with advice on responding to the results, successful or not, and their relevance to future proposals.

The Success in Research series, from Cindy Becker and Pam Denicolo, provides short, authoritative and accessible guides on key areas of professional and research development.  

Avoiding jargon and cutting to the chase of what you really need to know, these practical and supportive books cover a range of areas from presenting research to achieving impact, and from publishing journal articles to developing proposals. They are essential reading for any student or researcher interested in developing their skills and broadening their professional and methodological knowledge in an academic context.


Intended Readers

Overview of the Rook

The Task Before You

What is a Research Proposal?
A Pervasive Task Defined

A Celebration of Difference

First Steps in Meeting the Needs of Your Readership

Finding out about Research Degree Opportunities

Finding out about Research Funding Opportunities

General Preliminary Explorations

Skills Inventory

When Is a Research Proposal Required and Why?

Sources of Funding

Gaining a Richer View of Funders' Requirements

Gaining Financial Awards for Study

Identifying Potential Supervisors/Advisors

Securing a Place on a Higher Degree by Research Programme

Sections Within a Proposal - What Funders or Research Degree Reviewers Are Looking for

Main Features of Proposals

What Are the Key Aspects of Proposal Preparation?

The Title, Abstract and Covering Letter

The Body of the Proposal - Audience and Style

Developing Your Proposal Draft

Language Register, Voice and Verb Tense

The Conceptual Framework

Stages in the Production of Proposal - Advance Planning

The Constraints of Time

What Should Be Included in the Introduction, Rationale and Literature Review?
Orientating Your Reader to Your Purpose

The Introduction

The Rationale

Preparing for the Literature Review

The Literature Review Itself

The Process of Searching the Literature

Constructing Your Argument

What Is the Significance of the Aims, Objectives, and Research Questions/Hypotheses?
Level of Specificity Required

Clarification of Terms - Aims and Objectives

Research Questions and Hypotheses


Why Paradigm Identification Is Important

The Link between Aims/Objectives and Research Questions/Hypotheses

What Should Be Included in the Methodology/Research Implementation Sections?
Consistency between Purpose and Procedures

Clarification of 'Shorthand' Terms

Methodology - Approach and Justification

Consistency and Justification

Research Using Positivist Approaches

Presenting and Analysing Quantitative Results

Research Using Interpretivist Approaches

Presenting and Analysing Qualitative Results

Using the Right Language

Ethical Considerations

Evaluation Plan

What Financial Considerations Are Required?
The Ground Rules of Budgeting

The Financial Demands of a Research Degree Project

Financial Considerations for All Researchers

Types and Styles of Budgets for Funding Applications

Key Elements of the Budget: Personnel

Key Elements of the Budget: Operating Costs

The Budget after Submission of the Proposal

What Planning and Organisation Details Are Required?
Establishing Goals and Deadlines

Project Planning and Time Management

Implementation Plans

Research Governance

People Management

Schedules and Timelines

Who Are the other Potential Contributors to and Referees for Your Project?
Building Professional Relationships

Building on Overviews of Requirements

Making Contacts and Seeking Help

Developing Collaborations and Partnerships

The Review Process

What Reviewers Are Seeking from Proposals

Reality Check - Grit Your Teeth!

Where Does It End? Reactions, Reflections and Anticipations
After Submission

Receiving Feedback from Reviewers

Reasons for Rejection

Responding to Feedback

Back to the Beginning

The Continuous Cycle of Proposal Writing

Appendix 1 Funding Sources

Appendix 2 Resources





Success in Research free tools

A collection of free tips, exercises and resources from all books in the Success in Research series

Very handy text to provide straightforward advice on developing good quality research proposal.

Dr Ricky Li
School of Law Accounting and Finance, University of South Wales
August 1, 2014

I really like this book. It is well structured and presents what can be quite a daunting topic for student researchers in a helpful step-by-step approach. The content is thorough but written in an accessible style.

Mrs Yvette Winnard
Allied Health and Medicine, Anglia Ruskin University
May 22, 2014

Many students find the writing of a research proposal daunting, however, this textbook provides helpful guidance for students who are confronted with writing a proposal for the first time.

Professor Johan Van Graan
Department of Police Practice, University of South Africa - Florida
April 30, 2014

A good author and a clear text to read.

Mrs Louise Boole
Nursing, Counselling & Psychotherapy, Derby University
February 14, 2014

A really useful book, but not so relevant for student researchers.

Ms Alison Fielding
Department of Professional Development, Canterbury Christ Church University
October 30, 2013

This book is well structured and highly informative. Anyone would like to read it over and over. It is a good resources for the entire research project life cycle.

Dr Olatunde Aremu
School of Health and Bioscience, University of East London
October 17, 2013

I will recommend this for my Masters Students as for some of them it has been a long time since they developed formal research proposals.

Mrs Nina Quinlan
Sport, Health, Leisure and Nutrition, Leeds Trinity and All Saints
September 9, 2013

systematic and a good springboard for the novice who needs to learn fast

Miss Claire Emery
FHSC, St George's, University of London
May 1, 2013

This book is very much a step-by-step approach to preparing and producing a successful proposal. The book is most engaging though its activities and any aspiring researcher, whether they are using a quantitative or qualitative paradigm, will find this book useful. It nicely complements Keith Punch's book: Developing Effective Research Proposals (Sage); I shall be using both in my guidance to research students.

Dr Carol Taylor
Health , Manchester Metropolitan University
March 28, 2013

A gook book for my 4th Year nursing students who have to write a research proposal

Ms Kathleen Rooney
Dept of Nursing, Dundalk Institute of Technology
March 14, 2013

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter One

For instructors

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