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SOCC34: Migrations & Transnationalisms

Fall 2023 - Dr. Patricia Landolt

What is a Research Proposal?

A proposal is the first step in producing a major project or paper. Its intent is to convince your instructor that your topic and approach are sound, so that you gain approval to proceed with the actual research. As well as indicating your plan of action, a proposal should show your theoretical positioning and your relationship to past work in the area.

Credit: Dr. Margaret Proctor, The Academic Proposal

How to Write an Abstract

The abstract will serve as a brief summary of your proposal. An abstract for a research proposal typically includes the significance (need) of the work, your hypothesis and major objectives, the procedures to be followed to accomplish the objectives, and the potential impact of the work. Abstracts are generally 100-250 words long.

As your write your abstract, you can use the following questions as a guide:

  • What topic or issue will your research address? Why is it important to the field?
  • How does your topic or issue fit into prior research? 
  • What will the focus of your research be? E.g. research objectives, a proposed thesis, materials you will draw upon.
  • How do you plan to approach the project? What methods will you use in your research?
  • What are your expected conclusions? 

How to Describe the Context of Your Research

The research context is the broad background against which you will conduct your research. Identifying the context helps you situate your research within the existing body of literature on a topic.

Describing the context of your research includes:

  • A brief overview of the general area of study or field within which your proposed research falls
  • A description of the significance of the field
  • A brief discussion of the current state of knowledge in the field and recent debates or topics of interest in the field
  • A statement of the specific area of the field you'll be researching
  • An explanation of how your research will add to the body of research in the field or gaps in the research that it will fill