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How to Prepare a Research Proposal

It is common practice at Australian universities to ask research degree applicants to submit a research proposal. This proposal is used to assess the applicant's interests and level of preparation for the program, as well as to help in the identification of potential supervisors.

Your are not obligated to study the proposed topic, if accepted you are welcome to review, refined or completely change your primary research topic as your knowledge and interests evolve.

Your proposal should include the following elements:

Informative title

Purpose of the study - a clearly focused statement of the overall purpose of the proposed research.

Relevant background literature - a section outlining key research that has already been carried out in the particular area with references.

Research questions or hypotheses - clearly focused research questions/hypotheses that are worth asking and capable of being answered.

Definitions of key terms - precise definitions of the key terms in the research question/s or hypotheses, enabling unequivocal observation, measurement and identification throughout the study.

Research methodology - an appropriate choice of research approach for the particular questions or problems under investigation, including a well-defined list of procedures to be followed in carrying out the research, as well as the method of data collection and analysis, and, if appropriate: a broad description of any particular theoretical framework to be used in the analysis and the reasons for its selection in the study; a brief statement describing how the study population will be selected for the study and the reason for the approach to selection.

Significance of the research - a statement that illustrates why the research question or hypothesis is worth asking.

Ethical considerations - a discussion of whether there are any important ethical considerations involved in the research idea or it execution and how you would address these.

Anticipated problems and limitations - a section that highlights any anticipated problems and limitations in the proposed study, including threats to reliability and validity and how these will be countered. Note any areas of foreseeable difficulty and how they might be overcome.

Bibliography - a list of references relating to the proposal.