Grant proposal

2. Research Proposal

In the real world of research the purpose of a research proposal is to persuade someone to fund your research. It is often called a “grant proposal” and in academia most research is funded by grants from the research councils or other charitable foundations. In order to write an effective research proposal the researcher must demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the area of research, must be proposing novel and important research, and must be able to justify their research plans. The ability to write an effective research proposal is a skill that may be of considerable benefit in your future careers.

You will prepare a detailed research proposal relevant to your specific research project (BI4012) in Term 2. This will involve a comprehensive literature review on your specific research topic, and will require you to consider the background literature and recent developments in the research area, identity a suitable scientific problem that needs to be addressed, and describe your plan of investigation to tackle this problem. If appropriate, this will include the development of specific research instruments, application for ethical permission or the development of appropriate specialist skills to enable you to undertake your research project.

The research proposal undertaken in Term 2 will be linked to your research project. Please refer to the BI4012 Handbook for further information on selecting your research project topic.

2.1. Objectives

* To enable students to undertake a period of in-depth study of a specialised subject

* To allow students to develop the skills and understanding necessary to support your research project

* To enable students to develop the skills required to write a research proposal

2.2. Resources for your research proposal

The resources on Blackboard and workshop sessions organised with the library (BI4001/2) will help you make best use of the resources available at Aston. Your supervisor may also give you some guidance on how to search for information in the particular field of your project.

If you cannot find the papers you are looking for electronically or at Aston, you can try Birmingham University Library. Aston students can access that library with the necessary documentation, which is available at our Library.

If you still cannot obtain an important paper, fill in an inter-library loan. These are very expensive and must be used carefully. Your attention is drawn to the following points about inter-library loans:

Ø All inter-library loans must be authorised by the supervisor.

Ø Inter-library loans will not be authorised if the source is available within one of the Birmingham Libraries.

Ø Inter-library loans are costly and your supervisor will place limits on the number that you can use.

Ø Inter-library loans become the property of the School on completion of the Project.

2.3. Presentation of the research proposal

Research proposals must be prepared using Microsoft Word. As proposals are electronically submitted, hand-written documents are not acceptable. The maximum word limit for each section is indicated below. Ensure you perform a thorough typographical and grammatical check on your research proposal before submission.

You must structure your research proposal as follows:

(1) Title

(2) Proposal summary (500 words max.)

(3) Background (2,500 words max.)

i) General context

Explain the current status of the problem

ii) Previous scientific literature

What are the major achievements or failures in this area?

iii) Recent literature and current developments

What is the cutting edge of this field?

iv) What must be done to address the problem?

What do you intend to do in your project to advance knowledge in the area or tackle the problem?

(4) Intended design and methods of investigation (1,000 words max.)

(5) Annotated bibliography (10-15 references)

Briefly describe why each reference included is important

(6) Project management plan (GANTT chart)

A research proposal should be a concise document; word limits are a maximum, so do not write just to fill up space.

2.4. Assessment of the research proposal

The research proposal constitutes 70% of the assessment for BI4013. Your research proposal will be marked by your research project supervisor, and the assessment will include a mark for the presentation and referencing of the research proposal.

The research proposal marking scheme is as follows:





GANTT plan








Marks will be deducted if you fail to adhere to the word limits for each section.

2.5. Research proposal timetable

Your research proposal must be submitted electronically to the Turnitin® website by 4 pm, Friday week 20 (13 March 2009).

2.6. Referencing of research proposals

The required format for references is the Harvard system. Please note that it is essential that you use a single consistent system of referencing throughout your proposal. Failure to do so will result in a loss of marks. Use of the Harvard system for citation of journals, books, electronic-based material and other information sources is given in the notes “Correct Referencing of Text: How to Avoid Being Accused of Plagiarism” which follows this text, and is also available on Blackboard.

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