Sagar Aryal
Jan 13 th, 2015

Basic MicrobiologyNo Comments

Thesis Proposal

How to write a good thesis proposal and Format of Research proposal given by Tribhuvan University, Nepal

A thesis proposal is a short document that explains what the thesis you want to write will be about, what type of research you would like to do and what sort of problem you are attempting to solve by writing it. 

Your thesis/dissertation proposal provides an overview of your proposed plan of work, including the general scope of your project, your basic research questions, research methodology, and the overall significance of your study.

In short, your proposal explains what you want to study, how you will study this topic, why this topic needs to be studied, and (generally) when you intend to do this work. Occasionally, you may also need to explain where your study will take place.

Though it is short compared to other academic papers you may write, it can still be quite lengthy. If it is not well written or well researched, or you don’t clearly make your point, it may be rejected. You would then need to submit a new thesis proposal. Research and writing the project cannot start until the proposal has been approved.

A thesis proposal is generally written in the present and future tense. A thesis on the other hand is always written in past tense.

Is My Topic Feasible?

You may start with a rather vague idea of a research topic. It is then necessary to assess how the topic can be narrowed down to potential sub-topics for more thorough consideration. The following checklist contains general questions for specific types of topics.

Questions about the topic in general

  • Is there current interest in this topic in your field or in a closely related field?
  • Is there a gap in knowledge that work on this topic could help to fill or a controversy that it might help to resolve?
  • Is it possible to focus on a small enough segment of the topic to make a manageable thesis project?
  • Can you envisage a way to study the topic that will allow conclusions to be drawn with substantial objectivity. Is the data collection approach (i.e. test, questionnaire, interview) acceptable in your school?
  • Is there a body of literature available relevant to the topic? Is a search manageable?
  • Are there large problems (i.e. logistic, attitudinal) to be surmounted in working in this topic? Do you have the means to handle them?
  • Does the topic relate reasonably well to others done in your department? If not, do you have any information about its acceptability?
  • Would financial assistance be required? If yes, is it available?
  • Are the needed data easily accessible? Will you have control of the data?
  • Do you have a clear statement of the purpose, scope, objectives, procedures, and limitations of the study? Do you have a tentative table of contents? Are any of the skills called on by the study skills that you have yet to acquire?

Format for Research Proposal:

The  Research  Division,  T.U.,  considers  it  essential  that  research  proposals submitted for acceptance and financial grants confirm to a prescribed format. The  main  aim  in  requiring  an  acceptable  format  for  writing  a  research proposal  is  to  have  all  the  important  features  to  appear  in  appropriately acceptable details.  When a proposal falls short of presenting the significant aspects,  it  tends  to  hinder  factual  understanding  and  the  real  worth  and relevance of the proposed work.  Clear statements of the intended objectives of the study, the procedural approaches to be adopted, time schedules for the work  and   the  estimate  of  expanses  would  greatly help  in  the  preparation, proper evaluation, and the final approval of the proposal.  During the process of  evaluation  it  is  also  possible  that  some  meaningful  changes  can  be brought   about   to   the   proposal   so   as   to   render   it   more   effectively.
Furthermore,  processing  of  the  proposal  and  the  eventual  conduct  of  the study    would    also    gain    convenience    if    the    submitted    proposal    is comprehensive and  self contained. It may often be difficult to write down all kinds of research proposals strictly within the descriptions and categories fixed by a prescribed format.   To an extent  the    format    as  developed  below    indicates  the  significant  aspects which may not  be missed out in any proposal.  We hope that it will provide broad guidelines for drawing up a research  proposal.  It does not, however, limit the size and content of any proposal if the researcher feels that other relevant details also need to be added on.
The  project  proposal  in  its  final  form  is  expected  to  contain  all  pertinent details  concerning  the  study,  right  from  the  initial  stages  to  the  stage  of completion.   It  should,  therefore,  aim  to  be  what  may  be  described  as  the complete  plan  of action.  To ensure a smooth course of development of the work  it  becomes  necessary  to  project  oneself  into  various  phases  of  its growth and be able to possibly locate and take   care   of the constrains and other  difficulties  which  may  creep  in  the  process  of  study.    The  idea  of having to put in all details, before one knows whether the proposal may be at all  accepted,  may  not  be  that  relishing.    For  that  matter,  a  proposal  in  a preliminary form may  be submitted and may later on be developed into its full  form. Even  in  a  preliminary  form  it  is  always  advisable  to  put  in essential  details  just  to  eliminate  the  possibility  of  a  gap  in  understanding which otherwise keep on workable idea away from fruition.
 
Apart from the above stated factors, it is also desired that an objective basis should be available for the   evaluation of the research work.   The Research Division  has    been  entrusted  with  this  job.    Successful  execution  of  a research  project  gives  certain  benefits  and  credits  to  the  researcher.   It  is important that the researcher gets a fair evaluation  on the basis of the work and receives the credit s/he rightly deserves. To this end, it is essential that the proposal should contain a full description of all the  facets of the work.

Your thesis proposal should have the following elements in this order.

  • Title of the Study/Title Page/Cover Page
  • Table of contents
  • Introduction of the study
  • Thesis Statement
  • Literature Review
  • Objectives of the Study
  • Location of the Study (Optional)
  • Hypotheses
  • Methodology
  • Manpower Planning (Optional)
  • Scheduling of Time / Work plan with time table
  • Budgeting/Estimate of Expenses
  • Bibliography and Annex
  • List of references

The structure is very similar to that of a thesis or a scientific paper. You will be able to use a large fraction of the material of the thesis proposal in your final senior thesis. Of course, the state of the individual projects at the end of the fall will vary, and therefore also the format of the elements discussed below. 

Title of the Study:
A brief but clearly stated title of the proposed study is intended. The title should appropriately reflect the nature and scope of the proposed study.
Remember:
Future employers may ask about the topic of your dissertation. It might be worth thinking to the future in order to come up with something that will gain their interest.
 
Introduction of the Study:
The   study   problem   should   be   identified   by   clearly   stating   its background, setting or environment, and the need for the study.  Then, its  importance  should  be  clarified  with  reference  to  its  practical application to policy decisions or to the illumination of concepts and theories of development.
Remember:
Some lecturers prefer students to weave their literature review into the introduction; others prefer it to be kept separate.If you are unable to complete your statement then you are not yet ready to begin.
Statement of the Problem:
“A question well stated is a question half answered”.  The problem of the research question is, therefore, an interrogative statement in terms of  the  relation  that  exits   between  a  set  of  variables.    It  should  be stated  clearly  and  unambiguously  so  as  to  permit  empirical  testing. Above  all  the  problem  should  not  be  stated  too  generally  or  too narrowly.   Most important, where the problem lies ( the problem that guides  the  study  )  should  be  clearly  stipulated  in  terms     of  the background  and  development     within  the  scope  of  the  proposed question (historical perspective is necessary).
 
Review of Literature:
One undertakes this in order to find out what works have already been done  in  the  areas  of  the  research  problem under  study.  It  also  helps minimize  the  risk  of  dead  ends,  choice  of  rejected  methods  etc, promotes greater understanding of the problem under study, provides comparative data to evaluate and interpret the significance of findings, and to enforce fruitful   sources of hypothesis.   This section is vitally necessary.  All references consulted must be cited.
Remember:
Not every dissertation proposal contains a Literature survey.

Sometimes the literature survey can be a discrete piece of writing that is set and marked separately.
You can embed your literature survey in the main body of your dissertation but this depends on the preferences of your department or tutor. 

Objectives of the Study:
Within   the   felt   needs   of   the   study,   the   specific   objectives   for undertaking the project should be spelled -out clearly.  They should be identified   in   terms   of  the  variables   and   parameters  under  study precisely  and  be formulated    in  the  manner  of  questions.    Where general  objectives  are  felt  desirable,  specific  sub-objectives must  be framed within each general objective in a logical sequence.
Objectives should be S.M.A.R.T.:

  • Specific – be precise about what you are going to do
  • Measureable –you will know when you have reached your goal
  • Achievable – Don’t attempt too much. A less ambitious but completed objective is better than an over-ambitious one that you cannot possible achieve.
  • Realistic – do you have the necessary resources to achieve the objective? For example: time, money, skills, etc?
  • Time constrained – determine when each stage needs to be completed. Is there time in your schedule to allow for unexpected delays?

Remember:
Use strong positive statements which use strong verbs. Avoid weaker verbs. 

Strong verbs: collect, construct, classify, develop, devise, measure, produce, revise, select, synthesise
Weak verbs: appreciate, consider, enquire, learn, know, understand, be aware of, appreciate, listen, perceive
 

Location of the Study:  (Optional)
The place or places in which the study will be conducted need to be indicated.
 
Hypotheses:
A  hypotheses   is  a  conjectural  statement  of  relations  (based  on  the statement of the problem and the objective of the study) between two or  more  variables  in  either  negative  or  positive  terms.   It  should  be neither too general nor too specific.   However, it should specify how the variables are related.  The hypotheses, thus could be formulated as null hypothesis, against alternatives.
 
Methodology:
It should correspond to the order in which each of the objectives listed are to be attacked in terms of essential hypothesis to be used: how and what data are to be generated  and processed  from  ?  What methods of analysis should be used ? what assumptions are being put to effect of the inquiry ?
 
(a) Methods of  Data  Collection:
Basic  design  of  the  experimental  study  should  be  explained.   It  has  to stated  whether  the  data  is  to  be collected  from  other  sources  or  the primary  collection.  The  use  of  secondary  sources,  mail  questionnaires, personal  interview or field works which are relevant to the nature of the study are to be made where possible.
 
(b)Sampling Techniques:
Mention should be made of the estimated   total size of population in the study and the method of sampling should be used in the proposal.   It is necessary  that  an  adequately  reliable  sampling  frames  and  the  basic criteria of selecting them be adopted.  The main thrust of the study often centers around the nature of the questionnaire, selection of respondents as well as the modalities of operation of the study.
 
(c) Analysis of data:
Statistical  procedures  and  tests  are  adopted  to  ensure  relevance  of  the conclusions of the proposed study.   As such, the methods to be adopted indicating  the  level  of  analysis,  and  testing  need  should  be  clearly indicated. Limitation of the Study: Clearly  specify  the  limits  and  constraints  prevailing  within   each methods.  In the  event  where  two  or  more  methods  are  used  an explanation as to which method it to be preferred should be stated in terms of the assumptions and biases involved in each of the methods indicated.
Remember:
If someone else chooses to carry out the same or a very similar type of study, they should be able to understand and copy your methods from your descriptions.
 
Manpower Planning: (Optional)
A detailed  workout of  manpower need should be stated in terms  of  the job   description,   desired   qualification   of the   personnel and their experience. Indication   of   the   statement   of   functions,   duties   and responsibilities should be clearly indicated.  Time for which manpower is need should be worked-out in man days for different phases of the project. If it is a team project, the project leader should be mentioned.
 
Scheduling of Time:
Different  phases  of  the  research  project  should  be  clearly  stated  in working weeks or months, preferably in a diagrammatic presentation (CPM,  PERT  or  BARGRAM).   Thus,   it  should  be  able  to  provide monitoring authorities with close estimates of the entire project time. It should mention the probable time schedule between inception and conclusion  of  the  project  in  accordance  with  the  T.U.  Evaluation Format.
 
Chapter Plan : (indicative)
Chapter  Plan  should  indicate  the  total  number  of  chapters  and   pages, individual  chapter  titles,  including  sub heading  and  pages  for  each chapter.  This helps both project planning and logistical support activities of the Research Division.
 
Budgeting/Estimate of Expenses:
 A detailed and itemized budget showing how the funds are to be spent is essential.   Presentation  of  budget  for  the proposed  work  may  be  made under  the  following  main  categories.    Other  headings  of  the  category may, however be added if considered necessary for the sake of clarity.  If any  budgetary  support  is  expected  from  other supplementary  agencies, the amounts and conditions should be explicitly indicated.
 
It may be noted that all expenses met, out of the funds made available by Tribhuvan University, have to be budgeted strictly according to existing T.U. financial rules and regulations.   These include payments as salaries and allowances  according  to  levels  of  expertise,  travel  allowances  and purchase of equipment.
 
It  is  important  to  mention  that  the  Research  Division  or  any  other authority which funds the research project reserves the right to increase, deduct or reject the amount of the budget as shown on the proposal given the  quality and     relevance  of  the  research  proposal  as  well  as  the availability of research funds with it.
 
Fund  grants,    if  available,    are  made  through  the  concerned  Campus Office  from  which   the   researcher draws the  required   amounts   and submits  the  details  of  expenses.    Fund  grants  are  made  available  in phases, which presently stand at 60 percent, 20 percent and 20 percent.
 
The  initial  60  percent  is  made  available  at  the  start  of  the  project  and subsequent  20  percent  each  is released  on  completion  of  two  different stages of the work.
 
It  is,  therefore,  important  to  coordinate  budgetary  items  according  to definitive  stages  of  proposed  work.  If  the  researcher  strongly  feels  that budgetary  requirements  have  to  be  particularly  different,  it  would  be helpful to present the case and give reasons for it.
 
(a)Stationery and Office Supplies:
Items such as paper, postage, typing charges and other sundry supplies are to be met under this budget heading.
  
(b) Travelling Expenses :
Transportation  costs  and  daily allowances  while  travelling  are to  be  included  under  this  budget  heading.    The  number  and mode  of  travel  and  places  to  be  visited  should  be    shown. Ordinarily,   only travel costs for places within the country can be mentioned. If   travel   outside   the   country  needs   to   be included full justification for these has to be given.
 
Bibliography and Annex :
The list of the literature reviewed and the sources from which items are quoted  should  be  serially  organized  at  the  end  of  the  proposal.  All  the data charts etc. that are being use for the presentation of the proposal will have to be included systematically with due emphasis un source citation.
 
Other Information :
Any other information which would help gaining realistic understanding of  the  proposal  and  facilitating  the actual conduct  of  the  work  may  be included if it is so desired.   The researcher may also like to indicate the limitations of the proposed study and prospective approaches for further extension of its scope.
 
Reporting:
In course of the work the researcher is required to submit progress reports to the Research Division and to the Dean of the concerned Institute.  The Research  Division  also  holds  exclusive  rights  to  the  publication  of  the results of the research report regularly.
 
Resume:
A  recent  and  brief  resume  in  English  is  required  from  each  and  every researcher.  It should not be more than two double spaced pages.  If there are  more  than  one  researchers  for  a  research  project,  separate  resume from each of them is required to be submitted together with the research proposal.
Thesis Proposal

How to write a good thesis proposal and Format of Research proposal given by Tribhuvan University, Nepal

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