Research Proposal Format – Dublin City University

Dublin City University

As part of your application to any of the doctoral/master’s research programmes at DCU Business School, you are required to complete a research proposal. Below, we give a suggested structure for the research proposal. There are five main sections.

Introduction (200 words in length)

In this section, you should aim to give a clear, concise description of your research idea. This requires some skill in writing economically and you may find it easier to complete your introduction after you have written a draft of the full proposal.

Preliminary Literature Review (1,500 words in length)

In this section, you should give a brief summary of some of the academic literature that will inform your analysis of the issue or problem you present in the introduction. Try to answer the following questions. They are designed to make you think about the relationship between the existing academic literature and your own research idea.

  • What are the main concepts introduced in this literature and how are they defined?
  • What are the main questions this literature attempts to address?
  • What are the different theories that exist in this literature?
  • What is the empirical support for these theories?
  • In what ways do you think this literature will help you understand more about the research idea you wish to research?

Proposed Research Methodology (800 words in length)

In this section, you should outline the research methods you intend to use to gather data for your research. It is important to ensure that the methods you choose give you the appropriate data to answer the research questions you pose in your introduction. Try to answer the following questions. They may help you to clarify your proposed methodological approach.

  • Whose opinions, attitudes and beliefs do you want to assess (i.e. who will provide the raw data for your research)?
  • What data sources might you use?
  • Why will these data help you answer the research questions you’ve posed?
  • Do you want to see how these individuals’ attitudes have changed over time, and what their attitudes are about a particular event or situation?

Justification for Proposed Research (1,000 words in length)

In this section, you should discuss why you feel your research topic and proposed study is important. You should outline planned contributions to existing academic knowledge, existing theories, methodology, practice and policy.

Preliminary Bibliography

In this section, you should give an alphabetical list of all published material you have read on the issue you intend to research. For the most part, you should confine your reading to academic research published in academic journals. (This section is not included in the total word count for the research proposal).


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