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The Best of the Quantitative and Qualitative Research Proposals – Mastering the Process

October 15, 2015 - Posted to How to: Writing Dissertation

Content the quantitative and qualitative research proposals td

The Best of the Quantitative and Qualitative Research Proposals – Mastering the Process

Once a doctoral candidate has determined the subject field of research for his/her dissertation, there is a great deal of work to be done before a proposal can be created and submitted to a committee for approval. In fact, many dissertation writers state that getting the proposal approved is actually the biggest hurdle in the entire dissertation writing process. Those that are approved the first time through are obviously the best of the quantitative and qualitative research proposals, because most require 2-3 tries.

What Makes a Proposal Acceptable to a Committee?

Every proposal must have very specific elements, and the doctoral student had better be certain that each of these elements is fully explained and discussed. Writing a dissertation cannot begin until that proposal is accepted. You must include the following:

  1. A Clear statement of your research question
  2. The background research that leads up to the question and a justification of the question as one the answer to which will contribute to your academic field in an important way.
  3. A research design that is appropriate for the question, including the study subjects, the data to be collected, the proposed instruments, and the procedure by which that data will be analyzed in order to answer the question.
  4. A timeline for completion of the research and the dissertation itself.

The Design

This is one of the most important elements of your dissertation proposal and the one section that the committee will scrutinize carefully.  You will either have a qualitative or a quantitative research proposal, and the two types of research are quite different.

The Quantitative Research Proposal

Your proposal is quantitative if your data will be “hard,” that is data that can be manipulated and reported in statistical measures. In this type of research, you will define specific variables and apply a treatment to a specific population, measuring the result mathematically. Often, quantitative research involves an experimental and a control group – one that receives the treatment and one that does not. Most medical research in quantitative, as the efficacy of drugs or protocols are tested. If your research will result in mathematically reportable data, it is quantitative.

The Qualitative Research Proposal

Qualitative research results in “softer” data. While results can be reported mathematically, usually by percentages, the goal is to reach general conclusions about attitudes, perceptions, beliefs, and opinions. Data is generally gathered through the use of focus groups, surveys, interviews, and by observation.  Some educational and sociological research questions result in qualitative research. For example, if a new neighborhood clean-up campaign has been instituted, qualitative research may report the attitudes and opinions of the residents on its success. If a new after-school program has been implemented in an elementary school, parents and students may be interviewed and surveyed on their opinions about it.

Both types of research are considered valid for a dissertation project. The key for the student is to ensure that s/he has selected the type of research and instruments that indeed will answer the research question being proposed.

Research proposals are complex documents. They are a map for both you and your committee, showing exactly what you intend to research, how you intend to research, and how you intend to analyze and report the results of that research. It is not unusual for a proposal to be rejected the first time it is submitted, and this is not something to be concerned about. Simply make the changes that are suggested and re-submit.

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