Test Scores as a Measure of Individual Levels of Competence

Abstract (1 page):
It is a brief summary of approximately 250 words. It should include the research question, the rationale for the study, the hypothesis (if any), and the method. Descriptions of the method may include the design, procedures, the sample and any instruments that will be used.

Introduction (2-3 pages):
The main purpose of the introduction is to provide the necessary background or context for your research problem. How to frame the research problem is perhaps the biggest problem in proposal writing. If the research problem is framed in the context of a general, rambling literature review, then the research question may appear trivial and uninteresting.

The introduction typically begins with a general statement of the problem area, with a focus on a specific research problem, to be followed by the rationale or justification for the proposed study. The introduction generally covers the following elements:
State the research problem, which is often referred to as the purpose of the study.
Provide the context and set the stage for your research question in such a way as to show its necessity and importance.
Present the rationale of your proposed study and clearly indicate why it is worth doing.
Specify the hypothesis you want to study. Identify the key independent and dependent variables of your experiment.
Literature Review (3-4 pages):
Since a literature review is information dense, it is crucial that this section is intelligently structured to enable a reader to grasp the key arguments underpinning your study in relation to that of other researchers. A good strategy is to break the literature into “conceptual categories” rather than systematically describing groups of materials one at a time. Note that conceptual categories generally reveal themselves after you have read most of the pertinent literature on your topic so adding new categories is an on-going process of discovery as you read more studies.
The literature review serves several important functions:

Ensures that you are not “reinventing the wheel”.
Gives credits to those who have laid the groundwork for your research.
Demonstrates your knowledge of the research problems.
Provides new theoretical insights or develops a new model as the conceptual framework for your research.
Convinces your reader that your proposed research will make a significant and substantial contribution to the literature (<link is hidden> resolving an important theoretical issue or filling a major gap in the literature).
Methods (4-6 pages):
The Method section is very important because it tells your “Research Committee” how you plan to tackle your research problem(s). This section must be well-written and logically organized, although you are not actually doing the research, your reader has to have confidence that it is worth pursuing.
It will provide your work plan and describe the activities necessary for the completion of your project. The guiding principle for writing the Method section is that it should contain sufficient information for the reader to determine whether the methodology is sound. Some even argue that a good proposal should contain sufficient details for another qualified researcher to implement the study.
You need to demonstrate your strategic and methodological view of this research (including those you have learned in your readings, such as macro / micro approaches; relational/substantial perspective; historical/comparative analysis, etc.) and knowledge of alternative methods and make the case that your approach is the most appropriate and most valid way to address your research question. Typically, the method section consists of the following sections:

Design -Is it a questionnaire study or a laboratory experiment? What kind of design do you choose?
Subjects or participants – Who will take part in your study? What kind of sampling procedure do you use?
Instruments – What kind of measuring instruments or questionnaires do you use? Why do you choose them? Are they valid and reliable?
Procedure – How do you plan to carry out your study? What activities are involved? How long does it take?
Expected Results (a half to 1 page):

Obviously, you do not have results at the proposal stage. Just because you don’t have to actually conduct the study and analyze the results, it doesn’t mean you can skip talking about the analytical process and potential implications. You need to have some idea about what kind of data you will be collecting, and what statistical procedures will be used in order to answer your research question or test your hypothesis.

Discussion & limitation (1 page)
The purpose of this section is to argue how and in what ways you believe your research will refine, revise, or extend existing knowledge in the subject area under investigation. It is important to convince your reader of the potential impact of your proposed research. You need to communicate a sense of enthusiasm and confidence without exaggerating the merits of your proposal. That is why you also need to mention the limitations and weaknesses of the proposed research, which may be justified by time and financial constraints as well as by the early developmental stage of your research area.
Conclusion (a half to 1 page)

The conclusion reiterates the importance or significance of your proposal and provides a brief summary of the entire study. This section should be only one or two paragraphs long, emphasizing why the research problem is worth investigating, why your research study is unique, and how it should advance existing knowledge.

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