The Proposal

Proposal Guidelines

Purpose of Proposal

  • To crystallize the researcher’s ideas into a physical task.
  • To show the approving body that the research is possible and worthwhile.
  • To establish an informal contract that provides a goal for the researcher.

The proposal also ensures that time is not wasted in exploring sterile problems, and should form the basis for a significant portion of the final research paper.

The proposal should follow, rather than precede, wide reading in the area of interest and selection of a problem. During these earlier stages students should maintain close contact with their adviser.


Proposal Format

Proposals begin with a title page, with the title of the project, date, student’s name, CALIS, University of Hawaii Library and Information Science Program. It should consist of four main parts plus any appendices. To adequately cover the necessary topics, proposals should be no less than 10 pages long.

Section I should be an introduction that includes a general description of the context of the problem, a statement of the problem to be studied, necessary definitions, as well as major (and minor) research questions and an informal statement of the major/minor hypotheses. The significance of the problem should be stated, and the feasibility of the investigation established.

Section II is a formally cited review of the literature pertaining to the problem to be studied. It would usually include historical background, theory relevant to the research, and a review of current literature on the topic. As a guide to style of presentation, the student should use one of the accepted manuals of style, such as the University of Chicago Manual of Style, Modern Language Association Style Manual or the American Psychological Association Publication Manual.

Section III outlines the methodology, including a formal statement of the hypotheses to be tested, a description of the research design, and a clear statement of the population to be studied and its environment. Techniques and procedures should be given if sampling is to be conducted, as well as a statement of the reasons for selecting these techniques. The methods used to design the test(s), questionnaire(s), or other instruments should be described, with the materials attached in an appendix. Validity and reliability concerns should be discussed both for the instrument(s) and the research as a whole.

If a pilot study is to be conducted, it should be described in this section, with a statement of anticipated tests and data analysis procedures. Include a timetable and budget, and, if humans are to be used as subjects, proof that their protection is ensured. Allow sufficient time before you begin the project for the UH Committee on Human Studies to review the procedures and certify that participants’ privacy and safety will be protected.

The final section is a bibliography of references including, but not limited to, all works cited in the earlier sections.

Any additional materials (instruments, cover letters, statements of permission to conduct research in specific settings, etc.) are to be included as appendices.


Sample Proposal Outline

I. Introduction

A. General description of area of concern
B. Problem to be studied
C. Definitions
D. Major research question
E. Minor research questions
F. Significance of problem and justification
G. Hypothesis

II. Review of the literature

A. Historical outline
B. Theory relevant to the research
C. Current literature

III. Methodology

A. Restatement of the hypotheses in formal terms
B. Research design
C. Population to be studied
D. Environment of the population
E. Sampling technique and procedure
F. Design of instrument
G. Validity and reliability concerns
H. Pilot study proposalI. Procedures of analysis
J. Protection of research subjects
K. Timetable and budget

IV. References

V. Appendices