Research proposal: Tips for writing literature review
1. Writing a Research proposal and Tips for
By: Shantiram Dahal
Human being is the unique product of the nature. In comparison with the other animals, they
have most developed nervous and mental system which is very helpful to produce sounds and
symbols (letters and numbers) that make possible the communication and recording of their
questions, observations, experiences and ideas. To satisfy the curiosity and solving problems
of daily life they involve in investigation. In modern times the complexities of human beings
are increasing. To reduce such complexities, they have to conduct different research
Research is the essential part of graduate and post graduate program. Without conducting any
academic research the objectives of the course will not be fulfilled. But conducting research
is not as easy as we thought. It is a systematic investigation to acquire new knowledge,
information's, facts, appropriate solution to a problem, deduce theory and generalization. It
helps scholars to expand the area of knowledge and further study. There are various micro
steps should be followed by the teachers for effective academic research. Before conducting
research, the researcher have to submit the research proposal for approvable. When the
research proposal is approved by the department then the research should be conducted
consultation with the research guide.
2. Research proposal
The preparation of research proposal is an important step in the research process. It provides
a detail plan strategy to conduct an academic research. A research proposal is an overall plan,
scheme, structure and strategy designed to obtain answers to the research questions or
problems that constitute your research project. It is intended to convince others that you have
a worthwhile research project and that you have the competence and work plan to complete
it. A proposal should state your reasons for undertaking the study. "Broadly a research
proposal's main function is to detail the operational plan for obtaining answers to your
research questions. In doing so it ensures and reassures the reader of the validity of the
methodology for obtaining answer to your research questions accurately and objectively."
Ranjit Kumar, 2006:188. In the word of Best and Khan, 2003:35 "proposal is comparable to
the blueprint that an architect prepares before the bids are let and building commences." the p
Generally, a research proposal should contain all the key elements involved in the research
process and included sufficient information for the readers to evaluate the proposed study.
2. The quality of your research proposal depends not only on the quality of your proposed
project, but also on the quality of your proposal writing. A good research project may run the
risk of rejection simply because the proposal is poorly written. Therefore, it pays if your
writing is coherent, clear and compelling.
The research proposal most tells you, your research supervisor and reviewers the following
information's about your study:
• What are proposing to do;
• How you plan to proceed;
• Why you selected the proposed strategy.
In this paper I'm trying to give short account on Outline of chapters and sections of a
the literature review. Research Proposal
3. literature review TITLE PAGE TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER I – Introduction
A literature review may be presented as a paper
on its own, or it can be contained as an integral Background Statement of the problem
part of an article, research proposal, research Significance of the study Objectives of the
report or dissertation. research Research questions and/or
hypotheses Delimitation of the study
It describes, compares, contrasts and evaluates the
Definitions of the term used (Operational
major theories, arguments, themes, definitions)
methodologies, approaches and controversies in
the scholarly literature on a subject. It also CHAPTER II – Literature Review
Theoretical literatures Thematic
connects compares and contrasts these arguments,
themes and methodologies etc., with the concerns Conceptual Framework CHAPTER III -
of a proposed piece of research (that is, the aims Methodology Research design
of the essay, research project or thesis, the Population and sampling
Sources of Data
research questions, and the central hypothesis).
Instrumentation (include copy in appendix)
The literature review is: Validity and reliability of Instrumentation
• not an annotated bibliography Analysis and Interpretation
• not a summary of each of your sources listed Strategy to conduct research
Procedure and time frame
one by one
• not just a descriptive summary of the historical REFERENCES APPENDIX
background to your topic
In a literature review, your central focus is
examining and evaluating what has been said
before on a topic, and establishing the relevance
3. of this information to your own research. You may also identify what has not been said in the
literature on a subject (this is called ‘a gap in the literature’, and filling such gaps with new
knowledge is a particular interest of postgraduate scholarship). You may also need to discuss
the methodologies that have been used in the literature and how these relate to your chosen
3.1 Why do literatures review?
A literature review gives an overview of the field of inquiry: what has already been said on
the topic, who the key writers are, what the prevailing theories and hypotheses are, what
questions are being asked, and what methodologies and methods are appropriate and useful.
A critical literature review shows how prevailing ideas fit into your own thesis, and how your
thesis agrees or differs from them.
3.2 How many references to look for?
This depends on what the literature review is for, and what stage you are at in your studies.
Your supervisor or tutor should specify a minimum number of references.
Generally speaking, a reasonable number of references in a literature review would be:
• Undergraduate review: 5-20 titles depending on level.
• Master's thesis: 40+ titles
• Doctoral thesis: 50+ titles.
The 5 C’s of writing a literature review:
Since a literature review is information dense, it is crucial that the work is intelligently
structured to enable a reader to grasp the key arguments with ease.
a. Cite (source): keep the primary focus on the literature.
b. Compare the various arguments, theories, methodologies, approaches and findings
expressed in the literature: what do the authors agree on? Who employs similar
c. Contrast the various arguments, themes, methodologies, approaches and
controversies expressed in the literature: what are the major areas of disagreement,
d. Critique the literature: which arguments are more persuasive, and why? Which
approaches, findings, methodologies seem most reliable, valid, or appropriate, and why?
Pay attention to the verbs you use to describe what it is an author says/does: e.g. asserts,
4. e. Connect the literature to your own area of research and investigation: how does your
own work draw on/depart from/synthesise what has been said in the literature?
3.3 How to write a literature review
a. The literature search
Find out what has been written on your subject. Use as many bibliographical sources as you can
to find relevant titles. The following are likely sources:
• Bibliographies and references in key textbooks and recent journal articles. Your
supervisor or tutor should tell you which are the key texts and relevant journals.
• Abstracting journals, such as APAIS, Psychological Abstracts, Library and Information
Science Abstracts, etc.
• Electronic databases, eg Electronic Reference Library (ERL), First Search, or Expanded
Many abstracting journals and electronic databases are available through the University
A useful reference book for information searches:
Lane, Nancy D 1996. Techniques for Student Research: A Practical Guide. Second edition.
Melbourne: Longman (UC library call number Z 711.2 L36).
b. Writing the review
Having gathered the relevant details about the literature, you now need to write the review. The
kind of review you write, and the amount of detail, will depend on the level of your studies.
Important note: do not confuse a literature review with an annotated bibliography.
An annotated bibliography deals with each text in turn, describing and evaluating the text, using
one paragraph for each text.
In contrast, a literature review synthesises many texts in one paragraph. Each paragraph (or
section if it is a long thesis) of the literature review should classify and evaluate the themes of the
texts that are relevant to your thesis; each paragraph or section of your review should deal with a
different aspect of the literature.
Like all academic writing, a literature review must have an introduction, body, and conclusion.
The introduction should include:
• the nature of the topic under discussion (the topic of your thesis)
5. • the parameters of the topic (what does it include and exclude)?
• the basis for your selection of the literature
The conclusion should include:
• A summary of major agreements and disagreements in the literature
• A summary of general conclusions that are being drawn.
• A summary of where your thesis sits in the literature (Remember! Your thesis could
become one of the future texts on the subject—how will later research students describe
your thesis in their literature reviews?)
The body paragraphs could include relevant paragraphs on:
• historical background, including classic texts;
• current mainstream versus alternative theoretical or ideological viewpoints, including
differing theoretical assumptions, differing political outlooks, and other conflicts;
• possible approaches to the subject (empirical, philosophical, historical, postmodernist,
• definitions in use;
• current research studies;
• current discoveries about the topic;
• principal questions that are being asked;
• general conclusions that are being drawn;
• methodologies and methods in use;