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Research Proposal Sample

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Developing Research Proposals Handout

Prepared by Ted Zorn, University of Waikato

This is a handout I often give to students when I expect them to provide a research proposal for a course project. That is, it’s intended for fairly brief proposals, not a prospectus for a masters or doctoral thesis.

It gives students an example of the sort of thing I want, plus some commentary (in italics) about what I’m expecting in each section. I sometimes change the particular example given, in order to encourage them to think about particular kinds of projects. For instance, the example provided here was used in a Leadership Communication course. I’ve used the same format, but a different research project example, for a course on Organisational Communication Technology.

Feel free to adapt it to your purposes.
Research Proposal (Example)
(Note: This is single spaced to save paper; yours should be double-spaced)

To: Ted Zorn
From: Chris Student
Date: 1 April 2003
Subject: Research proposal

Proposed Research Topic: A situational analysis of shared leadership in a self-managing team [provide a brief description or a descriptive title or a research question]

Purposes: Alvesson (1996) claims that a situational approach enables leadership to be viewed and studied as “a practical accomplishment” (p. 476) rather than starting with a conceptualisation of leadership as whatever the appointed leader does. This approach seems particularly well suited to self-managing teams (SMTs), in which leadership is presumably shared. In this project, I will explore how members of a self-managing team enact leadership in their regular team meetings. In particular, I will focus on how SMT members influence the direction of the team as well as the relationships and identities of individual members and the identity of the team as a unit, and how their interaction is enabled...

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