Workshopping your industry proposal


This week, our learning activities will be focused on refining your research proposal in response to the industry brief in AT2.

Prescribed reading

Gray, D.E. (2019). “Planning the Project” in Doing Research in the Real World, 4th end, SAGE pp 53-67.

As you develop your research question and proposal, it would help to refer back to the textbook where you can find guidance on:

  • Generating a research question on pp 58-60
  • What to include in your methodology write up pp.60-64
  • A typical proposal structure to compare yours to Table 3.2
  • Factors to consider for industry research proposals pp64-67.
  • Developing a project timeline using a Gantt chart p53, Figure 3.3

Developing your research question

Things to consider & do

  • Research gap: Make sure your RQ/and or hypotheses are logically developed from an existing gap in the literature, and/or in direct response to the industry problem
  • Operationalise your question: make sure that your RQ is measurable through the methodology you propose.
  • Terminology and definitions: Ensure that key terminology is present in the question, with clear definitions associated (this also makes your RQ measurable)
  • Viability: Ensure that your question is open enough to explore the topic domain, but narrow enough to be achievable.
  • Direct and clear language: review your question(s) with an eagle eye, making sure that they are expressed as accurately, appropriately and as economically as possible.

Layder (2014) suggests the following: 

By formulating core questions and writing them down as succinctly but accurately as possible (as notes in your Research Log), you can confidently let them front-up your research design. It is crucial to throw out any questions that are marginal to your concerns. Reduce them to the bare minimum otherwise they will clutter up your mind and impede the progress of the research. Be ruthless, but keep a note of everything you discard, including notes and ideas as well as discarded questions. 

Common mistakes and things to avoid

  • Asking a double barrelled question (two questions in one) rather than using sub questions to tease out components.
  • Putting what you assume the answer is into your research question.
  • Asking a question that is not directly related to your intended project outcomes.
  • Asking a question that cannot be operationalised through the methodology you are using.
  • Making a statement rather than posing an open question.
  • Asking a question that has no conceptual backbone to support the higher level importance of your research beyond its direct application to your participant cohort or evidence collected.
  • Asking a meaningless question that does not have a sense of “why this, why now” to it (i.e. project rationale).

Project timelines

A Gantt chart shows the timeframe of an overall project broken down by each individual task that the project consists of, showing the timeframe that each task will take from start date to finish. They are a usual visual tool for documenting how you will do the proposed project.

Watch this video on How to use Gantt charts.

Advice on how to write a simple research budget

Advice on writing research proposals for industry

Advice on writing research proposals for industry

1. The literature used needs to be as recent as possible to make your research look cutting edge.

2. The outcomes proposed need to appeal to your client and respond directly to their problem.

3. The language used needs to mimic the terminology used in the client brief.

4. The research proposal is a “sophisticated advertisement”.

5. Project timelines and costs need to be budget sensitive and respond to turn around expectations.

6. Formatting and presentation is important  – you need to impress your client with your professional approach. Graphics help to communicate complex ideas.

Pointed questions to review your project proposal with

Here are some directive questions to help you consider where your work is at and what you need to do to refine it.

  1. Have you worked up a clear research question to direct your design? 
  2. Are the three articles you are reviewing contributing to your research design?
  3. Have you visualised a conceptual map to clarify the relationships between your conceptual framework and your data collection approach (methodology).
  4. Have you tied your data collection approach in a clear arc to delivering on client outcomes?
  5. Consider whether you could deliver your project in the 3 month constraints on the project. Make sure this is clear in your timeline.
  6. Is your budget simple but realistic?

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