steps in the process

Key Elements of the Research Proposal

Significance of the Investigation

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Significance of the Investigation

This section, often referred to as the "rationale" is crucial, because it is one place in which the researcher tries to convince an audience that the research is worth doing. It should establish why the audience should want to read on.  It could also persuade someone of why he or she would want to support, or fund, a research project. One way to do this is by describing how the results may be used.

Overall, this section answers several questions.  Why is this work important? What are the implications of doing it? How does it link to other knowledge? How does it stand to inform policy making?  Why is it important to our understanding of the world? What new perspective will you bring to the topic? What use might your final research paper have for others in this field or in the general public?  Who might you decide to share your findings with once the project is complete?

Think about how your research:

* may resolve theoretical questions in your area
* may develop better theoretical models in your area
* may influence public policy
* may change the way people do their jobs in a particular field, or may change the way people live.

Are there other contributions your research will make? If so, describe them in detail. Look at the following example:

In the economic example of micro-enterprises in rural communities, the researcher might argue that the research will:
* provide an understanding of the economic impact of micro-enterprises.
* support the government's plans for start-up loans to micro-enterprises.
* demonstrate the usefulness of micro-enterprises as part of rural development, thereby contributing to the work of government and non-government rural development organizations.

Detail regarding each of these three points should be added to produce a convincing argument as to the usefulness of the research.

Read the following examples to see the variety of ways in which the significance of a study can be expressed.  As you read, you may also notice how the researcher has incorporated other elements of a research proposal introduction with an explanation of significance in order to synthesize his or her ideas into one cohesive paragraph.

Example A The research study could provide information on the issues of Voice-over-Internet Protocol technology particularly on the integrity, vulnerability and security of VoIP calls.  Further, this study would also be a review on the VoIP Technology present and service providers based in the United States, particularly in local area.This study would be beneficial to the Commission on Telecommunication in the city as this study enhance the knowledge of the telephony providers and users about the possible issues on VoIP Technology. Furthermore, this study would be beneficial to the telephony providers and the users as this study would provide the necessary information on the different threats and attacks in VoIP technology. This would expectedly heighten the awareness of the providers and the users to equip a counterattack to possible threats. To the future researchers, this study can provide baseline information on the recent status of VoIP technology.
Example B 

I'm choosing to study this because I am seeing that students have a whole society around technology about which we know very little. For example, students routinely use chat and email to communicate with each other. Others journal. One of my students showed me her journal on Livejournal  and I noticed that many other of our students also had journals there. (Reading her journal was enlightening, but I wonder if she and the others have thought through the ramifications of their journals being public?)  Students are developing a whole community through school that is outside of “school”. Can some of that community be harnessed for “school”. Maybe it's because I'm relatively new to teaching, but I am fascinated by what the kids are doing—and learning. I had an inkling of this last year when I watched them chat using instant messaging.

It's obvious that most have a sense of community, but the question then becomes how to help them transfer some of that sense of community to what we consider to be "learning". Pardon the quotes around those, but I'm becoming more convinced our curriculum does not have as large of effect on what the students are learning as we think. Our school goal for the year is “Focus on Learning” and seeing if our curriculum is aligned with our Student Learning Outcomes. This project should fit in well.

 
  • Discussions of research significance often deal with motivation and inspiration for the research.  View the following to see the impact that the research of one organization has made for adults with autism.
  • Medical research often has significant impact.  View this video to see the impact of this research investigation into finding a better way to preserve organs harvested for transplant.
  • Sometimes a researcher will acknowledge, when explaining the significance of an investigation, that a final answer may not be found at the current time.  It is important for a researcher to recognize that the investigation itself, while it may not prove the initial hypothesis, may yield results that other researchers can use to carry knowledge even further in the future.  This is the Progressive Automotive X Prize, an international competition to build the first car that can go 100 miles on a gallon of gas and at least 200 miles without refueling.  It is the innovations that might help to reduce the global consumption of oil and curtail greenhouse gas emissions that are the real significance, not the $5 million prize.
    Light car
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