Proposals – Scope

The scope section of a research proposal summarises the research topic, describing the major problem or issue. Here, you indicate previous research in this area and how you hope to build on this. You will also show where the gap lies for your research together with an indication of what your research will achieve.

Sample “Scope”
The focus of this research is to analyze the relationship between language learning and group work. Forms of classroom organization may have an affect on the efficacy of pupil learning. There has been great controversy about the use of group work in primary classrooms, and there is a substantial body of research dealing with the topic area (see Smith, 2003; Peters, 2006; Bennet, 2004a, et al). My concern here is second language learning with pupils between the ages of 7-9. Much language teaching still takes place frontally with the teacher presenting topics, but increasingly, a short input session followed by pupils working on activities has been gaining in prominence. This study wishes to analyze the effectiveness of these two kinds of approaches.

The research strategy outlines your data collection methods and the population sample you intend to study. The theoretical considerations underpinning your choice of qualitative and/or quantitative approaches should also be mentioned. The general aim of the hypothesis you wish to test is also discussed here.  

From your tutor’s point of view, a research proposal should show evidence of logical and interdisciplinary thinking; in other words, how your theoretical research applies to issues in the field. Your methodology and referencing must be sound as well – others who read your paper must be able to source the same texts as you did and draw their own conclusions. Many papers, even well established ones, have lost credibility due to faulty methodological approaches, so it pays to spend time here.

The Language of Scope

Stating aims
This research will focus on/examine/give an account of …
This study addresses the following questions:
The purpose of this paper is to review the literature on …
This paper will review the research conducted / carried out on …
The aim of this study is to validate Johnson’s (2007a) findings…

Highlighting  relevance
Internationally, X has become a central issue for …
One of the most significant debates in X is …
It is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the …
There has been great controversy concerning the effectiveness of…
In recent research, X has been a key factor in …

Showing the knowledge gap
The research to date has focused on X rather than Y.
In addition, no research has been found that compared …
My concern here is to apply this method to …
However, there have been no controlled studies which surveyed …