ENG4110 Engineering Research Methodology Assignment 3
Preparing your Research Proposal
Your tasks in this assignment are to prepare the elements of a Research Proposal that may form that basis of your final year Research Project (the project that you will complete by October next year as part of the course pair ENG4111 and ENG4112). You should review the structure of the sample Research Proposal provided in this course. You are likely to use different chapter and section headings, but those in the sample are a useful guide.
You should concentrate on the key elements of Introduction (i.e. idea development, background, literature review, knowledge gap identification and study justification) and Methodology (i.e. Project Planning, materials and methods etc.) in this assignment. The research proposal will also require the addition of an abstract and a finalised version of a brief Literature Review. The literature review need to be incorporated (as a sub-heading) in the introduction section.
Task 1: Project Topic
Please remember that at this stage, no formal approval of your research topic is need. Indeed, you will have the opportunity to change your research topic next year, if for some reasons you have decided that your currently selected topic will not work out as a final year Engineering Research Project. However, this process will help you to develop and finalise your research topic selection and research proposal next year.
Task 2: Literature review and project feasibility analysis
You should develop a brief but solid review of literature with a clear focus on your chosen project. This will help determine the scope of the project and allow you to conduct a project feasibility analysis. During the literature review, you will also be able to ‘borrow’ methodology ideas from the reviewed articles. Please remember that the key function of literature review is to identify what WAS NOT done so far. Please do NOT use a simple annotated bibliography from your assignment 1. While the articles found in assignment 1 can form the basis of your literature review, as explained during the lectures – a proper literature review is very different from a simple list of annotated bibliography.
Task 3: Identify the key steps required as part of your project methodology
Identify the key phases of work that will occur as part of your project, and expand on these by adding as much detail as possible. Where possible identify the individual task descriptions appropriate to each phase. You should also look back at your aim and objectives regularly to ensure that your methodology is addressing these appropriately.
Task 4: Identify the key resources required as part of your project work
This section should focus requirements for access to equipment and laboratory or workshop facilities, site access, data access or involvement of external parties (e.g. survey/interview participants). Please also consider research ethic issues, if you need to obtain human or animal ethics approvals.
Task 5: Identify the key steps and features of your project plan
Consider your individual task descriptions in the context of Risk Assessments and Special Project Requirements. Then determine a reasonable Project Schedule.
Task 6: Determine your expected outcomes and benefits of your work
You should now clearly articulate what you expect as the outcomes and benefits of your project work.
Task 7: Add the Abstract
Summarize your whole research proposal (i.e. key elements, such as background, knowledge gap, study justification, expected outcomes, all aspects of methodology etc.).
A length of between fifteen to twenty five pages will be suitable. If it is longer than necessary, it might start to lose marks. If it is too brief and simplistic then there is nothing to earn marks.
30 marks will depend on the title and abstract. The abstract must clearly outline the project, not just the background. Remember that a good abstract is the miniature version of your whole research proposal.
100 marks for the Introduction i.e. idea development, the majority will be given for a clear description of the project justification and the importance of the project. Your project proposal should promise RESEARCH, but please remember that you do not need to be overly ambitious.
150 marks for the Literature review, the majority will be given for a clear description of the past research undertaken in your chosen field. You should be able to identify a ‘knowledge gap’.
220 marks will be given for methodology i.e. project planning and project development.
What experiments or studies will you conduct, what measurements will you make and when and how? What method will you use to analyse your readings/data?
How will you interpret the analysis to make your conclusions?
Does the proposed project schedule address the key elements of the project – is it achievable? Is the risk assessment sufficient for the project work that lies ahead?
Can you secure all resources required to conduct the project?
50 marks will depend on language and presentation. You should use the Project Reference Book on the ERP 2015 StudyDesk for further guidance. However, you will NOT be required to format your assignment to any specific template. Nonetheless, you will be required to present a professional looking document.
50 marks will be given for the references – how well have you ‘read around’ your subject to find out what is new? Do your references make it easy to find the paper they refer to? Are they in the Harvard style? Are they cited in the text? Are your references ‘respectable’? Any references to pages such as Wikipedia, HowStuffWorks and other ‘hobby’ pages will result in lost marks.
Remember that plagiarism (adding material copied from any other source without making it clear that it is not your own), will lead to failure. That includes images from the web, if their caption does not contain the URL of their source. However, please remember that you can actually copy whole tables and/or figures if you acknowledge the sources appropriately.
What if things change?
Remember, that the main of a project proposal is to sell the idea that your project is worth doing and to indicate that you are capable of completing it in the given time frame. As mentioned before, this research proposal can become the ‘starting point’ of your finalised research proposal for next year. However, your project may take a very different direction, because of your own changed interests or because your supervisor or sponsor will require changes. Thus, there is a significant scope to make changes to the overall direction of your project – by negotiation with your supervisor and with the approval of the examiner of the project courses.
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