example SSHRC proposal

Last week my group discussed a SSHRC proposal written by a doctoral student whose research focused on the characterization of judgment and imagination in the works of Hannah Arendt, and its implications for education, professional identity, and social responsibility. This proposal does not follow any of the sample templates that were discussed in the lecture, but I think it is well-structured and presents the information in a logical, clear manner.

It is easy to identify the structure and design a template based on this proposal because the author uses section headings:

  • Aims
  • Research questions
  • Rationale
  • Conceptual framework
  • Methodology
  • Contribution
  • Preparation & background

This structure follows a logical order of events for a research project (at least in my mind) and loosely follow the steps that Luker outlines. First, you have to come up with a broad goal of what it is you want to study (aims). Then shape that into specific research questions. To justify why you should carry out this project, you have to know why these questions are important (rationale). Then decide what perspective you will approach the project form and how you will carry out the research (conceptual framework and methodology). The contribution is a projected outcome describing the impact you think this research will have on that field.

My only criticism of this structure is that the preparation and background seem to be tacked on at the end very briefly. My group discussed the possibility (as Meghan mentions in her blog) that the author doesn’t need to go into too much detail because she or he received SSHRC funding for previous research and therefore has already established her/his competence and is known to the committee. Leaving this information for the end certainly places the emphasis on the research itself, and this is done successfully because the structure of the proposal is so clear and effective. But for a Master’s proposal, where the applicant won’t have this prior experience to speak for itself, I think it would be necessary to place a higher percentage of emphasis on the applicant’s qualifications. Overall, this is a clearly written proposal that demonstrates a great deal of confidence and competence. Now I need to get serious about developing a topic so that I can pull together something half as good as this!

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