The scope of a proposal

While reading Chapter 15 of “Real World Research” by Colin Robson, I kept thinking about what type of proposal I’d want to read. What would I like to focus on for my research? I have a real interest in reluctant readers, especially males. I want to investigate what materials middle-grade boys seem to enjoy most, and to see if there’s any research available detailing whether access to these materials affects their reading fluency. I wonder how many readers wouldn’t be as “reluctant” if educators supported their interest in different genres and formats, including e-books, magazines, graphic novels and more.

On the flipside, I wonder how many English teachers encourage and support their students’ reading habits. How many are critical of “less than literary” works? Are age and education and number of years teaching factors in how much educators support or discourage alternative forms of reading?


Robson suggest that the first two steps to beginning a real world research investigation are to choose a focus and then to create a working title. While I definitely agree with the first, I could not disagree more with the second. I believe having a title, even if it’s a “working” title subject to change, could limit investigation. Often, in my experience, investigation takes you to places you didn’t consider to begin with, and some people may feel trapped by their title, even if they know it can change. (I suppose I prefer the ‘flexible design’ more.)

When considering the considerations and things to avoid when choosing how to research and the focus, I’m wondering if one of my goals would fall under “too ambitious.” I would really like to speak to a school and see if they’ll allow me to survey students and teachers (I am aware that the survey would require parental consent).

One comment on “The scope of a proposal

  1. Paul Solomon says:

    Given what Robson, or me, or others may offer in terms of advice, it is ok for you to decide what will work for you. [In writing, I will usually have a working title at some point, not necessarily at the beginning. Inevitably my working title morphs as the final product comes into being and sometimes with feedback from others.

    You do not have to have an agreed upon site for performing your research for the proposal product; you will need to write about how you might go about finding a site(s).

    I think that your initial comments in this posting show real insight into some of the issues. A tentative hypothesis might be something like: where students are given freedom of choice in selecting readings, reading frequency is enhanced. While this isn’t very well stated, I think that there are lots of potential factors that might contribute beyond a teaching insisting that students read certain things and not others, such as flexible scheduling in a school library media center, along with encouragement of reading as part of the culture of the school. ???

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