Prepare your Proposal

IRDL offers an unparalleled opportunity for professional development and personal growth.” — 2015 IRDL Scholar

Applications for the 2016 Institute will be accepted between December 1, 2015 and February 1, 2016. Scholars accepted to the program will be notified in early April, 2016.

There are two steps to completing your submission: 1.) Complete the application form; 2.) Complete the application document.

  1. The application form will be available on December 1 and the link will be posted here.
  2. Prepare the following to be uploaded as a single PDF document as your application document:
    1. One-page cover letter of why you are applying. Please reflect on what you specifically hope to gain from participation in the Institute.
    2. Attach a proposal of the project you would like to focus on while a scholar of the Institute. Your proposal must address the components listed in the Research Proposal Content document (see below for criteria) (Maximum 8 double-spaced pages). Your proposal must be in APA format.
    3. CV
    4. A letter from your Director or Dean (or supervisor, if you are a Director or Dean), addressing the following specific topics:
      1. An awareness that your librarian will return to the home institution with a project ready to run. You will support, as appropriate for your institution, time to complete the work. In our experience a successful IRDL project has required a half day per week of research time granted.
      2. Any available resources the Scholar will have to complete the work (examples: access to research consultant, statistical consultant, specialized software).
      3. Moral support / mentorship.
      4. Permission granted to be away from the home institution for the entirety of the Institute.
    5. Merge all of the documents into one PDF file; please organize your documents so they are in the order listed here.

Create an account at the IRDL Digital Commons website ( and upload your application document. Accounts may be created and application documents may be uploaded only from December 1, 2015-February 1, 2016.

Research Proposal Content

IRDL participants are expected to develop a research proposal during the two week summer workshop. You should choose a research topic that is of interest to you and develop a proposal based on that. Your proposal is part of your application process; if selected as a Scholar, during the workshop you will revise your proposal to the point that it is ready to launch when you return to your home institution.

For purposes of this Institute, we define research as follows:

The process of arriving at dependable solutions to problems/questions/hypotheses through the planned and systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation of data: it may be applied or theoretical in nature and use quantitative or qualitative methods. (This definition does not include library research that is limited to activities such as compiling bibliographies and searching catalogs).

A research proposal is a description of how you will conduct a research study to solve a problem. It specifies what the problem is, what you will do to tackle it, how you will do it, and how you will interpret the results. In specifying what will be done it also gives criteria for determining whether it is done.

The first step of writing a research proposal is to formulate the research question. You are free to choose a research question within the broad area of library and information science whose answer will result in better practice. The focus of the Institute is on practitioner-oriented research, which should produce original information that can be either applied directly to practice in the field or to further theoretical development.

N.B.: Your proposal must be written in APA format. A Microsoft Word template for this style is available at

Your entire proposal, including the abstract, should not exceed 8 double-spaced pages.


Abstract Up to 200 words
Section 1 Introduction to the problem.

  • A brief introduction of your research topic – what your research topic is about. This introduction will provide your audience the background information on the topic you are studying.
  • A brief statement of the research problem – what the problem is that needs to be solved. Problem statement points out the area that has problems and can be improved by the results of your proposed study. Basically, you are telling people what you think needs to be “worked on” in the area of your research topic.
  • Your research question – what the question is that you seek to answer via your proposed study. You need to formulate your research question based on your research problem, and present it in the question format with a question mark at the end.
Section 2 A brief review of the research literature on your study variables and their relationships. Such literature includes studies presenting theories, empirical data and methodology about the variables in the research question. The purpose of the literature review is to identify studies that have been done on your research topic and identify the gap in the literature that can be filled by your proposed study. The literature review should be organized topically/thematically and should not be organized by article. 
Section 3 Precise statement of methodology & analytic techniques, include:

  • Study population;
  • Sampling design;
  • Data collection instruments or description of existing data (if using data that has already been gathered);
  • Data analysis techniques.
Section 4 Project schedule. Keep in mind that the project you propose should be able to be completed within one calendar year from leaving the summer workshop. The project schedule should provide expected completion dates for all major stages in the project, possibly including the completion of the thorough literature review, design of instrument (e.g. questionnaire), Human Subject Committee review, data collection, data analysis, completion of the rough draft, etc.
Section 5 Significance of the work (and who it will directly benefit)
Section 6 Summary
Section 7 References
Attachments If applicable, attach survey questionnaires, interview guides, cover letters (to get informed consent from your study participants if your study involves human subjects), usability study instructions and all the other supporting material.

A good source of information on proposal writing would be Proposals that Work: A Guide for Planning Dissertations and Grant Proposals by Lawrence Locke.  A good source of information on writing would be On Writing Well by W. Zinsser.


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2 comments on “Prepare your Proposal
  1. Jane says:

    What is the difference between the max-8-page proposal one must include with the application, and the proposal one will develop during the two-week workshop?

    • IRDL says:

      The 8-page proposal will be reviewed as part of your application. During the workshop you will expand it greatly, as your literature review improves, your methods section becomes clearer, and you redefine your research question. We look forward to reviewing your application. Thank you for your interest in IRDL!

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