A standard research paper proposal should not in general be longer than ten per cent of the total length of your planned paper. For example, if the required word limit for your research paper cannot exceed ten thousand words, the proposal should be approximately one thousand words in total.
A standard research paper proposal contains:
- the topic,
- the thesis,
- the outline of planned research written in proper academic style,
- the outline must demonstrate that you have researched preliminary sources in your topic and have analysed your paper
Additionally, a research proposal has to present a list of annotated bibliography describing the main significance of each source for the paper and advisably a list of further sources which you intend to use in addition to the main literature.
Topic of the research paper: ‘Human Rights Protection in the Post-Communist Countries: the Disquieting Case of the Baltic States’
Why this topic?
- The Baltic States, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, are ex-communistic countries that were reborn as self-determined nation-states 16 years ago, in 1991. Major economical, political and social changes that were caused by the ’Big Bang’, i.e. the collapse of USSR, have resulted in several legal and social issues in the societies that need to be researched and analysed.
- The Baltic States are the member states of the United Nations and European Union and thus face serious obligations concerning human rights protection arising from several ratified international treaties. So far the feedback from the UN has pointed out various important shortcomings in the population policies and legislation, particularly concerning minorities’ issues.
- Russia, as the official succession state of the former USSR is interested in keeping the constant pressure on the Baltic States by sending out signals to the international community about alleged on-going discrimination of Russian minority groups.
- The topic has become the target of both, international and national interest, due to the recent events (e.g. April riots in Estonia) which requires Estonia, but also other Baltic States, to reconsider and revise the whole population policy and human rights legislation.
These aforementioned reasons and the overall need to develop human rights protection, to update current legislation and to revise national population policies have given me incentives to discuss the human rights issues in my research paper.
In this section I presented the topic and the main reasons for choosing this topic. Sometimes it might not be required by the university or college or a professor of the subject matter to reason your choice of topic to such extent but simply state it in one sentence. However, it is always advisable to state the rationale of the topic and explain why it is necessary to examine the chosen issues. It demonstrates your capacity for critical analysis and your ability of independent academic research. Even more, it provides the evidence that you have not made your choice of topic randomly but you are genuinely interested in the subject and consulted various different sources and studied about the main problems or questions in the field of research. For the overall writing process you might find it extremely useful to formulate the reasons of your topic choice for yourself as it helps you to clarify the focus of your research, define your thesis and makes the writing much easier.
Outline of the research paper
My thesis: human rights protection is the national and international responsibility and obligation of a democratic state.
I seek to answer the question whether current population policies and legislation are effective, adequate and sufficient towards promotion and protection of human rights.
In the first part of the paper I give an overview of historical background from socialist to post-independence multi-ethnic societies by analysing the impact of the collapse of the USSR. Further I discuss the establishment of human rights legislation and the reasons behind the performed political choices. The explanation for the current human rights situation has its roots obviously in the history and in Soviet era.
In the second part of the research paper I analyse the main issues and difficulties with the situation of national minorities in the Baltic States and respective legal frameworks. One of the main difficulties with the situation of minorities seems to be the insufficient integration. Internal and international security issues in relation to the protection of minority rights are being discussed as well.
In the third part I seek to find solutions for improving the protection of human rights in the Baltic States and particularly the update of legislation concerning ethnic minorities.
There is a need to develop and implement legal framework to stimulate the protection of human rights. The stipulation of human rights needs to be applied in practice guaranteeing equality in law on paper and in reality. The Baltic States as post-modern democratic states are obliged under international treaties to guarantee human rights protection in their societies for the sake of international peace and security.
In this section I presented the thesis of my research paper. In this case the thesis is formulated as a statement which I need to defend in my paper by providing compelling arguments supported by the information in various sources. Sometimes a thesis can be formulated as a question that needs to be answered or a problem that needs to be resolved. However, you should make sure whether there are any specific requirements or limitations set by your university, college or professor in the subject matter.
In the outline of my research paper I have provided an overview of the issues to be discussed in the paper. I have presented the discussion points in a linear order and divided them into three parts demonstrating the planned course of the paper. The outline of your paper has to be envisioned in a logical manner considering also the audience of your research. Be clear and concise and explain the concepts or terms you intend to use in a simple language. It is an added bonus if people can benefit any new ideas or information from your work.
Gerner, Kristian and Hedlund, Stefan (1993), The Baltic States and the End of the Soviet Empire, (London, Routledge). This book provides information and analysis of the Soviet empire fall and re-independence of the Baltic States. It is a valuable source to give the necessary overview of historical background from socialist to post-independence multi-ethnic societies, the collapse of the USSR and its impact on the societies.
Smith, Graham (1994), The Baltic States (London, The McMillan Press Ltd). It is a comparative overview and information about self-determination and population policies in three Baltic States. The book examines how the struggle for national self-determination and the re-establishment of state sovereignty has reconstituted ethnic relations by focusing on what has emerged the most burning political issue, that of the ethnic minorities question.
Müllerson, Rein (1994), International Law, Rights and Politics (London, Routledge). This book discusses human rights issues in the former soviet republics, concentrating on the ethnic diversities situation, nationalism and envisages also international law requirements on human rights issues and their implementation in the Baltic States. Thus it provides information about the connection between human rights protection and international peace and security.
Müllerson, Rein (1993), ‘Minorities in Eastern Europe and the Former USSR Problems, Tendencies and Protection’ The Modern Law Review, Vol. 56, No. 6 (November 1993), pp 793 – 811
Periodic briefing Understanding Global Issues ‘Russia and Its Neighbours. Uneasy Relationships’, 1996 Vol. 5
The annotated bibliography is to provide evidence that you have performed academic research in the chosen topic and assessed the value of the sources to the paper.
Make sure you use a combination of literature and not only internet sources. I have presented also few further sources that are professional journal articles in the chosen topic. Although I have given only five sources in my sample research proposal the usual requirements are much higher. Depending on the university, college or the subject the minimum number of sources to be used is usually seven to ten sources. A good balance of sources supports your thesis and contributes towards writing the whole paper. Make sure you do your research before writing the outline of your paper and stating your thesis.
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