Ask Zaib

The place of knowledge

Menu Close

Day: February 27, 2019

Open It By Sadat Hassan Manto

The special train left Amritsar at two in the afternoon, taking eight hours to reach Mughalpura. Quite a few passengers were killed along the way, several received injuries, and some just wandered off to God knows where. At ten in the morning, when Sirajuddin opened his eyes on the ice-cold ground of the refugee camp, he saw a surging tide of men, women and children all around him and even his small remaining ability to think and comprehend deserted him. He stared at the murky sky for the longest time. Amidst the incredible din, his ears seemed to be firmly plugged against any sound. Seeing him in this state anyone would have thought he was deeply engrossed in thought. That, of course, was not the case. He was totally numb. His entire being seemed to be suspended in space. Gazing blankly at the murky sky his eyes collided with the sun and a shaft of intense light penetrated every fiber of his being. Suddenly he snapped back into consciousness. A series of images flitted across his mindó images of plunder, fire, stampede, the train station, gunshots, night, and Sakina. Sirajuddin jumped up with a start and made his way through the interminable tide of humanity around him like a man possessed. For three full hours he scoured the camp calling out Sakina! Sakina! but found no trace of his only daughter, a teenager. The whole area was rife with ear-splitting noise. Someone was looking for his child, another for his mother, still another for his wife or daughter. Finally Sirajuddin gave up and plopped down off to one side from sheer exhaustion, straining his memory to retrieve the moment when Sakina had become separated from him. However, each effort to recall ended with his mind jammed at the sight of his wife mutilated body, her guts spilling out, and he could not go any further.

Sakina’s mother was dead. She had died right in front of Sirajuddin’s eyes. But where was Sakina? As she lay dying, Sakina’s mother had urged him, Do not worry about me. Just take Sakina and run! Sakina was with him. Both of them were running barefooted. Her dupatta slipped off and when he stopped to pick it up, Sakina shouted, Abba Ji, leave it! He retrieved it anyway. Thinking about it now, his eyes spontaneously drifted toward the bulge in the pocket of his coat. He plunged his hand into the pocket and took out the piece of cloth. It was the same dupatta. There could be no doubt about it. But where was Sakina herself? Sirajuddin strained his memory but his tired mind was muddled. Had he been able to bring her to the station? Was she with him aboard the train? Had he passed out when the rioters forced the train to stop and stormed in? Was it then they carried her off? His mind was bursting with questions, but there were no answers. He needed sympathy, but everyone around him needed it too. He wanted to cry, but could not. His tears had dried up. Six days later, when Sirajuddin was able to pick himself up a bit, he met some people who were willing to help him. Eight young men equipped with a lorry and rifles. He blessed them and described Sakina for them. She is fair and exceedingly pretty. She takes after her mother, not me. She is about seventeen, with big eyes and dark hair. She has a beautiful big mole on her right cheek. She is my only daughter. Please find her. May God bless you! The young volunteers assured old Sirajuddin with tremendous fervor that if his daughter was alive he would be reunited with her in a few days. The volunteers did not spare any effort. Putting their lives in harm way, they went to Amritsar. They rescued several women, men, and children and brought them to safety. Ten days passed but they found no trace of Sakina. One day they were heading off to Amritsar on their rescue mission aboard the same lorry when they spotted a girl trudging along the road near Chuhrat. The sound of the lorry startled the girl and she took off in a panic. The boys stopped the lorry and ran after her. Eventually they caught up with her in a field. She was stunningly beautiful and had a big black mole on her right cheek. Don’t be afraid, one of the boys tried to reassure her. Are you Sakina? The girl turned deathly pale. She did not reply. When the boys, all of them, reassured her gently, her fear subsided and she admitted that she was indeed Sakina, Sirajuddin’s daughter. The young men tried every which way to please her. They fed her, gave her milk to drink, and then helped her to get into the lorry. One of them even took off his jacket and gave it to her because she was feeling quite awkward without her dupatta, making repeated but futile attempts to cover her chest with her arms. Several days went by without Sirajuddin receiving any news of Sakina. He spent his days making the rounds of different camps and offices but had no success in tracing his missing daughter. At night he prayed for the success of the volunteers who had assured him that if she was alive they would find her in a matter of days. One day he saw those volunteers at the camp. They were sitting inside the lorry. Just as the lorry was about to take off Sirajuddin rushed over to them and asked, Son, did you find my Sakina?Oh, we will, we will, they said in unison and the lorry took off. Once again Sirajuddin prayed for the success of these young men, which took some of the weight off his heart. That evening he noticed some hullabaloo close to where he was sitting. Four men were carrying a stretcher. Upon inquiring he was told a girl was found lying unconscious by the train tracks. He followed them. They handed the girl over to the hospital staff and left. For a while he stood leaning against the wooden post outside the facility and then he walked slowly inside. There was no one in the room. All he could see was the same stretcher with a corpse lying on it. Sirajuddin advanced toward it taking small, hesitant steps. All of a sudden the room lit up. Sakina! he screamed spotting the big black mole gleaming on the blanched face of the dead girl. What is it? the doctor who had turned on the light asked him.  sir, I  am her father! the words came out of his raspy throat. The doctor glanced at the body lying on the stretcher. He felt the pulse and, pointing at the window, told Sirajuddin, Open it! Sakina’s body stirred ever so faintly on the stretcher. With lifeless hands she slowly undid the knot of her waistband and lowered her shalwar. She is alive! My daughter is alive! Old Sirajuddin screamed with unbounded joy. The doctor broke into a cold sweat.



The goal of a research proposal is to present and justify the need to study a research problem and to present the practical ways in which the proposed study should be conducted. The design elements and procedures for conducting the research are governed by standards within the predominant discipline in which the problem resides, so guidelines for research proposals are more exacting and less formal than a general project proposal. Research proposals contain extensive literature reviews. They must provide persuasive evidence that a need exists for the proposed study. In addition to providing a rationale, a proposal describes detailed methodology for conducting the research consistent with requirements of the professional or academic field and a statement on anticipated outcomes and/or benefits derived from the study’s completion.

How to Approach Writing a Research Proposal

  •  Develop your skills in thinking about and designing a comprehensive research study;
  • Learn how to conduct a comprehensive review of the literature to ensure a research problem has not already been answered
  • Improve your general research and writing skills;
  • Practice identifying the logical steps that must be taken to accomplish one’s research goals;
  • Critically review, examine, and consider the use of different methods for gathering and analyzing data related to the research problem; Nurture a sense of inquisitiveness within yourself and to help see yourself as an active participant in the process of doing research.

A proposal should contain all the key elements involved in designing a research study, with sufficient information that allows readers to assess the validity and usefulness of your proposed study. The only elements missing from a research proposal are the discussion and conclusion. Finally, an effective proposal is judged on the quality of your writing and, therefore, it is important that your writing is coherent, clear, and compelling.

Research Proposals must Address the Following Questions:

  1. What do you plan to accomplish? Be clear and precise in defining the research problem.
  2. Why do you want to do it? In addition to detailing your research design, you must conduct a thorough review of the literature and provide convincing evidence that it is a topic worthier to be studied.
  3.  How are you going to do it? Be sure that what you propose is doable.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Failing to be concise; being “all over the map” without a clear sense of purpose.
  • Failing to cite landmark works in your literature review.
  • Failing to delimit the contextual boundaries of your research [e.g., time, place, people, etc.].
  • Failing to develop a coherent and persuasive argument for the proposed research.
  • Failing to stay focused on the research problem; going off on unrelated tangents.
  • Failing to have a precise writing, or good grammar.
  • Failing to provide enough detail on major issues

Structure and Writing Style

Beginning the Proposal Process

As with writing a regular academic paper, research proposals are generally organized the same way throughout most disciplines. Proposals vary between ten and twenty-five pages in length.

A good place to begin is to ask yourself a series of questions:

  • What do I want to study?
  • Why is the topic important?
  • How is it significant within the subject area?
  • What problems will it help to solve?
  • How does it build upon [and hopefully go beyond] research already conducted on the topic?
  • What exactly should I plan to do?
  • Can I get it done in the time available?

In general, a compelling research proposal should document your knowledge of the topic and demonstrate your enthusiasm for conducting the study. Approach it with the intention of leaving your readers with words of high appreciation

In General your Proposal should include the following Sections or Components

1. Introduction

Your introduction should be treated as the initial pitch of an idea or a thorough examination of the significance of a research problem. After reading the introduction, your readers should not only have an understanding of what you want to do, but they should also be able to gain a sense of your passion for the topic and be excited about the study’s possible outcomes.

Think about your introduction as a narrative written in one to three paragraphs that precisely answers the following four questions:

  1. What is the central research problem?
  2. What is the topic of study related to that problem?
  3. What methods should be used to analyze the research problem?
  4. Why is this important research, what is its significance and why should someone reading the proposal care about the outcomes of the proposed study?

2. Background and Significance

This section can be melded into your introduction or you can create a separate section to help with the organization and narrative flow of your proposal. This is where you explain the context of your proposal and describe in detail why it’s important. Approach writing this section with the thought that you can’t assume your readers will know as much about the research problem as you do. This section is not an essay going over everything you have learned about the topic; instead, you must choose what is relevant to help explain the goals of the study.

Following are the key points that should be addressed in this section:

  • State the research problem and give a more detailed explanation about the purpose of the study. This is particularly important if the problem is complex or multifaceted in nature.
  • Present the rationale of your proposed study and clearly indicate why it is worth doing.
  • Describe the major issues or problems to be addressed by your research. Be sure to note how your proposed study builds on previous assumptions about the research problem.
  • Explain how you plan to go about conducting your research. Clearly identify the key sources you intend to use and explain how they will contribute to your analysis of the topic.
  • Set the boundaries of your proposed research in order to provide a clear focus.

If necessary, provide definitions of key concepts or terms.

3. Literature Review

Connected to the background and significance of your study is a section of your proposal devoted to a more deliberate review of prior studies related to the research problem under investigation. The purpose here is to place your project within the larger whole of what is currently being explored, while demonstrating that your work is original and innovative. Think about what questions other researchers have asked, what methods they have used, and what is your understanding of their findings. Do not be afraid to challenge the conclusions of prior research. Assess what you believe is missing and state how previous research has failed to adequately examine the issue that your study addresses.

Since a literature review is information dense, it is crucial that this section is intelligently structured to enable a reader to grasp the key arguments underpinning your study in relation to that of other researchers. A good strategy is to break the literature into “conceptual categories” [themes] rather than systematically describing groups of materials one at a time. Note that conceptual categories generally reveal themselves after you have read most of the pertinent literature on your topic so adding new categories is an on-going process of discovery as you read more studies. How do you know you’ve covered the key conceptual categories underlying the research literature? Generally, you can have confidence that all of the significant conceptual categories have been identified if you start to see repetition in the conclusions or recommendations that are being made.

To help frame your proposal’s literature review, here are the “five C’s” of writing a literature review:

  1. Cite, so as to keep the primary focus on the literature pertinent to your research problem.
  2. Compare the various arguments, theories, methodologies, and findings expressed in the literature: what do the authors agree on? Who applies similar approaches to analyzing the research problem?
  3. Contrast the various arguments, themes, methodologies, approaches, and controversies expressed in the literature: what are the major areas of disagreement, controversy, or debate?
  4. Critique the literature: Which arguments are more persuasive, and why? Which approaches, findings, methodologies seem most reliable, valid, or appropriate, and why? Pay attention to the verbs you use to describe what an author says/does [e.g., asserts, demonstrates, argues, etc.].
  5. Connect the literature to your own area of research and investigation: how does your own work draw upon, depart from or add a new perspective to what has been said in the literature?

4 .Research Design and Methods

This section must be well-written and logically organized because you are not actually doing the research, yet, your reader has to have confidence that it is worth pursuing. The reader will never have a study outcome from which to evaluate whether your methodological choices were the correct ones. Thus, the objective here is to convince the reader that your overall research design and methods of analysis will correctly address the problem and that the methods will provide the means to effectively interpret the potential results. Your design and methods should be unmistakably tied to the specific aims of your study.

Describe the overall research design by building upon and drawing examples from your review of the literature. Consider not only methods that other researchers have used but methods of data gathering that have not been used but perhaps could be. Be specific about the methodological approaches you plan to undertake to obtain information, the techniques you would use to analyze the data, and the tests of external validity to which you commit yourself.

5. Preliminary Suppositions and Implications

Just because you don’t have to actually conduct the study and analyze the results, it doesn’t mean you can skip writing about the analytical process and potential implications. The purpose of this section is to argue how and in what ways you believe your research will refine, revise, or extend existing knowledge in the subject area under investigation. Depending on the aims and objectives of your study, describe how the anticipated results will impact future research, theory or practice..

6. Conclusion

The conclusion reiterates the importance or significance of your proposal and provides a brief summary of the entire study. This section should be only one or two paragraphs long, emphasizing why the research problem is worth investigating, why your research study is unique, and how it should add into existing knowledge.

Someone reading this section should come away with an understanding of:

  • The purpose of carrying out the study,
  • The specific purpose of the study and the research questions it attempts to answer,
  • The decision to why the research design and methods used were chosen over other options,
  • The potential implications emerging from your proposed study of the research problem,
  • A sense of how your study fits within the broader scholarship about the research problem.

7. Citations

As with any scholarly research paper or project, you must cite the sources you used in composing your proposal. In a standard research proposal, this section can take two forms, so consult with your supervisor about which one is preferred.

  1. References –It lists only the literature that you actually used or cited in your proposal.
  2. Bibliography –It lists everything you used or cited in your proposal, with additional citations to any key sources relevant to understanding the research problem

Research is important and/or timely • State and justify your objectives clearly (“because it is interesting” is not enough!) • Make sure you answer the questions: how will the research benefit the wider society or contribute to the research community?

© 2019 Ask Zaib. All rights reserved.

Theme by Anders Norén.