Skip to main content

Research Proposal Writing for the Creative Arts

A guide to help you identify themes and questions to explore, and how to turn these into successful library search strategies.

Research Project Proposals

Forming a Research Question 

Your creative project is well underway and now it is time to research and write about it. But how do you turn your ideas into a research question?

Use the tabs on this page to work through Phases 1, 2, 3 and 4. These may help you identify themes and questions you would like to explore in your project, and how to turn these into successful library search strategies.

The library also has many resources available to help you learn more about Practice-Based Research and other research methodologies. There are links to these in the Research Methodologies and Selected Resources tabs.

 

Information on how to apply for Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) (Music Theatre)

Images CC0. Pixabay.com

Phase 1 - Go Deep!

1) Reflect on your current creative project. Write down your motivations and aims for creating the project. Write down any significant discoveries you have made along the way. 

2) Ask yourself, have there been any issues arising from the project that I could research? These issues may be based around the concept, themes or technical aspects of your work or a combination of these. 

3) If you are struggling to identify any issues, talk with peers who know your work and ask them for feedback. Explain to them your motivations, aims and discoveries. Ask them if your work effectively achieves what you set out to do. Write down any issues related to your work that come from this discussion. 

4) Based on the issues you and your peers have identified, select one or two issues that are the most interesting and important for you. These issues will form the basis of your research question. 

Phase 2 - Give yourself some structure

1) Using the 1 or 2 issues you have identified, you can narrow the focus of your research question. Here are a few questions to ask:

  • Time period (Is my work related to a specific period?)
  • Person (Is my work related to a specific director, composer, choreographer, performer or writer?)
  • Technical tool (Does my work use any particular technique?)
  • Social or political issue (Does my work address a social issue such as war, disease, love, race or sexuality?)
  • Contemporary issue (Does my work explore an issue in contemporary music theatre? Eg. music, writing, performance venues, lyrics, acting or dancing)
  • What kind of role does my creative project have in the broader context of contemporary music theatre?

2) Make a list of responses to these questions. Select which responses are most interesting and relevant to your creative project.

You will now have a narrower idea for your research question.

Phase 3 - Writing your research question

1) Play around with your research question. Write it down as a question or statement in a number of different ways. Try to get to at least ten different statements, but no pressure! Not all of them will be good. You might:

  • Change around the phrasing of the issue
  • Change your original words for synonyms
  • Say the question out loud
  • Explain it to one of your peers and write down your explanation.

2) Highlight the questions that seem clearest to you. 

3) Forget about your question or topic for 24 hours. Instead, reflect on your creative project, watch some documentation or perform part of the project.

4) Return to your list of questions with fresh eyes. Make a list of the best three questions/topic sentences. If you have already identified that one question is the best one for you, stick with that one. 

Phase 4 - Finalising your research question

1) For each question, spend 10 minutes searching Discovery. Use an Information Search Planner to help you search effectively (download one from the link below). 

2) Assess the results of your searches as you go and use these results to help you choose one of your three questions. Ask yourself:

  • Is there a lot of information available on this topic?
  • Has my question already been answered?
  • Who is writing about the topic of my question?
  • Which of my searches is finding results that are the most interesting and relevant to my creative project?

3) By answering the questions above, you will be able to select a suitable question.  If not, reassess your question and repeat Phase 2 onwards. Alternatively, you may wish to discuss your question with your lecturer or supervisor.

REMEMBER: Your question will change over time. When you are making work and researching, your ideas will change and your question can too!

Research Methods

The Library collections offer many resources on research methods. Doing a simple keyword search in the Library Catalogue will give you a list of many. You can use the keywords below as a starting point:

  • Practice-led research
  • Practice based research
  • Research-led practice
  • Artistic research

You can also modify your search to limit it to resources held at Lenton Parr Library, or to our Online Resources if you're interested in an ebook.

Subject Headings in the Catalogue

The links below will launch a search in the library catalogue for specific subject headings:

SAGE Research Methods

SAGE Research Methods is a research tool to help you design your research project.  Search by keywords or use the visual interface in the Methods Map. Its main focus is research in the social sciences.

Loading