Research Proposal sample paper


Project Title:The impact of social media in the Arab world

List all Co-Investigators below, including those from other institutions:
EmailHighest DegreeUniversity/ College
1. Abstract – Please provide a concise summary of the proposed research in plain language (max. 150 words).
Social media is a relatively new phenomenon in the world that has spread across to become part of the global community. Social media seeks to open up communication between people from different parts of the world and encourage information sharing. On the other hand, the Arabic countries have for a long time sought to preserve their conservative culture that is entrenched in Islamic religious teachings. The penetration of social media in the Arabic region does not only threaten to erode the culture of the people, but also serve as a social conscientization medium against political oppression. The good part of social media is opening up the Arabic world to international trade and allowing the population to share important information critical for development. Therefore, the proposed research will look into the impact of social media in the Arabic World. The research will involve examining the double-edged sword effect of social media in the gulf region.

4. Budget – What is the total budget requested for this proposal over the entire research period?

AED 94,800
5. Facilities and Equipment – Are you requesting space for a research assistant(s) and/or special equipment?  If so, please describe briefly:
NO. The research will not require the use of any facility or equipment because the focus will be on the effect of social media in the lives of people and not technical inquiry.
6. Ethical Clearance – Does this proposed research involve human or animal subjects?


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1. Statement of the research problem(s)(maximum 400 words)
In 15 years, the world has transformed significantly in terms of information sharing owing to the advancement in telecommunication technology. While it was possible for countries to regulate the information circulating in amongst the population  through laws governing the media industry, it has become almost impossible to do the same with internet technology.  According to WeAreSocial (2015), there are over 2 billion social media users in the world. The number has been rising since the start of the century and more internet and mobile device users are expected to take up social media. The middle east is among the regions with social media usage above the world’s average figure.  WeAreSocial(2015) survey points out at the different social media usage across the world as indicated by figure 1 belowFigure 1: Global social media usage in each regionSource : Wearesocial (2015). Global digital statistics 2014.
The above statistics indicate that the Arab world is part of the world’s population that in increasingly using social media for communication and interactions (Howard,et al n.d).  Different research conducted on the effects of social media in different parts of the world agreed that social media has both positive and negative effects. However, in the Arab world, the situation is different from many parts of the world. The social-cultural environment of the region dictates that the population observes particular social norms. For example, it is a requirement in almost all the Arab countries for women to wear hijab and the population to observe Islamic laws as prescribed in the Quran. Incidentally, most of the provisions of the Sharia laws discourage the practice of democracy and liberalization of culture. On the other hand, much of social media content or agenda is set by the western countries that advocate for democracy and social liberty. In as such, most of Arabic countries are in a dilemma on whether to prohibit the use of social media and forego some of the benefits offered by the platform (Howard,et al n.d). For instance, social media has proved to be very effective in marketing products and services to the global market. Therefore, the Middle Eastern countries and all the other users of social media depend on its huge number of users to penetrate foreign and local markets. Thousands of businesses in the world depend on social media to offer effective and affordable marketing platform for products and service. Furthermore, social media is integral in the linking the population to development resources such as education and global news. At this age, it becomes important for people from all parts of the world to share information quickly and accurately as an input to development projects.

2. Literature review – a concise and current review of scholarly research or important information relating to your research topic(maximum 600 words)
Several authors have discussed the issue of social media as it relates to people. The phrase social media has been used interchangeably with social networking. Stelzner (2009) believes that the two phrases refer to the same thing but can have different functions. According to Donnovan, (2013, p. 1), networking refers to the process of joining with different people such as friends and acquaintances. On the other hand, the word media is used when referring sharing of information to the public. Social networking sites perform both roles of availing information to the public and connecting people (Donnovan, 2013, p, 3). Nevertheless, researchers agree that young people pioneered in the use of social media but today, the entire adult population and school going children have joined social media platforms(Donnovan, 2013; Duggan and Brenner, 2013; Anders 2013).According to Forbes, Facebook has 1.19 billion active users; Twitter has 232 million active users while LinkedIn has 259 million users (Anders Para, 2013). According to a survey conducted by Nielsen (2011, p.2), female are the most active in social media compared to male. The survey also established that people aged between the age of 18 to 34 years are the most active in social media platforms. This same age group can be found in higher learning institutions. Nielsen believes that people who use social networking sites are more likely to shop online that the average internet users. In terms of internet users per region, Nielsen survey established Australian Social media users to be the most active spending an average of 7 hours and 17 minutes online. Duggan and Brenner (2013, p.1) points out that the mostly used social media platforms include Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram. Duggan and Brenner (2013, p.3) argue that different demographic groups are attracted by different social media brands but the age between 18 to 29 years love to try on different kinds of platforms.Different surveys have also established that people use social media for multiple functions. Popescu (2013) found that 70% of social networking sites use it to connect to friends, classmates, family, and workmates. They thus share personal information such as pictures, text messages, videos and general information about personal events such as weddings and anniversaries.  Juile (2013) notes in addition to personal functions, businesses are increasingly joining the social media platforms to connect with the public. The introduction of Smartphone and tablet application allows organizations to collect personal information from users such as their preferences, location, age, and gender. Evridiki (2012) says that modern organizations use this information collected from applications and websites to customize social media marketing strategies. Therefore, social media users engage business organizations that have presences in the networking sites. Many young people also use social media to shop for products and services. Juile (2013) says that in the social media, it is possible to find good deals from people who offer specialized services or people who want to sell personal products. Young people will thus rely on the social media to look for products such as latest software, research assistance, and tutorials.
Students also use social media for career development and educational purposes. Popescu (2013)  research points that a small number of young people in institutions of higher learning use social media to find educational help from peers in the same cause. For example, students taking international examinations establish groups on Facebook where they share resourceful materials. Some colleges and universities have also set up social media profiles where students can get in touch with the administration and seek instant help from university administration officials. The educational sites are also vital for communicating events such as closing dates, examination dates, open days, and other social functions in the institutions. Laura (2013)  believes this has replaced the traditional use of notice boards.The rise in online social platform users has attracted thousands of employers who either search for job candidates through social media advertising or use the job applicants profile for background and personality screening (McGrath, 2012, p.18). Candidates realize that many employers are using the social network profiles to recruit (Petersen, Ishak, and Marc‐David, 2000, p.774). This makes students cautious or even exaggerates their profile to impress the recruiters. McGrath (2012, p.18) notes that students are increasingly setting up accounts on social media platforms such as SkillPages and LinkedIn where prospective employers are likely to go shopping for candidates profiles. In other sites, young people form support forums to help in identifying job and business opportunities. In these forums, individuals help each other with information regarding a particular industry or region.

3. Goals of the research – anticipated outcomes including potential problem solutions, or contribution to knowledge or understanding of issues
(maximum 400 words)
The projects will seek to achieve the following goals;To compare the use of social media for personal functions and for education or business functions. This will help in pointing out if social media is useful to most of the people in Arabic world or most of the people use it for leisure as opposed to education and business functions. When social media is used more for personal functions, it will indicate waste of time for most people using the platforms especially during studying or working hours.To establish the average amount of time spent on social media per day by young people aged of 18 to 40 years.  This goal will help in identifying the amount of time spent on social media and compare it with the productive time of the population. The findings will be useful in identifying if the population is spending too much time in social media compared to other social and economic activities.To find out the percentage of young people who use social media to search for job opportunities. This will indicate the direct use of social media in identifying economic opportunities locally and international. As identified in the literature review, social media is critical in providing useful information to the population. Therefore, it would be important to identify the role it plays in spreading information about job opportunities.To find out the percentage of young people who have established business ventures that depends on social media to reach out for customers. Social media is integral for business development. Therefore, in finding out about the use of social media in the Arab world, it is imperative to consider the value it offers to business enterprises. The data will highlight critical importance of social media in economic developmentTo examine the impact of social media in shaping cultural and political opinions in the Arab world. Social media carries strong messages from both local and international sources. Most of the messages propagated by social media have direct influence on the perspective of the users. Therefore, it would be important to consider whether the use of social media has been detrimental to the Arab world in terms of cultural and political views.

4. Research methodology – anticipated methods to be used in your research process, including main research questions, data gathering, documentation or analysis planned
(maximum 400 words)Research DesignThe research on the country would be both secondary and primary. The secondary research would involve searching online databases to collect information about the country from relevant sites. The primary search would involve traveling to at least three different countries in the Arab region to collect primary data on the use of social media. This mixed approach would allow accurate data to be collected from the existing information and the prevailing conditions in at least three countries in the middle East.Target populationThe research is targeting the people living in the middle eastern and northern African region that comprise the Arab world. The population targeted by the research will include part of the countries that are members of the Arab League. The Arab League consists of 22 countries spread across North African region, Middle Eastern region and the horn of Africa.
Sampling procedureSince it would not be possible to collect data from all the member countries of the Arab League, the researcher will collect data from three different countries. Stratified random sampling will be used to select equal number of participants from different parts of the Arab world. stratified sampling is best when the researcher wants to get the views from different segments of the population (Creswell 2002). The sampled countries will include one country from North Africa, one from Middle East, and one from the Horn of Africa. From each of the selected countries, an equal number of individuals will be selected using stratification to ensure there is participation from the entire demographic spectrum.Data collectionThe research will reply on questionnaires as its primary data collection instrument. The researcher will administer questionnaires to different people in the selected countries to find out how they use and perceive social media. In addition to questionnaires, the researcher will also collect information from secondary sources that includes, previous research reports, trusted government publication, and news agencies.Data analysisQualitative data analysis methods will be employed in the research. Since most of the data collected will be qualitative, the researcher will integrate the findings of the secondary sources, and what is collected from the primary research to develop a conclusion. During the analysis, an intepretivism approach will be taken that will allow the researcher to use subjective views in determining whether the impact of social media is positive or negative.
6. Budget narrative – describe and justify your main budget items.  An itemized budget spreadsheet will also be attached to this proposal
Research ScheduleThe following schedule would guide the research processTable 1: Proposed Research ScheduleweekActivity1Secondary research1Piloting2Development of data collecting instruments e.g questionnaires2Testing of instruments3Collecting of data4Data analysis5-6Writing of final report                                    Proposed BudgetThe following is the proposed budget for the research work.Table 2: Proposed BudgetPhaseDescriptionFeeSecondary researchDatabase subscriptionInternet costData analysisAED3000AED 2000AED 5000Primary researchTraveling and accomodationData analysisAED 40000AED 10000Labor costResearchersguidesAED 10000AED 20000Material costsData collection instrumentsData analysis softwareStationeryAED 2300AED 1500AED 1000


Please attach your completed RIF Budget Spreadsheet.Please use the naming convention ‘your surname’_RIF_budget.xlsx   eg Martin_RIF_budget.xlsx


Please attach your updated SEDONA CVPlease use the naming convention ‘your surname’_SEDONA_CV.doc  eg Martin_SEDONA_CV.doc


Anders, G. (2013). “A Twitter User Is Worth $110; Facebook’s $98; LinkedIn’s $93”. Forbes 1/07/2013 . Web. 30 Nov 2013.

Creswell J., 2002, Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed Method Approaches, London: Sage Publications.  

Donnovan, L. (2013). “ Social Networking vs. Social Media: what is Difference”, “ Business 2 Community”, viewed 2 December 2013, 

Duggan, M. &  Brenner, J. (2013). The Demographics of Social  Media Users — 2012. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from

Evridiki G., (2012). “Basic Social Media Practices for travel and tourism Industry”, “Webseo Analytics”, viewed 5 December 2013,

Howard, P., Duffy, A., Freelon, D., Hussain, M., Mari, W., & Mazaid, M. Opening Closed Regimes: What Was the Role of Social Media During the Arab Spring?. SSRN Journal. doi:10.2139/ssrn.2595096

Juile, (2013). “6 ways to Create a First Class Social Media Strategy For The Travel Industry”, “Synthesio”, viewed 4 December 2013,

Laura B., (2013). “Why do Students Use Social Media?”, “Top Universities”, viewed 04 December 2013,

McGrath, L. C. (2012). “social media and employment: is there a limit?” Interdisciplinary Journal of Contemporary Research In Business 4.1 17-24.

Nielsen (2011). The Social Media Report State Of The Media:Q3 2011. Incite and Nielsen. Retrieved from Report_FINAL_090911.pdf

Petersen, T., Ishak S., and Marc‐David L. S. (2000). Offering a Job: Meritocracy and Social Networks”, American Journal of Sociology, 106.3 763-816

Popescu, A. (2013). “Just who uses social media? A demographic Breakdown”, Mashable, viewed 29 Novermber 2013. ’

Stelzner, M. (2009). “Social Media vs. Social Networking: What’s the difference?”, “ Networking Examiner”, viewed 2 December 2013,

Wearesocial (2015). Global digital statistics 2014. Retrieved from,%20Digital%20&%20Mobile%20Statistics,%20Jan%202014.pdf

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