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  • How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

Published on October 12, 2022 by Shona McCombes and Tegan George. Revised on November 21, 2023.

Structure of a research proposal

A research proposal describes what you will investigate, why it’s important, and how you will conduct your research.

The format of a research proposal varies between fields, but most proposals will contain at least these elements:

Introduction

Literature review.

  • Research design

Reference list

While the sections may vary, the overall objective is always the same. A research proposal serves as a blueprint and guide for your research plan, helping you get organized and feel confident in the path forward you choose to take.

Table of contents

Research proposal purpose, research proposal examples, research design and methods, contribution to knowledge, research schedule, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about research proposals.

Academics often have to write research proposals to get funding for their projects. As a student, you might have to write a research proposal as part of a grad school application , or prior to starting your thesis or dissertation .

In addition to helping you figure out what your research can look like, a proposal can also serve to demonstrate why your project is worth pursuing to a funder, educational institution, or supervisor.

Research proposal length

The length of a research proposal can vary quite a bit. A bachelor’s or master’s thesis proposal can be just a few pages, while proposals for PhD dissertations or research funding are usually much longer and more detailed. Your supervisor can help you determine the best length for your work.

One trick to get started is to think of your proposal’s structure as a shorter version of your thesis or dissertation , only without the results , conclusion and discussion sections.

Download our research proposal template

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

Writing a research proposal can be quite challenging, but a good starting point could be to look at some examples. We’ve included a few for you below.

  • Example research proposal #1: “A Conceptual Framework for Scheduling Constraint Management”
  • Example research proposal #2: “Medical Students as Mediators of Change in Tobacco Use”

Like your dissertation or thesis, the proposal will usually have a title page that includes:

  • The proposed title of your project
  • Your supervisor’s name
  • Your institution and department

The first part of your proposal is the initial pitch for your project. Make sure it succinctly explains what you want to do and why.

Your introduction should:

  • Introduce your topic
  • Give necessary background and context
  • Outline your  problem statement  and research questions

To guide your introduction , include information about:

  • Who could have an interest in the topic (e.g., scientists, policymakers)
  • How much is already known about the topic
  • What is missing from this current knowledge
  • What new insights your research will contribute
  • Why you believe this research is worth doing

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As you get started, it’s important to demonstrate that you’re familiar with the most important research on your topic. A strong literature review  shows your reader that your project has a solid foundation in existing knowledge or theory. It also shows that you’re not simply repeating what other people have already done or said, but rather using existing research as a jumping-off point for your own.

In this section, share exactly how your project will contribute to ongoing conversations in the field by:

  • Comparing and contrasting the main theories, methods, and debates
  • Examining the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches
  • Explaining how will you build on, challenge, or synthesize prior scholarship

Following the literature review, restate your main  objectives . This brings the focus back to your own project. Next, your research design or methodology section will describe your overall approach, and the practical steps you will take to answer your research questions.

To finish your proposal on a strong note, explore the potential implications of your research for your field. Emphasize again what you aim to contribute and why it matters.

For example, your results might have implications for:

  • Improving best practices
  • Informing policymaking decisions
  • Strengthening a theory or model
  • Challenging popular or scientific beliefs
  • Creating a basis for future research

Last but not least, your research proposal must include correct citations for every source you have used, compiled in a reference list . To create citations quickly and easily, you can use our free APA citation generator .

Some institutions or funders require a detailed timeline of the project, asking you to forecast what you will do at each stage and how long it may take. While not always required, be sure to check the requirements of your project.

Here’s an example schedule to help you get started. You can also download a template at the button below.

Download our research schedule template

If you are applying for research funding, chances are you will have to include a detailed budget. This shows your estimates of how much each part of your project will cost.

Make sure to check what type of costs the funding body will agree to cover. For each item, include:

  • Cost : exactly how much money do you need?
  • Justification : why is this cost necessary to complete the research?
  • Source : how did you calculate the amount?

To determine your budget, think about:

  • Travel costs : do you need to go somewhere to collect your data? How will you get there, and how much time will you need? What will you do there (e.g., interviews, archival research)?
  • Materials : do you need access to any tools or technologies?
  • Help : do you need to hire any research assistants for the project? What will they do, and how much will you pay them?

If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

Methodology

  • Sampling methods
  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility

 Statistics

  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

Once you’ve decided on your research objectives , you need to explain them in your paper, at the end of your problem statement .

Keep your research objectives clear and concise, and use appropriate verbs to accurately convey the work that you will carry out for each one.

I will compare …

A research aim is a broad statement indicating the general purpose of your research project. It should appear in your introduction at the end of your problem statement , before your research objectives.

Research objectives are more specific than your research aim. They indicate the specific ways you’ll address the overarching aim.

A PhD, which is short for philosophiae doctor (doctor of philosophy in Latin), is the highest university degree that can be obtained. In a PhD, students spend 3–5 years writing a dissertation , which aims to make a significant, original contribution to current knowledge.

A PhD is intended to prepare students for a career as a researcher, whether that be in academia, the public sector, or the private sector.

A master’s is a 1- or 2-year graduate degree that can prepare you for a variety of careers.

All master’s involve graduate-level coursework. Some are research-intensive and intend to prepare students for further study in a PhD; these usually require their students to write a master’s thesis . Others focus on professional training for a specific career.

Critical thinking refers to the ability to evaluate information and to be aware of biases or assumptions, including your own.

Like information literacy , it involves evaluating arguments, identifying and solving problems in an objective and systematic way, and clearly communicating your ideas.

The best way to remember the difference between a research plan and a research proposal is that they have fundamentally different audiences. A research plan helps you, the researcher, organize your thoughts. On the other hand, a dissertation proposal or research proposal aims to convince others (e.g., a supervisor, a funding body, or a dissertation committee) that your research topic is relevant and worthy of being conducted.

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McCombes, S. & George, T. (2023, November 21). How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates. Scribbr. Retrieved January 8, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/research-process/research-proposal/

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  • How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

Published on 30 October 2022 by Shona McCombes and Tegan George. Revised on 13 June 2023.

Structure of a research proposal

A research proposal describes what you will investigate, why it’s important, and how you will conduct your research.

The format of a research proposal varies between fields, but most proposals will contain at least these elements:

Introduction

Literature review.

  • Research design

Reference list

While the sections may vary, the overall objective is always the same. A research proposal serves as a blueprint and guide for your research plan, helping you get organised and feel confident in the path forward you choose to take.

Table of contents

Research proposal purpose, research proposal examples, research design and methods, contribution to knowledge, research schedule, frequently asked questions.

Academics often have to write research proposals to get funding for their projects. As a student, you might have to write a research proposal as part of a grad school application , or prior to starting your thesis or dissertation .

In addition to helping you figure out what your research can look like, a proposal can also serve to demonstrate why your project is worth pursuing to a funder, educational institution, or supervisor.

Research proposal length

The length of a research proposal can vary quite a bit. A bachelor’s or master’s thesis proposal can be just a few pages, while proposals for PhD dissertations or research funding are usually much longer and more detailed. Your supervisor can help you determine the best length for your work.

One trick to get started is to think of your proposal’s structure as a shorter version of your thesis or dissertation , only without the results , conclusion and discussion sections.

Download our research proposal template

Prevent plagiarism, run a free check.

Writing a research proposal can be quite challenging, but a good starting point could be to look at some examples. We’ve included a few for you below.

  • Example research proposal #1: ‘A Conceptual Framework for Scheduling Constraint Management’
  • Example research proposal #2: ‘ Medical Students as Mediators of Change in Tobacco Use’

Like your dissertation or thesis, the proposal will usually have a title page that includes:

  • The proposed title of your project
  • Your supervisor’s name
  • Your institution and department

The first part of your proposal is the initial pitch for your project. Make sure it succinctly explains what you want to do and why.

Your introduction should:

  • Introduce your topic
  • Give necessary background and context
  • Outline your  problem statement  and research questions

To guide your introduction , include information about:

  • Who could have an interest in the topic (e.g., scientists, policymakers)
  • How much is already known about the topic
  • What is missing from this current knowledge
  • What new insights your research will contribute
  • Why you believe this research is worth doing

As you get started, it’s important to demonstrate that you’re familiar with the most important research on your topic. A strong literature review  shows your reader that your project has a solid foundation in existing knowledge or theory. It also shows that you’re not simply repeating what other people have already done or said, but rather using existing research as a jumping-off point for your own.

In this section, share exactly how your project will contribute to ongoing conversations in the field by:

  • Comparing and contrasting the main theories, methods, and debates
  • Examining the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches
  • Explaining how will you build on, challenge, or synthesise prior scholarship

Following the literature review, restate your main  objectives . This brings the focus back to your own project. Next, your research design or methodology section will describe your overall approach, and the practical steps you will take to answer your research questions.

To finish your proposal on a strong note, explore the potential implications of your research for your field. Emphasise again what you aim to contribute and why it matters.

For example, your results might have implications for:

  • Improving best practices
  • Informing policymaking decisions
  • Strengthening a theory or model
  • Challenging popular or scientific beliefs
  • Creating a basis for future research

Last but not least, your research proposal must include correct citations for every source you have used, compiled in a reference list . To create citations quickly and easily, you can use our free APA citation generator .

Some institutions or funders require a detailed timeline of the project, asking you to forecast what you will do at each stage and how long it may take. While not always required, be sure to check the requirements of your project.

Here’s an example schedule to help you get started. You can also download a template at the button below.

Download our research schedule template

If you are applying for research funding, chances are you will have to include a detailed budget. This shows your estimates of how much each part of your project will cost.

Make sure to check what type of costs the funding body will agree to cover. For each item, include:

  • Cost : exactly how much money do you need?
  • Justification : why is this cost necessary to complete the research?
  • Source : how did you calculate the amount?

To determine your budget, think about:

  • Travel costs : do you need to go somewhere to collect your data? How will you get there, and how much time will you need? What will you do there (e.g., interviews, archival research)?
  • Materials : do you need access to any tools or technologies?
  • Help : do you need to hire any research assistants for the project? What will they do, and how much will you pay them?

Once you’ve decided on your research objectives , you need to explain them in your paper, at the end of your problem statement.

Keep your research objectives clear and concise, and use appropriate verbs to accurately convey the work that you will carry out for each one.

I will compare …

A research aim is a broad statement indicating the general purpose of your research project. It should appear in your introduction at the end of your problem statement , before your research objectives.

Research objectives are more specific than your research aim. They indicate the specific ways you’ll address the overarching aim.

A PhD, which is short for philosophiae doctor (doctor of philosophy in Latin), is the highest university degree that can be obtained. In a PhD, students spend 3–5 years writing a dissertation , which aims to make a significant, original contribution to current knowledge.

A PhD is intended to prepare students for a career as a researcher, whether that be in academia, the public sector, or the private sector.

A master’s is a 1- or 2-year graduate degree that can prepare you for a variety of careers.

All master’s involve graduate-level coursework. Some are research-intensive and intend to prepare students for further study in a PhD; these usually require their students to write a master’s thesis . Others focus on professional training for a specific career.

Critical thinking refers to the ability to evaluate information and to be aware of biases or assumptions, including your own.

Like information literacy , it involves evaluating arguments, identifying and solving problems in an objective and systematic way, and clearly communicating your ideas.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the ‘Cite this Scribbr article’ button to automatically add the citation to our free Reference Generator.

McCombes, S. & George, T. (2023, June 13). How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates. Scribbr. Retrieved 8 January 2024, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/the-research-process/research-proposal-explained/

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Shona McCombes

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SOC W 505/506 Foundations of Social Welfare Research

  • What is a Research Proposal?
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quantitative Research
  • General Research Methods
  • IRB's and Research Ethics
  • Data Management and Analysis

Information on Writing a Research Proposal

From the Sage Encyclopedia of Educational Research, Measurement and Evaluation:

Research proposals are written to propose a research project and oftentimes request funding, or sponsorship, for that research. The research proposal is used to assess the originality and quality of ideas and the feasibility of a proposed project. The goal of the research proposal is to convince others that the investigator has (a) an important idea; (b) the skills, knowledge, and resources to carry out the project; and (c) a plan to implement the project on time and within budget. This entry discusses the process of developing a research proposal and the elements of an effective proposal.

For a graduate student, a research proposal may be required to begin the dissertation process. This serves to communicate the research focus to others, such as members of the student’s dissertation committee. It also indicates the investigator’s plan of action, including a level of thoroughness and sufficient detail to replicate the study. The research proposal could also be considered as a contract, once members of the committee agree to the execution of the project.

Requirements may include:  an abstract, introduction, literature review, method section, and conclusion.  A research proposal has to clearly and concisely identify the proposed research and its importance. The background literature should support the need for the research and the potential impact of the findings.

The method section proposes a comprehensive explanation of the research design, including subjects, timeline, and data analysis. Research questions should be identified as well as measurement instruments and methods to answer the research questions. Proposals for research involving human subjects identify how the investigators will protect participants throughout their research project. 

Proposals often require engaging in an external review either by an external evaluator or advisory  board consisting of expert consultants in the field. References are included to provide documentation about the supporting literature identified in the proposal. Appendixes and supplemental materials may also be included, following the sponsoring organization’s guidelines. As a general rule, educational research proposals follow the American Psychological Association formatting guidelines and publishing standards. If funding is being requested, it is important for the proposal to identify how the research will benefit the sponsoring organization and its constituents.

The success of a research proposal depends on both the quality of the project and its presentation. A proposal may have specific goals, but if they are neither realistic nor desirable, the probability of obtaining funding is reduced. Similar to manuscripts being considered for journal articles, reviewers evaluate each research proposal to identify strengths and criticisms based on a general framework and scoring rubric determined by the sponsoring organization. Research proposals that meet the scoring criteria are considered for funding opportunities. If a proposal does not meet the scoring criteria, revisions may be necessary before resubmitting the proposal to the same or a different sponsoring organization.

Common mistakes and pitfalls can often be avoided in research proposal writing through awareness and careful planning. In an effective research proposal, the research idea is clearly stated as a problem and there is an explanation of how the proposed research addresses a demonstrable gap in the current literature. In addition, an effective proposal is well structured, frames the research question(s) within sufficient context supported by the literature, and has a timeline that is appropriate to address the focus and scope of the research project. All requirements of the sponsoring organization, including required project elements and document formatting, need to be met within the research proposal. Finally, an effective proposal is engaging and demonstrates the researcher’s passion and commitment to the research addressed.

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11.2 Steps in Developing a Research Proposal

Learning objectives.

  • Identify the steps in developing a research proposal.
  • Choose a topic and formulate a research question and working thesis.
  • Develop a research proposal.

Writing a good research paper takes time, thought, and effort. Although this assignment is challenging, it is manageable. Focusing on one step at a time will help you develop a thoughtful, informative, well-supported research paper.

Your first step is to choose a topic and then to develop research questions, a working thesis, and a written research proposal. Set aside adequate time for this part of the process. Fully exploring ideas will help you build a solid foundation for your paper.

Choosing a Topic

When you choose a topic for a research paper, you are making a major commitment. Your choice will help determine whether you enjoy the lengthy process of research and writing—and whether your final paper fulfills the assignment requirements. If you choose your topic hastily, you may later find it difficult to work with your topic. By taking your time and choosing carefully, you can ensure that this assignment is not only challenging but also rewarding.

Writers understand the importance of choosing a topic that fulfills the assignment requirements and fits the assignment’s purpose and audience. (For more information about purpose and audience, see Chapter 6 “Writing Paragraphs: Separating Ideas and Shaping Content” .) Choosing a topic that interests you is also crucial. You instructor may provide a list of suggested topics or ask that you develop a topic on your own. In either case, try to identify topics that genuinely interest you.

After identifying potential topic ideas, you will need to evaluate your ideas and choose one topic to pursue. Will you be able to find enough information about the topic? Can you develop a paper about this topic that presents and supports your original ideas? Is the topic too broad or too narrow for the scope of the assignment? If so, can you modify it so it is more manageable? You will ask these questions during this preliminary phase of the research process.

Identifying Potential Topics

Sometimes, your instructor may provide a list of suggested topics. If so, you may benefit from identifying several possibilities before committing to one idea. It is important to know how to narrow down your ideas into a concise, manageable thesis. You may also use the list as a starting point to help you identify additional, related topics. Discussing your ideas with your instructor will help ensure that you choose a manageable topic that fits the requirements of the assignment.

In this chapter, you will follow a writer named Jorge, who is studying health care administration, as he prepares a research paper. You will also plan, research, and draft your own research paper.

Jorge was assigned to write a research paper on health and the media for an introductory course in health care. Although a general topic was selected for the students, Jorge had to decide which specific issues interested him. He brainstormed a list of possibilities.

If you are writing a research paper for a specialized course, look back through your notes and course activities. Identify reading assignments and class discussions that especially engaged you. Doing so can help you identify topics to pursue.

  • Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) in the news
  • Sexual education programs
  • Hollywood and eating disorders
  • Americans’ access to public health information
  • Media portrayal of health care reform bill
  • Depictions of drugs on television
  • The effect of the Internet on mental health
  • Popularized diets (such as low-carbohydrate diets)
  • Fear of pandemics (bird flu, HINI, SARS)
  • Electronic entertainment and obesity
  • Advertisements for prescription drugs
  • Public education and disease prevention

Set a timer for five minutes. Use brainstorming or idea mapping to create a list of topics you would be interested in researching for a paper about the influence of the Internet on social networking. Do you closely follow the media coverage of a particular website, such as Twitter? Would you like to learn more about a certain industry, such as online dating? Which social networking sites do you and your friends use? List as many ideas related to this topic as you can.

Narrowing Your Topic

Once you have a list of potential topics, you will need to choose one as the focus of your essay. You will also need to narrow your topic. Most writers find that the topics they listed during brainstorming or idea mapping are broad—too broad for the scope of the assignment. Working with an overly broad topic, such as sexual education programs or popularized diets, can be frustrating and overwhelming. Each topic has so many facets that it would be impossible to cover them all in a college research paper. However, more specific choices, such as the pros and cons of sexual education in kids’ television programs or the physical effects of the South Beach diet, are specific enough to write about without being too narrow to sustain an entire research paper.

A good research paper provides focused, in-depth information and analysis. If your topic is too broad, you will find it difficult to do more than skim the surface when you research it and write about it. Narrowing your focus is essential to making your topic manageable. To narrow your focus, explore your topic in writing, conduct preliminary research, and discuss both the topic and the research with others.

Exploring Your Topic in Writing

“How am I supposed to narrow my topic when I haven’t even begun researching yet?” In fact, you may already know more than you realize. Review your list and identify your top two or three topics. Set aside some time to explore each one through freewriting. (For more information about freewriting, see Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” .) Simply taking the time to focus on your topic may yield fresh angles.

Jorge knew that he was especially interested in the topic of diet fads, but he also knew that it was much too broad for his assignment. He used freewriting to explore his thoughts so he could narrow his topic. Read Jorge’s ideas.

Conducting Preliminary Research

Another way writers may focus a topic is to conduct preliminary research . Like freewriting, exploratory reading can help you identify interesting angles. Surfing the web and browsing through newspaper and magazine articles are good ways to start. Find out what people are saying about your topic on blogs and online discussion groups. Discussing your topic with others can also inspire you. Talk about your ideas with your classmates, your friends, or your instructor.

Jorge’s freewriting exercise helped him realize that the assigned topic of health and the media intersected with a few of his interests—diet, nutrition, and obesity. Preliminary online research and discussions with his classmates strengthened his impression that many people are confused or misled by media coverage of these subjects.

Jorge decided to focus his paper on a topic that had garnered a great deal of media attention—low-carbohydrate diets. He wanted to find out whether low-carbohydrate diets were as effective as their proponents claimed.

Writing at Work

At work, you may need to research a topic quickly to find general information. This information can be useful in understanding trends in a given industry or generating competition. For example, a company may research a competitor’s prices and use the information when pricing their own product. You may find it useful to skim a variety of reliable sources and take notes on your findings.

The reliability of online sources varies greatly. In this exploratory phase of your research, you do not need to evaluate sources as closely as you will later. However, use common sense as you refine your paper topic. If you read a fascinating blog comment that gives you a new idea for your paper, be sure to check out other, more reliable sources as well to make sure the idea is worth pursuing.

Review the list of topics you created in Note 11.18 “Exercise 1” and identify two or three topics you would like to explore further. For each of these topics, spend five to ten minutes writing about the topic without stopping. Then review your writing to identify possible areas of focus.

Set aside time to conduct preliminary research about your potential topics. Then choose a topic to pursue for your research paper.

Collaboration

Please share your topic list with a classmate. Select one or two topics on his or her list that you would like to learn more about and return it to him or her. Discuss why you found the topics interesting, and learn which of your topics your classmate selected and why.

A Plan for Research

Your freewriting and preliminary research have helped you choose a focused, manageable topic for your research paper. To work with your topic successfully, you will need to determine what exactly you want to learn about it—and later, what you want to say about it. Before you begin conducting in-depth research, you will further define your focus by developing a research question , a working thesis, and a research proposal.

Formulating a Research Question

In forming a research question, you are setting a goal for your research. Your main research question should be substantial enough to form the guiding principle of your paper—but focused enough to guide your research. A strong research question requires you not only to find information but also to put together different pieces of information, interpret and analyze them, and figure out what you think. As you consider potential research questions, ask yourself whether they would be too hard or too easy to answer.

To determine your research question, review the freewriting you completed earlier. Skim through books, articles, and websites and list the questions you have. (You may wish to use the 5WH strategy to help you formulate questions. See Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” for more information about 5WH questions.) Include simple, factual questions and more complex questions that would require analysis and interpretation. Determine your main question—the primary focus of your paper—and several subquestions that you will need to research to answer your main question.

Here are the research questions Jorge will use to focus his research. Notice that his main research question has no obvious, straightforward answer. Jorge will need to research his subquestions, which address narrower topics, to answer his main question.

Using the topic you selected in Note 11.24 “Exercise 2” , write your main research question and at least four to five subquestions. Check that your main research question is appropriately complex for your assignment.

Constructing a Working ThesIs

A working thesis concisely states a writer’s initial answer to the main research question. It does not merely state a fact or present a subjective opinion. Instead, it expresses a debatable idea or claim that you hope to prove through additional research. Your working thesis is called a working thesis for a reason—it is subject to change. As you learn more about your topic, you may change your thinking in light of your research findings. Let your working thesis serve as a guide to your research, but do not be afraid to modify it based on what you learn.

Jorge began his research with a strong point of view based on his preliminary writing and research. Read his working thesis statement, which presents the point he will argue. Notice how it states Jorge’s tentative answer to his research question.

One way to determine your working thesis is to consider how you would complete sentences such as I believe or My opinion is . However, keep in mind that academic writing generally does not use first-person pronouns. These statements are useful starting points, but formal research papers use an objective voice.

Write a working thesis statement that presents your preliminary answer to the research question you wrote in Note 11.27 “Exercise 3” . Check that your working thesis statement presents an idea or claim that could be supported or refuted by evidence from research.

Creating a Research Proposal

A research proposal is a brief document—no more than one typed page—that summarizes the preliminary work you have completed. Your purpose in writing it is to formalize your plan for research and present it to your instructor for feedback. In your research proposal, you will present your main research question, related subquestions, and working thesis. You will also briefly discuss the value of researching this topic and indicate how you plan to gather information.

When Jorge began drafting his research proposal, he realized that he had already created most of the pieces he needed. However, he knew he also had to explain how his research would be relevant to other future health care professionals. In addition, he wanted to form a general plan for doing the research and identifying potentially useful sources. Read Jorge’s research proposal.

Read Jorge's research proposal

Before you begin a new project at work, you may have to develop a project summary document that states the purpose of the project, explains why it would be a wise use of company resources, and briefly outlines the steps involved in completing the project. This type of document is similar to a research proposal. Both documents define and limit a project, explain its value, discuss how to proceed, and identify what resources you will use.

Writing Your Own Research Proposal

Now you may write your own research proposal, if you have not done so already. Follow the guidelines provided in this lesson.

Key Takeaways

  • Developing a research proposal involves the following preliminary steps: identifying potential ideas, choosing ideas to explore further, choosing and narrowing a topic, formulating a research question, and developing a working thesis.
  • A good topic for a research paper interests the writer and fulfills the requirements of the assignment.
  • Defining and narrowing a topic helps writers conduct focused, in-depth research.
  • Writers conduct preliminary research to identify possible topics and research questions and to develop a working thesis.
  • A good research question interests readers, is neither too broad nor too narrow, and has no obvious answer.
  • A good working thesis expresses a debatable idea or claim that can be supported with evidence from research.
  • Writers create a research proposal to present their topic, main research question, subquestions, and working thesis to an instructor for approval or feedback.

Writing for Success Copyright © 2015 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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The goal of a research proposal is twofold: 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 research are governed by standards of the predominant discipline in which the problem resides, therefore, the 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 benefits derived from the study's completion.

Krathwohl, David R. How to Prepare a Dissertation Proposal: Suggestions for Students in Education and the Social and Behavioral Sciences . Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2005.

How to Approach Writing a Research Proposal

Your professor may assign the task of writing a research proposal for the following reasons:

  • Develop your skills in thinking about and designing a comprehensive research study;
  • Learn how to conduct a comprehensive review of the literature to determine that the research problem has not been adequately addressed or has been answered ineffectively and, in so doing, become better at locating pertinent scholarship related to your topic;
  • 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; and,
  • Nurture a sense of inquisitiveness within yourself and to help see yourself as an active participant in the process of conducting scholarly research.

A proposal should contain all the key elements involved in designing a completed 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 findings of the study and your analysis of those findings. Finally, an effective proposal is judged on the quality of your writing and, therefore, it is important that your proposal is coherent, clear, and compelling.

Regardless of the research problem you are investigating and the methodology you choose, all research proposals must address the following questions:

  • What do you plan to accomplish? Be clear and succinct in defining the research problem and what it is you are proposing to investigate.
  • Why do you want to do the research? In addition to detailing your research design, you also must conduct a thorough review of the literature and provide convincing evidence that it is a topic worthy of in-depth study. A successful research proposal must answer the "So What?" question.
  • How are you going to conduct the research? Be sure that what you propose is doable. If you're having difficulty formulating a research problem to propose investigating, go here for strategies in developing a problem to study.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Failure to be concise . A research proposal must be focused and not be "all over the map" or diverge into unrelated tangents without a clear sense of purpose.
  • Failure to cite landmark works in your literature review . Proposals should be grounded in foundational research that lays a foundation for understanding the development and scope of the the topic and its relevance.
  • Failure to delimit the contextual scope of your research [e.g., time, place, people, etc.]. As with any research paper, your proposed study must inform the reader how and in what ways the study will frame the problem.
  • Failure to develop a coherent and persuasive argument for the proposed research . This is critical. In many workplace settings, the research proposal is a formal document intended to argue for why a study should be funded.
  • Sloppy or imprecise writing, or poor grammar . Although a research proposal does not represent a completed research study, there is still an expectation that it is well-written and follows the style and rules of good academic writing.
  • Too much detail on minor issues, but not enough detail on major issues . Your proposal should focus on only a few key research questions in order to support the argument that the research needs to be conducted. Minor issues, even if valid, can be mentioned but they should not dominate the overall narrative.

Procter, Margaret. The Academic Proposal.  The Lab Report. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Sanford, Keith. Information for Students: Writing a Research Proposal. Baylor University; Wong, Paul T. P. How to Write a Research Proposal. International Network on Personal Meaning. Trinity Western University; Writing Academic Proposals: Conferences, Articles, and Books. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Writing a Research Proposal. University Library. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Structure and Writing Style

Beginning the Proposal Process

As with writing most college-level academic papers, research proposals are generally organized the same way throughout most social science disciplines. The text of proposals generally vary in length between ten and thirty-five pages, followed by the list of references. However, before you begin, read the assignment carefully and, if anything seems unclear, ask your professor whether there are any specific requirements for organizing and writing the proposal.

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 areas covered in my class?
  • What problems will it help solve?
  • How does it build upon [and hopefully go beyond] research already conducted on the topic?
  • What exactly should I plan to do, and 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 feeling like, "Wow, that's an exciting idea and I can’t wait to see how it turns out!"

Most proposals should include the following sections:

I.  Introduction

In the real world of higher education, a research proposal is most often written by scholars seeking grant funding for a research project or it's the first step in getting approval to write a doctoral dissertation. Even if this is just a course assignment, treat your introduction as the initial pitch of an idea based on 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 to be excited about the study's possible outcomes. Note that most proposals do not include an abstract [summary] before the introduction.

Think about your introduction as a narrative written in two to four paragraphs that succinctly answers the following four questions :

  • What is the central research problem?
  • What is the topic of study related to that research problem?
  • What methods should be used to analyze the research problem?
  • Answer the "So What?" question by explaining why this is important research, what is its significance, and why should someone reading the proposal care about the outcomes of the proposed study?

II.  Background and Significance

This is where you explain the scope and context of your proposal and describe in detail why it's important. It can be melded into your introduction or you can create a separate section to help with the organization and narrative flow of your proposal. 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. Note that this section is not an essay going over everything you have learned about the topic; instead, you must choose what is most relevant in explaining the aims of your research.

To that end, while there are no prescribed rules for establishing the significance of your proposed study, you should attempt to address some or all of the following:

  • State the research problem and give a more detailed explanation about the purpose of the study than what you stated in the introduction. This is particularly important if the problem is complex or multifaceted .
  • Present the rationale of your proposed study and clearly indicate why it is worth doing; be sure to answer the "So What? question [i.e., why should anyone care?].
  • Describe the major issues or problems examined by your research. This can be in the form of questions to be addressed. Be sure to note how your proposed study builds on previous assumptions about the research problem.
  • Explain the methods you plan to use for conducting your research. Clearly identify the key sources you intend to use and explain how they will contribute to your analysis of the topic.
  • Describe the boundaries of your proposed research in order to provide a clear focus. Where appropriate, state not only what you plan to study, but what aspects of the research problem will be excluded from the study.
  • If necessary, provide definitions of key concepts, theories, or terms.

III.  Literature Review

Connected to the background and significance of your study is a section of your proposal devoted to a more deliberate review and synthesis 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 at the same time, demonstrating to your readers that your work is original and innovative. Think about what questions other researchers have asked, what methodological approaches they have used, and what is your understanding of their findings and, when stated, their recommendations. Also pay attention to any suggestions for further research.

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 proposed study in relation to the arguments put forth by other researchers. A good strategy is to break the literature into "conceptual categories" [themes] rather than systematically or chronologically 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 review 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.

NOTE: Do not shy away from challenging the conclusions made in prior research as a basis for supporting the need for your proposal. Assess what you believe is missing and state how previous research has failed to adequately examine the issue that your study addresses. Highlighting the problematic conclusions strengthens your proposal. For more information on writing literature reviews, GO HERE .

To help frame your proposal's review of prior research, consider the "five C’s" of writing a literature review:

  • Cite , so as to keep the primary focus on the literature pertinent to your research problem.
  • 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?
  • Contrast the various arguments, themes, methodologies, approaches, and controversies expressed in the literature: describe what are the major areas of disagreement, controversy, or debate among scholars?
  • Critique the literature: Which arguments are more persuasive, and why? Which approaches, findings, and 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.].
  • Connect the literature to your own area of research and investigation: how does your own work draw upon, depart from, synthesize, or add a new perspective to what has been said in the literature?

IV.  Research Design and Methods

This section must be well-written and logically organized because you are not actually doing the research, yet, your reader must have confidence that you have a plan 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 proposed 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 [i.e., the trustworthiness by which you can generalize from your study to other people, places, events, and/or periods of time].

When describing the methods you will use, be sure to cover the following:

  • Specify the research process you will undertake and the way you will interpret the results obtained in relation to the research problem. Don't just describe what you intend to achieve from applying the methods you choose, but state how you will spend your time while applying these methods [e.g., coding text from interviews to find statements about the need to change school curriculum; running a regression to determine if there is a relationship between campaign advertising on social media sites and election outcomes in Europe ].
  • Keep in mind that the methodology is not just a list of tasks; it is a deliberate argument as to why techniques for gathering information add up to the best way to investigate the research problem. This is an important point because the mere listing of tasks to be performed does not demonstrate that, collectively, they effectively address the research problem. Be sure you clearly explain this.
  • Anticipate and acknowledge any potential barriers and pitfalls in carrying out your research design and explain how you plan to address them. No method applied to research in the social and behavioral sciences is perfect, so you need to describe where you believe challenges may exist in obtaining data or accessing information. It's always better to acknowledge this than to have it brought up by your professor!

V.  Preliminary Suppositions and Implications

Just because you don't have to actually conduct the study and analyze the results, doesn't mean you can skip talking 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 scholarly research, theory, practice, forms of interventions, or policy making. Note that such discussions may have either substantive [a potential new policy], theoretical [a potential new understanding], or methodological [a potential new way of analyzing] significance.   When thinking about the potential implications of your study, ask the following questions:

  • What might the results mean in regards to challenging the theoretical framework and underlying assumptions that support the study?
  • What suggestions for subsequent research could arise from the potential outcomes of the study?
  • What will the results mean to practitioners in the natural settings of their workplace, organization, or community?
  • Will the results influence programs, methods, and/or forms of intervention?
  • How might the results contribute to the solution of social, economic, or other types of problems?
  • Will the results influence policy decisions?
  • In what way do individuals or groups benefit should your study be pursued?
  • What will be improved or changed as a result of the proposed research?
  • How will the results of the study be implemented and what innovations or transformative insights could emerge from the process of implementation?

NOTE:   This section should not delve into idle speculation, opinion, or be formulated on the basis of unclear evidence . The purpose is to reflect upon gaps or understudied areas of the current literature and describe how your proposed research contributes to a new understanding of the research problem should the study be implemented as designed.

ANOTHER NOTE : This section is also where you describe any potential limitations to your proposed study. While it is impossible to highlight all potential limitations because the study has yet to be conducted, you still must tell the reader where and in what form impediments may arise and how you plan to address them.

VI.  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 advance existing knowledge.

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

  • Why the study should be done;
  • The specific purpose of the study and the research questions it attempts to answer;
  • The decision for why the research design and methods used where chosen over other options;
  • The potential implications emerging from your proposed study of the research problem; and
  • A sense of how your study fits within the broader scholarship about the research problem.

VII.  Citations

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

  • References -- a list of only the sources you actually used in creating your proposal.
  • Bibliography -- a list of everything you used in creating your proposal, along with additional citations to any key sources relevant to understanding the research problem.

In either case, this section should testify to the fact that you did enough preparatory work to ensure the project will complement and not just duplicate the efforts of other researchers. It demonstrates to the reader that you have a thorough understanding of prior research on the topic.

Most proposal formats have you start a new page and use the heading "References" or "Bibliography" centered at the top of the page. Cited works should always use a standard format that follows the writing style advised by the discipline of your course [e.g., education=APA; history=Chicago] or that is preferred by your professor. This section normally does not count towards the total page length of your research proposal.

Develop a Research Proposal: Writing the Proposal. Office of Library Information Services. Baltimore County Public Schools; Heath, M. Teresa Pereira and Caroline Tynan. “Crafting a Research Proposal.” The Marketing Review 10 (Summer 2010): 147-168; Jones, Mark. “Writing a Research Proposal.” In MasterClass in Geography Education: Transforming Teaching and Learning . Graham Butt, editor. (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015), pp. 113-127; Juni, Muhamad Hanafiah. “Writing a Research Proposal.” International Journal of Public Health and Clinical Sciences 1 (September/October 2014): 229-240; Krathwohl, David R. How to Prepare a Dissertation Proposal: Suggestions for Students in Education and the Social and Behavioral Sciences . Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2005; Procter, Margaret. The Academic Proposal. The Lab Report. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Punch, Keith and Wayne McGowan. "Developing and Writing a Research Proposal." In From Postgraduate to Social Scientist: A Guide to Key Skills . Nigel Gilbert, ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2006), 59-81; Wong, Paul T. P. How to Write a Research Proposal. International Network on Personal Meaning. Trinity Western University; Writing Academic Proposals: Conferences , Articles, and Books. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Writing a Research Proposal. University Library. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Writing a Scientific Research Project Proposal

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The importance of a well-written research proposal cannot be underestimated. Your research really is only as good as your proposal. A poorly written, or poorly conceived research proposal will doom even an otherwise worthy project. On the other hand, a well-written, high-quality proposal will increase your chances for success.

In this article, we’ll outline the basics of writing an effective scientific research proposal, including the differences between research proposals, grants and cover letters. We’ll also touch on common mistakes made when submitting research proposals, as well as a simple example or template that you can follow.

What is a scientific research proposal?

The main purpose of a scientific research proposal is to convince your audience that your project is worthwhile, and that you have the expertise and wherewithal to complete it. The elements of an effective research proposal mirror those of the research process itself, which we’ll outline below. Essentially, the research proposal should include enough information for the reader to determine if your proposed study is worth pursuing.

It is not an uncommon misunderstanding to think that a research proposal and a cover letter are the same things. However, they are different. The main difference between a research proposal vs cover letter content is distinct. Whereas the research proposal summarizes the proposal for future research, the cover letter connects you to the research, and how you are the right person to complete the proposed research.

There is also sometimes confusion around a research proposal vs grant application. Whereas a research proposal is a statement of intent, related to answering a research question, a grant application is a specific request for funding to complete the research proposed. Of course, there are elements of overlap between the two documents; it’s the purpose of the document that defines one or the other.

Scientific Research Proposal Format

Although there is no one way to write a scientific research proposal, there are specific guidelines. A lot depends on which journal you’re submitting your research proposal to, so you may need to follow their scientific research proposal template.

In general, however, there are fairly universal sections to every scientific research proposal. These include:

  • Title: Make sure the title of your proposal is descriptive and concise. Make it catch and informative at the same time, avoiding dry phrases like, “An investigation…” Your title should pique the interest of the reader.
  • Abstract: This is a brief (300-500 words) summary that includes the research question, your rationale for the study, and any applicable hypothesis. You should also include a brief description of your methodology, including procedures, samples, instruments, etc.
  • Introduction: The opening paragraph of your research proposal is, perhaps, the most important. Here you want to introduce the research problem in a creative way, and demonstrate your understanding of the need for the research. You want the reader to think that your proposed research is current, important and relevant.
  • Background: Include a brief history of the topic and link it to a contemporary context to show its relevance for today. Identify key researchers and institutions also looking at the problem
  • Literature Review: This is the section that may take the longest amount of time to assemble. Here you want to synthesize prior research, and place your proposed research into the larger picture of what’s been studied in the past. You want to show your reader that your work is original, and adds to the current knowledge.
  • Research Design and Methodology: This section should be very clearly and logically written and organized. You are letting your reader know that you know what you are going to do, and how. The reader should feel confident that you have the skills and knowledge needed to get the project done.
  • Preliminary Implications: Here you’ll be outlining how you anticipate your research will extend current knowledge in your field. You might also want to discuss how your findings will impact future research needs.
  • Conclusion: This section reinforces the significance and importance of your proposed research, and summarizes the entire proposal.
  • References/Citations: Of course, you need to include a full and accurate list of any and all sources you used to write your research proposal.

Common Mistakes in Writing a Scientific Research Project Proposal

Remember, the best research proposal can be rejected if it’s not well written or is ill-conceived. The most common mistakes made include:

  • Not providing the proper context for your research question or the problem
  • Failing to reference landmark/key studies
  • Losing focus of the research question or problem
  • Not accurately presenting contributions by other researchers and institutions
  • Incompletely developing a persuasive argument for the research that is being proposed
  • Misplaced attention on minor points and/or not enough detail on major issues
  • Sloppy, low-quality writing without effective logic and flow
  • Incorrect or lapses in references and citations, and/or references not in proper format
  • The proposal is too long – or too short

Scientific Research Proposal Example

There are countless examples that you can find for successful research proposals. In addition, you can also find examples of unsuccessful research proposals. Search for successful research proposals in your field, and even for your target journal, to get a good idea on what specifically your audience may be looking for.

While there’s no one example that will show you everything you need to know, looking at a few will give you a good idea of what you need to include in your own research proposal. Talk, also, to colleagues in your field, especially if you are a student or a new researcher. We can often learn from the mistakes of others. The more prepared and knowledgeable you are prior to writing your research proposal, the more likely you are to succeed.

Language Editing Services

One of the top reasons scientific research proposals are rejected is due to poor logic and flow. Check out our Language Editing Services to ensure a great proposal , that’s clear and concise, and properly referenced. Check our video for more information, and get started today.

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Research Methods in Dentistry pp 87–114 Cite as

Writing a Research Proposal

  • Fahimeh Tabatabaei 3 &
  • Lobat Tayebi 3  
  • First Online: 10 April 2022

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A research proposal is a roadmap that brings the researcher closer to the objectives, takes the research topic from a purely subjective mind, and manifests an objective plan. It shows us what steps we need to take to reach the objective, what questions we should answer, and how much time we need. It is a framework based on which you can perform your research in a well-organized and timely manner. In other words, by writing a research proposal, you get a map that shows the direction to the destination (answering the research question). If the proposal is poorly prepared, after spending a lot of energy and money, you may realize that the result of the research has nothing to do with the initial objective, and the study may end up nowhere. Therefore, writing the proposal shows that the researcher is aware of the proper research and can justify the significance of his/her idea.

  • Research proposal
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What is a research proposal?

A research proposal is a type of text which maps out a proposed central research problem or question and a suggested approach to its investigation.

In many universities, including RMIT, the research proposal is a formal requirement. It is central to achieving your first milestone: your Confirmation of Candidature. The research proposal is useful for both you and the University: it gives you the opportunity to get valuable feedback about your intended research aims, objectives and design. It also confirms that your proposed research is worth doing, which puts you on track for a successful candidature supported by your School and the University. 

Although there may be specific School or disciplinary requirements that you need to be aware of, all research proposals address the following central themes:

  • what   you propose to research
  • why   the topic needs to be researched
  • how  you plan to research it.

Purpose and audience

Before venturing into writing a research purposal, it is important to think about the  purpose  and  audience of this type of text.  Spend a moment or two to reflect on what these might be.

What do you think is the purpose of your research proposal and who is your audience?

The purpose of your research proposal is:

1. To allow experienced researchers (your supervisors and their peers) to assess whether

  • the research question or problem is viable (that is, answers or solutions are possible)
  • the research is worth doing in terms of its contribution to the field of study and benefits to stakeholders
  • the scope is appropriate to the degree (Masters or PhD)
  • you’ve understood the relevant key literature and identified the gap for your research
  • you’ve chosen an appropriate methodological approach.

2. To help you clarify and focus on what you want to do, why you want to do it, and how you’ll do it. The research proposal helps you position yourself as a researcher in your field. It will also allow you to:

  • systematically think through your proposed research, argue for its significance and identify the scope
  • show a critical understanding of the scholarly field around your proposed research
  • show the gap in the literature that your research will address
  • justify your proposed research design
  • identify all tasks that need to be done through a realistic timetable
  • anticipate potential problems
  • hone organisational skills that you will need for your research
  • become familiar with relevant search engines and databases
  • develop skills in research writing.

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The main audience for your research proposal is your reviewers. Universities usually assign a panel of reviewers to which you need to submit your research proposal. Often this is within the first year of study for PhD candidates, and within the first six months for Masters by Research candidates.

Your reviewers may have a strong disciplinary understanding of the area of your proposed research, but depending on your specialisation, they may not. It is therefore important to create a clear context, rationale and framework for your proposed research. Limit jargon and specialist terminology so that non-specialists can comprehend it. You need to convince the reviewers that your proposed research is worth doing and that you will be able to effectively ‘interrogate’ your research questions or address the research problems through your chosen research design.

Your review panel will expect you to demonstrate:

  • a clearly defined and feasible research project
  • a clearly explained rationale for your research
  • evidence that your research will make an original contribution through a critical review of the literature
  • written skills appropriate to graduate research study.

Research and Writing Skills for Academic and Graduate Researchers Copyright © 2022 by RMIT University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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SciSpace Resources

How to Write a Research Proposal

Deeptanshu D

Table of Contents

how-to-write-a-research-proposal

In academia, especially in social and behavioral sciences, writing a research proposal is an essential first step while planning a new research project. A research proposal is an initial pitch, or theoretical framework that serves to introduce the topic and anticipated results of a project, provide an overview of the methods to be used, and convince the reader that the proposed research can be conducted successfully. It is very essential to know how to write a research proposal, whether you are a student trying to fulfill course requirements or a researcher looking for funding for scholarly research. But writing a well-structured proposal is easier said than done.

To make things simpler for you, In this article, I explained the fundamentals of a research proposal, its structure, the steps involved in writing a research proposal, and common mistakes to avoid. Continue reading to gain a thorough understanding of the concept and purpose of a research proposal. This blog will also enable you to write the research proposal quickly, reducing the likelihood of rejection.

What is a Research Proposal?

In simpler terms,  A research proposal is a document written to explain and justify your chosen research topic and the necessity to carry out that particular research by addressing the research problem. Likewise, a good research proposal should carry the proposed research's results and benefits, backed by convincing evidence.

Always keep your audience in mind while writing your research proposal. Your audience expects a concise summary and a detailed research methodology from you in the research proposal.

To begin, you must understand the purpose of a research proposal in order to effectively write a research proposal and also to receive swift approvals.

What is the purpose or importance of a research proposal?

importance-of-research-proposal

A research proposal's purpose is to provide a detailed outline of the process that will be used to answer a specific research problem. Whereas the goal of the research proposal varies from person to person. In some cases, it may be to secure funding, while in others, it may be to obtain a meager approval from the committee or the supervisor to proceed with the research project. Regardless of your research proposal's end goal, you are supposed to write a research proposal that fulfills its intended purpose of presenting the best plan for your research.

While writing a research proposal, you should demonstrate how and why your proposed research is crucial for the domain, especially if it is social and behavioral sciences. It would help if you showed how your work is necessary by addressing some key points like:

  • Bridging the gaps in the existing domain of research.
  • Adding new and fresh perspectives to the existing understanding of the topic.
  • Undervalued data in the current stats of the domain.

Furthermore, your research proposal must demonstrate that you, as an author, are capable of conducting the research and that the results will significantly contribute to the field of knowledge. To do so, include and explain your academic background and significance along with your previous accolades to demonstrate that you and your idea have academic merit.

What is the ideal length of a research proposal?

There are no hard and fast rules about how long a research proposal should be, and it varies dramatically from different institutions and publishers. However, as a standard domain practice, a research proposal is generally between 3000- 4000 words. A majority of globally reputed institutions follow the 3000- 3500 word limit.

Since the research proposal is written well before the research is conducted, you need to outline all the necessary elements your research will entail and accomplish. Once completed, your research proposal must resemble a concise version of a thesis or dissertation without results and a discussion section.

Structure of a research proposal

structure-of-research-proposal

When you recognize a gap in the existing books of knowledge, you will address it by developing a research problem. A research problem is a question that researchers want to answer. It is the starting point for any research project, and it can be broad or narrow, depending on your objectives. Once you have a problem, it is followed by articulating a research question. After that, you can embark on the process of writing a research proposal.

Whether your goal is to secure funding or just approval, nevertheless, your research proposal needs to follow the basic outline of a research paper, containing all the necessary sections. Therefore, the structure of a research proposal closely resembles and follows a thesis or dissertation or any research paper. It should contain the following sections:

As is well known, the first thing that catches the reader's attention is a catchy title. Therefore, you should try to come up with a catchy yet informative title for your research proposal. Additionally, it should be concise and clear to reflect enough information about your research question.

To create a good research proposal, try writing the title to induce interest and information in your readers. Pro-Tip: Avoid using phrases such as “An investigation of …” or “A review of …” etc. . These have been overused for ages and may reflect your research title as a regular entry. On the other hand, concise and well-defined titles are always something readers like and stand higher chances for a proposal approval.

2. Abstract

Write your abstract in a brief yet very informative way. It should summarize the research you intend to conduct. Put an emphasis on the research question, research hypothesis , research design and methods, and the key findings of your proposed research.

If you wish to create a detailed proposal, try including a table of contents. It will help readers navigate easily and catch a glance at your entire proposal writing. Check out this guide if you want to learn more about how to write a research abstract for your scholarly research.

3. Introduction

All papers need a striking introduction to set the context of the research question. While framing your research proposal, ensure that the introduction provides rich background and relevant information about the research question.

Your entire research proposal hinges upon your research question. Thus, fit should come out clearly in the intro. Provide a general introduction without clear explanations, and it might render your research proposal insignificant.

Start your research proposal with the research problem, engage your audience with elements that relate to the problem, and then shed some light on the research question. Then, proceed with your study's evidence-based justification, and you'll find that the audience is sticking with your proposal narrative.

While writing your research proposal, ensure that you have covered the following:

  • Purpose of your study.
  • Background information and significance of your study.
  • Introduction to the question, followed by an introduction to the paper.
  • Brief mention of the critical issues that you will focus on.
  • Declaration of independent and dependent variables of the research hypothesis. (You can learn more about the variables of the research hypothesis here .)

4. Literature Review

Writing a literature review is an important part of the research process. It provides the researcher with a summary of previous studies that have been conducted on a subject, and it helps the researcher determine what areas might need additional investigation in the existing research. Guidelines for the literature review vary for different institutions.

To effectively conduct and write a literature review check this guide . You can also use tools like SciSpace Copilot , our AI research assistant that makes reading academic papers a much easier task. You can use it to get simple explanations for complex text, maths, or tables. Copilot can be particularly helpful when you’re sifting through papers as you can quickly understand the abstract, get some context around the study, and identify if the paper is relevant to your project or not.

The literature review can either be kept as a separate section or incorporated into the introduction section. A separate section is always favorable and vital in gaining the research proposal approval. Additionally, a separate section for a literature review offers in-depth background data and demonstrates the relevance of your research question by emphasizing the gaps that have remained since the previous study.

Your research proposal’s literature review must contain and serve the following:

research proposal meaning simple

  • To provide a reference of the studies and the researchers who have previously worked in the same domain.
  • To provide the build path of your research question.
  • To furnish a critical examination of the previous research works.
  • To present the research issues about the current investigation.
  • To convince the audience about the importance of your research in the relevant domain.

Need help you with your literature review? Try SciSpace Discover and get barrier-free access to scientific knowledge.

Discover millions of peer-reviewed research articles and their full-text PDFs here. The articles can be compiled in one place and saved for later use to conduct a Hassel-free literature review.

5. Research Methodology

Research design and methods is the section where you explain how you will be conducting the proposed research. Ensure that you provide and include a sufficient explanation for the chosen methods. Additionally, include some points explaining how your chosen methods will help you get the desired or expected results.

Provide ample information to the readers about your research procedures so that they can easily comprehend the methodology and its expected results. Through your research methodology, you can easily show your audience whether the results you are promising can be achieved or not.

Most importantly, make sure the methodology you choose—whether qualitative or quantitative—is the best fit for your research. You should also be able to justify your choice.

Additionally, you should properly explain both the quantitative and qualitative components of your research if they are both used. For a qualitative approach, you must offer more elaborate and in-depth theoretical-based evidence. On the other hand, for the quantitative approach, you must describe the survey or lab setup, sample size, tools, and data collection methods.

Make sure you have plenty of explanations for the research methodology to support how you approached the research problem.

6. Expected Research Results

The expected research results section is where the researcher states what they expect to find in their research. The purpose of this section is to provide a summary of the study's goals, as well as give an overview of what the researcher expects will be found out. These results must orient the reader in sync with the methodology section and provide the answers to the research questions.

7. Limitations

The limitations section of an academic research paper is a section in which the writers of the paper discuss the weaknesses of their study. They do this by identifying problems with their methods, design, and implementation. This section should also discuss any other factors that may have affected the results or accuracy of the study. This section allows readers to understand how much confidence they can place in the findings, and how applicable they are to other contexts.

Furthermore, it will also showcase your honesty and complete understanding of the topic. Your research proposal’s limitations can include:

  • Reasons for the chosen sample size.
  • Justifications for the availability of resources at hand.
  • Any unexpected error that might occur in the course of research as well.

8. Reference and Bibliography

If you don’t want your efforts to be tagged as plagiarized, ensure that you include the reference section at the end of the research proposal and follow the appropriate citation guidelines while citing different scholarly sources and various other researchers’ work.

For references, use both the in-text and footnote citations. List all the literature you have used to gather the information. However, in the bibliography, apart from including the references you have cited, you should include the sources that you didn't cite.

Reasons why research proposals get rejected

reasons-for-research-proposal-rejections

Research proposals often get rejected due to the smallest of mistakes. To keep the chances of getting your research proposal rejection at bay or a minimum, you should be aware of what grounds committees or supervisors often decide on rejection.

Follow through to understand the common reasons why research papers get rejected:

  • The proposal stated a flawed hypothesis.
  • The readers or the audience don't get convinced that the expected results will be anything new or unique.
  • The research methodology lacks the details and may appear unrealistic.
  • The research proposal lacks coherence in the problem statement, methodology, and results.
  • Inadequate literature review.
  • Inaccurate interpretation of expected results from the methodology.
  • Plagiarized or copied sections of the research proposal.

Common mistakes to avoid

common-mistakes-to-avoid-while-writing-a-research-proposal

You must stay aware of the research proposal guidelines and best writing manners. To maximize the approval chances of your research proposal, you should try to avoid some common pitfalls like:

  • Making it verbose

Try explaining the various sections of the research proposal economically. Ideally, you should strive to keep your writing as a concise, brief, and to the point as possible. The more concisely you explain the purpose and goal of your research proposal, the better.

  • Focusing on minor issues than tackling the core

While writing the research proposal, you may feel every issue is important, and you should provide an explanatory note for that. However, stay wiser while selecting the importance of issues. Avoid falling into the trap of trivial issues, as it may distract your readers from the core issues.

  • Failure to put a strong research argument

The easiest way your readers can undermine your research proposal is by stating it is far more subjective and sounds unrealistic. A potent research argument describing the gaps in the current field, its importance, significance, and contributions to your research is the foremost requirement of a good research proposal.

Remember, even though you are proposing the objective, academic way, the goal is to persuade the audience to provide you with the required research approval.

  • Not citing correctly

Understand that when you are going for some research, its outcome will contribute to the existing pool of knowledge. Therefore, always cite some landmark works of your chosen research domain and connect your proposed work with it.

Providing such intricate details will establish your research's importance, relevance, and familiarity with the domain knowledge.

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How To Write A Research Proposal

A Straightforward How-To Guide (With Examples)

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) | Reviewed By: Dr. Eunice Rautenbach | August 2019 (Updated April 2023)

Writing up a strong research proposal for a dissertation or thesis is much like a marriage proposal. It’s a task that calls on you to win somebody over and persuade them that what you’re planning is a great idea. An idea they’re happy to say ‘yes’ to. This means that your dissertation proposal needs to be   persuasive ,   attractive   and well-planned. In this post, I’ll show you how to write a winning dissertation proposal, from scratch.

Before you start:

– Understand exactly what a research proposal is – Ask yourself these 4 questions

The 5 essential ingredients:

  • The title/topic
  • The introduction chapter
  • The scope/delimitations
  • Preliminary literature review
  • Design/ methodology
  • Practical considerations and risks 

What Is A Research Proposal?

The research proposal is literally that: a written document that communicates what you propose to research, in a concise format. It’s where you put all that stuff that’s spinning around in your head down on to paper, in a logical, convincing fashion.

Convincing   is the keyword here, as your research proposal needs to convince the assessor that your research is   clearly articulated   (i.e., a clear research question) ,   worth doing   (i.e., is unique and valuable enough to justify the effort), and   doable   within the restrictions you’ll face (time limits, budget, skill limits, etc.). If your proposal does not address these three criteria, your research won’t be approved, no matter how “exciting” the research idea might be.

PS – if you’re completely new to proposal writing, we’ve got a detailed walkthrough video covering two successful research proposals here . 

Free Webinar: How To Write A Research Proposal

How do I know I’m ready?

Before starting the writing process, you need to   ask yourself 4 important questions .  If you can’t answer them succinctly and confidently, you’re not ready – you need to go back and think more deeply about your dissertation topic .

You should be able to answer the following 4 questions before starting your dissertation or thesis research proposal:

  • WHAT is my main research question? (the topic)
  • WHO cares and why is this important? (the justification)
  • WHAT data would I need to answer this question, and how will I analyse it? (the research design)
  • HOW will I manage the completion of this research, within the given timelines? (project and risk management)

If you can’t answer these questions clearly and concisely,   you’re not yet ready   to write your research proposal – revisit our   post on choosing a topic .

If you can, that’s great – it’s time to start writing up your dissertation proposal. Next, I’ll discuss what needs to go into your research proposal, and how to structure it all into an intuitive, convincing document with a linear narrative.

The 5 Essential Ingredients

Research proposals can vary in style between institutions and disciplines, but here I’ll share with you a   handy 5-section structure   you can use. These 5 sections directly address the core questions we spoke about earlier, ensuring that you present a convincing proposal. If your institution already provides a proposal template, there will likely be substantial overlap with this, so you’ll still get value from reading on.

For each section discussed below, make sure you use headers and sub-headers (ideally, numbered headers) to help the reader navigate through your document, and to support them when they need to revisit a previous section. Don’t just present an endless wall of text, paragraph after paragraph after paragraph…

Top Tip:   Use MS Word Styles to format headings. This will allow you to be clear about whether a sub-heading is level 2, 3, or 4. Additionally, you can view your document in ‘outline view’ which will show you only your headings. This makes it much easier to check your structure, shift things around and make decisions about where a section needs to sit. You can also generate a 100% accurate table of contents using Word’s automatic functionality.

research proposal meaning simple

Ingredient #1 – Topic/Title Header

Your research proposal’s title should be your main research question in its simplest form, possibly with a sub-heading providing basic details on the specifics of the study. For example:

“Compliance with equality legislation in the charity sector: a study of the ‘reasonable adjustments’ made in three London care homes”

As you can see, this title provides a clear indication of what the research is about, in broad terms. It paints a high-level picture for the first-time reader, which gives them a taste of what to expect.   Always aim for a clear, concise title . Don’t feel the need to capture every detail of your research in your title – your proposal will fill in the gaps.

Need a helping hand?

research proposal meaning simple

Ingredient #2 – Introduction

In this section of your research proposal, you’ll expand on what you’ve communicated in the title, by providing a few paragraphs which offer more detail about your research topic. Importantly, the focus here is the   topic   – what will you research and why is that worth researching? This is not the place to discuss methodology, practicalities, etc. – you’ll do that later.

You should cover the following:

  • An overview of the   broad area   you’ll be researching – introduce the reader to key concepts and language
  • An explanation of the   specific (narrower) area   you’ll be focusing, and why you’ll be focusing there
  • Your research   aims   and   objectives
  • Your   research question (s) and sub-questions (if applicable)

Importantly, you should aim to use short sentences and plain language – don’t babble on with extensive jargon, acronyms and complex language. Assume that the reader is an intelligent layman – not a subject area specialist (even if they are). Remember that the   best writing is writing that can be easily understood   and digested. Keep it simple.

The introduction section serves to expand on the  research topic – what will you study and why is that worth dedicating time and effort to?

Note that some universities may want some extra bits and pieces in your introduction section. For example, personal development objectives, a structural outline, etc. Check your brief to see if there are any other details they expect in your proposal, and make sure you find a place for these.

Ingredient #3 – Scope

Next, you’ll need to specify what the scope of your research will be – this is also known as the delimitations . In other words, you need to make it clear what you will be covering and, more importantly, what you won’t be covering in your research. Simply put, this is about ring fencing your research topic so that you have a laser-sharp focus.

All too often, students feel the need to go broad and try to address as many issues as possible, in the interest of producing comprehensive research. Whilst this is admirable, it’s a mistake. By tightly refining your scope, you’ll enable yourself to   go deep   with your research, which is what you need to earn good marks. If your scope is too broad, you’re likely going to land up with superficial research (which won’t earn marks), so don’t be afraid to narrow things down.

Ingredient #4 – Literature Review

In this section of your research proposal, you need to provide a (relatively) brief discussion of the existing literature. Naturally, this will not be as comprehensive as the literature review in your actual dissertation, but it will lay the foundation for that. In fact, if you put in the effort at this stage, you’ll make your life a lot easier when it’s time to write your actual literature review chapter.

There are a few things you need to achieve in this section:

  • Demonstrate that you’ve done your reading and are   familiar with the current state of the research   in your topic area.
  • Show that   there’s a clear gap   for your specific research – i.e., show that your topic is sufficiently unique and will add value to the existing research.
  • Show how the existing research has shaped your thinking regarding   research design . For example, you might use scales or questionnaires from previous studies.

When you write up your literature review, keep these three objectives front of mind, especially number two (revealing the gap in the literature), so that your literature review has a   clear purpose and direction . Everything you write should be contributing towards one (or more) of these objectives in some way. If it doesn’t, you need to ask yourself whether it’s truly needed.

Top Tip:  Don’t fall into the trap of just describing the main pieces of literature, for example, “A says this, B says that, C also says that…” and so on. Merely describing the literature provides no value. Instead, you need to   synthesise   it, and use it to address the three objectives above.

 If you put in the effort at the proposal stage, you’ll make your life a lot easier when its time to write your actual literature review chapter.

Ingredient #5 – Research Methodology

Now that you’ve clearly explained both your intended research topic (in the introduction) and the existing research it will draw on (in the literature review section), it’s time to get practical and explain exactly how you’ll be carrying out your own research. In other words, your research methodology.

In this section, you’ll need to   answer two critical questions :

  • How   will you design your research? I.e., what research methodology will you adopt, what will your sample be, how will you collect data, etc.
  • Why   have you chosen this design? I.e., why does this approach suit your specific research aims, objectives and questions?

In other words, this is not just about explaining WHAT you’ll be doing, it’s also about explaining WHY. In fact, the   justification is the most important part , because that justification is how you demonstrate a good understanding of research design (which is what assessors want to see).

Some essential design choices you need to cover in your research proposal include:

  • Your intended research philosophy (e.g., positivism, interpretivism or pragmatism )
  • What methodological approach you’ll be taking (e.g., qualitative , quantitative or mixed )
  • The details of your sample (e.g., sample size, who they are, who they represent, etc.)
  • What data you plan to collect (i.e. data about what, in what form?)
  • How you plan to collect it (e.g., surveys , interviews , focus groups, etc.)
  • How you plan to analyse it (e.g., regression analysis, thematic analysis , etc.)
  • Ethical adherence (i.e., does this research satisfy all ethical requirements of your institution, or does it need further approval?)

This list is not exhaustive – these are just some core attributes of research design. Check with your institution what level of detail they expect. The “ research onion ” by Saunders et al (2009) provides a good summary of the various design choices you ultimately need to make – you can   read more about that here .

Don’t forget the practicalities…

In addition to the technical aspects, you will need to address the   practical   side of the project. In other words, you need to explain   what resources you’ll need   (e.g., time, money, access to equipment or software, etc.) and how you intend to secure these resources. You need to show that your project is feasible, so any “make or break” type resources need to already be secured. The success or failure of your project cannot depend on some resource which you’re not yet sure you have access to.

Another part of the practicalities discussion is   project and risk management . In other words, you need to show that you have a clear project plan to tackle your research with. Some key questions to address:

  • What are the timelines for each phase of your project?
  • Are the time allocations reasonable?
  • What happens if something takes longer than anticipated (risk management)?
  • What happens if you don’t get the response rate you expect?

A good way to demonstrate that you’ve thought this through is to include a Gantt chart and a risk register (in the appendix if word count is a problem). With these two tools, you can show that you’ve got a clear, feasible plan, and you’ve thought about and accounted for the potential risks.

Gantt chart

Tip – Be honest about the potential difficulties – but show that you are anticipating solutions and workarounds. This is much more impressive to an assessor than an unrealistically optimistic proposal which does not anticipate any challenges whatsoever.

Final Touches: Read And Simplify

The final step is to edit and proofread your proposal – very carefully. It sounds obvious, but all too often poor editing and proofreading ruin a good proposal. Nothing is more off-putting for an assessor than a poorly edited, typo-strewn document. It sends the message that you either do not pay attention to detail, or just don’t care. Neither of these are good messages. Put the effort into editing and proofreading your proposal (or pay someone to do it for you) – it will pay dividends.

When you’re editing, watch out for ‘academese’. Many students can speak simply, passionately and clearly about their dissertation topic – but become incomprehensible the moment they turn the laptop on. You are not required to write in any kind of special, formal, complex language when you write academic work. Sure, there may be technical terms, jargon specific to your discipline, shorthand terms and so on. But, apart from those,   keep your written language very close to natural spoken language   – just as you would speak in the classroom. Imagine that you are explaining your project plans to your classmates or a family member. Remember, write for the intelligent layman, not the subject matter experts. Plain-language, concise writing is what wins hearts and minds – and marks!

Let’s Recap: Research Proposal 101

And there you have it – how to write your dissertation or thesis research proposal, from the title page to the final proof. Here’s a quick recap of the key takeaways:

  • The purpose of the research proposal is to   convince   – therefore, you need to make a clear, concise argument of why your research is both worth doing and doable.
  • Make sure you can ask the critical what, who, and how questions of your research   before   you put pen to paper.
  • Title – provides the first taste of your research, in broad terms
  • Introduction – explains what you’ll be researching in more detail
  • Scope – explains the boundaries of your research
  • Literature review – explains how your research fits into the existing research and why it’s unique and valuable
  • Research methodology – explains and justifies how you will carry out your own research

Hopefully, this post has helped you better understand how to write up a winning research proposal. If you enjoyed it, be sure to check out the rest of the Grad Coach Blog . If your university doesn’t provide any template for your proposal, you might want to try out our free research proposal template .

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Psst… there’s more!

This post is an extract from our bestselling Udemy Course, Research Proposal Bootcamp . If you want to work smart, you don't want to miss this .

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29 Comments

Mazwakhe Mkhulisi

Thank you so much for the valuable insight that you have given, especially on the research proposal. That is what I have managed to cover. I still need to go back to the other parts as I got disturbed while still listening to Derek’s audio on you-tube. I am inspired. I will definitely continue with Grad-coach guidance on You-tube.

Derek Jansen

Thanks for the kind words :). All the best with your proposal.

NAVEEN ANANTHARAMAN

First of all, thanks a lot for making such a wonderful presentation. The video was really useful and gave me a very clear insight of how a research proposal has to be written. I shall try implementing these ideas in my RP.

Once again, I thank you for this content.

Bonginkosi Mshengu

I found reading your outline on writing research proposal very beneficial. I wish there was a way of submitting my draft proposal to you guys for critiquing before I submit to the institution.

Hi Bonginkosi

Thank you for the kind words. Yes, we do provide a review service. The best starting point is to have a chat with one of our coaches here: https://gradcoach.com/book/new/ .

Erick Omondi

Hello team GRADCOACH, may God bless you so much. I was totally green in research. Am so happy for your free superb tutorials and resources. Once again thank you so much Derek and his team.

You’re welcome, Erick. Good luck with your research proposal 🙂

ivy

thank you for the information. its precise and on point.

Nighat Nighat Ahsan

Really a remarkable piece of writing and great source of guidance for the researchers. GOD BLESS YOU for your guidance. Regards

Delfina Celeste Danca Rangel

Thanks so much for your guidance. It is easy and comprehensive the way you explain the steps for a winning research proposal.

Desiré Forku

Thank you guys so much for the rich post. I enjoyed and learn from every word in it. My problem now is how to get into your platform wherein I can always seek help on things related to my research work ? Secondly, I wish to find out if there is a way I can send my tentative proposal to you guys for examination before I take to my supervisor Once again thanks very much for the insights

Thanks for your kind words, Desire.

If you are based in a country where Grad Coach’s paid services are available, you can book a consultation by clicking the “Book” button in the top right.

Best of luck with your studies.

Adolph

May God bless you team for the wonderful work you are doing,

If I have a topic, Can I submit it to you so that you can draft a proposal for me?? As I am expecting to go for masters degree in the near future.

Thanks for your comment. We definitely cannot draft a proposal for you, as that would constitute academic misconduct. The proposal needs to be your own work. We can coach you through the process, but it needs to be your own work and your own writing.

Best of luck with your research!

kenate Akuma

I found a lot of many essential concepts from your material. it is real a road map to write a research proposal. so thanks a lot. If there is any update material on your hand on MBA please forward to me.

Ahmed Khalil

GradCoach is a professional website that presents support and helps for MBA student like me through the useful online information on the page and with my 1-on-1 online coaching with the amazing and professional PhD Kerryen.

Thank you Kerryen so much for the support and help 🙂

I really recommend dealing with such a reliable services provider like Gradcoah and a coach like Kerryen.

PINTON OFOSU

Hi, Am happy for your service and effort to help students and researchers, Please, i have been given an assignment on research for strategic development, the task one is to formulate a research proposal to support the strategic development of a business area, my issue here is how to go about it, especially the topic or title and introduction. Please, i would like to know if you could help me and how much is the charge.

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Research Method

Home » How To Write A Research Proposal – Step-by-Step [Template]

How To Write A Research Proposal – Step-by-Step [Template]

Table of Contents

How To Write a Research Proposal

How To Write a Research Proposal

Writing a Research proposal involves several steps to ensure a well-structured and comprehensive document. Here is an explanation of each step:

1. Title and Abstract

  • Choose a concise and descriptive title that reflects the essence of your research.
  • Write an abstract summarizing your research question, objectives, methodology, and expected outcomes. It should provide a brief overview of your proposal.

2. Introduction:

  • Provide an introduction to your research topic, highlighting its significance and relevance.
  • Clearly state the research problem or question you aim to address.
  • Discuss the background and context of the study, including previous research in the field.

3. Research Objectives

  • Outline the specific objectives or aims of your research. These objectives should be clear, achievable, and aligned with the research problem.

4. Literature Review:

  • Conduct a comprehensive review of relevant literature and studies related to your research topic.
  • Summarize key findings, identify gaps, and highlight how your research will contribute to the existing knowledge.

5. Methodology:

  • Describe the research design and methodology you plan to employ to address your research objectives.
  • Explain the data collection methods, instruments, and analysis techniques you will use.
  • Justify why the chosen methods are appropriate and suitable for your research.

6. Timeline:

  • Create a timeline or schedule that outlines the major milestones and activities of your research project.
  • Break down the research process into smaller tasks and estimate the time required for each task.

7. Resources:

  • Identify the resources needed for your research, such as access to specific databases, equipment, or funding.
  • Explain how you will acquire or utilize these resources to carry out your research effectively.

8. Ethical Considerations:

  • Discuss any ethical issues that may arise during your research and explain how you plan to address them.
  • If your research involves human subjects, explain how you will ensure their informed consent and privacy.

9. Expected Outcomes and Significance:

  • Clearly state the expected outcomes or results of your research.
  • Highlight the potential impact and significance of your research in advancing knowledge or addressing practical issues.

10. References:

  • Provide a list of all the references cited in your proposal, following a consistent citation style (e.g., APA, MLA).

11. Appendices:

  • Include any additional supporting materials, such as survey questionnaires, interview guides, or data analysis plans.

Research Proposal Format

The format of a research proposal may vary depending on the specific requirements of the institution or funding agency. However, the following is a commonly used format for a research proposal:

1. Title Page:

  • Include the title of your research proposal, your name, your affiliation or institution, and the date.

2. Abstract:

  • Provide a brief summary of your research proposal, highlighting the research problem, objectives, methodology, and expected outcomes.

3. Introduction:

  • Introduce the research topic and provide background information.
  • State the research problem or question you aim to address.
  • Explain the significance and relevance of the research.
  • Review relevant literature and studies related to your research topic.
  • Summarize key findings and identify gaps in the existing knowledge.
  • Explain how your research will contribute to filling those gaps.

5. Research Objectives:

  • Clearly state the specific objectives or aims of your research.
  • Ensure that the objectives are clear, focused, and aligned with the research problem.

6. Methodology:

  • Describe the research design and methodology you plan to use.
  • Explain the data collection methods, instruments, and analysis techniques.
  • Justify why the chosen methods are appropriate for your research.

7. Timeline:

8. Resources:

  • Explain how you will acquire or utilize these resources effectively.

9. Ethical Considerations:

  • If applicable, explain how you will ensure informed consent and protect the privacy of research participants.

10. Expected Outcomes and Significance:

11. References:

12. Appendices:

Research Proposal Template

Here’s a template for a research proposal:

1. Introduction:

2. Literature Review:

3. Research Objectives:

4. Methodology:

5. Timeline:

6. Resources:

7. Ethical Considerations:

8. Expected Outcomes and Significance:

9. References:

10. Appendices:

Research Proposal Sample

Title: The Impact of Online Education on Student Learning Outcomes: A Comparative Study

1. Introduction

Online education has gained significant prominence in recent years, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This research proposal aims to investigate the impact of online education on student learning outcomes by comparing them with traditional face-to-face instruction. The study will explore various aspects of online education, such as instructional methods, student engagement, and academic performance, to provide insights into the effectiveness of online learning.

2. Objectives

The main objectives of this research are as follows:

  • To compare student learning outcomes between online and traditional face-to-face education.
  • To examine the factors influencing student engagement in online learning environments.
  • To assess the effectiveness of different instructional methods employed in online education.
  • To identify challenges and opportunities associated with online education and suggest recommendations for improvement.

3. Methodology

3.1 Study Design

This research will utilize a mixed-methods approach to gather both quantitative and qualitative data. The study will include the following components:

3.2 Participants

The research will involve undergraduate students from two universities, one offering online education and the other providing face-to-face instruction. A total of 500 students (250 from each university) will be selected randomly to participate in the study.

3.3 Data Collection

The research will employ the following data collection methods:

  • Quantitative: Pre- and post-assessments will be conducted to measure students’ learning outcomes. Data on student demographics and academic performance will also be collected from university records.
  • Qualitative: Focus group discussions and individual interviews will be conducted with students to gather their perceptions and experiences regarding online education.

3.4 Data Analysis

Quantitative data will be analyzed using statistical software, employing descriptive statistics, t-tests, and regression analysis. Qualitative data will be transcribed, coded, and analyzed thematically to identify recurring patterns and themes.

4. Ethical Considerations

The study will adhere to ethical guidelines, ensuring the privacy and confidentiality of participants. Informed consent will be obtained, and participants will have the right to withdraw from the study at any time.

5. Significance and Expected Outcomes

This research will contribute to the existing literature by providing empirical evidence on the impact of online education on student learning outcomes. The findings will help educational institutions and policymakers make informed decisions about incorporating online learning methods and improving the quality of online education. Moreover, the study will identify potential challenges and opportunities related to online education and offer recommendations for enhancing student engagement and overall learning outcomes.

6. Timeline

The proposed research will be conducted over a period of 12 months, including data collection, analysis, and report writing.

The estimated budget for this research includes expenses related to data collection, software licenses, participant compensation, and research assistance. A detailed budget breakdown will be provided in the final research plan.

8. Conclusion

This research proposal aims to investigate the impact of online education on student learning outcomes through a comparative study with traditional face-to-face instruction. By exploring various dimensions of online education, this research will provide valuable insights into the effectiveness and challenges associated with online learning. The findings will contribute to the ongoing discourse on educational practices and help shape future strategies for maximizing student learning outcomes in online education settings.

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Pfeiffer Library

Writing a Research Proposal

Parts of a research proposal, prosana model, introduction, research question, methodology.

  • Structure of a Research Proposal
  • Common Proposal Writing Mistakes
  • Proposal Writing Resources

A research proposal's purpose is to capture the evaluator's attention, demonstrate the study's potential benefits, and prove that it is a logical and consistent approach (Van Ekelenburg, 2010).  To ensure that your research proposal contains these elements, there are several aspects to include in your proposal (Al-Riyami, 2008):

  • Objective(s)
  • Variables (independent and dependent)
  • Research Question and/or hypothesis

Details about what to include in each element are included in the boxes below.  Depending on the topic of your study, some parts may not apply to your proposal.  You can also watch the video below for a brief overview about writing a successful research proposal.

Van Ekelenburg (2010) uses the PROSANA Model to guide researchers in developing rationale and justification for their research projects.  It is an acronym that connects the problem, solution, and benefits of a particular research project.  It is an easy way to remember the critical parts of a research proposal and how they relate to one another.  It includes the following letters (Van Ekelenburg, 2010):

  • Problem: Describing the main problem that the researcher is trying to solve.
  • Root causes: Describing what is causing the problem.  Why is the topic an issue?
  • fOcus: Narrowing down one of the underlying causes on which the researcher will focus for their research project.
  • Solutions: Listing potential solutions or approaches to fix to the problem.  There could be more than one.
  • Approach: Selecting the solution that the researcher will want to focus on.
  • Novelty: Describing how the solution will address or solve the problem.
  • Arguments: Explaining how the proposed solution will benefit the problem.

Research proposal titles should be concise and to the point, but informative.  The title of your proposal may be different from the title of your final research project, but that is completely normal!  Your findings may help you come up with a title that is more fitting for the final project.  Characteristics of good proposal titles are (Al-Riyami, 2008):

  • Catchy: It catches the reader's attention by peaking their interest.
  • Positive: It spins your project in a positive way towards the reader.
  • Transparent: It identifies the independent and dependent variables.

It is also common for proposal titles to be very similar to your research question, hypothesis, or thesis statement (Locke et al., 2007).

An abstract is a brief summary (about 300 words) of the study you are proposing.  It includes the following elements (Al-Riyami, 2008):

  • Your primary research question(s).
  • Hypothesis or main argument.
  • Method you will use to complete the study.  This may include the design, sample population, or measuring instruments that you plan to use.

Our guide on writing summaries may help you with this step.

  • Writing a Summary by Luann Edwards Last Updated May 22, 2023 4675 views this year

The purpose of the introduction is to give readers background information about your topic.  it gives the readers a basic understanding of your topic so that they can further understand the significance of your proposal.  A good introduction will explain (Al-Riyami, 2008):

  • How it relates to other research done on the topic
  • Why your research is significant to the field
  • The relevance of your study

Your research objectives are the desired outcomes that you will achieve from the research project.  Depending on your research design, these may be generic or very specific.  You may also have more than one objective (Al-Riyami, 2008).

  • General objectives are what the research project will accomplish
  • Specific objectives relate to the research questions that the researcher aims to answer through the study.

Be careful not to have too many objectives in your proposal, as having too many can make your project lose focus.  Plus, it may not be possible to achieve several objectives in one study.

This section describes the different types of variables that you plan to have in your study and how you will measure them.  According to Al-Riyami (2008), there are four types of research variables:

  • Independent:  The person, object, or idea that is manipulated by the researcher.
  • Dependent:  The person, object, or idea whose changes are dependent upon the independent variable.  Typically, it is the item that the researcher is measuring for the study.
  • Confounding/Intervening:  Factors that may influence the effect of the independent variable on the dependent variable.  These include physical and mental barriers.  Not every study will have intervening variables, but they should be studied if applicable.
  • Background:   Factors that are relevant to the study's data and how it can be generalized.  Examples include demographic information such as age, sex, and ethnicity.

Your research proposal should describe each of your variables and how they relate to one another.  Depending on your study, you may not have all four types of variables present.  However, there will always be an independent and dependent variable.

A research question is the main piece of your research project because it explains what your study will discover to the reader.  It is the question that fuels the study, so it is important for it to be precise and unique.  You do not want it to be too broad, and it should identify a relationship between two variables (an independent and a dependent) (Al-Riyami, 2008).  There are six types of research questions (Academic Writer, n.d.):

  • Example: "Do people get nervous before speaking in front of an audience?"
  • Example: "What are the study habits of college freshmen at Tiffin University?"
  • Example: "What primary traits create a successful romantic relationship?"
  • Example: "Is there a relationship between a child's performance in school and their parents' socioeconomic status?"
  • Example: "Are high school seniors more motivated than high school freshmen?"
  • Example: "Do news media outlets impact a person's political opinions?"

For more information on the different types of research questions, you can view the "Research Questions and Hypotheses" tutorial on Academic Writer, located below.  If you are unfamiliar with Academic Writer, we also have a tutorial on using the database located below.

TU Access Only

Compose papers in pre-formatted APA templates. Manage references in forms that help craft APA citations. Learn the rules of APA style through tutorials and practice quizzes.

Academic Writer will continue to use the 6th edition guidelines until August 2020. A preview of the 7th edition is available in the footer of the resource's site. Previously known as APA Style Central.

  • Academic Writer Tutorial by Pfeiffer Library Last Updated May 22, 2023 174625 views this year

If you know enough about your research topic that you believe a particular outcome may occur as a result of the study, you can include a hypothesis (thesis statement) in your proposal.  A hypothesis is a prediction that you believe will be the outcome of your study.  It explains what you think the relationship will be between the independent and dependent variable (Al-Riyami, 2008).  It is ok if the hypothesis in your proposal turns out to be incorrect, because it is only a prediction!  If you are writing a proposal in the humanities, you may be writing a thesis statement instead of a hypothesis.  A thesis presents the main argument of your research project and leads to corresponding evidence to support your argument.

Hypotheses vs. Theories

Hypotheses are different from theories in that theories represent general principles and sets of rules that explain different phenomena.  They typically represent large areas of study because they are applicable to anything in a particular field.  Hypotheses focus on specific areas within a field and are educated guesses, meaning that they have the potential to be proven wrong (Academic Writer, n.d.).  Because of this, hypotheses can also be formed from theories.

For more information on writing effective thesis statements, you can view our guide on writing thesis statements below.

  • Writing Effective Thesis Statements by Luann Edwards Last Updated May 23, 2023 808 views this year

In a research proposal, you must thoroughly explain how you will conduct your study.  This includes things such as (Al-Riyami, 2008):

  • Research design:  What research approach will your study take?  Will it be quantitative or qualitative?
  • Research subjects/participants:  Who will be participating in your study?  Does your study require human participants?  How will you determine who to study?
  • Sample size:  How many participants will your study require?  If you are not using human participants, how much of the sample will you be studying?
  • Timeline:  A proposed list of the general tasks and events that you plan to complete the study.  This will include a time frame for each task/event and the order in which they will be completed.
  • Interventions:  If you plan on using anything on human participants for the study, you must include information it here.  This is especially important if you plan on using any substances on human subjects.
  • Ethical issues:  Are there any potential ethical issues surrounding this study?
  • Potential limitations:  Are there any limitations that could skew the data and findings from your study?
  • Appendixes:  If you need to present any consent forms, interview questions, surveys, questionnaires, or other items that will be used in your study, you should include samples of each item with an appendix to reference them.  If you are using a copyrighted document, you may need written permission from the original creator to use it in your study.  A copy of the written permission should be included in your proposal.
  • Setting:  Where will you be conducting the study?
  • Study instruments:  What measuring tools or computer software will you be using to collect data?  How will you collect the data?
  • How you will analyze the data:  What strategies or tools will you use to analyze the data you collect?
  • Quality control:  Will you have precautions in place to ensure that the study is conducted consistently and that outside factors will not skew the data?
  • Budget:  What type of funding will you need for your study?  This will include the funds needed to afford measuring tools, software, etc.
  • How you will share the study's findings:  What will you plan to do with the findings?
  • Significance of the study: How will your study expand on existing knowledge of the subject area?

For more information on research methodologies, you can view our guide on research methods and methodologies below.

  • Research Methodologies by Pfeiffer Library Last Updated Aug 2, 2022 47167 views this year
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  • Last Updated: May 22, 2023 10:46 AM
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How to prepare a Research Proposal

Health research, medical education and clinical practice form the three pillars of modern day medical practice. As one authority rightly put it: ‘Health research is not a luxury, but an essential need that no nation can afford to ignore’. Health research can and should be pursued by a broad range of people. Even if they do not conduct research themselves, they need to grasp the principles of the scientific method to understand the value and limitations of science and to be able to assess and evaluate results of research before applying them. This review paper aims to highlight the essential concepts to the students and beginning researchers and sensitize and motivate the readers to access the vast literature available on research methodologies.

Most students and beginning researchers do not fully understand what a research proposal means, nor do they understand its importance. 1 A research proposal is a detailed description of a proposed study designed to investigate a given problem. 2

A research proposal is intended to convince others that you have a worthwhile research project and that you have the competence and the work-plan to complete it. Broadly the research proposal must address the following questions regardless of your research area and the methodology you choose: What you plan to accomplish, why do you want to do it and how are you going to do it. 1 The aim of this article is to highlight the essential concepts and not to provide extensive details about this topic.

The elements of a research proposal are highlighted below:

1. Title: It should be concise and descriptive. It must be informative and catchy. An effective title not only prick’s the readers interest, but also predisposes him/her favorably towards the proposal. Often titles are stated in terms of a functional relationship, because such titles clearly indicate the independent and dependent variables. 1 The title may need to be revised after completion of writing of the protocol to reflect more closely the sense of the study. 3

2. Abstract: It is a brief summary of approximately 300 words. It should include the main research question, the rationale for the study, the hypothesis (if any) and the method. Descriptions of the method may include the design, procedures, the sample and any instruments that will be used. 1 It should stand on its own, and not refer the reader to points in the project description. 3

3. Introduction: The introduction provides the readers with the background information. Its purpose is to establish a framework for the research, so that readers can understand how it relates to other research. 4 It should answer the question of why the research needs to be done and what will be its relevance. It puts the proposal in context. 3

The introduction typically begins with a statement of the research problem in precise and clear terms. 1

The importance of the statement of the research problem 5 : The statement of the problem is the essential basis for the construction of a research proposal (research objectives, hypotheses, methodology, work plan and budget etc). It is an integral part of selecting a research topic. It will guide and put into sharper focus the research design being considered for solving the problem. It allows the investigator to describe the problem systematically, to reflect on its importance, its priority in the country and region and to point out why the proposed research on the problem should be undertaken. It also facilitates peer review of the research proposal by the funding agencies.

Then it is necessary to provide the context and set the stage for the research question in such a way as to show its necessity and importance. 1 This step is necessary for the investigators to familiarize themselves with existing knowledge about the research problem and to find out whether or not others have investigated the same or similar problems. This step is accomplished by a thorough and critical review of the literature and by personal communication with experts. 5 It helps further understanding of the problem proposed for research and may lead to refining the statement of the problem, to identify the study variables and conceptualize their relationships, and in formulation and selection of a research hypothesis. 5 It ensures that you are not "re-inventing the wheel" and demonstrates your understanding of the research problem. It gives due credit to those who have laid the groundwork for your proposed research. 1 In a proposal, the literature review is generally brief and to the point. The literature selected should be pertinent and relevant. 6

Against this background, you then present the rationale of the proposed study and clearly indicate why it is worth doing.

4. Objectives: Research objectives are the goals to be achieved by conducting the research. 5 They may be stated as ‘general’ and ‘specific’.

The general objective of the research is what is to be accomplished by the research project, for example, to determine whether or not a new vaccine should be incorporated in a public health program.

The specific objectives relate to the specific research questions the investigator wants to answer through the proposed study and may be presented as primary and secondary objectives, for example, primary: To determine the degree of protection that is attributable to the new vaccine in a study population by comparing the vaccinated and unvaccinated groups. 5 Secondary: To study the cost-effectiveness of this programme.

Young investigators are advised to resist the temptation to put too many objectives or over-ambitious objectives that cannot be adequately achieved by the implementation of the protocol. 3

5. Variables: During the planning stage, it is necessary to identify the key variables of the study and their method of measurement and unit of measurement must be clearly indicated. Four types of variables are important in research 5 :

a. Independent variables: variables that are manipulated or treated in a study in order to see what effect differences in them will have on those variables proposed as being dependent on them. The different synonyms for the term ‘independent variable’ which are used in literature are: cause, input, predisposing factor, risk factor, determinant, antecedent, characteristic and attribute.

b. Dependent variables: variables in which changes are results of the level or amount of the independent variable or variables.

Synonyms: effect, outcome, consequence, result, condition, disease.

c. Confounding or intervening variables: variables that should be studied because they may influence or ‘mix’ the effect of the independent variables. For instance, in a study of the effect of measles (independent variable) on child mortality (dependent variable), the nutritional status of the child may play an intervening (confounding) role.

d. Background variables: variables that are so often of relevance in investigations of groups or populations that they should be considered for possible inclusion in the study. For example sex, age, ethnic origin, education, marital status, social status etc.

The objective of research is usually to determine the effect of changes in one or more independent variables on one or more dependent variables. For example, a study may ask "Will alcohol intake (independent variable) have an effect on development of gastric ulcer (dependent variable)?"

Certain variables may not be easy to identify. The characteristics that define these variables must be clearly identified for the purpose of the study.

6. Questions and/ or hypotheses: If you as a researcher know enough to make prediction concerning what you are studying, then the hypothesis may be formulated. A hypothesis can be defined as a tentative prediction or explanation of the relationship between two or more variables. In other words, the hypothesis translates the problem statement into a precise, unambiguous prediction of expected outcomes. Hypotheses are not meant to be haphazard guesses, but should reflect the depth of knowledge, imagination and experience of the investigator. 5 In the process of formulating the hypotheses, all variables relevant to the study must be identified. For example: "Health education involving active participation by mothers will produce more positive changes in child feeding than health education based on lectures". Here the independent variable is types of health education and the dependent variable is changes in child feeding.

A research question poses a relationship between two or more variables but phrases the relationship as a question; a hypothesis represents a declarative statement of the relations between two or more variables. 7

For exploratory or phenomenological research, you may not have any hypothesis (please do not confuse the hypothesis with the statistical null hypothesis). 1 Questions are relevant to normative or census type research (How many of them are there? Is there a relationship between them?). Deciding whether to use questions or hypotheses depends on factors such as the purpose of the study, the nature of the design and methodology, and the audience of the research (at times even the outlook and preference of the committee members, particularly the Chair). 6

7. Methodology: The method section is very important because it tells your research Committee how you plan to tackle your research problem. The guiding principle for writing the Methods section is that it should contain sufficient information for the reader to determine whether the methodology is sound. Some even argue that a good proposal should contain sufficient details for another qualified researcher to implement the study. 1 Indicate the methodological steps you will take to answer every question or to test every hypothesis illustrated in the Questions/hypotheses section. 6 It is vital that you consult a biostatistician during the planning stage of your study, 8 to resolve the methodological issues before submitting the proposal.

This section should include:

Research design: The selection of the research strategy is the core of research design and is probably the single most important decision the investigator has to make. The choice of the strategy, whether descriptive, analytical, experimental, operational or a combination of these depend on a number of considerations, 5 but this choice must be explained in relation to the study objectives. 3

Research subjects or participants: Depending on the type of your study, the following questions should be answered 3 , 5

  • - What are the criteria for inclusion or selection?
  • - What are the criteria for exclusion?
  • - What is the sampling procedure you will use so as to ensure representativeness and reliability of the sample and to minimize sampling errors? The key reason for being concerned with sampling is the issue of validity-both internal and external of the study results. 9
  • - Will there be use of controls in your study? Controls or comparison groups are used in scientific research in order to increase the validity of the conclusions. Control groups are necessary in all analytical epidemiological studies, in experimental studies of drug trials, in research on effects of intervention programmes and disease control measures and in many other investigations. Some descriptive studies (studies of existing data, surveys) may not require control groups.
  • - What are the criteria for discontinuation?

Sample size: The proposal should provide information and justification (basis on which the sample size is calculated) about sample size in the methodology section. 3 A larger sample size than needed to test the research hypothesis increases the cost and duration of the study and will be unethical if it exposes human subjects to any potential unnecessary risk without additional benefit. A smaller sample size than needed can also be unethical as it exposes human subjects to risk with no benefit to scientific knowledge. Calculation of sample size has been made easy by computer software programmes, but the principles underlying the estimation should be well understood.

Interventions: If an intervention is introduced, a description must be given of the drugs or devices (proprietary names, manufacturer, chemical composition, dose, frequency of administration) if they are already commercially available. If they are in phases of experimentation or are already commercially available but used for other indications, information must be provided on available pre-clinical investigations in animals and/or results of studies already conducted in humans (in such cases, approval of the drug regulatory agency in the country is needed before the study). 3

Ethical issues 3 : Ethical considerations apply to all types of health research. Before the proposal is submitted to the Ethics Committee for approval, two important documents mentioned below (where appropriate) must be appended to the proposal. In additions, there is another vital issue of Conflict of Interest, wherein the researchers should furnish a statement regarding the same.

The Informed consent form (informed decision-making): A consent form, where appropriate, must be developed and attached to the proposal. It should be written in the prospective subjects’ mother tongue and in simple language which can be easily understood by the subject. The use of medical terminology should be avoided as far as possible. Special care is needed when subjects are illiterate. It should explain why the study is being done and why the subject has been asked to participate. It should describe, in sequence, what will happen in the course of the study, giving enough detail for the subject to gain a clear idea of what to expect. It should clarify whether or not the study procedures offer any benefits to the subject or to others, and explain the nature, likelihood and treatment of anticipated discomfort or adverse effects, including psychological and social risks, if any. Where relevant, a comparison with risks posed by standard drugs or treatment must be included. If the risks are unknown or a comparative risk cannot be given it should be so stated. It should indicate that the subject has the right to withdraw from the study at any time without, in any way, affecting his/her further medical care. It should assure the participant of confidentiality of the findings.

Ethics checklist: The proposal must describe the measures that will be undertaken to ensure that the proposed research is carried out in accordance with the World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki on Ethical Principles for Medical research involving Human Subjects. 10 It must answer the following questions:

  • • Is the research design adequate to provide answers to the research question? It is unethical to expose subjects to research that will have no value.
  • • Is the method of selection of research subjects justified? The use of vulnerable subjects as research participants needs special justification. Vulnerable subjects include those in prison, minors and persons with mental disability. In international research it is important to mention that the population in which the study is conducted will benefit from any potential outcome of the research and the research is not being conducted solely for the benefit of some other population. Justification is needed for any inducement, financial or otherwise, for the participants to be enrolled in the study.
  • • Are the interventions justified, in terms of risk/benefit ratio? Risks are not limited to physical harm. Psychological and social risks must also be considered.
  • • For observations made, have measures been taken to ensure confidentiality?

Research setting 5 : The research setting includes all the pertinent facets of the study, such as the population to be studied (sampling frame), the place and time of study.

Study instruments 3 , 5 : Instruments are the tools by which the data are collected. For validated questionnaires/interview schedules, reference to published work should be given and the instrument appended to the proposal. For new a questionnaire which is being designed specifically for your study the details about preparing, precoding and pretesting of questionnaire should be furnished and the document appended to the proposal. Descriptions of other methods of observations like medical examination, laboratory tests and screening procedures is necessary- for established procedures, reference of published work cited but for new or modified procedure, an adequate description is necessary with justification for the same.

Collection of data: A short description of the protocol of data collection. For example, in a study on blood pressure measurement: time of participant arrival, rest for 5p. 10 minutes, which apparatus (standard calibrated) to be used, in which room to take measurement, measurement in sitting or lying down position, how many measurements, measurement in which arm first (whether this is going to be randomized), details of cuff and its placement, who will take the measurement. This minimizes the possibility of confusion, delays and errors.

Data analysis: The description should include the design of the analysis form, plans for processing and coding the data and the choice of the statistical method to be applied to each data. What will be the procedures for accounting for missing, unused or spurious data?

Monitoring, supervision and quality control: Detailed statement about the all logistical issues to satisfy the requirements of Good Clinical Practices (GCP), protocol procedures, responsibilities of each member of the research team, training of study investigators, steps taken to assure quality control (laboratory procedures, equipment calibration etc)

Gantt chart: A Gantt chart is an overview of tasks/proposed activities and a time frame for the same. You put weeks, days or months at one side, and the tasks at the other. You draw fat lines to indicate the period the task will be performed to give a timeline for your research study (take help of tutorial on youtube). 11

Significance of the study: Indicate how your research will refine, revise or extend existing knowledge in the area under investigation. How will it benefit the concerned stakeholders? What could be the larger implications of your research study?

Dissemination of the study results: How do you propose to share the findings of your study with professional peers, practitioners, participants and the funding agency?

Budget: A proposal budget with item wise/activity wise breakdown and justification for the same. Indicate how will the study be financed.

References: The proposal should end with relevant references on the subject. For web based search include the date of access for the cited website, for example: add the sentence "accessed on June 10, 2008".

Appendixes: Include the appropriate appendixes in the proposal. For example: Interview protocols, sample of informed consent forms, cover letters sent to appropriate stakeholders, official letters for permission to conduct research. Regarding original scales or questionnaires, if the instrument is copyrighted then permission in writing to reproduce the instrument from the copyright holder or proof of purchase of the instrument must be submitted.

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Writing Research Proposal

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Research Proposal Writing - A Step-by-Step Guide

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If you're a student, you've probably heard about research proposals, but what are they exactly, and how do you write one without feeling overwhelmed?

A research proposal is a plan of your research paper that shows what you want to study, how you'll do it, and why it's important. 

But don't worry if it sounds a bit complicated at first; we're here to make it clear and straightforward.

In this guide, we'll break down research proposals into easy-to-understand steps. 

We'll explain how to structure your proposal, share examples, and tell you about common mistakes to avoid.

Let's begin!

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What is a Research Proposal? 

According to the research proposal definition, it is like a roadmap. It's a document that explains what you want to study, why it's important, and how you plan to do it. Think of it as your guidebook for conducting research.

How Long is a Research Proposal?

A research proposal typically ranges from 1,500 to 3,000 words in length for Bachelor’s or Master’s. However, the proposals for PhD dissertations are long and detailed due to their complexity when developing research strategies.

The precise length can vary depending on the academic institution, funding agency, or specific guidelines provided for your research proposal. 

Why Research Proposal is Important? 

A research proposal has different purposes, including: 

  • Clarifying Intentions: It forces you to think about what you want to investigate and why it matters.
  • Seeking Approval: In many academic settings, you need to get approval for your research. A well-written proposal is your ticket to gaining that approval.
  • Funding Your Research: If you need financial support for your research, a proposal is often required. It helps funding organizations understand the value of your work.

Key Questions to Address in Your Research Proposal  

When crafting a research proposal, it's essential to address several key questions to ensure that your proposal is comprehensive and well-structured. 

Here are the fundamental questions to consider:

  • What is Your Research Topic or Problem?

This question asks you to define the central issue or question that your research intends to explore. It's the starting point for your proposal and sets the stage for what you aim to investigate.

  • Why is Your Research Important?

Here, you explain the significance of your research. You need to clarify why your study is relevant and what impact it may have on your field of study or on society as a whole.

  • What is Your Research Objective or Hypothesis?

You should state what you intend to achieve or discover through your research. If applicable, you can also provide a hypothesis, which is a tentative answer to your research question.

  • What Previous Research Exists?

This involves conducting a brief literature review to identify existing research related to your topic. You should outline what has been studied before and highlight any gaps or unanswered questions that your research addresses.

  • What is Your Research Methodology?

Here, you describe the methods and techniques you plan to use in your research. You need to be specific about how you will collect and analyze data, which is crucial for evaluating the validity of your study.

  • What Are the Expected Outcomes?

This question asks you to outline the expected results or findings of your research. What do you hope to discover, prove, or contribute to your field? It provides a preview of the potential impact of your study.

Research Proposal Format

Research Proposal Format  - MyPerfectWords.com

The components of a research proposal included in the format are explained in detail below.

In a research proposal, the title page is the very first section, serving as the cover page for your document.

It typically includes the following essential elements:

  • Main Title of the Research Work
  • Student's Name
  • Supervisor's Name
  • Institution and Department

Abstract and Table of Contents

In a research proposal, the abstract is a concise summary of your research proposal, providing a snapshot of its key elements. Keep the abstract brief, typically within 250 words, and include:

  • A concise statement of your research topic and its significance.
  • A brief overview of your research objectives or questions.
  • A summary of your research methodology.
  • The expected outcomes or contributions of your study.

The table of contents is a structured outline of your research proposal's contents. It acts as a roadmap, aiding readers in navigating the document efficiently. A well-organized table of contents typically includes:

  • Section headings and subheadings.
  • Page numbers for each section.
  • A clear hierarchy that reflects the document's structure.

A well-structured research proposal outline is a way to organize your ideas before writing a research paper. It will decide what headings and subheadings the research paper will have.

Research Paper Introduction

The introduction of your research paper serves as a concise and compelling entry point for your readers. It should include:

  • Introduction of the Topic: Briefly introduce the subject matter and what readers can expect from your paper.
  • Main Research Problem: Clearly state the central research question or problem you are addressing.
  • Background of the Issue: Provide context by explaining the importance of the problem and any gaps in existing research.
  • Methodology: Mention the research methods you've employed.
  • Significance: Explain why your research matters and its potential impact.
  • Future Plan: Conclude with an overview of your paper's structure and research objectives.

Background and Significance

This section provides essential context and rationale for your research:

  • State the Problem: Clearly define the research problem and its complexities.
  • Rationale of the Study: Explain why your research is important and its relevance within your field.
  • Critical Issues Addressed: Specify the key issues your research aims to resolve.
  • Research Methodology: Briefly describe your chosen methods and data sources.
  • Scope Clarification: Define the research boundaries to outline what you will and won't cover.
  • Key Term Definitions: Provide concise explanations of any specialized terms or concepts.

Literature Review 

A comprehensive literature review in a research proposal is important. It is a thorough analysis of literature sources that are relevant to the research topic. A strong review aims to convince readers about the valuable contribution to the existing knowledge by giving information.

Key Elements of a Literature Review 

Here are the 5 C’s that can make up a literature review.

  • Cite: Reference relevant sources to acknowledge previous research.
  • Contrast: Highlight differences among theories or findings.
  • Compare : Identify similarities and shared insights.
  • Connect: Explain how your research builds upon prior work.
  • Critique: Assess the strengths and weaknesses of previous studies.

By using them, compare and contrast the main theories and methods. Also, identify the strengths and weaknesses of the different approaches while writing a literature review. 

Research Design and Methods 

In this section, you outline the overall strategy and research proposal steps you'll take to address your research questions. 

The key is not just listing methods but demonstrating why your chosen method is the most suitable approach to answer your questions.

The below table will help you identify the methodology in a research proposal.

Hypothesis 

A hypothesis is a critical initial step in defining the purpose of your research. It not only provides a clear objective for researchers but also helps readers understand the essence of your study. 

Well-crafted hypotheses streamline the research process, making it more efficient.

Key Questions to Consider When Formulating a Hypothesis 

  • What Will be the Research Outcome Concerning the Theoretical Framework and Assumptions?

Define the expected outcome of your study in relation to the theoretical framework and underlying assumptions you've established.

  • What Suggestions Could Arise from Research Outcomes?

Anticipate potential recommendations or suggestions that might emerge from the results of your research.

  • How Will Results Contribute to the Natural Workplace Setting?

Consider how the research outcomes might impact or enhance the natural dynamics of a workplace or relevant setting.

  • Will the Outcomes Contribute to Social and Economic Issues?

Assess whether your research results have implications for broader social or economic problems.

  • How Will the Outcomes Influence Policy Decisions?

Explore how your research findings could inform or influence policy decisions at various levels.

  • How Can Research Benefits Extend to Individuals or Groups?

Identify the potential benefits that your research might offer to individuals or specific groups within society.

  • What Aspects Can Be Improved as a Result of Your Study?

Determine the areas or practices that could be enhanced based on the findings of your research.

  • How Will Study Outcomes be Implemented in the Future?

Consider the practical application and implementation of your research outcomes in the future.

The primary purpose of the discussion is to analyze the significance of your findings in the context of the research problem. 

Additionally, this section explores new and promising insights that can guide future research studies.

  • Highlight Frameworks: Emphasize the frameworks that guided your study.
  • Examine Significance: Analyze the importance of your findings in addressing the research problem.
  • Connect to Introduction: Maintain alignment with your research's purpose and introduction.
  • Present Fresh Insights: Share new insights that emerged from your study.
  • Propose Future Research: Suggest directions for future studies based on your research.

Research Paper Conclusion

The conclusion serves as a concise summary of your entire research study, highlighting its significance and importance. 

It should be a brief section, typically comprising one to two paragraphs, focusing on:

  • Purpose of the Research Study: Clarify why your research study was conducted and what overarching questions it sought to address.
  • Advancement of Existing Knowledge: Emphasize how your research contributes to the current body of knowledge in your field or area of study.
  • Relation to Theory or Hypothesis: Discuss how your research aligns with the theoretical framework or hypothesis you proposed earlier in the paper.
  • Benefits to Scholars: Consider how your research findings might benefit other scholars, researchers, or practitioners in your field.
  • Prospects for Future Implications: Conclude by highlighting the potential implications of your study for future research or practice.

A research proposal formatting must include proper citations for every source that you have used. Similarly, the referencing list should also contain full publication details. 

A standard paper proposal has two kinds of citations.

  • References - Only list the sources you have used in the proposal.
  • Bibliography - List sources used along with other additional citations that you have studied to conduct the research.

Always choose the specific citation formats required by the professors. It includes APA, MLA, and Chicago. 

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Research Proposal Examples

Have a look at the sample research proposal for a better understanding.

APA Research Proposal

Student Research Proposal Example

Research Proposal Sample

Research Proposal Template

Research Proposal on Covid 19

Research Proposal Topics

Here are some considerations and examples to inspire your research proposal topics:

  • The Impact of Technology on Remote Work Productivity
  • Gender Disparities in STEM Education
  • Climate Change Adaptation Strategies for Urban Areas
  • Mental Health and Social Media Use
  • The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare
  • Cultural Heritage Preservation in the Digital Age
  • The Economics of Sustainable Agriculture
  • Online Learning and Student Engagement
  • Psychological Resilience in the Face of Natural Disasters
  • Exploring Ethical Implications of Genetic Engineering

Mistake to Avoid when Writing a Research Proposal 

When crafting your research proposal, it's crucial to steer clear of common pitfalls that can hinder the quality and effectiveness of your proposal. Here are some key mistakes to avoid:

  • Lack of Clarity: Failing to clearly articulate your research questions, objectives, and methodology can lead to confusion among readers.
  • Insufficient Literature Review: Neglecting a comprehensive review of existing research can result in a lack of context and relevance for your study.
  • Overly Ambitious Scope: Trying to tackle too broad a topic within the constraints of a research proposal can lead to unrealistic expectations and an unfocused study.
  • Weak or Absent Justification: Failing to explain the significance and relevance of your research can undermine its credibility.
  • Inadequate Methodology: A poorly defined research methodology can raise doubts about the validity and reliability of your study.
  • Ignoring Ethical Considerations: Neglecting ethical considerations can have serious consequences for your research and its approval.
  • Neglecting Proofreading and Editing: Typos, grammatical errors, and formatting issues can detract from the professionalism of your proposal.

In conclusion, crafting a well-structured and compelling research proposal is an essential step in your academic journey. We've provided you with a complete format guide and useful templates to help you get started. Remember, a strong research proposal is the foundation for a successful research project.

If you find yourself needing further assistance in your academic pursuits don't hesitate to reach out to us. Our best paper writing service is here to assist you every step of the way, ensuring your academic success.

So, contact our research proposal writing service and make your academic dreams a reality!

Nova A. (Literature, Marketing)

Nova Allison is a Digital Content Strategist with over eight years of experience. Nova has also worked as a technical and scientific writer. She is majorly involved in developing and reviewing online content plans that engage and resonate with audiences. Nova has a passion for writing that engages and informs her readers.

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Research Proposal explained and guide

Research proposal - Toolshero

Research proposal: this article provides a practical explanation of the research proposal . The article starts with a definition of the term research proposal and why the proposal is an important part of research as a whole. Then you will find a step-by-step guide and valuable tips on how to write a good research proposal. Enjoy reading!

What is a research proposal?

A research proposal is an important first step that is carried out before the research starts. Every student who is going to write a thesis must submit a research proposal in advance. This proposal provides a picture of the problem that will be researched and how the research will be designed.

Research proposal structure

The research proposal is a document that usually consists of the following different elements:

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  • Background information
  • Problem statement, research objectives and research questions
  • Research methods
  • Preliminary bibliography

It is important to pay attention to this as it serves as a blueprint for the research project and helps to convince the reader that the research is worthwhile.

Students use the research proposal as a guideline for their thesis, an extensive research that forms the pinnacle of their academic career. Many students dread writing a thesis.

This proposal helps ensure that the student is on the right track with their research and provides a roadmap for writing the thesis. In this article you will find all the information you need to complete a research proposal.

Step 1 of the research proposal: Background information

The first step in writing a research proposal is to prepare background information. This section provides an explanation of the problem being researched, why it is important to research this problem, and how the problem compares to existing research conducted in the same field.

The background information may also include a brief overview of the main theories and concepts relevant to the research topic. However, these are also included in the last step under the provisional bibliography heading.

The purpose of this section is to help the reader understand why the research is needed and how it fits into the wider context of the field. We call this the academic relevance of the research.

Example of a good description of background information

In recent years, the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) has had a major impact on the way companies shape their marketing activities.

AI technologies are used to analyze data , predict consumer behavior and create personalized advertisements.

These developments have created both opportunities and challenges for marketers. This research focuses on examining the impact of AI on marketing in companies and exploring ways companies can use these technologies to improve their marketing strategies.

A study of the effects of AI in marketing is academically relevant because it focuses on a current and relevant topic within the marketing world, namely the emergence of AI technologies and their impact on companies’ marketing strategy.

The research is relevant because it contributes to the development of knowledge and understanding of this topic, and can help improve the way companies develop and execute their marketing strategies.

In addition, the research is also theoretically relevant, because it contributes to the development of academic literature on this topic, for example by introducing new insights or concepts on this relatively new and unknown topic.

Research Methods For Business Students Course A-Z guide to writing a rockstar Research Paper with a bulletproof Research Methodology!   More information

Step 2 of the research proposal: the Problem statement

The problem analysis in a research proposal ensures that the researcher gets a picture of the situation being researched and why it concerns a problem that needs to be researched. The problem statement then describes exactly what the problem or issue is and why research is needed.

Example problem statement

The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming the way companies approach marketing.

As AI becomes more sophisticated and accessible, it can automate many tasks traditionally performed by human marketers, including data analysis, customer segmentation, and personalized targeting. While AI offers significant opportunities to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of marketing efforts, it also poses challenges for companies in organizing and managing their marketing teams in this new landscape.

Research question

Therefore, the research question for this study is as follows:

What are the implications of AI for the organization of marketing efforts in companies, and how can companies best adapt to these changes to remain competitive in the marketplace?

Sub-questions

Examples of sub-questions that can help answer the research question of this study are:

  • What specific marketing tasks can AI automate, and how can companies effectively integrate AI into their existing marketing strategies?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of using AI in marketing and in which different sectors and companies do they differ?
  • How do AI-powered marketing tools influence the skills and roles needed for human marketers?
  • Which organizational structures and business processes are best suited for integrating AI into marketing teams?

Step 3 of the research proposal: Research methods

To answer the above questions, it is important to know which research methods can be used to collect the right data. This part of the research proposal therefore revolves around determining and partly explaining the methods used.

Please try to complete this section as completely as possible. Keep the purpose of the research proposal in mind: the document serves as a blueprint and guideline for actually carrying out the research.

The better the preparation is, the easier it will be to go through the research process.

Example research methods

To answer the sub-questions, a mixed-methods research approach is used, combining both qualitative and quantitative research methods.

For the first sub-question, qualitative research methods are used, such as interviews with marketing experts and industry leaders.

This is done to gain a comprehensive understanding of the ways AI can be integrated into existing marketing strategies. In addition, a thorough literature review is performed to identify best practices and successful case studies of AI-driven marketing campaigns.

To answer the second sub-question, both qualitative and quantitative research methods are used to examine the potential benefits and drawbacks of AI in marketing across different industries and companies. Surveys and focus groups are the primary tools to collect qualitative data on consumer attitudes towards AI in marketing, while financial data will also be analyzed to measure the economic impact of AI on marketing efforts.

The third sub-question will be answered through a combination of qualitative research methods, specifically interviews and focus groups, as well as quantitative data analysis. Surveys are also being used to collect data on the skills and roles needed for human marketers in the age of AI. Job openings are also analyzed to identify emerging skills and roles in AI-driven marketing.

Finally, answering the fourth sub-question uses both qualitative and quantitative research methods again, where surveys and interviews will be used to collect data on the most effective organizational structures and processes for integrating AI into marketing teams.

A timeframe is also included in the research proposal. When it comes to a thesis, supervisors are mainly interested in the feasibility of the planning. Make sure you allocate enough time for each part and use margins so that you can meet the deadline even if there are delays. Use a tool like the Gantt chart .

Step 4 of the research proposal: Provisional bibliography and references

The reference list is an essential part of any research paper or proposal, as it lists all sources used in the research process. In this section, students should include a complete list of all references cited in their proposal, following a particular reference style such as APA or MLA.

The citation section should include the author’s name, publication year, article or book title, publication name, and page numbers. If the source is a website or online article, students should also include the URL and date of access.

Tips for writing a research proposal

Use the following tips to write a good research proposal:

1. Write a concise research question

Your research question should be focused and well-defined to keep you on track throughout the research process.

2. Conduct a thorough literature review

Before you start writing the actual research, it is important to conduct an extensive literature review to understand what research has already been done on the topic.

3. Describe your research methodology

Clearly explain the research methods you plan to use, including any data collection and analysis methods.

4. Academic relevance

Explain clearly why your research is important and how it will contribute to the field. The lack of academic relevance is a common reason for rejecting a research proposal.

5. Be realistic

Make sure that your research question is feasible and that you have access to the necessary resources to conduct the research.

6. Follow the guidelines

Check and follow the specific guidelines and requirements set by your institution or professor. This can also be a reason for rejection of a research proposal.

7. Proofreading

Check your proposal for errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation, and ask a colleague or consultant to review it and provide feedback.

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It’s Your Turn

What do you think? Do you recognize the explanation of the research proposal? Does this article help you write a research proposal? Which tips in this article did you find most useful? Are you still missing information? Or do you have other tips and comments?

Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.

More information

  • Denscombe, M. (2012). Research proposals: A practical guide . McGraw-Hill Education .
  • Klopper, H. (2008). The qualitative research proposal . Curationis, 31(4), 62-72.
  • Punch, K. (2000). D eveloping effective research proposals . Sage Publishing .

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How to write a Research Proposal: Explained with Examples

At some time in your student phase, you will have to do a Thesis or Dissertation, and for that, you will have to submit a research proposal. A Research Proposal in its most basic definition is a formally structured document that explains what, why, and how of your research. This document explains What you plan to research (your topic or theme of research), Why you are doing this research (justifying your research topic), and How you will do (your approach to complete the research). The purpose of a proposal is to convince other people apart from yourself that the work you’re doing is suitable and feasible for your academic position.

research proposal examples format

The process of writing a research proposal is lengthy and time-consuming. Your proposal will need constant edits as you keep taking your work forward and continue receiving feedback. Although, there is a structure or a template that needs to be followed. This article will guide you through this strenuous task. So, let’s get to work!

Research Proposal: Example

[ Let us take a running example throughout the article so that we cover all the points. Let us assume that we are working on a dissertation that needs to study the relationship between Gender and Money. ]

The Title is one of the first things the reader comes across. Your title should be crisp yet communicate all that you are trying to convey to the reader. In academia, a title gets even more weightage because in a sea of resources, sometimes your research project can get ignored because the title didn’t speak for itself. Therefore, make sure that you brainstorm multiple title options and see which fits the best. Many times in academic writing we use two forms of titles: the Main Title and the Subtitle. If you think that you cannot justify your research using just a Title, you can add a subtitle which will then convey the rest of your explanation.

[ Explanation through an example: Our theme is “Gender and Money”.

We can thus keep our title as: A study of “Gendered Money” in the Rural households of Delhi. ]

Insider’s Info: If you are not confident about your title in your research proposal, then write “Tentative Title” in brackets and italic below your Title. In this way, your superiors (professor or supervisor) will know that you are still working on fixing the title.

Overview / Abstract

The overview, also known as abstract and/or introduction, is the first section that you write for your proposal. Your overview should be a single paragraph that explains to the reader what your whole research will be about. In a nutshell, you will use your abstract to present all the arguments that you will be taking in detail in your thesis or research. What you can do is introduce your theme a little along with your topic and the aim of your research. But beware and do not reveal all that you have in your pocket. Make sure to spend plenty of time writing your overview because it will be used to determine if your research is worth taking forward or reading.

Existing Literature

This is one of the most important parts of your research and proposal. It should be obvious that in such a huge universe of research, the topic chosen by you cannot be the first of its kind. Therefore, you have to locate your research in the arguments or themes which are already out there. To do so, what you have to do is read the existing literature on the same topic or theme as yours. Without reading the existing literature you cannot possibly form your arguments or start your research. But to write the portion of existing literature you have to be cautious. In the course of your dissertation, at some point either before or after you submit your proposal, you will be asked to submit a “Literature Review”. Though it is very similar to existing literature, it is NOT the same.

Difference between “Literature Review” and “Existing Literature”

A literature review is a detailed essay that discusses all the material which is already out there regarding your topic. For a literature review, you will have to mention all the literature you have read and then explain how they benefit you in your field of research.

Whereas, an existing literature segment in your research proposal is the compact version of a literature review. It is a two to three-paragraph portion that locates your research topic in the larger argument. Here you need not reveal all your literature resources, but only mention the major ones which will be recurring literature throughout your research.

[ Explanation through an example: Now we know that our topic is: Our theme is “A study of “Gendered Money” in the Rural households of Delhi.”

To find the existing literature on this topic you should find academic articles relating to the themes of money, gender, economy, income, etc. ]

Insider’s Info : There is no limit when it comes to how much you read. You can read 2 articles or 20 articles for your research. The number doesn’t matter, what matters is how you use those concepts and arguments in your own thesis.

Research Gap

As you read and gather knowledge on your topic, you will start forming your own views. This might lead you to two conclusions. First, there exists a lot of literature regarding the relationship between gender and money, but they are all lacking something. Second, in the bundle of existing literature, you can bring a fresh perspective. Both of these thoughts help you in formulating your research gap. A research gap is nothing but you justifying why you should continue with your research even when it has been discussed many times already. Quoting your research gap helps you make a place for yourself in the academic world.

Based on 1st Conclusion, you can say that the research gap you found was that most of the studies done on the theme of gendered money looked at the urban situation, and with your analysis of ‘rural’ households, you will fill the gap.

Based on 2nd Conclusion, you can say that all the existing literature is mostly written from the economic point of view, but through your research, you will try to bring a feminist viewpoint to the theme of gendered money. ]

Insider’s Info : If you are unable to find a research gap for your dissertation, the best hack to fall back on is to say that all the research done up to this point have been based on western notions and social facts, but you will conduct research which holds in your localized reality.

Research Question / Hypothesis

Once you are sorted with your existing literature and have located your research gap, this section will be the easiest to tackle. A research question or hypothesis is nothing but a set of questions that you will try and answer throughout the course of your research. It is very crucial to include research questions in your proposal because this tells your superiors exactly what you plan to do. The number of questions you set for yourself can vary according to the time, resources, and finances you have. But we still recommend that you have at least three research questions stated in your proposal.

[ Explanation through an example: Now that we know what our topic is: our theme is “A study of “gendered money” in the rural households of Delhi.”

Some of the research questions you can state can be,

  • Study the division for uses of wages, based on who earned it and where it is getting utilized. 
  • How gender relations also play a role within the household not only in the form of kinship but in the indirect form of economics as well.
  • How, even when we have the same currency signifying the meaning of money, it changes according to the source of who earned it.
  • How moral values and judgments are added to the money comes from different sources. ]

Insider’s Info: If you are confused about your research question, you can look at the questions taken up by the other authors you studied and modify them according to your point of view. But we seriously recommend that the best way to do your research is by coming up with your research question on your own. Believe in yourself!

Research Methodology / Research Design

This part of the research proposal is about how you will conduct and complete your research. To understand better what research methodology is, we should first clarify the difference between methodology and method. Research Method is the technique used by you to conduct your research. A method includes the sources of collecting your data such as case studies, interviews, surveys, etc. On the other hand, Methodology is how you plan to apply your method . Your methodology determines how you execute various methods during the course of your dissertation.

Therefore, a research methodology, which is also known as research design, is where you tell your reader how you plan to do your research. You tell the step-by-step plan and then justify it. Your research methodology will inform your supervisor how you plan to use your research tools and methods.

Your methodology should explain where you are conducting the research and how. So for this research, your field will be rural Delhi. Explain why you chose to study rural households and not urban ones. Then comes the how, some of the methods you might want to opt for can be Interviews, Questionnaires, and/or Focused Group Discussions. Do not forget to mention your sample size, i.e., the number of people you plan to talk to. ]

Insider’s Info: Make sure that you justify all the methods you plan to use. The more you provide your supervisor with a justification; the more serious and formal you come out to be in front of them. Also, when you write your why down, it is hard to forget the track and get derailed from the goal.

This will not even be a section, but just 2 lines in your proposal where you will state the amount of time you plan to complete your dissertation and how you will utilize that time. This portion can also be included in your “Research Methodology” section. We have stated this as a separate subheading so that you do not miss out on this small but mighty aspect.

For this project, you can mention that you will be allocated 4 months, out of which 1 month will be utilized for fieldwork and the rest would be used for secondary research, compilation, and completion of the thesis. ]

Aim of the Research

The aim of the research is where you try to predict the result of your research. Your aim is what you wish to achieve at the end of this long process. This section also informs your supervisor how your research will be located in the ongoing larger argument corresponding to your selected topic/theme. Remember the research questions you set up for yourself earlier? This is the time when you envision answers to those questions.

You can present that through your research you will aim to find if the money which enters the household belongs equally to everyone, or does it get stratified and gendered in this realm. Through this research, you aim to present a fresh new perspective in the field of studies of gendered money. ]

Insider’s Info: The aim you write right now is just a prediction or the expected outcome. Therefore, even if the result of your research is different in the end it doesn’t matter.

Bibliography

The bibliography is the easiest and most sorted part of your proposal. It is nothing but a list of all the resources that you will study or already have studied for the completion of your research. This list will contain all the articles or essays mentioned by you in the existing literature section, and all the other things such as books, journal articles, reviews, news, etc.

The most basic format to write a bibliography is:

  • Author’s Name with Surname mentioned first, then initials (Tiwari, E.)
  • Article’s Title in single or double quotes ( ‘ ’ or “ ” )
  • Journal Title in Italics ( Like this )
  • Volume, issue number
  • Year of Publication in brackets

Example: Tichenor, Veronica Jaris (1999). “Status and income as gendered resources: The case of marital power”. Journal of Marriage and Family . Pg 938-65 ]

Insider’s Info: You do not number or bullet your bibliography. They should be arranged alphabetically based on the surname of the author.

Learn: Citation with Examples

Also Check: How to Write Dissertation

https://www.uh.edu/~lsong5/documents/

https://www.yorksj.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/research/

research proposal meaning simple

Hello! Eiti is a budding sociologist whose passion lies in reading, researching, and writing. She thrives on coffee, to-do lists, deadlines, and organization. Eiti's primary interest areas encompass food, gender, and academia.

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  1. What Is A Research Proposal? Examples + Template

    Simply put, a research proposal is a structured, formal document that explains what you plan to research (your research topic), why it's worth researching (your justification), and how you plan to investigate it (your methodology).

  2. How to Write a Research Proposal

    Introduction Literature review Research design Reference list While the sections may vary, the overall objective is always the same. A research proposal serves as a blueprint and guide for your research plan, helping you get organized and feel confident in the path forward you choose to take. Table of contents Research proposal purpose

  3. How to Write a Research Proposal

    In a research proposal, the goal is to present the author's plan for the research they intend to conduct. In some cases, part of this goal is to secure funding for said research. In others, it's to have the research approved by the author's supervisor or department so they can move forward with it.

  4. What Is a Research Proposal? (Plus How To Write One)

    A research proposal is a highly structured document that describes your study's topic and explains how you plan to investigate a specific inquiry. It typically provides an in-depth analysis of the theories that support your hypothesis, which is a projected answer to this inquiry.

  5. How to Write a Research Proposal

    A research proposal describes what you will investigate, why it's important, and how you will conduct your research. The format of a research proposal varies between fields, but most proposals will contain at least these elements: Title page Introduction Literature review Research design Reference list

  6. How to write a research proposal?

    The proposal is a detailed plan or 'blueprint' for the intended study, and once it is completed, the research project should flow smoothly. Even today, many of the proposals at post-graduate evaluation committees and application proposals for funding are substandard.

  7. Research proposal

    A research proposal is a document proposing a research project, generally in the sciences or academia, and generally constitutes a request for sponsorship of that research. [1] Proposals are evaluated on the cost and potential impact of the proposed research, and on the soundness of the proposed plan for carrying it out. [2]

  8. What is a Research Proposal?

    Research proposals are written to propose a research project and oftentimes request funding, or sponsorship, for that research. The research proposal is used to assess the originality and quality of ideas and the feasibility of a proposed project. The goal of the research proposal is to convince others that the investigator has (a) an important ...

  9. PDF Research Proposals

    A research proposal is a document that outlines a research project's goal, significance, and practical application, i.e., how it will actually be done. It should establish a need for the research within its field and must also convince readers about its credibility, achievability, practicality,

  10. 11.2 Steps in Developing a Research Proposal

    Key Takeaways. Developing a research proposal involves the following preliminary steps: identifying potential ideas, choosing ideas to explore further, choosing and narrowing a topic, formulating a research question, and developing a working thesis. A good topic for a research paper interests the writer and fulfills the requirements of the ...

  11. Writing a Research Proposal

    The design elements and procedures for conducting research are governed by standards of the predominant discipline in which the problem resides, therefore, the guidelines for research proposals are more exacting and less formal than a general project proposal. Research proposals contain extensive literature reviews.

  12. Writing a Scientific Research Project Proposal

    Abstract: This is a brief (300-500 words) summary that includes the research question, your rationale for the study, and any applicable hypothesis. You should also include a brief description of your methodology, including procedures, samples, instruments, etc. Introduction: The opening paragraph of your research proposal is, perhaps, the most ...

  13. Writing a Research Proposal

    A research proposal is a roadmap that brings the researcher closer to the objectives, takes the research topic from a purely subjective mind, and manifests an objective plan. It shows us what steps we need to take to reach the objective, what questions we should answer, and how much time we need.

  14. What is a research proposal?

    A research proposal is a type of text which maps out a proposed central research problem or question and a suggested approach to its investigation. In many universities, including RMIT, the research proposal is a formal requirement. It is central to achieving your first milestone: your Confirmation of Candidature.

  15. How to Write a Research Proposal

    1. Title. As is well known, the first thing that catches the reader's attention is a catchy title. Therefore, you should try to come up with a catchy yet informative title for your research proposal. Additionally, it should be concise and clear to reflect enough information about your research question.

  16. How To Write A Research Proposal (With Examples)

    Make sure you can ask the critical what, who, and how questions of your research before you put pen to paper. Your research proposal should include (at least) 5 essential components : Title - provides the first taste of your research, in broad terms. Introduction - explains what you'll be researching in more detail.

  17. How To Write A Research Proposal

    1. Title and Abstract Choose a concise and descriptive title that reflects the essence of your research. Write an abstract summarizing your research question, objectives, methodology, and expected outcomes. It should provide a brief overview of your proposal. 2. Introduction:

  18. Parts of a Research Proposal

    A research proposal's purpose is to capture the evaluator's attention, demonstrate the study's potential benefits, and prove that it is a logical and consistent approach (Van Ekelenburg, 2010). To ensure that your research proposal contains these elements, there are several aspects to include in your proposal (Al-Riyami, 2008): Title Abstract

  19. How to prepare a Research Proposal

    It puts the proposal in context. 3. The introduction typically begins with a statement of the research problem in precise and clear terms. 1. The importance of the statement of the research problem 5: The statement of the problem is the essential basis for the construction of a research proposal (research objectives, hypotheses, methodology ...

  20. How to Write a Research Proposal

    In a research proposal, the abstract is a concise summary of your research proposal, providing a snapshot of its key elements. Keep the abstract brief, typically within 250 words, and include: A concise statement of your research topic and its significance. A brief overview of your research objectives or questions.

  21. How to Write a Research Proposal in 2024: Structure, Examples & Common

    A research proposal outline's content typically varies in length, from 3 to 35 pages, with references (and appendices, if necessary). But like any academic activity, start the research proposal template writing process by first carefully reading the instructions.

  22. Research Proposal explained and guide

    A research proposal is an important first step that is carried out before the research starts. Every student who is going to write a thesis must submit a research proposal in advance. This proposal provides a picture of the problem that will be researched and how the research will be designed. Research proposal structure

  23. How to write a Research Proposal: Explained with Examples

    The overview, also known as abstract and/or introduction, is the first section that you write for your proposal. Your overview should be a single paragraph that explains to the reader what your whole research will be about. In a nutshell, you will use your abstract to present all the arguments that you will be taking in detail in your thesis or ...

  24. Research Proposal Definition, Components & Examples

    The best research proposal definition states that it is a structured document that describes an intended study. This formal document reveals the importance and methodology of conducting the ...