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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 aims
Show your reader why your project is interesting, original, and important.
Demonstrate your comfort and familiarity with your field.
Show that you understand the current state of research on your topic.
Make a case for your .
Demonstrate that you have carefully thought about the data, tools, and procedures necessary to conduct your research.
Confirm that your project is feasible within the timeline of your program or funding deadline.

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

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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.

Building a research proposal methodology
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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

Example research schedule
Research phase Objectives Deadline
1. Background research and literature review 20th January
2. Research design planning and data analysis methods 13th February
3. Data collection and preparation with selected participants and code interviews 24th March
4. Data analysis of interview transcripts 22nd April
5. Writing 17th June
6. Revision final work 28th July

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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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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How to write a research proposal

writing a research proposal

What is a research proposal?

What is the purpose of a research proposal , how long should a research proposal be, what should be included in a research proposal, 1. the title page, 2. introduction, 3. literature review, 4. research design, 5. implications, 6. reference list, frequently asked questions about writing a research proposal, related articles.

If you’re in higher education, the term “research proposal” is something you’re likely to be familiar with. But what is it, exactly? You’ll normally come across the need to prepare a research proposal when you’re looking to secure Ph.D. funding.

When you’re trying to find someone to fund your Ph.D. research, a research proposal is essentially your “pitch.”

A research proposal is a concise and coherent summary of your proposed research.

You’ll need to set out the issues that are central to the topic area and how you intend to address them with your research. To do this, you’ll need to give the following:

  • an outline of the general area of study within which your research falls
  • an overview of how much is currently known about the topic
  • a literature review that covers the recent scholarly debate or conversation around the topic

➡️  What is a literature review? Learn more in our guide.

Essentially, you are trying to persuade your institution that you and your project are worth investing their time and money into.

It is the opportunity for you to demonstrate that you have the aptitude for this level of research by showing that you can articulate complex ideas:

It also helps you to find the right supervisor to oversee your research. When you’re writing your research proposal, you should always have this in the back of your mind.

This is the document that potential supervisors will use in determining the legitimacy of your research and, consequently, whether they will invest in you or not. It is therefore incredibly important that you spend some time on getting it right.

Tip: While there may not always be length requirements for research proposals, you should strive to cover everything you need to in a concise way.

If your research proposal is for a bachelor’s or master’s degree, it may only be a few pages long. For a Ph.D., a proposal could be a pretty long document that spans a few dozen pages.

➡️ Research proposals are similar to grant proposals. Learn how to write a grant proposal in our guide.

When you’re writing your proposal, keep in mind its purpose and why you’re writing it. It, therefore, needs to clearly explain the relevance of your research and its context with other discussions on the topic. You need to then explain what approach you will take and why it is feasible.

Generally, your structure should look something like this:

  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Research Design
  • Implications

If you follow this structure, you’ll have a comprehensive and coherent proposal that looks and feels professional, without missing out on anything important. We’ll take a deep dive into each of these areas one by one next.

The title page might vary slightly per your area of study but, as a general point, your title page should contain the following:

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

Tip: Keep in mind any departmental or institutional guidelines for a research proposal title page. Also, your supervisor may ask for specific details to be added to the page.

The introduction is crucial   to your research proposal as it is your first opportunity to hook the reader in. A good introduction section will introduce your project and its relevance to the field of study.

You’ll want to use this space to demonstrate that you have carefully thought about how to present your project as interesting, original, and important research. A good place to start is by introducing the context of your research problem.

Think about answering these questions:

  • What is it you want to research and why?
  • How does this research relate to the respective field?
  • How much is already known about this area?
  • Who might find this research interesting?
  • What are the key questions you aim to answer with your research?
  • What will the findings of this project add to the topic area?

Your introduction aims to set yourself off on a great footing and illustrate to the reader that you are an expert in your field and that your project has a solid foundation in existing knowledge and theory.

The literature review section answers the question who else is talking about your proposed research topic.

You want to demonstrate that your research will contribute to conversations around the topic and that it will sit happily amongst experts in the field.

➡️ Read more about how to write a literature review .

There are lots of ways you can find relevant information for your literature review, including:

  • Research relevant academic sources such as books and journals to find similar conversations around the topic.
  • Read through abstracts and bibliographies of your academic sources to look for relevance and further additional resources without delving too deep into articles that are possibly not relevant to you.
  • Watch out for heavily-cited works . This should help you to identify authoritative work that you need to read and document.
  • Look for any research gaps , trends and patterns, common themes, debates, and contradictions.
  • Consider any seminal studies on the topic area as it is likely anticipated that you will address these in your research proposal.

This is where you get down to the real meat of your research proposal. It should be a discussion about the overall approach you plan on taking, and the practical steps you’ll follow in answering the research questions you’ve posed.

So what should you discuss here? Some of the key things you will need to discuss at this point are:

  • What form will your research take? Is it qualitative/quantitative/mixed? Will your research be primary or secondary?
  • What sources will you use? Who or what will you be studying as part of your research.
  • Document your research method. How are you practically going to carry out your research? What tools will you need? What procedures will you use?
  • Any practicality issues you foresee. Do you think there will be any obstacles to your anticipated timescale? What resources will you require in carrying out your research?

Your research design should also discuss the potential implications of your research. For example, are you looking to confirm an existing theory or develop a new one?

If you intend to create a basis for further research, you should describe this here.

It is important to explain fully what you want the outcome of your research to look like and what you want to achieve by it. This will help those reading your research proposal to decide if it’s something the field  needs  and  wants,  and ultimately whether they will support you with it.

When you reach the end of your research proposal, you’ll have to compile a list of references for everything you’ve cited above. Ideally, you should keep track of everything from the beginning. Otherwise, this could be a mammoth and pretty laborious task to do.

Consider using a reference manager like Paperpile to format and organize your citations. Paperpile allows you to organize and save your citations for later use and cite them in thousands of citation styles directly in Google Docs, Microsoft Word, or LaTeX.

Paperpile reference manager

Your project may also require you to have a timeline, depending on the budget you are requesting. If you need one, you should include it here and explain both the timeline and the budget you need, documenting what should be done at each stage of the research and how much of the budget this will use.

This is the final step, but not one to be missed. You should make sure that you edit and proofread your document so that you can be sure there are no mistakes.

A good idea is to have another person proofread the document for you so that you get a fresh pair of eyes on it. You can even have a professional proofreader do this for you.

This is an important document and you don’t want spelling or grammatical mistakes to get in the way of you and your reader.

➡️ Working on a research proposal for a thesis? Take a look at our guide on how to come up with a topic for your thesis .

A research proposal is a concise and coherent summary of your proposed research. Generally, your research proposal will have a title page, introduction, literature review section, a section about research design and explaining the implications of your research, and a reference list.

A good research proposal is concise and coherent. It has a clear purpose, clearly explains the relevance of your research and its context with other discussions on the topic. A good research proposal explains what approach you will take and why it is feasible.

You need a research proposal to persuade your institution that you and your project are worth investing their time and money into. It is your opportunity to demonstrate your aptitude for this level or research by showing that you can articulate complex ideas clearly, concisely, and critically.

A research proposal is essentially your "pitch" when you're trying to find someone to fund your PhD. It is a clear and concise summary of your proposed research. It gives an outline of the general area of study within which your research falls, it elaborates how much is currently known about the topic, and it highlights any recent debate or conversation around the topic by other academics.

The general answer is: as long as it needs to be to cover everything. The length of your research proposal depends on the requirements from the institution that you are applying to. Make sure to carefully read all the instructions given, and if this specific information is not provided, you can always ask.

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How to write a good research proposal (in 9 steps)

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A good research proposal is one of the keys to academic success. For bachelor’s and master’s students, the quality of a research proposal often determines whether the master’s program= can be completed or not. For PhD students, a research proposal is often the first step to securing a university position. This step-by-step manual guides you through the main stages of proposal writing.

1. Find a topic for your research proposal

Finding a topic for your research is a crucial first step. This decision should not be treated lightly.

How to find a research topic? Start broadly: Which courses did you enjoy? What issues discussed during seminars or lectures did you like? What inspired you during your education? And which readings did you appreciate?

Take a blank piece of paper. Write down everything that comes to your mind. It will help you to reflect on your interests.

2. Develop your research idea

Once you pinpoint your general topic of interest, you need to develop your idea.

Second, writing a research proposal is not a linear process. Start slowly by reading literature about your topic of interest. You have an interest. You read. You rethink your idea. You look for a theoretical framework. You go back to your idea and refine it. It is a process.

Remember that a good research proposal is not written in a day.

3. Conduct a literature review for your research proposal

Academic publications (journal articles and books) are the foundation of any research. Thus, academic literature is a good place to start. Especially when you still feel kind of lost regarding a focused research topic.

Download interesting-sounding articles and read them. Repeat but be cautious: You will never be able to read EVERYTHING. So set yourself a limit, in hours, days or number of articles (20 articles, for instance).

4. Define a research gap and research question

Asking yourself these questions helps you to formulate your research question. In your research question, be as specific as possible.

5. Establish a theoretical framework for your research proposal

A theory is a general principle to explain certain phenomena. No need to reinvent the wheel here.

6. Specify an empirical focus for your research proposal

There are only very few master’s and PhD theses that are entirely theoretical. Most theses, similar to most academic journal publications, have an empirical section.

It is also possible to start the whole research proposal idea with empirical observation. Maybe you’ve come across something in your environment that you would like to investigate further.

7. Emphasise the scientific and societal relevance of your research proposal

Do the grandparent test: Explain what you want to do to your grandparents (or any other person for that matter). Explain why it matters. Do your grandparents understand what you say? If so, well done. If not, try again.

Always remember. There is no need for fancy jargon. The best proposals are the ones that use clear, straightforward language.

8. Develop a methodology in your research proposal

Methods of data analysis are used to make sense of this data. This can be done, for instance, by coding, discourse analysis, mapping or statistical analysis.

9. Illustrate your research timeline in your research proposal

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Blog Business How to Write a Research Proposal: A Step-by-Step

How to Write a Research Proposal: A Step-by-Step

Written by: Danesh Ramuthi Nov 29, 2023

How to Write a Research Proposal

A research proposal is a structured outline for a planned study on a specific topic. It serves as a roadmap, guiding researchers through the process of converting their research idea into a feasible project. 

The aim of a research proposal is multifold: it articulates the research problem, establishes a theoretical framework, outlines the research methodology and highlights the potential significance of the study. Importantly, it’s a critical tool for scholars seeking grant funding or approval for their research projects.

Crafting a good research proposal requires not only understanding your research topic and methodological approaches but also the ability to present your ideas clearly and persuasively. Explore Venngage’s Proposal Maker and Research Proposals Templates to begin your journey in writing a compelling research proposal.

What to include in a research proposal?

In a research proposal, include a clear statement of your research question or problem, along with an explanation of its significance. This should be followed by a literature review that situates your proposed study within the context of existing research. 

Your proposal should also outline the research methodology, detailing how you plan to conduct your study, including data collection and analysis methods.

Additionally, include a theoretical framework that guides your research approach, a timeline or research schedule, and a budget if applicable. It’s important to also address the anticipated outcomes and potential implications of your study. A well-structured research proposal will clearly communicate your research objectives, methods and significance to the readers.

Light Blue Shape Semiotic Analysis Research Proposal

How to format a research proposal?

Formatting a research proposal involves adhering to a structured outline to ensure clarity and coherence. While specific requirements may vary, a standard research proposal typically includes the following elements:

  • Title Page: Must include the title of your research proposal, your name and affiliations. The title should be concise and descriptive of your proposed research.
  • Abstract: A brief summary of your proposal, usually not exceeding 250 words. It should highlight the research question, methodology and the potential impact of the study.
  • Introduction: Introduces your research question or problem, explains its significance, and states the objectives of your study.
  • Literature review: Here, you contextualize your research within existing scholarship, demonstrating your knowledge of the field and how your research will contribute to it.
  • Methodology: Outline your research methods, including how you will collect and analyze data. This section should be detailed enough to show the feasibility and thoughtfulness of your approach.
  • Timeline: Provide an estimated schedule for your research, breaking down the process into stages with a realistic timeline for each.
  • Budget (if applicable): If your research requires funding, include a detailed budget outlining expected cost.
  • References/Bibliography: List all sources referenced in your proposal in a consistent citation style.

Green And Orange Modern Research Proposal

How to write a research proposal in 11 steps?

Writing a research proposal template in structured steps ensures a comprehensive and coherent presentation of your research project. Let’s look at the explanation for each of the steps here:  

Step 1: Title and Abstract Step 2: Introduction Step 3: Research objectives Step 4: Literature review Step 5: Methodology Step 6: Timeline Step 7: Resources Step 8: Ethical considerations Step 9: Expected outcomes and significance Step 10: References Step 11: Appendices

Step 1: title and abstract.

Select a concise, descriptive title and write an abstract summarizing your research question, objectives, methodology and expected outcomes​​. The abstract should include your research question, the objectives you aim to achieve, the methodology you plan to employ and the anticipated outcomes. 

Step 2: Introduction

In this section, introduce the topic of your research, emphasizing its significance and relevance to the field. Articulate the research problem or question in clear terms and provide background context, which should include an overview of previous research in the field.

Step 3: Research objectives

Here, you’ll need to outline specific, clear and achievable objectives that align with your research problem. These objectives should be well-defined, focused and measurable, serving as the guiding pillars for your study. They help in establishing what you intend to accomplish through your research and provide a clear direction for your investigation.

Step 4: Literature review

In this part, conduct a thorough review of existing literature related to your research topic. This involves a detailed summary of key findings and major contributions from previous research. Identify existing gaps in the literature and articulate how your research aims to fill these gaps. The literature review not only shows your grasp of the subject matter but also how your research will contribute new insights or perspectives to the field.

Step 5: Methodology

Describe the design of your research and the methodologies you will employ. This should include detailed information on data collection methods, instruments to be used and analysis techniques. Justify the appropriateness of these methods for your research​​.

Step 6: Timeline

Construct a detailed timeline that maps out the major milestones and activities of your research project. Break the entire research process into smaller, manageable tasks and assign realistic time frames to each. This timeline should cover everything from the initial research phase to the final submission, including periods for data collection, analysis and report writing. 

It helps in ensuring your project stays on track and demonstrates to reviewers that you have a well-thought-out plan for completing your research efficiently.

Step 7: Resources

Identify all the resources that will be required for your research, such as specific databases, laboratory equipment, software or funding. Provide details on how these resources will be accessed or acquired. 

If your research requires funding, explain how it will be utilized effectively to support various aspects of the project. 

Step 8: Ethical considerations

Address any ethical issues that may arise during your research. This is particularly important for research involving human subjects. Describe the measures you will take to ensure ethical standards are maintained, such as obtaining informed consent, ensuring participant privacy, and adhering to data protection regulations. 

Here, in this section you should reassure reviewers that you are committed to conducting your research responsibly and ethically.

Step 9: Expected outcomes and significance

Articulate the expected outcomes or results of your research. Explain the potential impact and significance of these outcomes, whether in advancing academic knowledge, influencing policy or addressing specific societal or practical issues. 

Step 10: References

Compile a comprehensive list of all the references cited in your proposal. Adhere to a consistent citation style (like APA or MLA) throughout your document. The reference section not only gives credit to the original authors of your sourced information but also strengthens the credibility of your proposal.

Step 11: Appendices

Include additional supporting materials that are pertinent to your research proposal. This can be survey questionnaires, interview guides, detailed data analysis plans or any supplementary information that supports the main text. 

Appendices provide further depth to your proposal, showcasing the thoroughness of your preparation.

Beige And Dark Green Minimalist Research Proposal

Research proposal FAQs

1. how long should a research proposal be.

The length of a research proposal can vary depending on the requirements of the academic institution, funding body or specific guidelines provided. Generally, research proposals range from 500 to 1500 words or about one to a few pages long. It’s important to provide enough detail to clearly convey your research idea, objectives and methodology, while being concise. Always check

2. Why is the research plan pivotal to a research project?

The research plan is pivotal to a research project because it acts as a blueprint, guiding every phase of the study. It outlines the objectives, methodology, timeline and expected outcomes, providing a structured approach and ensuring that the research is systematically conducted. 

A well-crafted plan helps in identifying potential challenges, allocating resources efficiently and maintaining focus on the research goals. It is also essential for communicating the project’s feasibility and importance to stakeholders, such as funding bodies or academic supervisors.

Simple Minimalist White Research Proposal

Mastering how to write a research proposal is an essential skill for any scholar, whether in social and behavioral sciences, academic writing or any field requiring scholarly research. From this article, you have learned key components, from the literature review to the research design, helping you develop a persuasive and well-structured proposal.

Remember, a good research proposal not only highlights your proposed research and methodology but also demonstrates its relevance and potential impact.

For additional support, consider utilizing Venngage’s Proposal Maker and Research Proposals Templates , valuable tools in crafting a compelling proposal that stands out.

Whether it’s for grant funding, a research paper or a dissertation proposal, these resources can assist in transforming your research idea into a successful submission.

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How to Write a Research Proposal

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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:

writing a research proposal

  • 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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What Is a Research Proposal?

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When applying for a research grant or scholarship, or, just before you start a major research project, you may be asked to write a preliminary document that includes basic information about your future research. This is the information that is usually needed in your proposal:

  • The topic and goal of the research project.
  • The kind of result expected from the research.
  • The theory or framework in which the research will be done and presented.
  • What kind of methods will be used (statistical, empirical, etc.).
  • Short reference on the preliminary scholarship and why your research project is needed; how will it continue/justify/disprove the previous scholarship.
  • How much will the research project cost; how will it be budgeted (what for the money will be spent).
  • Why is it you who can do this research and not somebody else.

Most agencies that offer scholarships or grants provide information about the required format of the proposal. It may include filling out templates, types of information they need, suggested/maximum length of the proposal, etc.

Research proposal formats vary depending on the size of the planned research, the number of participants, the discipline, the characteristics of the research, etc. The following outline assumes an individual researcher. This is just a SAMPLE; several other ways are equally good and can be successful. If possible, discuss your research proposal with an expert in writing, a professor, your colleague, another student who already wrote successful proposals, etc.

  • Author, author's affiliation
  • Explain the topic and why you chose it. If possible explain your goal/outcome of the research . How much time you need to complete the research?
  • Give a brief summary of previous scholarship and explain why your topic and goals are important.
  • Relate your planned research to previous scholarship. What will your research add to our knowledge of the topic.
  • Break down the main topic into smaller research questions. List them one by one and explain why these questions need to be investigated. Relate them to previous scholarship.
  • Include your hypothesis into the descriptions of the detailed research issues if you have one. Explain why it is important to justify your hypothesis.
  • This part depends of the methods conducted in the research process. List the methods; explain how the results will be presented; how they will be assessed.
  • Explain what kind of results will justify or  disprove your hypothesis. 
  • Explain how much money you need.
  • Explain the details of the budget (how much you want to spend for what).
  • Describe why your research is important.
  • List the sources you have used for writing the research proposal, including a few main citations of the preliminary scholarship.

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Published on June 22, 2024 by Paige Pfeifer, BA .

A research proposal is a short piece of academic writing that outlines the research a graduate student intends to carry out. It starts by explaining why the research will be helpful or necessary, then describes the steps of the potential research and how the research project would add further knowledge to the field of study. A student submits this as part of the application process for a graduate degree program.

If you’re thinking of pursuing a master’s or doctorate degree, you may need to learn more about how to write a research proposal that will get you into your desired program.

Table of contents

What is the purpose of a research proposal, what are the parts of a research proposal, how long should a research proposal be.

A student writes a research proposal to describe a research area where a question needs to be answered and to show that they can answer that question by adding new information to the field.

A research committee will read the proposals and decide whether each student will qualify for admittance to the graduate degree program.

To ensure that your proposal fulfils its purpose, take care to include all of the key parts.

Every research proposal contains a few standard sections, and some include extra sections specific to the program. Below we list the components of most research proposals.

Many schools, like the University of Houston, provide a research proposal example for students . Check with your university to see if they can offer you a similar resource. It can help you understand which parts you’re required to have while writing about your proposed research.

Of course, you’ll need to come up with an effective title. Though a title is less substantial than a section, it makes the first impression on the research committee. It’s also the most concise representation of what you hope to accomplish with your research paper .

A good title conveys your research goal in enough detail to show uniqueness. However, it’s not so detailed that reading and understanding it is tedious. Aim for 10 to 12 words and avoid using abbreviations, such as the ampersand (&).

Introduction

The introduction is your chance to get the research committee enthused about your proposed research. You’re excited about the topic; explain why they should be excited too.

The introduction of a research proposal usually includes a few essential components that are minor in length but major in importance:

  • Statement of the problem: a clear description of the gap in existing research that you want to address
  • Research questions: the questions you hope to answer by carrying out your study
  • Aims and objectives: goals for the research. Aims are big-picture goals: what are you trying to do? Objectives point to smaller goals within the larger ones: what steps will you take to accomplish your aims?
  • Rationale: why the research needs to be done
  • Significance: how the research will contribute to the field

While it’s common to include these in the introduction, some proposals devote a separate section to them. As you compose these small parts, word them concisely but thoroughly. They must be clear and cover all the most vital aspects of your proposed research.

By the time the research committee has finished reading your introduction, they should have a foundational grasp of why you need to conduct this proposed research, how you plan to do so, and what new ideas it will add to the field. But remember, give only a summary of your methods and new ideas—save the finer points for later sections.

Many writers struggle to write concisely, but it’s an indispensable skill when you’re working on an introduction. QuillBot’s Summarizer can help you condense your thoughts to the perfect length for the introduction.

Background or literature review

Now that you’ve finished the introductory parts of your research proposal, you can begin to go into more detail on your research design. The literature review is likely to be the largest portion of your paper.

The purpose of the background or literature review section is to show that you’re familiar with the existing body of knowledge on your topic. By describing the most pertinent studies related to your research questions, you show that there is truly a knowledge gap in the field and that your proposed research will help close it.

As you write the literature review, you’ll need to draw on other researchers’ work. It’s crucial that you cite all of your sources properly, or you’ll be committing plagiarism .

Method and design

In the next section, you have the chance to show the research committee that you have thought deeply about how to answer your proposed research questions.

Remember to draw on the studies you mentioned in your literature review, which often provide good models. How can you build on them? What theoretical framework(s) have they contributed that you can use to approach your problem effectively?

Based on what you’ve found in the existing literature, describe how you plan to conduct the research. Include the specific research methods you plan to use and how you will analyze any data you collect. Explain why and how these methods will help you achieve your aim and objectives, while other methods won’t.

Your research design should also define the scope of your study, which must fit the time frame of the degree program. A scope that’s too wide may make the research committee think you won’t go deep enough into your topic. Conversely, a scope that’s too narrow could leave you with too few resources to draw from. If the work you plan to do is not enough to fill the time, you could appear lazy or unmotivated, so consider the best way to cover your topic carefully.

After you’ve finished the main sections of your paper, you’ll need to be sure you’ve cited every source correctly. Create a reference list that includes all the sources you mentioned in your literature review and elsewhere.

It’s helpful to keep a list and add to it as you’re doing your research. That way you’ll be sure not to miss a citation.

Other parts of a research proposal

Besides the standard sections above, some proposals also include the following parts:

  • An abstract to briefly summarize the proposal
  • A research budget section to break down what funding might be needed and where it might come from
  • A research schedule/timeline to show all the steps of the research to be completed and when they will be done
  • A conclusion section

If you include a separate conclusion section in your proposal, you may find QuillBot’s Paraphraser convenient for restating your ideas in different words.

Try Paraphraser Now

A research proposal is typically not very long—just a few thousand words. It’s not meant to be exhaustive; rather, it’s just to show that you’ve put significant thought into the research you want to do and that you can realistically complete it.

Because your research proposal will be so short, you’ll want to put high priority on making every word count. Remember to ask your university for a research proposal example before you begin.

Take advantage of QuillBot’s writing tools to meet all of your proposal goals and write more efficiently. Before you submit it, give it a good once-over with our Grammar Checker and Punctuation Checker to make sure it accurately reflects the quality of your work.

Good luck with your proposal! And when it’s approved, don’t forget that QuillBot can also help you with other forms of academic writing, such as your thesis or dissertation .

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Paige Pfeifer, BA

Paige Pfeifer, BA

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  • Indian J Anaesth
  • v.60(9); 2016 Sep

How to write a research proposal?

Department of Anaesthesiology, Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Devika Rani Duggappa

Writing the proposal of a research work in the present era is a challenging task due to the constantly evolving trends in the qualitative research design and the need to incorporate medical advances into the methodology. 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. A search was conducted with keywords such as research proposal, writing proposal and qualitative using search engines, namely, PubMed and Google Scholar, and an attempt has been made to provide broad guidelines for writing a scientifically appropriate research proposal.

INTRODUCTION

A clean, well-thought-out proposal forms the backbone for the research itself and hence becomes the most important step in the process of conduct of research.[ 1 ] The objective of preparing a research proposal would be to obtain approvals from various committees including ethics committee [details under ‘Research methodology II’ section [ Table 1 ] in this issue of IJA) and to request for grants. However, there are very few universally accepted guidelines for preparation of a good quality research proposal. A search was performed with keywords such as research proposal, funding, qualitative and writing proposals using search engines, namely, PubMed, Google Scholar and Scopus.

Five ‘C’s while writing a literature review

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BASIC REQUIREMENTS OF A RESEARCH PROPOSAL

A proposal needs to show how your work fits into what is already known about the topic and what new paradigm will it add to the literature, while specifying the question that the research will answer, establishing its significance, and the implications of the answer.[ 2 ] The proposal must be capable of convincing the evaluation committee about the credibility, achievability, practicality and reproducibility (repeatability) of the research design.[ 3 ] Four categories of audience with different expectations may be present in the evaluation committees, namely academic colleagues, policy-makers, practitioners and lay audiences who evaluate the research proposal. Tips for preparation of a good research proposal include; ‘be practical, be persuasive, make broader links, aim for crystal clarity and plan before you write’. A researcher must be balanced, with a realistic understanding of what can be achieved. Being persuasive implies that researcher must be able to convince other researchers, research funding agencies, educational institutions and supervisors that the research is worth getting approval. The aim of the researcher should be clearly stated in simple language that describes the research in a way that non-specialists can comprehend, without use of jargons. The proposal must not only demonstrate that it is based on an intelligent understanding of the existing literature but also show that the writer has thought about the time needed to conduct each stage of the research.[ 4 , 5 ]

CONTENTS OF A RESEARCH PROPOSAL

The contents or formats of a research proposal vary depending on the requirements of evaluation committee and are generally provided by the evaluation committee or the institution.

In general, a cover page should contain the (i) title of the proposal, (ii) name and affiliation of the researcher (principal investigator) and co-investigators, (iii) institutional affiliation (degree of the investigator and the name of institution where the study will be performed), details of contact such as phone numbers, E-mail id's and lines for signatures of investigators.

The main contents of the proposal may be presented under the following headings: (i) introduction, (ii) review of literature, (iii) aims and objectives, (iv) research design and methods, (v) ethical considerations, (vi) budget, (vii) appendices and (viii) citations.[ 4 ]

Introduction

It is also sometimes termed as ‘need for study’ or ‘abstract’. Introduction is an initial pitch of an idea; it sets the scene and puts the research in context.[ 6 ] The introduction should be designed to create interest in the reader about the topic and proposal. It should convey to the reader, what you want to do, what necessitates the study and your passion for the topic.[ 7 ] Some questions that can be used to assess the significance of the study are: (i) Who has an interest in the domain of inquiry? (ii) What do we already know about the topic? (iii) What has not been answered adequately in previous research and practice? (iv) How will this research add to knowledge, practice and policy in this area? Some of the evaluation committees, expect the last two questions, elaborated under a separate heading of ‘background and significance’.[ 8 ] Introduction should also contain the hypothesis behind the research design. If hypothesis cannot be constructed, the line of inquiry to be used in the research must be indicated.

Review of literature

It refers to all sources of scientific evidence pertaining to the topic in interest. In the present era of digitalisation and easy accessibility, there is an enormous amount of relevant data available, making it a challenge for the researcher to include all of it in his/her review.[ 9 ] It is crucial to structure this section intelligently so that the reader can grasp the argument related to your study in relation to that of other researchers, while still demonstrating to your readers that your work is original and innovative. It is preferable to summarise each article in a paragraph, highlighting the details pertinent to the topic of interest. The progression of review can move from the more general to the more focused studies, or a historical progression can be used to develop the story, without making it exhaustive.[ 1 ] Literature should include supporting data, disagreements and controversies. Five ‘C's may be kept in mind while writing a literature review[ 10 ] [ Table 1 ].

Aims and objectives

The research purpose (or goal or aim) gives a broad indication of what the researcher wishes to achieve in the research. The hypothesis to be tested can be the aim of the study. The objectives related to parameters or tools used to achieve the aim are generally categorised as primary and secondary objectives.

Research design and method

The objective here is to convince the reader that the overall research design and methods of analysis will correctly address the research problem and to impress upon the reader that the methodology/sources chosen are appropriate for the specific topic. It should be unmistakably tied to the specific aims of your study.

In this section, the methods and sources used to conduct the research must be discussed, including specific references to sites, databases, key texts or authors that will be indispensable to the project. There should be specific mention about the methodological approaches to be undertaken to gather information, about the techniques to be used to analyse it and about the tests of external validity to which researcher is committed.[ 10 , 11 ]

The components of this section include the following:[ 4 ]

Population and sample

Population refers to all the elements (individuals, objects or substances) that meet certain criteria for inclusion in a given universe,[ 12 ] and sample refers to subset of population which meets the inclusion criteria for enrolment into the study. The inclusion and exclusion criteria should be clearly defined. The details pertaining to sample size are discussed in the article “Sample size calculation: Basic priniciples” published in this issue of IJA.

Data collection

The researcher is expected to give a detailed account of the methodology adopted for collection of data, which include the time frame required for the research. The methodology should be tested for its validity and ensure that, in pursuit of achieving the results, the participant's life is not jeopardised. The author should anticipate and acknowledge any potential barrier and pitfall in carrying out the research design and explain plans to address them, thereby avoiding lacunae due to incomplete data collection. If the researcher is planning to acquire data through interviews or questionnaires, copy of the questions used for the same should be attached as an annexure with the proposal.

Rigor (soundness of the research)

This addresses the strength of the research with respect to its neutrality, consistency and applicability. Rigor must be reflected throughout the proposal.

It refers to the robustness of a research method against bias. The author should convey the measures taken to avoid bias, viz. blinding and randomisation, in an elaborate way, thus ensuring that the result obtained from the adopted method is purely as chance and not influenced by other confounding variables.

Consistency

Consistency considers whether the findings will be consistent if the inquiry was replicated with the same participants and in a similar context. This can be achieved by adopting standard and universally accepted methods and scales.

Applicability

Applicability refers to the degree to which the findings can be applied to different contexts and groups.[ 13 ]

Data analysis

This section deals with the reduction and reconstruction of data and its analysis including sample size calculation. The researcher is expected to explain the steps adopted for coding and sorting the data obtained. Various tests to be used to analyse the data for its robustness, significance should be clearly stated. Author should also mention the names of statistician and suitable software which will be used in due course of data analysis and their contribution to data analysis and sample calculation.[ 9 ]

Ethical considerations

Medical research introduces special moral and ethical problems that are not usually encountered by other researchers during data collection, and hence, the researcher should take special care in ensuring that ethical standards are met. Ethical considerations refer to the protection of the participants' rights (right to self-determination, right to privacy, right to autonomy and confidentiality, right to fair treatment and right to protection from discomfort and harm), obtaining informed consent and the institutional review process (ethical approval). The researcher needs to provide adequate information on each of these aspects.

Informed consent needs to be obtained from the participants (details discussed in further chapters), as well as the research site and the relevant authorities.

When the researcher prepares a research budget, he/she should predict and cost all aspects of the research and then add an additional allowance for unpredictable disasters, delays and rising costs. All items in the budget should be justified.

Appendices are documents that support the proposal and application. The appendices will be specific for each proposal but documents that are usually required include informed consent form, supporting documents, questionnaires, measurement tools and patient information of the study in layman's language.

As with any scholarly research paper, you must cite the sources you used in composing your proposal. Although the words ‘references and bibliography’ are different, they are used interchangeably. It refers to all references cited in the research proposal.

Successful, qualitative research proposals should communicate the researcher's knowledge of the field and method and convey the emergent nature of the qualitative design. The proposal should follow a discernible logic from the introduction to presentation of the appendices.

Financial support and sponsorship

Conflicts of interest.

There are no conflicts of interest.

Academia Insider

Write A Research Proposal: Follow Our Step-by-Step Guide

A research project begins with a compelling proposal, a document that not only outlines your plan but also persuades its readers of its merit.

Whether you’re aiming for a Ph.D or securing funding, our step-by-step guide provides you with the essential tools and insights to craft a persuasive research proposal.

From formulating a clear hypothesis to detailing your methodology, follow along to ensure your proposal is both thorough and convincing. 

Research Proposal Writing Process

StepDescription
– Sets the stage for your proposal.
– Include title, your name, affiliation, date.
– Must meet institutional formatting guidelines.
– Briefly covers the key aspects of your proposal.
– Details research problem, objectives, methodology, implications.
– Demonstrates your knowledge and identifies the research gap.
– Involves critical analysis of important literature.
– Use AI tools to speed up the process.
– Helps you to focus your study based on identified gaps.
– Includes specific research questions and objectives.
– Outlines how your research will be conducted.
– Includes research design, methods, data analysis, and tools.
– Address potential issues and solutions in the process.
– Clarify why your research matters.
– Show implications and contributions to knowledge.
– Shows how you’ll manage the research phases.
– Break down into phases, possibly visualized with a Gantt chart.
– Highlights feasibility and time management.
– Shows extensive research and academic integrity.
– Includes all sources used in your research proposal. Use citation software for ease.
– Follow field-specific citation guidelines.

Why Write A Research Proposal?

A research proposal for postgraduate studies is a detailed plan that outlines your research question, methodology, and objectives. A well written research proposal:

  • sets the scope of your study,
  • demonstrates your knowledge of existing research, and
  • shows how your work will contribute to your field.

Writing a research proposal for your postgraduate studies might seem daunting, but there are many reasons you should spend time to produce one:

Allows You To Define Your Research Question Clearly

A well-thought-out research proposal allows you to define your research question clearly. This means you pinpoint exactly what you want to explore, avoiding broad or vague topics.

Your research question acts as the guiding star throughout your entire research process, keeping your thesis, research paper, or dissertation focused and on track.

what is a research proposal

Develop Literature Familiarity & Identify Research Gap

Delving into a literature review as part of your proposal helps you understand the existing research and identify any gaps.

This isn’t just about summarising what others have done; it’s your chance to demonstrate that you’re familiar with the field and to build on the foundation others have laid. You get to show how your research will add new insights or challenge established beliefs.

Refine Your Methodology

Your proposal must outline your research methodology, detailing how you plan to collect and analyze data.

This isn’t just about stating what tools and procedures you will use; it’s about convincing the reader that your project is feasible and your methods are sound.

If you’re conducting research involving human subjects, you’ll need to describe how you will ensure ethical standards are met.

Supports Your Funding Application

Creating a concise and coherent proposal with a clear problem statement and defined research objectives also positions you well for securing research funding.

Funding bodies want to support projects with clearly defined aims and potential implications that contribute significantly to their field.

Initial Pitch To Interested Parties

Your proposal acts as an initial pitch of your research idea. It helps you clarify the purpose of your research and align your goals with academic expectations.

This is where you get to argue the significance of your study and outline practical steps you will take to answer your research questions. You can then take your research proposal and shop it around for:

  • university placement,
  • supervisors,
  • funding, or
  • other potential supports you may need.

Steps To Write A Research Proposal

Writing a research proposal can seem overwhelming, but breaking it down into structured steps can demystify the process.

Here’s a detailed guide to help you craft an effective proposal that communicates your research idea compellingly and clearly.

Step 1: Create a Captivating Title Page

The title page serves as the introduction to your proposal. It should feature a title that succinctly conveys the essence of your research project.

The title must grab attention while accurately reflecting the content of your study. This page should also include your:
  • institutional affiliation, and

These details need to be presented in a professional format that adheres to the specific requirements of your academic or funding institution.

Step 2: Summarize with a Strong Abstract

Following the title page, the abstract should succinctly summarize the critical aspects of your proposal in about 100 to 150 words. It should outline:

  • the research problem,
  • main objectives,
  • proposed methodology, and
  • potential implications of your research.

Although brief, the abstract is powerful, providing a snapshot that encourages further reading. See it as a movie trailer – it should be able to attract the attention of those that are interested in your research, and repel those that dont.

Step 3: Conduct a Thorough Literature Review

The literature review is where you show you are well-versed in the field. This section demonstrates your understanding of the existing research and highlights the gap your study will address.

It involves a critical analysis of the key literature and situates your research question in the context of what has already been explored, establishing the foundation for your research.

Literature review used to be a nightmare, but with the power of AI tools, you can easily find relevant papers easily and quickly. Here’s a few to help you get started:

Step 4: Define Clear Research Questions and Objectives

From the literature review, distill your research questions. These should be clear, focused, and directly related to the gaps you’ve identified in the literature.

The research aims and objectives should be specific outcomes that your study aims to achieve, guiding the direction of your research.

This step transforms the general interest of your study into a precise plan of inquiry, worthy of an academic or researcher’s time to study and understand. Get this right, and you will have an easier time on the later process of your research.

Step 5: Argue Your Research Design, Detail Your Research Methodology

The methodology section is crucial as it lays out the blueprint for how you will conduct your research. This should detail the research design and methods, including how data will be collected and analysed.

Explain the choice of qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods, and justify these choices based on the nature of your research question.

Argue strongly and with passion here, as you need to show confidence that your research method of choice is the best way to answer the research question.

Once you have proposed a research approach, discuss how you intend to conduct data analysis. List out the potential software or tools you plan to use for the process, and how you would ensure your research is:

  • valid and reliable (quantitative)
  • credible (qualitative)

This section should also discuss any potential challenges and how you plan to address them, showcasing your preparedness and realistic approach to the research process.

Step 6: Articulate the Significance of Your Research

In this part of the proposal, you need to articulate why your proposed research is important.

Discuss the potential implications of your research topic and how it will contribute to existing knowledge or theory. 

what is a research proposal

Highlighting the significance can engage your reader and justify the need for your study, often influencing the decision of funding bodies or academic committees.

Step 7: Include a Realistic Timeline

Project management is key in research, and outlining a timeline demonstrates your organisational skills and realistic understanding of the research process.

Break down your research into phases, from initial data collection to analysis and reporting results. A Gantt chart may be useful here, as it is a good visual representation of your research timeline.

This schedule not only helps gauge the project’s feasibility but also shows that you can efficiently manage time, a critical aspect of conducting successful research.

Step 8: Compile a Comprehensive Bibliography

Finally, a detailed bibliography is essential. It should list every source that has informed your research proposal, demonstrating a thorough and rigorous approach to your preparatory work.

This section underlines your scholarly diligence and ensures that all intellectual debts are acknowledged, reinforcing the academic integrity of your proposal.

Look at research papers within your field, and see the citation style common with the field for an idea how to approach this.

There are formats such as APA, MLA, Chicago and more, which means you want to be sure to follow the conventions in your field of research. 

writing a research proposal

You can also use a wide range of software to help manage and write out your bibliography. Here’s a few free citation tools you can use. 

By following these steps, you craft a proposal that not only presents your research plan but also persuasively argues its worth.

Your proposal becomes not just a plan for a study, but a convincing argument for why it should be undertaken and how it will contribute to the field.

Common Mistakes When Writing A Research Proposal

To ensure your proposal stands out for the right reasons, be aware of common pitfalls and how to avoid them. Here are five typical mistakes and how to correct them:

Mistake 1: Vague Objectives

A common issue is unclear aims and objectives. Your proposal needs to specify exactly what you intend to investigate and what you hope to achieve. 

Vague objectives can make your proposal seem unfocused and unrealistic.

Be specific here: instead of saying you aim to “explore the effects of social media,” say you will “quantify the impact of targeted social media advertising on consumer purchasing decisions among 18-24 year-olds.”

Mistake 2: Inadequate Literature Review

Skipping the thorough review of existing literature is a serious oversight. Your research proposal can be easily rejected, without a proper literature review.

writing a research proposal

A good literature review not only shows you’re familiar with the field but also justifies the necessity of your research. It highlights the gap in existing knowledge that your project will address.

To fix this, dedicate time to summarising previous research and discuss how your work will build on or challenge the existing knowledge.

Mistake 3: Poorly Defined Methodology

Another frequent error is a methodology section that lacks clarity and detail. This part of your proposal outlines how you will answer your research questions.

A common mistake is not specifying data collection tools and procedures. Make sure you explain the methodology clearly:

  • what methods will you use,
  • why are they best suited to your research question, and
  • how will you handle data analysis?

If you are planning to conduct a survey, describe the demographic, how samples will be selected, and the type of analysis you’ll use, like regression analysis.

Mistake 4: Ignoring Potential Pitfalls

Often, proposals fail to discuss potential limitations and risks associated with the research design.

Addressing these issues proactively shows that you are prepared and realistic about your research capabilities. Outline potential challenges and your strategies for mitigating them.

If there’s a possibility of low participant turnout, explain how you will recruit participants and ensure sufficient sample size.

Mistake 5: Overlooking the Significance and Impact

Many proposals do not adequately convey the significance of the study or its potential implications. Your proposal should make it clear why your research is important and how it will contribute to the field.

This means explicitly stating the potential implications of your findings. Say, if your research could influence policy, describe how it could lead to changes in legislation or practice within the relevant field.

By addressing these common mistakes, you ensure your research proposal is not only comprehensive but also compelling.

Research Proposal – Get It Right For A Smoother Dissertation

Writing a research proposal requires a clear and methodical approach, from crafting an eye-catching title to compiling a comprehensive bibliography.

By following the steps outlined in our guide, you ensure that each component of your proposal is thoughtfully considered and well-presented.

This not only boosts the persuasiveness of your proposal but also significantly enhances the likelihood of gaining approval or funding for your research project.

Remember, a well-structured proposal is your first step towards a successful research endeavour.

writing a research proposal

Dr Andrew Stapleton has a Masters and PhD in Chemistry from the UK and Australia. He has many years of research experience and has worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow and Associate at a number of Universities. Although having secured funding for his own research, he left academia to help others with his YouTube channel all about the inner workings of academia and how to make it work for you.

Thank you for visiting Academia Insider.

We are here to help you navigate Academia as painlessly as possible. We are supported by our readers and by visiting you are helping us earn a small amount through ads and affiliate revenue - Thank you!

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writing a research proposal

Grad Coach

Writing Your Research Proposal

5 Essentials You Need To Keep In Mind

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) | Reviewer: Eunice Rautenbach (DTech) | June 2023

Writing a high-quality research proposal that “sells” your study and wins the favour (and approval) of your university is no small task. In this post, we’ll share five critical dos and don’ts to help you navigate the proposal writing process.

This post is based on an extract from our online course , Research Proposal Bootcamp . In the course, we walk you through the process of developing an A-grade proposal, step by step, with plain-language explanations and loads of examples. If it’s your first time writing a research proposal, you definitely want to check that out. 

Overview: 5 Proposal Writing Essentials

  • Understand your university’s requirements and restrictions
  • Have a clearly articulated research problem
  • Clearly communicate the feasibility of your research
  • Pay very close attention to ethics policies
  • Focus on writing critically and concisely

1. Understand the rules of the game

All too often, we see students going through all the effort of finding a unique and valuable topic and drafting a meaty proposal, only to realise that they’ve missed some critical information regarding their university’s requirements. 

Every university is different, but they all have some sort of requirements or expectations regarding what students can and can’t research. For example:

  • Restrictions regarding the topic area that can be research
  • Restrictions regarding data sources – for example, primary or secondary
  • Requirements regarding methodology – for example, qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods-based research
  • And most notably, there can be varying expectations regarding topic originality – does your topic need to be super original or not?

The key takeaway here is that you need to thoroughly read through any briefing documents provided by your university. Also, take a look at past dissertations or theses from your program to get a feel for what the norms are . Long story short, make sure you understand the rules of the game before you start playing.

Free Webinar: How To Write A Research Proposal

2. Have a clearly articulated research problem

As we’ve explained many times on this blog, all good research starts with a strong research problem – without a problem, you don’t have a clear justification for your research. Therefore, it’s essential that you have clarity regarding the research problem you’re going to address before you start drafting your proposal. From the research problem , the research gap emerges and from the research gap, your research aims , objectives and research questions emerge. These then guide your entire dissertation from start to end. 

Needless to say, all of this starts with the literature – in other words, you have to spend time reading the existing literature to understand the current state of knowledge. You can’t skip this all-important step. All too often, we see students make the mistake of trying to write up a proposal without having a clear understanding of the current state of the literature, which is just a recipe for disaster. You’ve got to take the time to understand what’s already been done before you can propose doing something new.

Positivism is rooted in the belief that knowledge can be obtained through objective observations and measurements of an external reality.

3. Demonstrate the feasibility of your research

One of the key concerns that reviewers or assessors have when deciding to approve or reject a research proposal is the practicality/feasibility of the proposed research , given the student’s resources (which are usually pretty limited). You can have a brilliant research topic that’s super original and valuable, but if there is any question about whether the project is something that you can realistically pull off, you’re going to run into issues when it comes to getting your proposal accepted.

So, what does this mean for you?

First, you need to make sure that the research topic you’ve chosen and the methodology you’re planning to use is 100% safe in terms of feasibility . In other words, you need to be super certain that you can actually pull off this study. Of greatest importance here is the data collection and analysis aspect – in other words, will you be able to get access to the data you need, and will you be able to analyse it?

Second, assuming you’re 100% confident that you can pull the research off, you need to clearly communicate that in your research proposal. To do this, you need to proactively think about all the concerns the reviewer or supervisor might have and ensure that you clearly address these in your proposal. Remember, the proposal is a one-way communication – you get one shot (per submission) to make your case, and there’s generally no Q&A opportunity . So, make it clear what you’ll be doing, what the potential risks are and how you’ll manage those risks to ensure that your study goes according to plan.

If you have the word count available, it’s a good idea to present a project plan , ideally using something like a Gantt chart. You can also consider presenting a risk register , where you detail the potential risks, their likelihood and impact, and your mitigation and response actions – this will show the assessor that you’ve really thought through the practicalities of your proposed project. If you want to learn more about project plans and risk registers, we cover these in detail in our proposal writing course, Research Proposal Bootcamp , and we also provide templates that you can use. 

Need a helping hand?

writing a research proposal

4. Pay close attention to ethics policies

This one’s a biggy – and it can often be a dream crusher for students with lofty research ideas. If there’s one thing that will sink your research proposal faster than anything else, it’s non-compliance with your university’s research ethics policy . This is simply a non-negotiable, so don’t waste your time thinking you can convince your institution otherwise. If your proposed research runs against any aspect of your institution’s ethics policies, it’s a no-go.

The ethics requirements for dissertations can vary depending on the field of study, institution, and country, so we can’t give you a list of things you need to do, but some common requirements that you should be aware of include things like:

  • Informed consent – in other words, getting permission/consent from your study’s participants and allowing them to opt out at any point
  • Privacy and confidentiality – in other words, ensuring that you manage the data securely and respect people’s privacy
  • If your research involves animals (as opposed to people), you’ll need to explain how you’ll ensure ethical treatment , how you’ll reduce harm or distress, etc.

One more thing to keep in mind is that certain types of research may be acceptable from an ethics perspective, but will require additional levels of approval . For example, if you’re planning to study any sort of vulnerable population (e.g., children, the elderly, people with mental health conditions, etc.), this may be allowed in principle but requires additional ethical scrutiny. This often involves some sort of review board or committee, which slows things down quite a bit. Situations like this aren’t proposal killers, but they can create a much more rigid environment , so you need to consider whether that works for you, given your timeline.

Pragmatism takes a more flexible approach, focusing on the potential usefulness and applicability of the research findings.

5. Write critically and concisely

The final item on the list is more generic but just as important to the success of your research proposal – that is, writing critically and concisely . 

All too often, students fall short in terms of critical writing and end up writing in a very descriptive manner instead. We’ve got a detailed blog post and video explaining the difference between these two types of writing, so we won’t go into detail here. However, the simplest way to distinguish between the two types of writing is that descriptive writing focuses on the what , while analytical writing draws out the “so what” – in other words, what’s the impact and relevance of each point that you’re making to the bigger issue at hand.

In the case of a research proposal, the core task at hand is to convince the reader that your planned research deserves a chance . To do this, you need to show the reviewer that your research will (amongst other things) be original , valuable and practical . So, when you’re writing, you need to keep this core objective front of mind and write with purpose, taking every opportunity to link what you’re writing about to that core purpose of the proposal.

The second aspect in relation to writing is to write concisely . All too often, students ramble on and use far more word count than is necessary. Part of the problem here is that their writing is just too descriptive (the previous point) and part of the issue is just a lack of editing .

The keyword here is editing – in other words, you don’t need to write the most concise version possible on your first try – if anything, we encourage you to just thought vomit as much as you can in the initial stages of writing. Once you’ve got everything down on paper, then you can get down to editing and trimming down your writing . You need to get comfortable with this process of iteration and revision with everything you write – don’t try to write the perfect first draft. First, get the thoughts out of your head and onto the paper , then edit. This is a habit that will serve you well beyond your proposal, into your actual dissertation or thesis.

Pragmatism takes a more flexible approach, focusing on the potential usefulness and applicability of the research findings.

Wrapping Up

To recap, the five essentials to keep in mind when writing up your research proposal include:

If you want to learn more about how to craft a top-notch research proposal, be sure to check out our online course for a comprehensive, step-by-step guide. Alternatively, if you’d like to get hands-on help developing your proposal, be sure to check out our private coaching service , where we hold your hand through the research journey, step by step. 

Literature Review Course

Psst… there’s more!

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

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Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper: Writing a Research Proposal

  • Purpose of Guide
  • Writing a Research Proposal
  • Design Flaws to Avoid
  • Independent and Dependent Variables
  • Narrowing a Topic Idea
  • Broadening a Topic Idea
  • The Research Problem/Question
  • Academic Writing Style
  • Choosing a Title
  • Making an Outline
  • Paragraph Development
  • The C.A.R.S. Model
  • Background Information
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Citation Tracking
  • Evaluating Sources
  • Reading Research Effectively
  • Primary Sources
  • Secondary Sources
  • What Is Scholarly vs. Popular?
  • Is it Peer-Reviewed?
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Common Grammar Mistakes
  • Writing Concisely
  • Avoiding Plagiarism [linked guide]
  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Grading Someone Else's Paper

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

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 ensure a research problem has not already been answered [or you may determine the problem has been answered ineffectively] and, in so doing, become better at locating 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 doing 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 results. Finally, an effective proposal is judged on the quality of your writing and, therefore, it is important that your writing is coherent, clear, and compelling.

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 research.
  • Why do you want to do it? 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 study. Be sure to answer the "So What?" question.
  • How are you going to do it? Be sure that what you propose is doable. If you're having trouble formulating a research problem to propose investigating, go here .

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Failure to be concise; being "all over the map" without a clear sense of purpose.
  • Failure to cite landmark works in your literature review.
  • Failure to delimit the contextual boundaries of your research [e.g., time, place, people, etc.].
  • Failure to develop a coherent and persuasive argument for the proposed research.
  • Failure to stay focused on the research problem; going off on unrelated tangents.
  • Sloppy or imprecise writing, or poor grammar.
  • Too much detail on minor issues, but not enough detail on major issues.

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

In general your proposal 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 or a thorough examination of the significance of a research problem. After reading the introduction, your readers should not only have an understanding of what you want to do, but they should also be able to gain a sense of your passion for the topic and be excited about the study's possible outcomes. Note that most proposals do not include an abstract [summary] before the introduction.

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

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

To that end, while there are no hard and fast rules, you should attempt to address some or all of the following key points:

  • 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. Answer the "So What? question [i.e., why should anyone care].
  • Describe the major issues or problems to be addressed by your research. Be sure to note how your proposed study builds on previous assumptions about the research problem.
  • Explain how you plan to go about conducting your research. Clearly identify the key sources you intend to use and explain how they will contribute to your analysis of the topic.
  • Set the boundaries of your proposed research in order to provide a clear focus. Where appropriate, state not only what you will study, but what is excluded from the study.
  • If necessary, provide definitions of key concepts 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 demonstrating to your readers that your work is original and innovative. Think about what questions other researchers have asked, what methods they have used, and what is your understanding of their findings and, where stated, their recommendations. Do not be afraid to challenge the conclusions of prior research. Assess what you believe is missing and state how previous research has failed to adequately examine the issue that your study addresses. For more information on writing literature reviews, GO HERE .

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

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

  • 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: what are the major areas of disagreement, controversy, or debate?
  • Critique the literature: Which arguments are more persuasive, and why? Which approaches, findings, methodologies seem most reliable, valid, or appropriate, and why? Pay attention to the verbs you use to describe what an author says/does [e.g., asserts, demonstrates, argues, etc.] .
  • 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 it is worth pursuing . The reader will never have a study outcome from which to evaluate whether your methodological choices were the correct ones. Thus, the objective here is to convince the reader that your overall research design and methods of analysis will correctly address the problem and that the methods will provide the means to effectively interpret the potential results. Your design and methods should be unmistakably tied to the specific aims of your study.

Describe the overall research design by building upon and drawing examples from your review of the literature. Consider not only methods that other researchers have used but methods of data gathering that have not been used but perhaps could be. Be specific about the methodological approaches you plan to undertake to obtain information, the techniques you would use to analyze the data, and the tests of external validity to which you commit yourself [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 operations you will undertake and the way you will interpret the results of these operations 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 a methodology is not just a list of tasks; it is an argument as to why these tasks 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 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 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 reader.

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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This InfoGuide assists students starting their research proposal and literature review.

  • Introduction
  • Research Process
  • Types of Research Methodology
  • Data Collection Methods
  • Anatomy of a Scholarly Article
  • Finding a topic
  • Identifying a Research Problem
  • Problem Statement
  • Research Question
  • Research Design
  • Search Strategies
  • Psychology Database Limiters
  • Literature Review Search
  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Writing a Literature Review

Writing a Rsearch Proposal

A  research proposal  describes what you will investigate, why it’s important, and how you will conduct your research.  Your paper should include the topic, research question and hypothesis, methods, predictions, and results (if not actual, then projected).

Research Proposal Aims

Show your reader why your project is interesting, original, and important.

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

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.

Proposal Format

The proposal will usually have a  title page  that includes:

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

Introduction 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 will your research 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 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

Research design and methods

Following the literature review, restate your main  objectives . This brings the focus back to your 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. Write up your projected, if not actual, results.

Contribution to knowledge

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

Lastly, 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 free APA citation generators like BibGuru. Databases have a citation button you can click on to see your citation. Sometimes you have to re-format it as the citations may have mistakes. 

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Research Paper Guide

Writing Research Proposal

Last updated on: Nov 20, 2023

Writing a Research Proposal - Outline, Format, and Examples

By: Nathan D.

13 min read

Reviewed By: Rylee W.

Published on: Mar 24, 2023

Research Proposal

Ready to take on the world of research, but feeling a bit intimidated by the proposal-writing process? You're not alone! Writing a research proposal can seem like a daunting task, especially if you're new to the game. 

But don't worry – we're here to help make the process as easy and exciting as possible!

Think of your research proposal as a sales pitch for your ideas. It's your chance to convince others that your project is worth their time and investment. And just like with any great sales pitch, the key is to show passion and enthusiasm for your work.

In this guide, we'll demystify the proposal-writing process. We'll cover everything from defining your research question to outlining your methodology to presenting your budget. 

So get ready to rock this proposal writing journey!

Research Proposal

On this Page

What is a Research Proposal?

As per the research proposal definition, it is a concise summary of your research paper. It introduces the general idea of your research by highlighting the questions and issues you are going to address in your paper.

For writing a good and ‘acceptance worthy’ proposal, demonstrating the uniqueness and worthiness of your research paper is important.

Below is a detailed definition that will help you understand it better.

‘A research proposal is a document that is written to present and justify your interest and need for researching a particular topic.’

Similarly, a good proposal must highlight the benefits and o utcomes of the proposed study, supported by persuasive evidence.

Purpose of Research Proposal 

Knowing what the goal of writing a research proposal is can make the process easier and help you get your project approved by faculty. 

Let’s break down what makes up a good research proposal. 

Filling Gaps in Existing Knowledge 

Crafting a research proposal is an opportunity to explore the depths of your topic and uncover unturned stones. 

By identifying areas previously unexamined, you can open up new perspectives which could provide substantial value to your project. This demonstrates your contribution to knowledge. 

With such insights in hand, faculty will quickly recognize that there's something special about this study – setting it apart from others on the same subject!

Underscoring Existing Knowledge 

A research proposal is a chance for you to show how good you are at analyzing things and understanding past studies. 

With evidence-based data, you can demonstrate how these studies relate to each other - which agrees or disagrees with current theories about the topic. 

Whether it's presenting meaningful insights or uncovering new ones, this exercise will challenge your ability to think critically!

Adding New Original Knowledge 

To create a compelling research proposal, you must demonstrate your understanding of the existing body of knowledge on your topic. 

You should also bring something new to the table. You can explore primary sources like interviews or surveys with experts or members involved in this study. 

Showcase how this proposed project adds value and moves conversations forward; make sure that it is relevant to today's context!

In conclusion, the purpose of a research proposal is to identify gaps in existing knowledge and provide new, original perspectives on the topic. By doing this, you'll be able to craft an impactful study that faculty will find hard to ignore! 

How to Create a Research Proposal Outline?

Sometimes students don’t realize how important a research paper proposal is and end up putting all the information together without following the basic outline or thinking this through.

Before starting with the outline, you need to understand the basic components. A clear outline is important when it comes to presenting the literature review and writing the entire paper.

Here is a basic format you can follow while writing your proposal.

  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Research Methodology

It might seem like a dreadful task and especially for the students who are new to this. It requires good writing as well as research skills.

Here is a sample template to further explain the outline.

Research Proposal Template

RESEARCH PROPOSAL TEMPLATE

Need help with creating an outline for your research paper? Check out this in-depth read on how to create an effective research paper outline !

How to Start a Research Proposal?

Many students think that starting a research proposal is the same as creating an outline. No, it is not, and knowing how to start with your research proposal on the right track is like getting done with half of it.

Below are the important steps to start a research proposal.

  • Begin working on it as soon as possible.
  • Conduct thorough and in-depth research.
  • Instead of forming the title first, find the main theme or problem that you would like to discuss in your research.
  • Collect and save the research information with proper and complete citation and reference information.
  • Divide the collected details into the sections of the proposal and stick to them.

Writing a research proposal is tricky, but when you start it beforehand then you will have enough time to understand your main topic’s different aspects.

Procrastinating and leaving it for the last few days before submission will only land you in trouble.

Commands

Get Quick AI Research Help!

How to Write a Research Proposal

Now you have the basic outline you can follow. Let’s discuss how to write it by following the format mentioned above.

1. Choose the Title Carefully

Your proposal title should be concise and clear to indicate your research question. Your readers should know what to expect in the paper after reading the title. Avoid writing titles in a general perspective or phrases like “An investigation of …” or “A review of …” etc. Make it concise and well-defined.

2. Add a Concise Abstract

‘How to write an abstract for a research proposal?’

The abstract is a short summary that is around 100-250 words. The abstract should include the research question, the hypothesis of your research (if there is any), the research methodology, and the findings.

If the proposal is detailed, it will require a section of the contents after the abstract. It, knowing how to write an abstract  will be helpful and can save you from making any blunders.

3. Add a Strong Introduction

You need to start with a strong introduction. The introduction is written to provide a background or context related to your research problem. It is important to frame the research question while writing the proposal.

Start the introduction with a general statement related to the problem area you are focusing on and justify your study.

The introduction usually covers the following elements.

  • What is the purpose of your research or study?
  • Mention the background information and significance before you introduce your research question.
  • Introduce your research question in a way that its significance is highlighted by setting the stage for it.
  • Briefly mention the issues that you are going to discuss and highlight in your study.
  • Make sure that you identify the independent and dependent variables in the title of your study.
  • If there is a hypothesis or a theory related to your research, state it in the introduction.

Have a very clear and concise idea about your research, and make sure that you do not deviate from the main research question. A clear idea will help you craft a perfect thesis. Here is how you can create a crisp and interesting  thesis introduction  along with a basic guideline.

4. Clarify the Research Objectives

Your research objectives will explain what the writer is trying to achieve. Moreover, these aims and objectives must be achievable. It means that it must be framed according to the:

  • Available time
  • Infrastructure
  • Other important resources.

However, it is beneficial to read all the developments in the field and find research gaps before deciding your objective. It will help you come up with suitable aims for your projects.

5. Add Relevant Literature Review

A separate section dedicated to the literature review will allow you to conduct extensive background research and support your research question with credible sources and research.

The following are the basic purposes of the literature review.

  • To give reference to the researchers whose study has been a part of your research.
  • To help you construct a precise and clear research question.
  • To critically evaluate previous literature information related to your research.
  • To understand research issues relevant to the topic of your research.
  • To convince the reader that your research is an important contribution to the relevant niche.

A literature review is an important component. Learning  how to write a literature review  will help you compose an engaging and impressive literature review easily.

Keep your literature review organized by adding a subheading to maintain a smooth flow in the content. Try not to bore your readers and your instructor or the committee. Write it in an engaging manner.

6. Mention the Significance of the Research

The significance of your research will identify the importance of your work. It should be mainly stated in the introductory paragraph.

You must highlight how your research is beneficial for the respective field of study. Similarly, you can also state its contribution to the field in both the broader and narrow sense.

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7. Explain the Research Methodology

‘How to write a methods section of a research proposal?’

This section explains how you are going to conduct your research. Explain why the specific method is suitable for your research and how it will help you attain your research goals. Your research methodology will give you an organized plan for the research.

Mention sufficient information regarding your research methodology for readers to understand how you are conducting your research. It must contain enough information regarding the study for another researcher to implement it.

i.) Types of Research Methodology

Choose the type of research methodology that is suitable for your research.

a.) Qualitative type is used in a theoretical type of research like that in literature.

Some research involves both; if your research topic also involves analyzing both the statistical data and theory, then make sure that you use them appropriately.   For a qualitative approach, the method section of your proposal needs to be more detailed and elaborate compared to the one in the quantitative approach. How you will collect your data and analyze it according to the qualitative approach should be described with great care.

b.) Quantitative research is suitable for projects involving collecting and analyzing statistical data like that in social sciences, medicine, and psychology.    When you choose a quantitative approach for your research, the method section should contain answers to the following elements.

  • Design – Is it a laboratory experiment or a survey?
  • What are the sample size and the subject of your study?
  • What is the procedure of your study, and how will you carry out the activities involved in it?
  • Describe your questionnaire or the instruments you will be using in the experiment.

Have detailed knowledge of all the research methodologies to justify your approach toward the research problem.

8. Present the Hypothesis or the Expected Research Results

In the research proposal, this section will contain the results of the research, but since this is a research proposal, you do not have the results yet. This is why you will add the expected research results here. These results are those that you aim to obtain from the research.

Sometimes the researcher gets the same kind of results, but sometimes, the results could differ from the expected ones.

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9. Mention the Ethical Considerations

It is an essential part of your outline. Researchers need to consider ethical values while conducting research work. Furthermore, you also have to be very careful in the data collection process and need to respect the rights of the participants.

They should not harm them in any way, and full consent should be obtained from them prior to the study.

Lastly, the writer’s moral duty is to promise complete confidentiality to feel comfortable while sharing information.

10. Discuss the Research Limitations

The research limitations indicate the flaws and shortcomings of your research. These may include:

  • Unavailability of resources
  • Small sample size
  • Wrong methodology

Listing the limitations shows your honesty and complete understanding of the topic.

11. Add Proper References and Citation

Don’t forget the references section. You don’t want to get blamed for plagiarism. Always give references to the authors and the literature you have studied for your research.

There are two ways to cite your sources.

  • Reference –  List the literature that you have used in your proposal.
  • Bibliography –  List everything that you have studied, cited, or not while doing your study or while writing.

Follow a specific format for the citation section as instructed by your supervisor. It can be written in APA, MLA, Chicago, or Harvard style. Both references and a bibliography are included in it.

12. Edit and Proofread

Many students prefer not to proofread the proposal after completion, which is a grave mistake. If you proofread the paper on your own, you may fail to identify the mistakes. Use online tools or have a helping hand from your friend to give it a good read.

In the end, edit the document as per the needs.

Why Do Research Proposals Get Rejected?

An analysis of 500 rejected proposals allowed us to identify the common blunders made in them. These blunders caused the rejection of otherwise promising research. Therefore, to maximize the chances of acceptance, you must avoid these mistakes.

Here are some of those mistakes.

  • The proposal stated a flawed hypothesis.
  • The professor doubts the research will not bring new or useful results.
  • The plan mentioned in the proposal lacks details and is unrealistic.
  • It lacks coherence.
  • The results obtained, or the hypothesis from the chosen method will be inaccurate.
  • The review of the literature is not done correctly.
  • Sufficient time was not devoted to writing the proposal.
  • The proposal is copied or has been used by many other students in the past.

These are the common mistakes that result in rejection.

If you desire to make it shine, stick to your instructor’s guidelines and stay away from committing these mistakes. 

Research Proposal Examples

Looking for some helpful and detailed research proposal examples to get you started? Examples are great for a quick understanding of how something works or is written, in our case.

Here are some complete research paper proposal samples to help you write your own.

RESEARCH PROPOSAL SAMPLE

RESEARCH PROPOSAL EXAMPLE - APA

HOW TO WRITE A RESEARCH GRANT PROPOSAL

NSF RESEARCH PROPOSAL SAMPLE

MARKET RESEARCH PROPOSAL SAMPLE

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Research Proposal Topics

You can take ideas for your topic from books, journals, previously done research, and dissertations.

Here are a few topics you can choose from.

  • How has technology evolved the English language over the last ten years?
  • What are the effects of individualism on British literature?
  • How has Feminism helped women get their rights over the last decade?
  • What caused the fall of the Roman empire, and what are its effects?
  • What factors caused World War II?
  • What are the effects of World War II on diplomacy?
  • Can cultural differences affect social interactions?
  • How have violent video games affected brain development among children?
  • How does alcohol affect aggression among a few people?
  • How effective is the death penalty?

If you want to know more about finding a topic for your research paper and research paper topic examples, here is a list of interesting  research paper topics .

Research proposals can be critical because they require great attention. If you are inexperienced, you are likely to suffer. In a worst-case scenario, your proposal may get rejected.

Your dedicated professional and experienced essay writer at  5StarEssays.com is always here to help you. Being a professional essay writing service , we know how to craft a compelling research proposal and help you get it accepted.

Or, try using our AI powered paper writer to get quick writing help and sample citations. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes a strong research proposal.

Your proposal must explain why your research is important in addition to explaining the methods that you will use. You should also position yourself within your field of study and give an overview of why this specific topic could be significant.

How many pages a research proposal should be?

Research proposals typically range between three and five pages in length. Research proposal formats vary across disciplines.

You should follow the format that is standard within your field, with special attention to what your faculty mentor prefers.

What tense should a research proposal be written in?

In a research proposal, use future tense for actions to be undertaken in the study. For example: A survey method will be employed , and a close-ended questionnaire will be used .

How long is a research proposal?

When writing a research proposal, it is best, to begin with, what you want to know more about. There is no set length for these proposals so they can be anywhere from 2,500 words up or down depending on the topic and scope of your study.

Does a research proposal have chapters?

Like a research paper, the introduction and conclusion of your proposal should be brief. In every chapter you include in your proposal, begin with an informative intro paragraph that captures what will follow in each section.

Similarly, for chapters near their end, conclusions summarize points discussed throughout the sections but also highlight what is most important about them overall.

What are the 7 parts of the research proposal?

The 7 parts of a research proposal include 

  • Problem statement
  • Literature review 
  • Methodology

Each of these sections is key in order to craft an effective research proposal that will be approved by faculty members! 

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PhD Essay, Literature

Nathan completed his Ph.D. in journalism and has been writing articles for well-respected publications for many years now. His work is carefully researched and insightful, showing a true passion for the written word. Nathan's clients appreciate his expertise, deep understanding of the process, and ability to communicate difficult concepts clearly.

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Aleph

UCLA's Undergraduate Research Journal for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Writing a Research Proposal: a How-To Guide for You and for Me

Author: Leika Keys

Editor: Eva Li

My Research Proposal

My name is Leika Keys and I am a fourth-year political science major at UCLA and the outreach coordinator here at Aleph . As the sun sets on my senior year, my long-waited and planned existential crisis can finally emerge out of its nest. In response, I have frantically been searching for a grad program to throw myself in. Somewhere along the way, I found myself writing research proposals to universities in the U.K. and Japan, hoping to continue my educational career. Maybe, you find yourself in the same position as me—desperately trying to figure out your next step before you (in my case, virtually) walk across the graduation stage. If so, let me offer you some insights and hopefully ease your panic. 

Key words: research, existential crises, graduate school, Japan, U.K., politics

Acknowledgements

I would like to acknowledge that I am incredibly lucky and privileged to even consider graduate school. The last thing I want to insinuate is that I am an aimless 21-year-old that throws money at new ventures and hopes something will stick. While there is a lot of anxiety and dread surrounding this process and decision, I acknowledge that my economic status allows me to dip my feet into a postgraduate degree, something that I am aware that not everyone can engage with.

In a research proposal, you are trying to answer these questions: what your research topic is, why it is a valuable pursuit, and how it can be accomplished. Try to answer these expansive questions as concisely as possible—if you can, then you’re golden. I know that sounds way easier than it actually is. My proposal ponders the idea of a link between online American and Japanese right-wing politics and will explain how it will continue to affect the political landscape of both countries. To achieve this, my methodology proposes to analyze the rhetoric of extreme right-wing posts made by American and Japanese users of social media sites (i.e. 5channel and Twitter). Japanese scholars have conducted some research on this topic, but I believe my angle has not been investigated– yet. 

However strongly I am attached to this project, I would like to emphasize that this research topic may not come to fruition. I want to place the biggest asterisk here and say that everything— and I mean everything —is subject to change .

Methodology

French philosopher Michel Foucault claimed that the greatest form of self-care is to know oneself. I’d like to extend this advice to writing your proposal. It actually took me years to discover my work habits and they’ve never remained constant. Through trial and error, I learned (and am still learning) how my brain works. Personally, I finish other responsibilities the day before starting on my research proposal. Then, I block out an entire day to focus on the proposal. This method, however, I would like to stress is what works for me.

Maybe, you like to work on your research proposal for an hour or two everyday. Or, maybe you need the pressure of an impending deadline that propels you to work harder and faster towards the due date. By now, you probably already know your most effective studying strategies— do not ignore them . You can watch as many videos on YouTube on “how to be productive” as you can but keep Foucault’s words in mind. Don’t try to use someone else’s methods in an effort to be more productive if you can’t follow them.

My biggest struggle has been to learn a whole new sector of information to draft my proposal. I knew almost nothing about Japanese politics before I formulated my proposal’s objective. My only research experience is a paper I wrote on highway development in Phoenix, Arizona of all things. As you already know, my graduate proposal is quite different from my research experience – I am comparing and contrasting the right-wing politics of the United States and Japan. Many other students can relate to the fluctuations of my research interests. So many of us have too many passions and have really struggled to narrow in not only on our research desires but what career we want to pursue after our undergraduate years. I found myself constantly muttering, “I have no idea what I’m doing.” And no matter how true this may feel, the good news is that it isn’t 100% factual. 

After more than a decade of formal education, we have developed instincts to figure out the hallmarks of a sound project. As daunting as it sounds, trying to ingest new knowledge is manageable. First, I started reading contemporary news articles pertinent to my interests and pinpointed the authors of the research cited. From there, I determined the leading experts in my field and read their research. Then, I spoke to professors both from UCLA and other institutions to gauge their thoughts on my ideas. 

Therefore, I recommend reaching out to anyone and everyone . Cold emailing is one of the most stressful forms of communication – at times, you may feel like an attention-seeking child begging for a sense of validation. However, the painful truth is that you cannot conduct your potentially groundbreaking research on your own. You must learn how to advocate for yourself and force people to listen to your ideas. As someone who is innately quite shy, this has been ridiculously and laughably hard for me. However, I encourage you to swallow this annoying pill regularly and do what needs to be done. 

Significance

While my research interests are not necessarily uncommon, many people are not scrambling to study Japanese right-wing politics. However, my fascination for this topic runs deep. Since high school and the 2016 election, I’ve been fascinated with the right-wing political ecosystem in the United States. Even though the U.S. is a young country, there is much history within the world of conservative politics. The right-wing movement consists of so many different kinds of people and factions that even I struggle to keep up with them. On top of that, my half-Japanese identity motivated me to research this topic. Thus, my own personal history encouraged me to study the history and current politics of both countries. While there are a plethora of other topics within political science I would also love to study like healthcare policy and leftist organizing, I’m ultimately happy with my choice. That is all I can ask for. 

The biggest question I had to weigh was whether or not I should go to grad school. Though I have decided to apply to these programs, it does not mean I want to go. I love political science – I love learning how different people within and across borders attempt to develop ways to coexist; I love researching an enthralling topic and the feeling of not wanting to stop, to keep digging. But going into research after your undergraduate degree seems absolutely frightening, to say the least. Every faculty member and grad student I’ve talked to expected undergraduates to define the parameters of their research interests and never waver from them. Again, you need to carve out a space for yourself and dig your heels in. I’ve learned confidence will apparently get you far in academia. I may not have developed this sense of confidence yet, but I have enough faith in myself to make my own nest in this world and continue working on this proposal. 

Whether you decide to attend graduate school or not, I trust you can find your own place and peace within (or without) the education system. It will require work on your part but the process and these stressful thoughts won’t last forever and I guarantee that you will work it out for yourself.

Keep in mind that this is just a proposal. You will not be asked to live and die by these pages of paper in your postgraduate career or in your life for that matter. Plans deviate, ideas change, and the world moves on. As stressful as this new chapter is, academia has not killed you yet and your proposal will not be the final nail on the coffin that is your academic and professional career. 

“Do I need to even be that accurate in my citations?” Yes, you do. Don’t even bother getting around this one. Just cut to the chase and stop cutting corners. 

Foucault, Michel, Paul Rabinow, Robert Hurley, and James D. Faubion. Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth . London, UK: Penguin, 2000.

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MLA research proposal format: a guide to essentials

Understanding MLA research proposal format: a comprehensive guide

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A professional writer with ten years of experience and a Ph.D. in Modern History, Catharine Tawil writes engaging and insightful papers for academic exchange. With deep insight into the impact of historical events on the present, she provides a unique perspective in giving students a feel for the past. Her writing educates and stimulates critical thinking, making her a treasure to those wading through the complexities of history.

How to write a research paper MLA format? It's a common question among students and researchers who are preparing papers in the humanities. A research paper proposal outlines the objective, scope, and direction of your academic endeavor. Academic proposals are essential because they allow researchers to explain their study's purpose and request comments or financing. Formatting this text in MLA style follows humanities field standards and makes it organized and readable. This introduction to MLA style paper will explain why writing guidelines are essential for academic achievement and how they help you write a clear, professional, and convincing MLA research proposal format.

Coherent and well-structured proposals are crucial. They prepare the basis for the study and provide a clear path for it, ensuring all project issues are examined and adequately expressed. When drafting such proposals, it's beneficial to understand "What is MLA format?" as this style guide can help organize your documentation and citations effectively, ensuring clarity and consistency throughout the academic writing process. Using the right proposal structure helps you communicate your work's research significance and persuade others to do the study. This introductory section emphasizes the importance of MLA proposal formatting in academic writing and research preparation before diving into the details.

Mastering the essentials of MLA style for crafting research proposals

Modern Language Association (MLA) style is popular in language and literary writing. It's essential to familiarize yourself with the specific guidelines that govern this style. Understanding MLA rules helps research proposals sound professional and scholarly. MLA style paper format organizes proposals, making research aims obvious to reviewers and researchers. MLA proposal format, citations, and organization are crucial for academic legitimacy. The style basics will be covered in this part to help you write a solid MLA research proposal.

The crucial role of following MLA guidelines in writing

Following MLA formatting basics while writing an academic paper is essential to scholarly communication. These standards organize material simply and consistently, making the text easier to read. Researchers should follow MLA formatting principles to guarantee that their work is regarded seriously and evaluated on its merits rather than formatting problems.

Understanding and using MLA style paper format in a study proposal helps generate a professional tone and structure, which is crucial to convincing review panels of its viability and need. It shows attention to detail and adherence to "academic writing" norms, which are appreciated in scholarship. This section will explain MLA style paper format and how to use it to write a research proposal, covering citation styles and formatting a research paper.

Developing a compelling title and abstract

The title page for research proposal writings generally makes the initial impression. A brief title summarizes your study and engages readers. It should be concise, informative, and reflect your idea. Meanwhile, the abstract, much like you might find in a research proposal sample MLA format, condenses your study goals, methods, and consequences. Well-written abstracts instantly convey the scope and relevance of your study, inspiring additional investigation. Title and abstract efficiency can greatly affect study publicity and accessibility.

Crafting a compelling abstract: a quick guide for 100-200 words

Any study project needs an abstract writing to summarize its aims, methodologies, and implications. Effective abstract tips include beginning with a clear problem or purpose, a quick summary of the research methodology used, and a picture of the expected outcomes.

This section of the proposal frequently decides the reader's interest in reading the whole thing. It is the first substantive description of your work viewed by an external scholar, and a well-written abstract may greatly improve its reception. Thus, abstract writing is essential for researchers who want their proposal to stand out. Writing services can help you learn how to start a paper effectively, ensuring your abstract catches the reader's attention immediately. Moreover, services such as write my paper for me can provide guidance on structuring and refining your abstract, making it a powerful introduction to your proposal.

Strategies and insights for crafting engaging titles and abstracts

The title of your MLA research proposal format sets the tone and identifies the subject. A short, detailed, and informative title structure should convey the study's substance and entice the reader to learn more. A strong title quickly tells the reader about the study topic, which is vital in academic writing that prioritizes clarity and accuracy.

To write a good title and abstract, be clear when reading the research proposal example MLA and avoid unclear terminology. Additionally, connecting the title and abstract with the primary research challenges and approaches helps give a comprehensive preview of the proposal's content and persuasively argues for the research's necessity and relevance.

Organizing your research proposal: a strategic approach

Effectively communicating your research proposal sample MLA strategy requires a well-structured research proposal. This section helps you organize your proposal to include all important elements. Your study topic, technique, and projected results should flow together to make a cohesive paper. A logical MLA proposal format helps your proposal flow and emphasizes the importance and viability of your research idea.

Blueprint for organizing your proposal with defined sections

A well-organized proposal organization is crucial to a clear document. A well-organized proposal helps the reviewer identify crucial material and evaluate the study's feasibility and relevance. The parts should be organized from topic introduction to research methodology approaches, expected results implications, and conclusions.

The introduction proposal example, literature review, methodology, expected outcomes, and conclusion should be clearly divided. Each part should explain the research's goals, importance, and methodology and add to the proposal's narrative. This systematic technique helps deliver material effectively and shows the researcher's extensive planning and comprehension of the academic project's needs.

Guidelines for numbering and formatting subsections to enhance clarity and coherence

Effective structuring extends to the detailed organization of your content. Numbering and MLA formatting sub-sections enhance the readability and navigability of your proposal. Here are key practices to consider:

  • Consistent sub-section headings: Use uniform styles for headings and subheadings to maintain a coherent MLA structure.
  • Sequential numbering: Number sections and sub-sections in a sequential manner to guide the reader through your proposal.
  • Logical flow: Arrange sections in a logical order, starting with the introduction proposal example and proceeding through methods, results, and conclusions.
  • Visual distinction: Make use of bold or italicized fonts sparingly to emphasize important points without distracting from the main text.

Crafting the introduction and conducting the literature review

The beginning of your MLA research proposal example should set the stage for your investigation. It presents the study issue, emphasizes its relevance, and specifies your research goals. You must demonstrate your understanding of existing research and its relevance to your subject in the literature review after the introduction. This part places your research in the existing scholarly conversation and highlights gaps your study seeks to fill.

Advice for crafting a powerful introduction to frame your research

Introduction writing in a research proposal sample MLA includes background information, the research topic, and study goals. A good beginning sets the stage for the subject, engages the reader, and persuades them that it is important. The study scope and desired contributions to knowledge must be clearly defined.

A good introduction should flow into a Literature review that critically evaluates pertinent research. Literature review guidelines recommend that this part show a deep awareness of the academic environment around the research issue and identify gaps that the present study will fill.

Best practices for performing a literature review in MLA-style research proposals

When conducting a literature review for an MLA research proposal, consider the following MLA guidelines for essay projects:

  • Relevant sources: Focus on recent and pertinent literature to support your research context.
  • Citation consistency: Adhere strictly to MLA citation guidelines to maintain uniformity and avoid plagiarism.
  • Critical analysis: Evaluate and synthesize the literature; don't just summarize. Highlight debates, major themes, and gaps in the research.
  • Integration with proposal: Clearly link the literature review to your research questions and objectives, demonstrating its direct relevance.

Formulating the research methodology and anticipating outcomes

Define your research methodology by detailing data collection and analysis methods. The research design, data-collecting techniques, and analytic procedures should be clearly stated in this section to support the study's goals. Describe methodology limitations to honestly examine your approach's flaws and display critical thinking and problem-solving.

Outlining expected results predicts what the research seeks and what it may mean in the area. This indicates the study's direction, likely influence, and relevance. This section addresses research challenges to prepare the proposal for skepticism and scrutiny by showing that the researcher has examined and planned for probable hurdles.

A conclusion of your MLA research proposal is a conclusion summary of the article's main elements. This section revisits key topics like the structured approach to proposal development, MLA formatting, and strategic considerations for each section — from writing an impactful title to writing a clear and concise abstract. The conclusion summarizes these essential elements to help the reader comprehend the MLA structure and substance.

How should I format the title page in an MLA research proposal?

MLA research proposal does not need a title page; instead, write your name, instructor's name, course name, and date in the upper left corner of the first page and the title centered on the following line.

Can I use bullet points in an MLA research proposal?

Bullet points can assist in clarifying procedures or list topics in the methodology section, even though MLA style prioritizes paragraph form.

How do I cite sources within the proposal?

Use parenthetical citations with the author's last name and page number, and list all books cited at the conclusion of your proposal.

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Home » Proposal – Types, Examples, and Writing Guide

Proposal – Types, Examples, and Writing Guide

Table of Contents

Proposal

Definition:

Proposal is a formal document or presentation that outlines a plan, idea, or project and seeks to persuade others to support or adopt it. Proposals are commonly used in business, academia, and various other fields to propose new initiatives, solutions to problems, research studies, or business ventures.

Proposal Layout

While the specific layout of a proposal may vary depending on the requirements or guidelines provided by the recipient, there are some common sections that are typically included in a standard proposal. Here’s a typical layout for a proposal:

  • The title of the proposal.
  • Your name or the name of your organization.
  • Date of submission.
  • A list of sections or headings with corresponding page numbers for easy navigation.
  • An overview of the proposal, highlighting its key points and benefits.
  • Summarize the problem or opportunity.
  • Outline the proposed solution or project.
  • Mention the expected outcomes or deliverables.
  • Keep it concise and compelling.
  • Provide background information about the issue or context.
  • Explain the purpose and objectives of the proposal.
  • Clarify the problem statement or opportunity that the proposal aims to address.
  • Describe in detail the methodology , approach , or plan to achieve the objectives.
  • Outline the steps or tasks involved in implementing the proposal.
  • Explain how the proposed solution or project will be executed.
  • Include a timeline or schedule to demonstrate the project’s timeline.
  • Define the specific activities, tasks, or services to be provided.
  • Clarify the deliverables and expected outcomes.
  • Mention any limitations or exclusions, if applicable.
  • Provide a detailed breakdown of the costs associated with the proposal.
  • Include itemized expenses such as personnel, materials, equipment, and any other relevant costs.
  • If applicable, include a justification for each cost.
  • Introduce the individuals or team members involved in the proposal.
  • Highlight their qualifications, expertise, and experience relevant to the project.
  • Include their roles and responsibilities.
  • Specify how the success of the proposal will be measured.
  • Define evaluation criteria and metrics to assess the outcomes.
  • Explain how progress will be tracked and reported.
  • Recap the main points of the proposal.
  • Reiterate the benefits and advantages of the proposed solution.
  • Emphasize the value and importance of supporting or adopting the proposal.
  • Include any additional documents, references, charts, graphs, or data that support your proposal.
  • These can include resumes, letters of support, financial projections, or relevant research materials.

Types of Types of Proposals

When it comes to proposals, there are various types depending on the context and purpose. Here are some common types of proposals:

Business Proposal

This type of proposal is used in the business world to present a plan, idea, or project to potential clients, investors, or partners. It typically includes an executive summary, problem statement, proposed solution, timeline, budget, and anticipated outcomes.

Project Proposal

A project proposal is a detailed document that outlines the objectives, scope, methodology, deliverables, and budget of a specific project. It is used to seek approval and funding from stakeholders or clients.

Research Proposal

Research proposals are commonly used in academic or scientific settings. They outline the research objectives, methodology, timeline, expected outcomes, and potential significance of a research study. These proposals are submitted to funding agencies, universities, or research institutions.

Grant Proposal

Non-profit organizations, researchers, or individuals seeking funding for a project or program often write grant proposals. These proposals provide a detailed plan of the project, including goals, methods, budget, and expected outcomes, to convince grant-making bodies to provide financial support.

Sales Proposal

Sales proposals are used by businesses to pitch their products or services to potential customers. They typically include information about the product/service, pricing, features, benefits, and a persuasive argument to encourage the recipient to make a purchase.

Sponsorship Proposal

When seeking sponsorship for an event, sports team, or individual, a sponsorship proposal is created. It outlines the benefits for the sponsor, the exposure they will receive, and the financial or in-kind support required.

Marketing Proposal

A marketing proposal is developed by marketing agencies or professionals to present their strategies and tactics to potential clients. It includes an analysis of the target market, proposed marketing activities, budget, and expected results.

Policy Proposal

In the realm of government or public policy, individuals or organizations may create policy proposals to suggest new laws, regulations, or changes to existing policies. These proposals typically provide an overview of the issue, the proposed solution, supporting evidence, and potential impacts.

Training Proposal

Organizations often create training proposals to propose a training program for their employees. These proposals outline the training objectives, topics to be covered, training methods, resources required, and anticipated outcomes.

Partnership Proposal

When two or more organizations or individuals wish to collaborate or form a partnership, a partnership proposal is used to present the benefits, shared goals, responsibilities, and terms of the proposed partnership.

Event Proposal

Event planners or individuals organizing an event, such as a conference, concert, or wedding, may create an event proposal. It includes details about the event concept, venue, logistics, budget, marketing plan, and anticipated attendee experience.

Technology Proposal

Technology proposals are used to present new technological solutions, system upgrades, or IT projects to stakeholders or decision-makers. These proposals outline the technology requirements, implementation plan, costs, and anticipated benefits.

Construction Proposal

Contractors or construction companies create construction proposals to bid on construction projects. These proposals include project specifications, cost estimates, timelines, materials, and construction methodologies.

Book Proposal

Authors or aspiring authors create book proposals to pitch their book ideas to literary agents or publishers. These proposals include a synopsis of the book, target audience, marketing plan, author’s credentials, and sample chapters.

Social Media Proposal

Social media professionals or agencies create social media proposals to present their strategies for managing social media accounts, creating content, and growing online presence. These proposals include an analysis of the current social media presence, proposed tactics, metrics for success, and pricing.

Training and Development Proposal

Similar to training proposals, these proposals focus on the overall development and growth of employees within an organization. They may include plans for leadership development, skill enhancement, or professional certification programs.

Consulting Proposal

Consultants create consulting proposals to present their services and expertise to potential clients. These proposals outline the problem statement, proposed approach, scope of work, timeline, deliverables, and fees.

Policy Advocacy Proposal

Organizations or individuals seeking to influence public policy or advocate for a particular cause create policy advocacy proposals. These proposals present research, evidence, and arguments to support a specific policy change or reform.

Website Design Proposal

Web designers or agencies create website design proposals to pitch their services to clients. These proposals outline the project scope, design concepts, development process, timeline, and pricing.

Environmental Proposal

Environmental proposals are created to address environmental issues or propose conservation initiatives. These proposals may include strategies for renewable energy, waste management, biodiversity preservation, or sustainable practices.

Health and Wellness Proposal

Proposals related to health and wellness can cover a range of topics, such as wellness programs, community health initiatives, healthcare system improvements, or health education campaigns.

Human Resources (HR) Proposal

HR professionals may create HR proposals to introduce new policies, employee benefits programs, performance evaluation systems, or employee training initiatives within an organization.

Nonprofit Program Proposal

Nonprofit organizations seeking funding or support for a specific program or project create nonprofit program proposals. These proposals outline the program’s objectives, activities, target beneficiaries, budget, and expected outcomes.

Government Contract Proposal

When bidding for government contracts, businesses or contractors create government contract proposals. These proposals include details about the project, compliance with regulations, cost estimates, and qualifications.

Product Development Proposal

Businesses or individuals seeking to develop and launch a new product present product development proposals. These proposals outline the product concept, market analysis, development process, production costs, and marketing strategies.

Feasibility Study Proposal

Feasibility study proposals are used to assess the viability and potential success of a project or business idea. These proposals include market research, financial analysis, risk assessment, and recommendations for implementation.

Educational Program Proposal

Educational institutions or organizations create educational program proposals to introduce new courses, curricula, or educational initiatives. These proposals outline the program objectives, learning outcomes, curriculum design, and resource requirements.

Social Service Proposal

Organizations involved in social services, such as healthcare, community development, or social welfare, create social service proposals to seek funding, support, or partnerships. These proposals outline the social issue, proposed interventions, anticipated impacts, and sustainability plans.

Proposal Writing Guide

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you with proposal writing:

  • Understand the Requirements: Before you begin writing your proposal, carefully review any guidelines, instructions, or requirements provided by the recipient or organization. This will ensure that you meet their expectations and include all necessary information.
  • Research and Gather Information: Conduct thorough research on the topic or project you are proposing. Collect relevant data, statistics, case studies, and any supporting evidence that strengthens your proposal. This will demonstrate your knowledge and credibility.
  • Define the Problem or Opportunity: Clearly identify and articulate the problem or opportunity that your proposal aims to address. Provide a concise and compelling explanation of why it is important and relevant.
  • State Your Objectives: Outline the specific objectives or goals of your proposal. What do you hope to achieve? Make sure your objectives are clear, measurable, and aligned with the needs of the recipient.
  • Present Your Solution: Propose your solution or approach to the problem. Describe how your solution is unique, innovative, and effective. Provide a step-by-step plan or methodology, highlighting key activities, deliverables, and timelines.
  • Demonstrate Benefits and Impact: Clearly outline the benefits and impact of your proposal. Explain how it will add value, solve the problem, or create positive change. Use evidence and examples to support your claims.
  • Develop a Budget: If applicable, include a detailed budget that outlines the costs associated with implementing your proposal. Be transparent and realistic about expenses, and clearly explain how the funding will be allocated.
  • Address Potential Risks and Mitigation Strategies: Identify any potential risks, challenges, or obstacles that may arise during the implementation of your proposal. Offer strategies or contingency plans to mitigate these risks and ensure the success of your project.
  • Provide Supporting Documentation: Include any supporting documents that add credibility to your proposal. This may include resumes or bios of key team members, letters of support or partnership, relevant certifications, or past success stories.
  • Write Clearly and Concisely: Use clear and concise language to communicate your ideas effectively. Avoid jargon or technical terms that may confuse or alienate the reader. Structure your proposal with headings, subheadings, and bullet points to enhance readability.
  • Proofread and Edit: Carefully review your proposal for grammar, spelling, and formatting errors. Ensure that it is well-organized, coherent, and flows logically. Consider asking someone else to review it for feedback and suggestions.
  • Include a Professional Cover Letter: If appropriate, attach a cover letter introducing your proposal. This letter should summarize the key points, express your enthusiasm, and provide contact information for further discussion.
  • Follow Submission Instructions: Follow the specific instructions for submitting your proposal. This may include submitting it electronically, mailing it, or delivering it in person. Pay attention to submission deadlines and any additional requirements.
  • Follow Up: After submitting your proposal, consider following up with the recipient to ensure they received it and address any questions or concerns they may have. This shows your commitment and professionalism.

Purpose of Proposal

The purpose of a proposal is to present a plan, idea, project, or solution to a specific audience in a persuasive and compelling manner. Proposals are typically written documents that aim to:

  • Convince and Persuade: The primary purpose of a proposal is to convince the recipient or decision-makers to accept and support the proposed plan or idea. It is important to present a strong case, providing evidence, logical reasoning, and clear benefits to demonstrate why the proposal should be approved.
  • Seek Approval or Funding: Proposals often seek approval or funding for a project, program, research study, business venture, or initiative. The purpose is to secure the necessary resources, whether financial, human, or technical, to implement the proposed endeavor.
  • Solve Problems or Address Opportunities: Proposals are often developed in response to a problem, challenge, or opportunity. The purpose is to provide a well-thought-out solution or approach that effectively addresses the issue or leverages the opportunity for positive outcomes.
  • Present a Comprehensive Plan : Proposals outline a comprehensive plan, including objectives, strategies, methodologies, timelines, budgets, and anticipated outcomes. The purpose is to demonstrate the feasibility, practicality, and potential success of the proposed plan.
  • Inform and Educate: Proposals provide detailed information and analysis to educate the audience about the subject matter. They offer a thorough understanding of the problem or opportunity, the proposed solution, and the potential impact.
  • Establish Credibility: Proposals aim to establish the credibility and expertise of the individual or organization presenting the proposal. They demonstrate the knowledge, experience, qualifications, and track record that make the proposer capable of successfully executing the proposed plan.
  • I nitiate Collaboration or Partnerships: Proposals may serve as a means to initiate collaboration, partnerships, or contractual agreements. They present an opportunity for individuals, organizations, or entities to work together towards a common goal or project.
  • Provide a Basis for Decision-Making: Proposals offer the information and analysis necessary for decision-makers to evaluate the merits and feasibility of the proposed plan. They provide a framework for informed decision-making, allowing stakeholders to assess the risks, benefits, and potential outcomes.

When to write a Proposal

Proposals are typically written in various situations when you need to present a plan, idea, or project to a specific audience. Here are some common scenarios when you may need to write a proposal:

  • Business Opportunities: When you identify a business opportunity, such as a potential client or partnership, you may write a proposal to pitch your products, services, or collaboration ideas.
  • Funding or Grants: If you require financial support for a project, research study, non-profit program, or any initiative, you may need to write a proposal to seek funding from government agencies, foundations, or philanthropic organizations.
  • Project Planning: When you plan to undertake a project, whether it’s a construction project, software development, event organization, or any other endeavor, writing a project proposal helps outline the objectives, deliverables, timelines, and resource requirements.
  • Research Studies: In academic or scientific settings, researchers write research proposals to present their study objectives, research questions, methodology, anticipated outcomes, and potential significance to funding bodies, universities, or research institutions.
  • Business Development: If you’re expanding your business, launching a new product or service, or entering a new market, writing a business proposal helps outline your plans, strategies, market analysis, and financial projections to potential investors or partners.
  • Partnerships and Collaborations: When seeking partnerships, collaborations, or joint ventures with other organizations or individuals, writing a partnership proposal helps communicate the benefits, shared goals, responsibilities, and terms of the proposed partnership.
  • Policy or Advocacy Initiatives: When advocating for a particular cause, addressing public policy issues, or proposing policy changes, writing a policy proposal helps outline the problem, proposed solutions, supporting evidence, and potential impacts.
  • Contract Bidding: If you’re bidding for contracts, whether in government or private sectors, writing a proposal is necessary to present your capabilities, expertise, resources, and pricing to potential clients or procurement departments.
  • Consulting or Service Contracts: If you offer consulting services, professional expertise, or specialized services, writing a proposal helps outline your approach, deliverables, fees, and timeline to potential clients.

Importance of Proposal

Proposals play a significant role in numerous areas and have several important benefits. Here are some key reasons why proposals are important:

  • Communication and Clarity: Proposals serve as a formal means of communication, allowing you to clearly articulate your plan, idea, or project to others. By presenting your proposal in a structured format, you ensure that your message is conveyed effectively, minimizing misunderstandings and confusion.
  • Decision-Making Tool: Proposals provide decision-makers with the necessary information and analysis to make informed choices. They offer a comprehensive overview of the proposal, including objectives, strategies, timelines, budgets, and anticipated outcomes. This enables stakeholders to evaluate the proposal’s feasibility, alignment with goals, and potential return on investment.
  • Accountability and Documentation: Proposals serve as a written record of commitments, responsibilities, and expectations. Once a proposal is approved, it becomes a reference point for all parties involved, ensuring that everyone is on the same page and accountable for their roles and obligations.
  • Planning and Organization: Writing a proposal requires thorough planning and organization. It compels you to define objectives, outline strategies, consider potential risks, and create a timeline. This process helps you think critically about the proposal, identifying strengths, weaknesses, and areas that require further refinement.
  • Persuasion and Influence: Proposals are persuasive documents that aim to convince others to support or approve your plan. By presenting a well-constructed proposal, supported by evidence, logical reasoning, and benefits, you enhance your ability to influence decision-makers and stakeholders.
  • Resource Allocation and Funding: Many proposals are written to secure resources, whether financial, human, or technical. A compelling proposal can increase the likelihood of obtaining funding, grants, or other resources needed to execute a project or initiative successfully.
  • Partnership and Collaboration Opportunities: Proposals enable you to seek partnerships, collaborations, or joint ventures with other organizations or individuals. By presenting a clear proposal that outlines the benefits, shared goals, responsibilities, and terms, you increase the likelihood of forming mutually beneficial relationships.
  • Professionalism and Credibility: A well-written proposal demonstrates professionalism, expertise, and credibility. It showcases your ability to analyze complex issues, develop effective strategies, and present ideas in a concise and persuasive manner. This can enhance your reputation and increase trust among stakeholders.
  • Continual Improvement: The process of writing proposals encourages you to refine your ideas, explore alternatives, and seek feedback. It provides an opportunity for reflection and refinement, ultimately leading to continuous improvement in your plans and approaches.

About the author

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Muhammad Hassan

Researcher, Academic Writer, Web developer

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Securing grant funding requires more than a compelling research topic – your project design and overall proposal presentation quality are equally crucial.

Join an engaging panel discussion on grant proposal writing led by Program Officers Laura Fernandez and Allegra Liberman-Martin from the Office of Research Grants at ACS that will ease your stress regarding funding your research and strengthen your grant application Register now to learn effective writing strategies, understand reviewer evaluation criteria, and avoid common grant writing pitfalls. Gain insights from successful grant recipients, including Professors Charlisa Daniels of Northern Kentucky University, Jodie Lutkenhaus of Texas A&M University, and Julian West of Rice University.

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NEW REPORT: The People's Guide to Project 2025

The People’s Guide to Project 2025

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Project 2025 is among the most profound threats to the American people.

We read Project 2025’s entire 900+ page “Mandate for Leadership” so that you don’t have to.

What we discovered was a systemic, ruthless plan to undermine the quality of life of millions of Americans, remove critical protections and dismantle programs for communities across the nation, and prioritize special interests and ideological extremism over people.

From attacking overtime pay, student loans, and reproductive rights, to allowing more discrimination, pollution, and price gouging, those behind Project 2025 are preparing to go to incredible lengths to create a country only for some, not for all of us.

If these plans are enacted, which Project 2025’s authors claim can happen without congressional approval, 4.3 million people could lose overtime protections, 40 million people could have their food assistance reduced, 220,000 American jobs could be lost, and much, much, more. The stakes are higher than ever for democracy and for people.

These threats aren’t hypothetical. These are their real plans.

The Heritage Foundation and the 100+ organizations that make up the Project 2025 Advisory Board have mapped out exactly how they will achieve their extreme ends. They aim to try and carry out many of the most troubling proposals through an anti-democratic president and political loyalists installed in the executive branch, without waiting for congressional action. And, while many of these plans are unlawful, winning in court is not guaranteed given that the same far-right movement that is behind Project 2025 has shaped our current court system.

To combat the threats posed by Project 2025, we have to first understand them.

What follows are some of the most dangerous proposals that make up Project 2025, specifically those that they plan to implement through federal agencies and a far-right executive branch.

The majority of Americans share the same values and priorities, but Project 2025 wants to push an extreme, out-of-touch agenda on all of us . By reading this guide and sharing it, we can begin to address these threats and go on offense towards building a bold, inclusive democracy for all people.

Download PDF

What is Project 2025?

The Project 2025 Presidential Transition Project is a well-funded (eight-figure) effort of the Heritage Foundation and more than 100 organizations to enable a future anti-democratic presidential administration to take swift, far-right action that would cut wages for working people, dismantle social safety net programs, reverse decades of progress for civil rights, redefine the way our society operates, and undermine our economy.

A central pillar of Project 2025 is the “Mandate for Leadership,” a 900+ page policy playbook authored by former Trump administration officials and other extremists that provides a radical vision for our nation and a roadmap to implement it.

Project 2025 Snapshot

Proposals from Project 2025, discussed in detail throughout this guide, that they claim could be implemented through executive branch action alone — so without new legislation — include:

  • Cut overtime protections for 4.3 million workers
  • Stop efforts to lower prescription drug prices
  • Limit access to food assistance, which an average of more than 40 million people in 21.6 million households rely on monthly
  • Eliminate the Head Start early education program, which serves over 1 million children annually
  • Cut American Rescue Plan (ARP) programs that have created or saved 220,000 jobs
  • Restrict access to medication abortion
  • Push more of the 33 million people enrolled in Medicare towards Medicare Advantage and other worse, private options
  • Expose the 368,000 children in foster care to risk of increased discrimination
  • Deny students in 25 states and Washington, D.C. access to student loans because their state provides in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants
  • Roll back civil rights protections across multiple fronts, including cutting diversity, equity, and inclusion-related (DEI) programs and LGBTQ+ rights in health care, education, and workplaces

Explore Project 2025's Plans:

Cut wages, create unsafe workplaces, and destabilize our economy.

Project 2025 would enable corporations to cut overtime pay, relax worker safety rules, allow workplace discrimination, and more.

Make It Harder for Americans to Make Ends Meet

A strong democracy is one where people have the resources they need to thrive, not worry about how they will make ends meet. Project 2025 proposals would only make daily life harder for people – with fewer people able to access food assistance and affordable early education, less support for veterans with disabilities, and cuts to support for farmers.

Restrict Reproductive Rights and Access to Health Care

Despite the majority of Americans supporting comprehensive health care and reproductive freedom, Project 2025 would prefer a far different reality. Their attacks would undermine Medicare, keep prescription drug prices high, and restrict access to reproductive care.

Enable Discrimination Across Society

Threatened by decades of progress in advancing civil rights and equality for all, the authors of Project 2025 want to create a country that allows for more discrimination where we live, study, work, and play — and roll back hard-fought victories by our movements for progress.

Set Polluters Loose and Undo Climate Action

We’ve waited decades for meaningful and robust federal action to combat climate change and protect people from the harms of pollution. Project 2025 couldn’t care less about these threats — and now they want to destroy our hard-fought gains.

Make Education Unaffordable and Unwelcoming

Our public schools are foundational to our democracy. When special interests undermine public schools, they undermine the ability of students from all backgrounds to learn, feel safe in their community, and develop skills and knowledge that enable students to thrive. If Project 2025 has their way, our public schools could be stripped of funding, protections for students, and high-quality curricula.

Undermine Government’s Ability to Deliver for People

Civil servants are federal employees who work and live in all 50 states — the more than 2 million people who keep our air clean, water safe, consumers protected, and mail delivered. Attacks on the nation’s civil service are attacks on the government’s ability to work for the people.

The threats from Project 2025 do not end here.

This  People’s Guide only begins to catalog the people and communities who would be harmed if a future presidential administration began to implement Project 2025’s proposals. Businesses and industry across the country could be harmed not just from the lack of data collection discussed above, but also from proposals to politicize the Federal Reserve or to restrict free trade. Our country’s national security itself, too, is threatened by proposals to concentrate military decisionmaking, further undermine our intelligence agencies, or promote isolationist policies.

We continue to analyze these policies and their harms to people, and expect to release updated versions of the  People’s Guide  with reports on the threats that would make it harder to run a business, put our security at risk, and more. Click here to sign up to receive the updated reports directly in your inbox.

We cannot let Project 2025 write the next chapter of our nation’s story.

To learn more about how we can confront the threats presented in this guide head-on and begin to build a bold, vibrant democracy for all people, visit  democracyforward.org/join-2025 .

Our three pillars to advance a bold, vibrant democracy for all people:

Defending democracy and policies that propel progress through public education, regulatory and legal support.

Disrupting unlawful, regressive, and anti-democratic activity through litigation, investigations, and public education.

Building coalitions, supporting communities, and creating a more democratic and just future through the law.

Join us in this generational fight for people and democracy.

New york times: “the resistance to a new trump administration has already started”.

As first reported in The New York Times : Democracy Forward is “ensuring that people and communities that would be affected by a range of policies that we see with respect to Project 2025 know their legal rights and remedies and are able to access legal representation, should that be necessary.”

AI safety and research company Anthropic calls for proposals to evaluate advanced models

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Rachael Davies has spent six years reporting on tech and entertainment, writing for publications like the Evening Standard, Huffington Post, Dazed, and more. From niche…

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Owen Good is a 15-year veteran of video games writing, also covering pop culture and entertainment subjects for the likes of Kotaku and Polygon. He…

A high-tech, sophisticated depiction of an initiative to source new evaluations for measuring advanced model capabilities, focusing on the technology and methodologies involved.

Anthropic, a company that does research into AI safety , is calling for proposals on ways to evaluate advanced learning models.

The rapid growth of AI means there are new AI providers and models all the time. Every major tech company has its own model , while there are dozens more smaller ones as well. That means that the industry has a rising benchmarking problem, making it tough to accurately evaluate how well an AI model performs.

Not only is it hard to state how effective a model is, but it’s also hard to evaluate the risks involved with AI safety. Anthropic is calling for proposals to plug this gap in AI evaluation.

“Developing high-quality, safety-relevant evaluations remains challenging, and the demand is outpacing the supply,” the company writes. “To address this, today we’re introducing a new initiative to fund evaluations developed by third-party organizations that can effectively measure advanced capabilities in AI models.”

The main focus of the proposals should be centered around: AI Safety Level assessments; advanced capability and safety metrics; and infrastructure, tools, and methods for developing evaluations. There should be details on tests that can assess an AI model’s ability to accomplish tasks ranging from cyberattacks, working on weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, and creating deepfakes or misinformation).

How to submit a proposal on AI safety evaluation

You can read more details on each of the sections that Anthropic is calling for proposals on and submit a proposal on the research company’s website . The team is reviewing submissions on a rolling basis and will follow up with select proposals to discuss next steps.

Anthropic has allocated various levels of funding to help get those research options to their next stages, as well as offering the possibility to talk directly with experts from across their in-house research and safety teams.

Featured image: Ideogram

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

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Rachael Davies Tech Journalist

Rachael Davies has spent six years reporting on tech and entertainment, writing for publications like the Evening Standard, Huffington Post, Dazed, and more. From niche topics like the latest gaming mods to consumer-faced guides on the latest tech, she puts her MA in Convergent Journalism to work, following avenues guided by a variety of interests. As well as writing, she also has experience in editing as the UK Editor of The Mary Sue , as well as speaking on the important of SEO in journalism at the Student Press Association National Conference. You can find her full portfolio over on…

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UD Professors Shine in Sales Research Awards

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The Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management (JPSSM), esteemed globally for its scholarly publications on selling and sales management, recently recognized the outstanding contributions of faculty members from the University of Dayton's School of Business Administration (SBA). The 2023 JPSSM  awards saw SBA faculty members securing three prestigious accolades, underscoring their exceptional research and impact in the field.

James Comer Award for Best Contribution to Sales Theory

Winner: Riley Dugan, alongside Valentina Ortiz Ubal and Maura L. Scott, earned this accolade for their paper titled, "Sales well-being: A salesperson-focused framework for individual, organizational, and societal well-being" (Dugan, Ortiz Ubal, & Scott, 2023). This work presents a comprehensive framework addressing the well-being of salespeople, emphasizing its importance at various levels.

Marvin Jolson Award for Best Contribution to Sales Practice

Winner: Scott Friend, with co-authors Peter Nguyen, Kevin Chase, and Jeff Johnson, were honored for their paper, "Analyzing sales proposal rejections via machine learning" (Nguyen, Friend, Chase, & Johnson, 2023). This research leverages machine learning to dissect the reasons behind sales proposal rejections, providing practical insights for sales managers.

USCA/JPSSM Award for Best Conceptual Paper

Runner-up: Riley Dugan, together with Nawar N. Chaker, Edward Nowlin, Dawn Deeter-Schmelz, Deva Rangarajan, Raj Agnihotri, and Omar S. Itani, was recognized for their paper, "Preparing for, withstanding, and learning from sales crises: Implications and a future research agenda" (Dugan et al., 2023). This paper outlines strategies for managing and learning from sales crises, setting the stage for future research in this domain. Additionally, It was featured in the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Research Database.

Runner-up: Another paper co-authored by Riley Dugan, titled "Sales technology research: a review and future research agenda" (Agnihotri et al., 2023), also secured the runner-up position. Co-authored with Raj Agnihotri, Nawar N. Chaker, John M. Galvan, and Edward Nowlin, this work provides a thorough review and a forward-looking agenda for research on sales technology.

Faculty Highlights

Dr. Scott B. Friend holds the Lucille M. Schaefer and Norman M. Schaefer Endowed Chair in Marketing at the University of Dayton. His research is guided by helping organizations improve sales team performance. Specific topics of interest include value co-creation in buyer-seller relationships, intra-organizational relationships, sales failure analysis, and key account management.

Dr. Riley Dugan is Professor and Chairperson for the Department of Management and Marketing at the School of Business Administration. His research interests span sales well-being, sales crises management, and sales technology, reflecting his significant contributions to the field through both theory and practice.

The University of Dayton's School of Business Administration continues to make significant strides in the realm of sales and sales management research, as demonstrated by the recent achievements of its faculty members in the JPSSM awards. Their innovative work not only advances academic knowledge but also provides valuable insights for practitioners in the field.

“I love conducting research that has practical application both for students and real-world sales professionals. Bridging the gap between theory and practice is very important to me, and I am appreciative that I work at a University that emphasizes this.” - Dr. Riley Dugan

Congratulations to Riley Dugan, Scott Friend, and their collaborators for their exceptional contributions and well-deserved recognition!

writing a research proposal

Dr. Riley Dugan

Professor and Chairperson for the Department of Management and Marketing at the School of Business Administration.

Dr. Riley Dugan was awarded the James Comer Award for Best Contribution to Sales Theory and was the runner-up for the USCA/JPSSM Award for Best Conceptual Paper.

writing a research proposal

Dr. Scott Friend

Lucille M. Schaefer and Norman M. Schaefer Endowed Chair in Marketing

Dr/ Scott Friend was awarded the Marvin Jolson Award for Best Contribution to Sales Practice.

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UD Business Students Excel in Ohio Export Program

Students are contributing to Ohio's export growth with hands-on internships, equipping them for successful careers in global business.

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  2. How to Write a Research Proposal

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  3. FREE 10+ Sample Research Proposal Templates in MS Word

    writing a research proposal

  4. Research Proposal How to Write: Detail Guide and Template

    writing a research proposal

  5. 9 Free Research Proposal Templates (with Examples)

    writing a research proposal

  6. 12 Best Research Proposal Templates

    writing a research proposal

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  1. How to Write a Research Proposal

  2. How to Make an Attractive Research Proposal II Ph.D Admission Process II Replicon II Deepali Tiwari

  3. Writing a research proposal

  4. Creating a research proposal

  5. Tips for Effective Academic Writing to Make a Research Proposal for Australia

  6. Writing Research Proposal/Synopsis in Urdu Hindi

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  1. How to Write a Research Proposal

    Learn how to write a research proposal for your thesis, dissertation, or funding application. Find out the key elements, structure, and tips for a successful proposal, with examples and templates.

  2. How To Write A Research Proposal

    Learn the steps and format of writing a research proposal for your academic or professional project. Find a template and a sample proposal to guide you through the process.

  3. What Is A Research Proposal? Examples + Template

    Learn what a research proposal is, what it needs to cover, and how to structure it. See examples, templates, and tips for convincing your supervisor or committee of your research idea.

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

    Learn how to write a persuasive and well-planned research proposal for your dissertation or thesis with this straightforward guide and examples. Follow the 5 essential ingredients: topic, introduction, scope, literature review and design.

  5. 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.

  6. How to write a research proposal

    Learn the definition, purpose, structure, and content of a research proposal for Ph.D. funding. Follow the tips and examples to write a concise and coherent summary of your proposed research.

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

    II. Research Proposal Writing A. Introduction. A research proposal is commonly written by scholars seeking grant funding for a research project when enrolling for a research-based postgraduate degree. Graduate and post-graduate students also embark on a university dissertation to obtain a degree or get that Ph.D. Although it is just a course ...

  8. How To Write A Proposal

    Learn how to write a proposal for any purpose, audience, or situation with this detailed guide. Follow the steps to identify the problem, conduct research, develop an outline, write the proposal, and format it according to the guidelines.

  9. How to write a good research proposal (in 9 steps)

    Conduct a literature review for your research proposal. 4. Define a research gap and research question. 5. Establish a theoretical framework for your research proposal. 6. Specify an empirical focus for your research proposal. 7. Emphasise the scientific and societal relevance of your research proposal.

  10. How to Write a Research Proposal: A Step-by-Step

    Writing a research proposal template in structured steps ensures a comprehensive and coherent presentation of your research project. Let's look at the explanation for each of the steps here: Step 1: Title and Abstract. Step 2: Introduction. Step 3: Research objectives. Step 4: Literature review.

  11. How to Write a Research Proposal

    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.

  12. Writing a Research Proposal

    When applying for a research grant or scholarship, or, just before you start a major research project, you may be asked to write a preliminary document that includes basic information about your future research. This is the information that is usually needed in your proposal: The topic and goal of the research project.

  13. How to Write a Research Proposal

    Hannah Skaggs. Hannah, a writer and editor since 2017, specializes in clear and concise academic and business writing. She has mentored countless scholars and companies in writing authoritative and engaging content. Write a research proposal with purpose and accuracy. Learn about the objective, parts, and key elements of a research proposal in ...

  14. How to write a research proposal?

    Writing the proposal of a research work in the present era is a challenging task due to the constantly evolving trends in the qualitative research design and the need to incorporate medical advances into the methodology. The proposal is a detailed plan or 'blueprint' for the intended study, and once it is completed, the research project ...

  15. Research Proposal

    Writing a research proposal in this context is necessary to secure financial support for your study. Research collaborations: When collaborating with other researchers, institutions, or organizations on a research project, it is common to prepare a research proposal. This helps outline the research objectives, roles and responsibilities, and ...

  16. Write A Research Proposal: Follow Our Step-by-Step Guide

    1. Create a Captivating Title Page. - Sets the stage for your proposal. - Include title, your name, affiliation, date. - Must meet institutional formatting guidelines. 2. Summarize with a Strong Abstract. - Briefly covers the key aspects of your proposal. - Details research problem, objectives, methodology, implications.

  17. Writing A Research Proposal: 5 Critical Dos & Don'ts

    Overview: 5 Proposal Writing Essentials. Understand your university's requirements and restrictions. Have a clearly articulated research problem. Clearly communicate the feasibility of your research. Pay very close attention to ethics policies. Focus on writing critically and concisely. 1. Understand the rules of the game.

  18. Writing a Research Proposal

    "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.

  19. Writing a Research Proposal

    Writing a Research Proposal; Last Updated: May 30, 2024 1:47 PM. Writing a Rsearch Proposal. A research proposal describes what you will investigate, why it's important, and how you will conduct your research. Your paper should include the topic, research question and hypothesis, methods, predictions, and results (if not actual, then ...

  20. How to Write a Research Proposal

    Your proposal title should be concise and clear to indicate your research question. Your readers should know what to expect in the paper after reading the title. Avoid writing titles in a general perspective or phrases like "An investigation of …" or "A review of …" etc. Make it concise and well-defined. 2.

  21. Guidelines on writing a research proposal

    This is a guide to writing M.A. research proposals. The same principles apply to dissertation proposals and to proposals to most funding agencies. It includes a model outline, but advisor, committee and funding agency expectations vary and your proposal will be a variation on this basic theme.

  22. Writing a Research Proposal: a How-To Guide for You and for Me

    Editor: Eva Li. My Research Proposal. Abstract. My name is Leika Keys and I am a fourth-year political science major at UCLA and the outreach coordinator here at Aleph. As the sun sets on my senior year, my long-waited and planned existential crisis can finally emerge out of its nest. In response, I have frantically been searching for a grad ...

  23. MLA research proposal format: a guide to essentials

    Introduction writing in a research proposal sample MLA includes background information, the research topic, and study goals. A good beginning sets the stage for the subject, engages the reader, and persuades them that it is important. The study scope and desired contributions to knowledge must be clearly defined.

  24. Proposal

    Learn how to write a proposal for various purposes and contexts, such as business, research, grant, sales, and more. Find out the common sections, layout, and tips for writing a persuasive and effective proposal.

  25. Crafting a Standout Grant Proposal: Tips and Success Stories

    Securing grant funding requires more than a compelling research topic - your project design and overall proposal presentation quality are equally crucial. Join an engaging panel discussion on grant proposal writing led by Program Officers Laura Fernandez and Allegra Liberman-Martin from the Office of Research Grants at ACS that will ease your stress regarding funding your research and ...

  26. The People's Guide to Project 2025

    The threats from Project 2025 do not end here. This People's Guide only begins to catalog the people and communities who would be harmed if a future presidential administration began to implement Project 2025's proposals. Businesses and industry across the country could be harmed not just from the lack of data collection discussed above, but also from proposals to politicize the Federal ...

  27. AI safety and research company Anthropic calls for proposals to

    How to submit a proposal on AI safety evaluation. You can read more details on each of the sections that Anthropic is calling for proposals on and submit a proposal on the research company's ...

  28. UD Professors Shine in Sales Research Awards

    Professors Riley Dugan and Scott Friend, along with their collaborators, received top honors for their innovative research in sales theory and practice. Their work, which spans topics such as sales well-being, sales proposal rejections, and sales crises management, showcases the school's commitment to advancing both academic knowledge and ...