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Academic Proposals

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This resource introduces the genre of academic proposals and provides strategies for developing effective graduate-level proposals across multiple contexts.

Introduction

An important part of the work completed in academia is sharing our scholarship with others. Such communication takes place when we present at scholarly conferences, publish in peer-reviewed journals, and publish in books. This OWL resource addresses the steps in writing for a variety of academic proposals.

For samples of academic proposals, click here .

Important considerations for the writing process

First and foremost, you need to consider your future audience carefully in order to determine both how specific your topic can be and how much background information you need to provide in your proposal. While some conferences and journals may be subject-specific, most will require you to address an audience that does not conduct research on the same topics as you. Conference proposal reviewers are often drawn from professional organization members or other attendees, while journal proposals are typically reviewed by the editorial staff, so you need to ensure that your proposal is geared toward the knowledge base and expectations of whichever audience will read your work.

Along those lines, you might want to check whether you are basing your research on specific prior research and terminology that requires further explanation. As a rule, always phrase your proposal clearly and specifically, avoid over-the-top phrasing and jargon, but do not negate your own personal writing style in the process.

If you would like to add a quotation to your proposal, you are not required to provide a citation or footnote of the source, although it is generally preferred to mention the author’s name. Always put quotes in quotation marks and take care to limit yourself to at most one or two quotations in the entire proposal text. Furthermore, you should always proofread your proposal carefully and check whether you have integrated details, such as author’s name, the correct number of words, year of publication, etc. correctly.

Methodology is often a key factor in the evaluation of proposals for any academic genre — but most proposals have such a small word limit that writers find it difficult to adequately include methods while also discussing their argument, background for the study, results, and contributions to knowledge. It's important to make sure that you include some information about the methods used in your study, even if it's just a line or two; if your proposal isn't experimental in nature, this space should instead describe the theory, lens, or approach you are taking to arrive at your conclusions.

Reasons proposals fail/common pitfalls

There are common pitfalls that you might need to improve on for future proposals.

The proposal does not reflect your enthusiasm and persuasiveness, which usually goes hand in hand with hastily written, simply worded proposals. Generally, the better your research has been, the more familiar you are with the subject and the more smoothly your proposal will come together.

Similarly, proposing a topic that is too broad can harm your chances of being accepted to a conference. Be sure to have a clear focus in your proposal. Usually, this can be avoided by more advanced research to determine what has already been done, especially if the proposal is judged by an important scholar in the field. Check the names of keynote speakers and other attendees of note to avoid repeating known information or not focusing your proposal.

Your paper might simply have lacked the clear language that proposals should contain. On this linguistic level, your proposal might have sounded repetitious, have had boring wording, or simply displayed carelessness and a lack of proofreading, all of which can be remedied by more revisions. One key tactic for ensuring you have clear language in your proposal is signposting — you can pick up key phrases from the CFP, as well as use language that indicates different sections in academic work (as in IMRAD sections from the organization and structure page in this resource). This way, reviewers can easily follow your proposal and identify its relatedness to work in the field and the CFP.

Conference proposals

Conference proposals are a common genre in graduate school that invite several considerations for writing depending on the conference and requirements of the call for papers.

Beginning the process

Make sure you read the call for papers carefully to consider the deadline and orient your topic of presentation around the buzzwords and themes listed in the document. You should take special note of the deadline and submit prior to that date, as most conferences use online submission systems that will close on a deadline and will not accept further submissions.

If you have previously spoken on or submitted a proposal on the same topic, you should carefully adjust it specifically for this conference or even completely rewrite the proposal based on your changing and evolving research.

The topic you are proposing should be one that you can cover easily within a time frame of approximately fifteen to twenty minutes. You should stick to the required word limit of the conference call. The organizers have to read a large number of proposals, especially in the case of an international or interdisciplinary conference, and will appreciate your brevity.

Structure and components

Conference proposals differ widely across fields and even among individual conferences in a field. Some just request an abstract, which is written similarly to any other abstract you'd write for a journal article or other publication. Some may request abstracts or full papers that fit into pre-existing sessions created by conference organizers. Some request both an abstract and a further description or proposal, usually in cases where the abstract will be published in the conference program and the proposal helps organizers decide which papers they will accept. 

If the conference you are submitting to requires a proposal or description, there are some common elements you'll usually need to include. These are a statement of the problem or topic, a discussion of your approach to the problem/topic, a discussion of findings or expected findings, and a discussion of key takeaways or relevance to audience members. These elements are typically given in this order and loosely follow the IMRAD structure discussed in the organization and structure page in this resource. 

The proportional size of each of these elements in relation to one another tends to vary by the stage of your research and the relationship of your topic to the field of the conference. If your research is very early on, you may spend almost no time on findings, because you don't have them yet. Similarly, if your topic is a regular feature at conferences in your field, you may not need to spend as much time introducing it or explaining its relevance to the field; however, if you are working on a newer topic or bringing in a topic or problem from another discipline, you may need to spend slightly more space explaining it to reviewers. These decisions should usually be based on an analysis of your audience — what information can reviewers be reasonably expected to know, and what will you have to tell them?

Journal Proposals

Most of the time, when you submit an article to a journal for publication, you'll submit a finished manuscript which contains an abstract, the text of the article, the bibliography, any appendices, and author bios. These can be on any topic that relates to the journal's scope of interest, and they are accepted year-round.

Special issues , however, are planned issues of a journal that center around a specific theme, usually a "hot topic" in the field. The editor or guest editors for the special issue will often solicit proposals with a call for papers (CFP) first, accept a certain number of proposals for further development into article manuscripts, and then accept the final articles for the special issue from that smaller pool. Special issues are typically the only time when you will need to submit a proposal to write a journal article, rather than submitting a completed manuscript.

Journal proposals share many qualities with conference proposals: you need to write for your audience, convey the significance of your work, and condense the various sections of a full study into a small word or page limit. In general, the necessary components of a proposal include:

  • Problem or topic statement that defines the subject of your work (often includes research questions)
  • Background information (think literature review) that indicates the topic's importance in your field as well as indicates that your research adds something to the scholarship on this topic
  • Methodology and methods used in the study (and an indication of why these methods are the correct ones for your research questions)
  • Results or findings (which can be tentative or preliminary, if the study has not yet been completed)
  • Significance and implications of the study (what will readers learn? why should they care?)

This order is a common one because it loosely follows the IMRAD (introduction, methods, results and discussion) structure often used in academic writing; however, it is not the only possible structure or even always the best structure. You may need to move these elements around depending on the expectations in your field, the word or page limit, or the instructions given in the CFP.

Some of the unique considerations of journal proposals are:

  • The CFP may ask you for an abstract, a proposal, or both. If you need to write an abstract, look for more information on the abstract page. If you need to write both an abstract and a proposal, make sure to clarify for yourself what the difference is. Usually the proposal needs to include more information about the significance, methods, and/or background of the study than will fit in the abstract, but often the CFP itself will give you some instructions as to what information the editors are wanting in each piece of writing.
  • Journal special issue CFPs, like conference CFPs, often include a list of topics or questions that describe the scope of the special issue. These questions or topics are a good starting place for generating a proposal or tying in your research; ensuring that your work is a good fit for the special issue and articulating why that is in the proposal increases your chances of being accepted.
  • Special issues are not less valuable or important than regularly scheduled issues; therefore, your proposal needs to show that your work fits and could readily be accepted in any other issue of the journal. This means following some of the same practices you would if you were preparing to submit a manuscript to a journal: reading the journal's author submission guidelines; reading the last several years of the journal to understand the usual topics, organization, and methods; citing pieces from this journal and other closely related journals in your research.

Book Proposals

While the requirements are very similar to those of conference proposals, proposals for a book ought to address a few other issues.

General considerations

Since these proposals are of greater length, the publisher will require you to delve into greater detail as well—for instance, regarding the organization of the proposed book or article.

Publishers generally require a clear outline of the chapters you are proposing and an explication of their content, which can be several pages long in its entirety.

You will need to incorporate knowledge of relevant literature, use headings and sub-headings that you should not use in conference proposals. Be sure to know who wrote what about your topic and area of interest, even if you are proposing a less scholarly project.

Publishers prefer depth rather than width when it comes to your topic, so you should be as focused as possible and further outline your intended audience.

You should always include information regarding your proposed deadlines for the project and how you will execute this plan, especially in the sciences. Potential investors or publishers need to know that you have a clear and efficient plan to accomplish your proposed goals. Depending on the subject area, this information can also include a proposed budget, materials or machines required to execute this project, and information about its industrial application.

Pre-writing strategies

As John Boswell (cited in: Larsen, Michael. How to Write a Book Proposal. Writers Digest Books , 2004. p. 1) explains, “today fully 90 percent of all nonfiction books sold to trade publishers are acquired on the basis of a proposal alone.” Therefore, editors and agents generally do not accept completed manuscripts for publication, as these “cannot (be) put into the usual channels for making a sale”, since they “lack answers to questions of marketing, competition, and production.” (Lyon, Elizabeth. Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write . Perigee Trade, 2002. pp. 6-7.)

In contrast to conference or, to a lesser degree, chapter proposals, a book proposal introduces your qualifications for writing it and compares your work to what others have done or failed to address in the past.

As a result, you should test the idea with your networks and, if possible, acquire other people’s proposals that discuss similar issues or have a similar format before submitting your proposal. Prior to your submission, it is recommended that you write at least part of the manuscript in addition to checking the competition and reading all about the topic.

The following is a list of questions to ask yourself before committing to a book project, but should in no way deter you from taking on a challenging project (adapted from Lyon 27). Depending on your field of study, some of these might be more relevant to you than others, but nonetheless useful to reiterate and pose to yourself.

  • Do you have sufficient enthusiasm for a project that may span years?
  • Will publication of your book satisfy your long-term career goals?
  • Do you have enough material for such a long project and do you have the background knowledge and qualifications required for it?
  • Is your book idea better than or different from other books on the subject? Does the idea spark enthusiasm not just in yourself but others in your field, friends, or prospective readers?
  • Are you willing to acquire any lacking skills, such as, writing style, specific terminology and knowledge on that field for this project? Will it fit into your career and life at the time or will you not have the time to engage in such extensive research?

Essential elements of a book proposal

Your book proposal should include the following elements:

  • Your proposal requires the consideration of the timing and potential for sale as well as its potential for subsidiary rights.
  • It needs to include an outline of approximately one paragraph to one page of prose (Larsen 6) as well as one sample chapter to showcase the style and quality of your writing.
  • You should also include the resources you need for the completion of the book and a biographical statement (“About the Author”).
  • Your proposal must contain your credentials and expertise, preferably from previous publications on similar issues.
  • A book proposal also provides you with the opportunity to include information such as a mission statement, a foreword by another authority, or special features—for instance, humor, anecdotes, illustrations, sidebars, etc.
  • You must assess your ability to promote the book and know the market that you target in all its statistics.

The following proposal structure, as outlined by Peter E. Dunn for thesis and fellowship proposals, provides a useful guide to composing such a long proposal (Dunn, Peter E. “Proposal Writing.” Center for Instructional Excellence, Purdue University, 2007):

  • Literature Review
  • Identification of Problem
  • Statement of Objectives
  • Rationale and Significance
  • Methods and Timeline
  • Literature Cited

Most proposals for manuscripts range from thirty to fifty pages and, apart from the subject hook, book information (length, title, selling handle), markets for your book, and the section about the author, all the other sections are optional. Always anticipate and answer as many questions by editors as possible, however.

Finally, include the best chapter possible to represent your book's focus and style. Until an agent or editor advises you to do otherwise, follow your book proposal exactly without including something that you might not want to be part of the book or improvise on possible expected recommendations.

Publishers expect to acquire the book's primary rights, so that they can sell it in an adapted or condensed form as well. Mentioning any subsidiary rights, such as translation opportunities, performance and merchandising rights, or first-serial rights, will add to the editor's interest in buying your book. It is enticing to publishers to mention your manuscript's potential to turn into a series of books, although they might still hesitate to buy it right away—at least until the first one has been a successful endeavor.

The sample chapter

Since editors generally expect to see about one-tenth of a book, your sample chapter's length should reflect that in these building blocks of your book. The chapter should reflect your excitement and the freshness of the idea as well as surprise editors, but do not submit part of one or more chapters. Always send a chapter unless your credentials are impeccable due to prior publications on the subject. Do not repeat information in the sample chapter that will be covered by preceding or following ones, as the outline should be designed in such a way as to enable editors to understand the context already.

How to make your proposal stand out

Depending on the subject of your book, it is advisable to include illustrations that exemplify your vision of the book and can be included in the sample chapter. While these can make the book more expensive, it also increases the salability of the project. Further, you might consider including outstanding samples of your published work, such as clips from periodicals, if they are well-respected in the field. Thirdly, cover art can give your potential publisher a feel for your book and its marketability, especially if your topic is creative or related to the arts.

In addition, professionally formatting your materials will give you an edge over sloppy proposals. Proofread the materials carefully, use consistent and carefully organized fonts, spacing, etc., and submit your proposal without staples; rather, submit it in a neat portfolio that allows easy access and reassembling. However, check the submission guidelines first, as most proposals are submitted digitally. Finally, you should try to surprise editors and attract their attention. Your hook, however, should be imaginative but inexpensive (you do not want to bribe them, after all). Make sure your hook draws the editors to your book proposal immediately (Adapted from Larsen 154-60).

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Writing Research Proposals

The research proposal is your opportunity to show that you—and only you!—are the perfect person to take on your specific project. After reading your research proposal, readers should be confident that…

  • You have thoughtfully crafted and designed this project;
  • You have the necessary background to complete this project;
  • You have the proper support system in place;
  • You know exactly what you need to complete this project and how to do so; and
  • With this funding in hand, you can be on your way to a meaningful research experience and a significant contribution to your field.

Research proposals typically include the following components:

  • Why is your project important? How does it contribute to the field or to society? What do you hope to prove?
  • This section includes the project design, specific methodology, your specific role and responsibilities, steps you will take to execute the project, etc. Here you will show the committee the way that you think by explaining both how you have conceived the project and how you intend to carry it out.
  • Please be specific in the project dates/how much time you need to carry out the proposed project. The scope of the project should clearly match the timeframe in which you propose to complete it!
  • Funding agencies like to know how their funding will be used. Including this information will demonstrate that you have thoughtfully designed the project and know of all of the anticipated expenses required to see it through to completion.
  • It is important that you have a support system on hand when conducting research, especially as an undergraduate. There are often surprises and challenges when working on a long-term research project and the selection committee wants to be sure that you have the support system you need to both be successful in your project and also have a meaningful research experience. 
  • Some questions to consider are: How often do you intend to meet with your advisor(s)? (This may vary from project to project based on the needs of the student and the nature of the research.) What will your mode of communication be? Will you be attending (or even presenting at) lab meetings? 

Don’t be afraid to also include relevant information about your background and advocate for yourself! Do you have skills developed in a different research experience (or leadership position, job, coursework, etc.) that you could apply to the project in question? Have you already learned about and experimented with a specific method of analysis in class and are now ready to apply it to a different situation? If you already have experience with this professor/lab, please be sure to include those details in your proposal! That will show the selection committee that you are ready to hit the ground running!

Lastly, be sure to know who your readers are so that you can tailor the field-specific language of your proposal accordingly. If the selection committee are specialists in your field, you can feel free to use the jargon of that field; but if your proposal will be evaluated by an interdisciplinary committee (this is common), you might take a bit longer explaining the state of the field, specific concepts, and certainly spelling out any acronyms.

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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 | Examples & Templates

How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

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

Structure of a research proposal

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

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

Introduction

Literature review.

  • Research design

Reference list

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

Table of contents

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

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

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

Research proposal length

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

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

Download our research proposal template

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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

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

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

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

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

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

For example, your results might have implications for:

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

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

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

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

Download our research schedule template

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

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

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

To determine your budget, think about:

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

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

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

I will compare …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cite this Scribbr article

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

McCombes, S. & George, T. (2023, June 13). How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates. Scribbr. Retrieved 2 January 2024, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/the-research-process/research-proposal-explained/

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Research Method

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

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

Table of Contents

How To Write a Research Proposal

How To Write a Research Proposal

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

1. Title and Abstract

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

2. Introduction:

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

3. Research Objectives

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

4. Literature Review:

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

5. Methodology:

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

6. Timeline:

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

7. Resources:

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

8. Ethical Considerations:

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

9. Expected Outcomes and Significance:

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

10. References:

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

11. Appendices:

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

Research Proposal Format

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

1. Title Page:

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

2. Abstract:

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

3. Introduction:

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

5. Research Objectives:

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

6. Methodology:

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

7. Timeline:

8. Resources:

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

9. Ethical Considerations:

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

10. Expected Outcomes and Significance:

11. References:

12. Appendices:

Research Proposal Template

Here’s a template for a research proposal:

1. Introduction:

2. Literature Review:

3. Research Objectives:

4. Methodology:

5. Timeline:

6. Resources:

7. Ethical Considerations:

8. Expected Outcomes and Significance:

9. References:

10. Appendices:

Research Proposal Sample

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

1. Introduction

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

2. Objectives

The main objectives of this research are as follows:

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

3. Methodology

3.1 Study Design

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

3.2 Participants

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

3.3 Data Collection

The research will employ the following data collection methods:

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

3.4 Data Analysis

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

4. Ethical Considerations

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

5. Significance and Expected Outcomes

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

6. Timeline

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

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

8. Conclusion

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

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  • Research Process

Writing a Scientific Research Project Proposal

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  • 79.4K views

Table of Contents

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

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

What is a scientific research proposal?

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

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

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

Scientific Research Proposal Format

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

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

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

Common Mistakes in Writing a Scientific Research Project Proposal

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

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

Scientific Research Proposal Example

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

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

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

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What (Exactly) Is A Research Proposal?

A simple explainer with examples + free template.

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) | Reviewed By: Dr Eunice Rautenbach | June 2020 (Updated April 2023)

Whether you’re nearing the end of your degree and your dissertation is on the horizon, or you’re planning to apply for a PhD program, chances are you’ll need to craft a convincing research proposal . If you’re on this page, you’re probably unsure exactly what the research proposal is all about. Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Overview: Research Proposal Basics

  • What a research proposal is
  • What a research proposal needs to cover
  • How to structure your research proposal
  • Example /sample proposals
  • Proposal writing FAQs
  • Key takeaways & additional resources

What is a research proposal?

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

The purpose of the research proposal (its job, so to speak) is to convince  your research supervisor, committee or university that your research is  suitable  (for the requirements of the degree program) and  manageable  (given the time and resource constraints you will face). 

The most important word here is “ convince ” – in other words, your research proposal needs to  sell  your research idea (to whoever is going to approve it). If it doesn’t convince them (of its suitability and manageability), you’ll need to revise and resubmit . This will cost you valuable time, which will either delay the start of your research or eat into its time allowance (which is bad news). 

A research proposal is a  formal document that explains what you plan to research , why it's worth researching and how you'll do it.

What goes into a research proposal?

A good dissertation or thesis proposal needs to cover the “ what “, “ why ” and” how ” of the proposed study. Let’s look at each of these attributes in a little more detail:

Your proposal needs to clearly articulate your research topic . This needs to be specific and unambiguous . Your research topic should make it clear exactly what you plan to research and in what context. Here’s an example of a well-articulated research topic:

An investigation into the factors which impact female Generation Y consumer’s likelihood to promote a specific makeup brand to their peers: a British context

As you can see, this topic is extremely clear. From this one line we can see exactly:

  • What’s being investigated – factors that make people promote or advocate for a brand of a specific makeup brand
  • Who it involves – female Gen-Y consumers
  • In what context – the United Kingdom

So, make sure that your research proposal provides a detailed explanation of your research topic . If possible, also briefly outline your research aims and objectives , and perhaps even your research questions (although in some cases you’ll only develop these at a later stage). Needless to say, don’t start writing your proposal until you have a clear topic in mind , or you’ll end up waffling and your research proposal will suffer as a result of this.

Need a helping hand?

outline the content of a research proposal

As we touched on earlier, it’s not good enough to simply propose a research topic – you need to justify why your topic is original . In other words, what makes it  unique ? What gap in the current literature does it fill? If it’s simply a rehash of the existing research, it’s probably not going to get approval – it needs to be fresh.

But,  originality  alone is not enough. Once you’ve ticked that box, you also need to justify why your proposed topic is  important . In other words, what value will it add to the world if you achieve your research aims?

As an example, let’s look at the sample research topic we mentioned earlier (factors impacting brand advocacy). In this case, if the research could uncover relevant factors, these findings would be very useful to marketers in the cosmetics industry, and would, therefore, have commercial value . That is a clear justification for the research.

So, when you’re crafting your research proposal, remember that it’s not enough for a topic to simply be unique. It needs to be useful and value-creating – and you need to convey that value in your proposal. If you’re struggling to find a research topic that makes the cut, watch  our video covering how to find a research topic .

Free Webinar: How To Write A Research Proposal

It’s all good and well to have a great topic that’s original and valuable, but you’re not going to convince anyone to approve it without discussing the practicalities – in other words:

  • How will you actually undertake your research (i.e., your methodology)?
  • Is your research methodology appropriate given your research aims?
  • Is your approach manageable given your constraints (time, money, etc.)?

While it’s generally not expected that you’ll have a fully fleshed-out methodology at the proposal stage, you’ll likely still need to provide a high-level overview of your research methodology . Here are some important questions you’ll need to address in your research proposal:

  • Will you take a qualitative , quantitative or mixed -method approach?
  • What sampling strategy will you adopt?
  • How will you collect your data (e.g., interviews, surveys, etc)?
  • How will you analyse your data (e.g., descriptive and inferential statistics , content analysis, discourse analysis, etc, .)?
  • What potential limitations will your methodology carry?

So, be sure to give some thought to the practicalities of your research and have at least a basic methodological plan before you start writing up your proposal. If this all sounds rather intimidating, the video below provides a good introduction to research methodology and the key choices you’ll need to make.

How To Structure A Research Proposal

Now that we’ve covered the key points that need to be addressed in a proposal, you may be wondering, “ But how is a research proposal structured? “.

While the exact structure and format required for a research proposal differs from university to university, there are four “essential ingredients” that commonly make up the structure of a research proposal:

  • A rich introduction and background to the proposed research
  • An initial literature review covering the existing research
  • An overview of the proposed research methodology
  • A discussion regarding the practicalities (project plans, timelines, etc.)

In the video below, we unpack each of these four sections, step by step.

Research Proposal Examples/Samples

In the video below, we provide a detailed walkthrough of two successful research proposals (Master’s and PhD-level), as well as our popular free proposal template.

Proposal Writing FAQs

How long should a research proposal be.

This varies tremendously, depending on the university, the field of study (e.g., social sciences vs natural sciences), and the level of the degree (e.g. undergraduate, Masters or PhD) – so it’s always best to check with your university what their specific requirements are before you start planning your proposal.

As a rough guide, a formal research proposal at Masters-level often ranges between 2000-3000 words, while a PhD-level proposal can be far more detailed, ranging from 5000-8000 words. In some cases, a rough outline of the topic is all that’s needed, while in other cases, universities expect a very detailed proposal that essentially forms the first three chapters of the dissertation or thesis.

The takeaway – be sure to check with your institution before you start writing.

How do I choose a topic for my research proposal?

Finding a good research topic is a process that involves multiple steps. We cover the topic ideation process in this video post.

How do I write a literature review for my proposal?

While you typically won’t need a comprehensive literature review at the proposal stage, you still need to demonstrate that you’re familiar with the key literature and are able to synthesise it. We explain the literature review process here.

How do I create a timeline and budget for my proposal?

We explain how to craft a project plan/timeline and budget in Research Proposal Bootcamp .

Which referencing format should I use in my research proposal?

The expectations and requirements regarding formatting and referencing vary from institution to institution. Therefore, you’ll need to check this information with your university.

What common proposal writing mistakes do I need to look out for?

We’ve create a video post about some of the most common mistakes students make when writing a proposal – you can access that here . If you’re short on time, here’s a quick summary:

  • The research topic is too broad (or just poorly articulated).
  • The research aims, objectives and questions don’t align.
  • The research topic is not well justified.
  • The study has a weak theoretical foundation.
  • The research design is not well articulated well enough.
  • Poor writing and sloppy presentation.
  • Poor project planning and risk management.
  • Not following the university’s specific criteria.

Key Takeaways & Additional Resources

As you write up your research proposal, remember the all-important core purpose:  to convince . Your research proposal needs to sell your study in terms of suitability and viability. So, focus on crafting a convincing narrative to ensure a strong proposal.

At the same time, pay close attention to your university’s requirements. While we’ve covered the essentials here, every institution has its own set of expectations and it’s essential that you follow these to maximise your chances of approval.

By the way, we’ve got plenty more resources to help you fast-track your research proposal. Here are some of our most popular resources to get you started:

  • Proposal Writing 101 : A Introductory Webinar
  • Research Proposal Bootcamp : The Ultimate Online Course
  • Template : A basic template to help you craft your proposal

If you’re looking for 1-on-1 support with your research proposal, be sure to check out our private coaching service , where we hold your hand through the proposal development process (and the entire research journey), step by step.

Literature Review Course

Psst… there’s more!

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

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Research proposal mistakes

50 Comments

Myrna Pereira

I truly enjoyed this video, as it was eye-opening to what I have to do in the preparation of preparing a Research proposal.

I would be interested in getting some coaching.

BARAKAELI TEREVAELI

I real appreciate on your elaboration on how to develop research proposal,the video explains each steps clearly.

masebo joseph

Thank you for the video. It really assisted me and my niece. I am a PhD candidate and she is an undergraduate student. It is at times, very difficult to guide a family member but with this video, my job is done.

In view of the above, I welcome more coaching.

Zakia Ghafoor

Wonderful guidelines, thanks

Annie Malupande

This is very helpful. Would love to continue even as I prepare for starting my masters next year.

KYARIKUNDA MOREEN

Thanks for the work done, the text was helpful to me

Ahsanullah Mangal

Bundle of thanks to you for the research proposal guide it was really good and useful if it is possible please send me the sample of research proposal

Derek Jansen

You’re most welcome. We don’t have any research proposals that we can share (the students own the intellectual property), but you might find our research proposal template useful: https://gradcoach.com/research-proposal-template/

Cheruiyot Moses Kipyegon

Cheruiyot Moses Kipyegon

Thanks alot. It was an eye opener that came timely enough before my imminent proposal defense. Thanks, again

agnelius

thank you very much your lesson is very interested may God be with you

Abubakar

I am an undergraduate student (First Degree) preparing to write my project,this video and explanation had shed more light to me thanks for your efforts keep it up.

Synthia Atieno

Very useful. I am grateful.

belina nambeya

this is a very a good guidance on research proposal, for sure i have learnt something

Wonderful guidelines for writing a research proposal, I am a student of m.phil( education), this guideline is suitable for me. Thanks

You’re welcome 🙂

Marjorie

Thank you, this was so helpful.

Amitash Degan

A really great and insightful video. It opened my eyes as to how to write a research paper. I would like to receive more guidance for writing my research paper from your esteemed faculty.

Glaudia Njuguna

Thank you, great insights

Thank you, great insights, thank you so much, feeling edified

Yebirgual

Wow thank you, great insights, thanks a lot

Roseline Soetan

Thank you. This is a great insight. I am a student preparing for a PhD program. I am requested to write my Research Proposal as part of what I am required to submit before my unconditional admission. I am grateful having listened to this video which will go a long way in helping me to actually choose a topic of interest and not just any topic as well as to narrow down the topic and be specific about it. I indeed need more of this especially as am trying to choose a topic suitable for a DBA am about embarking on. Thank you once more. The video is indeed helpful.

Rebecca

Have learnt a lot just at the right time. Thank you so much.

laramato ikayo

thank you very much ,because have learn a lot things concerning research proposal and be blessed u for your time that you providing to help us

Cheruiyot M Kipyegon

Hi. For my MSc medical education research, please evaluate this topic for me: Training Needs Assessment of Faculty in Medical Training Institutions in Kericho and Bomet Counties

Rebecca

I have really learnt a lot based on research proposal and it’s formulation

Arega Berlie

Thank you. I learn much from the proposal since it is applied

Siyanda

Your effort is much appreciated – you have good articulation.

You have good articulation.

Douglas Eliaba

I do applaud your simplified method of explaining the subject matter, which indeed has broaden my understanding of the subject matter. Definitely this would enable me writing a sellable research proposal.

Weluzani

This really helping

Roswitta

Great! I liked your tutoring on how to find a research topic and how to write a research proposal. Precise and concise. Thank you very much. Will certainly share this with my students. Research made simple indeed.

Alice Kuyayama

Thank you very much. I an now assist my students effectively.

Thank you very much. I can now assist my students effectively.

Abdurahman Bayoh

I need any research proposal

Silverline

Thank you for these videos. I will need chapter by chapter assistance in writing my MSc dissertation

Nosi

Very helpfull

faith wugah

the videos are very good and straight forward

Imam

thanks so much for this wonderful presentations, i really enjoyed it to the fullest wish to learn more from you

Bernie E. Balmeo

Thank you very much. I learned a lot from your lecture.

Ishmael kwame Appiah

I really enjoy the in-depth knowledge on research proposal you have given. me. You have indeed broaden my understanding and skills. Thank you

David Mweemba

interesting session this has equipped me with knowledge as i head for exams in an hour’s time, am sure i get A++

Andrea Eccleston

This article was most informative and easy to understand. I now have a good idea of how to write my research proposal.

Thank you very much.

Georgina Ngufan

Wow, this literature is very resourceful and interesting to read. I enjoyed it and I intend reading it every now then.

Charity

Thank you for the clarity

Mondika Solomon

Thank you. Very helpful.

BLY

Thank you very much for this essential piece. I need 1o1 coaching, unfortunately, your service is not available in my country. Anyways, a very important eye-opener. I really enjoyed it. A thumb up to Gradcoach

Md Moneruszzaman Kayes

What is JAM? Please explain.

Gentiana

Thank you so much for these videos. They are extremely helpful! God bless!

azeem kakar

very very wonderful…

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  • Dissertation

How to Write a Dissertation or Thesis Proposal

Published on September 21, 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on July 18, 2023.

When starting your thesis or dissertation process, one of the first requirements is a research proposal or a prospectus. It describes what or who you want to examine, delving into why, when, where, and how you will do so, stemming from your research question and a relevant topic .

The proposal or prospectus stage is crucial for the development of your research. It helps you choose a type of research to pursue, as well as whether to pursue qualitative or quantitative methods and what your research design will look like.

You can download our templates in the format of your choice below.

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Table of contents

What should your proposal contain, dissertation question examples, what should your proposal look like, dissertation prospectus examples, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about proposals.

Prior to jumping into the research for your thesis or dissertation, you first need to develop your research proposal and have it approved by your supervisor. It should outline all of the decisions you have taken about your project, from your dissertation topic to your hypotheses and research objectives .

Depending on your department’s requirements, there may be a defense component involved, where you present your research plan in prospectus format to your committee for their approval.

Your proposal should answer the following questions:

  • Why is your research necessary?
  • What is already known about your topic?
  • Where and when will your research be conducted?
  • Who should be studied?
  • How can the research best be done?

Ultimately, your proposal should persuade your supervisor or committee that your proposed project is worth pursuing.

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Strong research kicks off with a solid research question , and dissertations are no exception to this.

Dissertation research questions should be:

  • Focused on a single problem or issue
  • Researchable using primary and/or secondary sources
  • Feasible to answer within the timeframe and practical constraints
  • Specific enough to answer thoroughly
  • Complex enough to develop the answer over the space of a paper or thesis
  • Relevant to your field of study and/or society more broadly
  • What are the main factors enticing people under 30 in suburban areas to engage in the gig economy?
  • Which techniques prove most effective for 1st-grade teachers at local elementary schools in engaging students with special needs?
  • Which communication streams are the most effective for getting those aged 18-30 to the polls on Election Day?

An easy rule of thumb is that your proposal will usually resemble a (much) shorter version of your thesis or dissertation. While of course it won’t include the results section , discussion section , or conclusion , it serves as a “mini” version or roadmap for what you eventually seek to write.

Be sure to include:

  • A succinct introduction to your topic and problem statement
  • A brief literature review situating your topic within existing research
  • A basic outline of the research methods you think will best answer your research question
  • The perceived implications for future research
  • A reference list in the citation style of your choice

The length of your proposal varies quite a bit depending on your discipline and type of work you’re conducting. While a thesis proposal is often only 3-7 pages long, a prospectus for your dissertation is usually much longer, with more detailed analysis. Dissertation proposals can be up to 25-30 pages in length.

Writing a proposal or prospectus can be a challenge, but we’ve compiled some examples for you to get your started.

  • Example #1: “Geographic Representations of the Planet Mars, 1867-1907” by Maria Lane
  • Example #2: “Individuals and the State in Late Bronze Age Greece: Messenian Perspectives on Mycenaean Society” by Dimitri Nakassis
  • Example #3: “Manhood Up in the Air: A Study of Male Flight Attendants, Queerness, and Corporate Capitalism during the Cold War Era” by Phil Tiemeyer

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If you want to know more about AI for academic writing, AI tools, or research bias, make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

Research bias

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  • Self-serving bias
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The research methods you use depend on the type of data you need to answer your research question .

  • If you want to measure something or test a hypothesis , use quantitative methods . If you want to explore ideas, thoughts and meanings, use qualitative methods .
  • If you want to analyze a large amount of readily-available data, use secondary data. If you want data specific to your purposes with control over how it is generated, collect primary data.
  • If you want to establish cause-and-effect relationships between variables , use experimental methods. If you want to understand the characteristics of a research subject, use descriptive methods.

A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical first steps in your writing process. It helps you to lay out and organize your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding what kind of research you’d like to undertake.

Generally, an outline contains information on the different sections included in your thesis or dissertation , such as:

  • Your anticipated title
  • Your abstract
  • Your chapters (sometimes subdivided into further topics like literature review , research methods , avenues for future research, etc.)

A well-planned research design helps ensure that your methods match your research aims, that you collect high-quality data, and that you use the right kind of analysis to answer your questions, utilizing credible sources . This allows you to draw valid , trustworthy conclusions.

The priorities of a research design can vary depending on the field, but you usually have to specify:

  • Your research questions and/or hypotheses
  • Your overall approach (e.g., qualitative or quantitative )
  • The type of design you’re using (e.g., a survey , experiment , or case study )
  • Your sampling methods or criteria for selecting subjects
  • Your data collection methods (e.g., questionnaires , observations)
  • Your data collection procedures (e.g., operationalization , timing and data management)
  • Your data analysis methods (e.g., statistical tests  or thematic analysis )

A dissertation prospectus or proposal describes what or who you plan to research for your dissertation. It delves into why, when, where, and how you will do your research, as well as helps you choose a type of research to pursue. You should also determine whether you plan to pursue qualitative or quantitative methods and what your research design will look like.

It should outline all of the decisions you have taken about your project, from your dissertation topic to your hypotheses and research objectives , ready to be approved by your supervisor or committee.

Note that some departments require a defense component, where you present your prospectus to your committee orally.

Formulating a main research question can be a difficult task. Overall, your question should contribute to solving the problem that you have defined in your problem statement .

However, it should also fulfill criteria in three main areas:

  • Researchability
  • Feasibility and specificity
  • Relevance and originality

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Components of a research proposal.

In general, the proposal components include:

Introduction: Provides reader with a broad overview of problem in context.

Statement of problem: Answers the question, “What research problem are you going to investigate?”

Literature review: Shows how your approach builds on existing research; helps you identify methodological and design issues in studies similar to your own; introduces you to measurement tools others have used effectively; helps you interpret findings; and ties results of your work to those who’ve preceded you.

Research design and methods: Describes how you’ll go about answering your research questions and confirming your hypothesis(es). Lists the hypothesis(es) to be tested, or states research question you’ll ask to seek a solution to your research problem. Include as much detail as possible: measurement instruments and procedures, subjects and sample size.

The research design is what you’ll also need to submit for approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) or the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) if your research involves human or animal subjects, respectively.

Timeline: Breaks your project into small, easily doable steps via backwards calendar.

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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.

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Conflicts of interest.

There are no conflicts of interest.

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Structure and content, introduction (to topic and problem), research question (or hypothesis, thesis statement, aim), proposed methodology, anticipated findings, contributions - impact and significance, tables and figures (if applicable).

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The structure and content of a research proposal can vary depending upon the discipline, purpose, and target audience. For example, a graduate thesis proposal and a Tri-Council grant proposal will have different guidelines for length and required sections.

Before you begin writing, be sure to talk with your supervisor to gain a clear understanding of their specific expectations, and continually check in with them throughout the writing process.

  • Organizing your Research Proposal - Template This 6-page fillable pdf handout provides writers with a template to begin outlining sections of their own research proposal.

This template can be used in conjunction with the sections below.

What are some keywords for your research?

  • Should give a clear indication of your proposed research approach or key question
  • Should be concise and descriptive

Writing Tip: When constructing your title, think about the search terms you would use to find this research online.

Important: Write this section last, after you have completed drafting the proposal. Or if you are required to draft a preliminary abstract, then remember to rewrite the abstract after you have completed drafting the entire proposal because some information may need to be revised.

The abstract should provide a brief overview of the entire proposal. Briefly state the research question (or hypothesis, thesis statement, aim), the problem and rationale, the proposed methods, and the proposed analyses or expected results.

The purpose of the introduction is to communicate the information that is essential for the reader to understand the overall area of concern. Be explicit. Outline why this research must be conducted and try to do so without unnecessary jargon or overwhelming detail.

Start with a short statement that establishes the overall area of concern. Avoid too much detail. Get to the point. Communicate only information essential for the reader’s comprehension. Avoid unnecessary technical language and jargon. Answer the question, "What is this study about?"

Questions to consider:

  • What is your topic area, and what is the problem within that topic?
  • What does the relevant literature say about the problem? – Be selective and focused.
  • What are the critical, theoretical, or methodological issues directly related to the problem to be investigated?
  • What are the reasons for undertaking the research? – This is the answer to the "so what?" question.

The following sections - listed as part of the introduction - are intended as a guide for drafting a research proposal. Most introductions include these following components. However, be sure to clarify with your advisor or carefully review the grant guidelines to be sure to comply with the proposal genre expectations of your specific discipline.

Broad topic and focus of study

  • Briefly describe the broad topic of your research area, and then clearly explain the narrowed focus of your specific study.

Importance of topic/field of study

  • Position your project in a current important research area.
  • Address the “So what?” question directly, and as soon as possible.
  • Provide context for the reader to understand the problem you are about to pose or research question you are asking.

Problem within field of study

  • Identify the problem that you are investigating in your study.

Gap(s) in knowledge

  • Identify something missing from the literature.
  • What is unknown in this specific research area? This is what your study will explore and where you will attempt to provide new insights.
  • Is there a reason this gap exists? Where does the current literature agree and where does it disagree? How you fill this gap (at least partially) with your research?
  • Convince your reader that the problem has been appropriately defined and that the study is worth doing. Be explicit and detailed.
  • Develop your argument logically and provide evidence.
  • Explain why you are the person to do this project. Summarize any previous work or studies you may have undertaken in this field or research area.

Research question or hypothesis

  • Foreshadow outcomes of your research. What is the question you are hoping to answer? What are the specific hypotheses to be tested and/or issues to be explored?
  • Use questions when research is exploratory.
  • Use declarative statements when existing knowledge enables predictions.
  • List any secondary or subsidiary questions if applicable.

Purpose statement

  • State the purpose of your research. Be succinct and simple.
  • Why do you want to do this study?
  • What is your research trying to find out?

Goals for proposed research

  • Write a brief, broad statement of what you hope to accomplish and why (e.g., Improve something… Understand something… ). Are there specific measurable outcomes that you will accomplish in your study? 
  • You will have a chance to go into greater detail in the research question and methodology sections.

Background or context (or literature review)

  • What does the existing research on this topic say?
  • Briefly state what you already know and introduce literature most relevant to your research.
  • Indicate main research findings, methodologies, and interpretations from previous related studies.
  • Discuss how your question or hypothesis relates to what is already known.
  • Position your research within the field’s developing body of knowledge.
  • Explain and support your choice of methodology or theoretical framework.

The research question is the question you are hoping to answer in your research project. It is important to know how you should write your research question into your proposal. Some proposals include

  • a research question, written as a question
  • or, a hypothesis as a potential response to the research question
  • or, a thesis statement as an argument that answers the research question
  • or, aims and objects as accomplishment or operational statements

Foreshadow the outcomes of your research. Are you trying to improve something? Understand something? Advocate for a social responsibility?

Research question

What is the question you are hoping to answer?

Subsidiary questions (if applicable)

  • Does your major research question hinge on a few smaller questions? Which will you address first?

Your hypothesis should provide one (of many) possible answers to your research question.

  • What are the specific hypotheses to be tested and/or issues to be explored?
  • What results do you anticipate for this experiment?

Usually a hypothesis is written to show the relationship between the independent and dependent variables. Your hypothesis must be

  • An expected relationship between variables
  • Falsifiable
  • Consistent with the existing body of knowledge

Thesis statement

Your thesis statement is a clear, concise statement of what you are arguing and why it is important. For more support on writing thesis statements, check out these following resources:

  • 5 Types of Thesis Statements - Learn about five different types of thesis statements to help you choose the best type for your research.
  • Templates for Writing Thesis Statements - This template provides a two-step guide for writing thesis statements.
  • 5 Questions to Strengthen Your Thesis Statement - Follow these five steps to strengthen your thesis statements.

Aims and objectives

Aims are typically broader statements of what you are trying to accomplish and may or may not be measurable. Objectives are operational statements indicating specifically how you will accomplish the aims of your project.

  • What are you trying to accomplish?
  • How are you going to address the research question?

Be specific and make sure your aims or objectives are realistic. You want to convey that it is feasible to answer this question with the objectives you have proposed.

Make it clear that you know what you are going to do, how you are going to do it, and why it will work by relating your methodology to previous research. If there isn’t much literature on the topic, you can relate your methodology to your own preliminary research or point out how your methodology tackles something that may have been overlooked in previous studies.

Explain how you will conduct this research. Specify scope and parameters (e.g., geographic locations, demographics). Limit your inclusion of literature to only essential articles and studies.

  • How will these methods produce an answer to your research question?
  • How do the methods relate to the introduction and literature review?
  • Have you done any previous work (or read any literature) that would inform your choices about methodology?
  • Are your methods feasible and adequate? How do you know?
  • What obstacles might you encounter in conducting the research, and how will you overcome them?

This section should include the following components that are relevant to your study and research methodologies:

Object(s) of study / participants / population

Provide detail about your objects of study (e.g., literary texts, swine, government policies, children, health care systems).

  • Who/what are they?
  • How will you find, select, or collect them?
  • How feasible is it to find/select them?
  • Are there any limitations to sample/data collection?
  • Do you need to travel to collect samples or visit archives, etc.?
  • Do you need to obtain Research Ethics Board (REB) approval to include human participants?

Theoretical frame or critical methodology

  • Explain the theories or disciplinary methodologies that your research draws from or builds upon.

Materials and apparatus

  • What are your survey or interview methods? (You may include a copy of questionnaires, etc.)
  • Do you require any special equipment?
  • How do you plan to purchase or construct or obtain this equipment?

Procedure and design

What exactly will you do? Include variables selected or manipulated, randomization, controls, the definition of coding categories, etc.

  • Is it a questionnaire? Laboratory experiment? Series of interviews? Systematic review? Interpretative analysis?
  • How will subjects be assigned to experimental conditions?
  • What precautions will be used to control possible confounding variables?
  • How long do you expect to spend on each step, and do you have a backup plan?

Data analysis and statistical procedures

  • How do you plan to statistically analyze your data?
  • What analyses will you conduct?
  • How will the analyses contribute to the objectives?

What are the expected outcomes from your methods? Describe your expected results in relation to your hypothesis. Support these results using existing literature.

  • What results would prove or disprove your hypotheses and validate your methodology, and why?
  • What obstacles might you encounter in obtaining your results, and how will you deal with those obstacles?
  • How will you analyze and interpret your results?

This section may be the most important part of your proposal. Make sure to emphasize how this research is significant to the related field, and how it will impact the broader community, now and in the future.

Convince your reader why this project should be funded above the other potential projects. Why is this research useful and relevant? Why is it useful to others? Answer the question “so what?”

Specific contributions

  • How will your anticipated results specifically contribute to fulfilling the aims, objectives, or goals of your research?
  • Will these be direct or indirect contributions? – theoretical or applied?
  • How will your research contribute to the larger topic area or research discipline?

Impact and significance

  • How will your research contribute to the research field of study?
  • How will your research contribute to the larger topic addressed in your introduction?
  • How will this research extend other work that you have done?
  • How will this contribution/significance convince the reader that this research will be useful and relevant?
  • Who else might find your research useful and relevant? (e.g., other research streams, policy makers, professional fields, etc.)

Provide a list of some of the most important sources that you will need to use for the introduction and background sections, plus your literature review and theoretical framework. 

What are some of the most important sources that you will need to use for the intro/background/lit review/theoretical framework? 

  • Find out what style guide you are required to follow (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago).
  • Follow the guidelines in our Cite Your Sources  Libguide to format citations and create a reference list or bibliography.

Attach this list to your proposal as a separate page unless otherwise specified.

This section should include only visuals that help illustrate the preliminary results, methods, or expected results.

  • What visuals will you use to help illustrate the methods or expected results?
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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.

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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

PH.D. RESEARCH PROPOSAL SAMPLE

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! 

Nathan D.

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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Writing a Dissertation Proposal: Outline and Example

Table of contents

  • 1 What is a Dissertation Proposal?
  • 2.1.1 Rationale:
  • 2.1.2 Purpose:
  • 2.1.3 Research Question:
  • 2.1.4 Hypothesis:
  • 2.1.5 Aims and Objectives:
  • 2.2 Define Your Methodology
  • 2.3 Literature Review
  • 2.4 Anticipate Challenges and Limitations
  • 2.5 Consider Ethical Considerations
  • 2.6 Present Research Timeline
  • 2.7 Outline of Future Work
  • 2.8 Conclusion
  • 3 Advice for Writing a Dissertation Proposal
  • 4 Dissertation Proposal Example
  • 5 Mastering the Art of Thesis and Dissertation Proposals

Are you gearing up to embark on the exciting journey of crafting a research proposal for your upcoming dissertation or thesis? If so, you’re in the right place! Creating a research proposal is like taking the very first step in building the foundation of your entire academic project. It is your opportunity to pitch your research idea, outline your plan, and convince your academic committee that your dissertation or thesis is worth pursuing.

However, to many students, writing a Ph.D. proposal seems daunting. Do you fall into a similar category? Worry no more. We are here to guide you through how to write a proposal for a dissertation or thesis, making it as clear and straightforward as possible.

In this article, we will break down the essential steps to help you create a compelling research proposal that stands out. Whether you’re a graduate student embarking on your first thesis or a doctoral candidate looking to refine your research pitch, we’ve got you covered.

Here is a glimpse of what we will explore in this article:

  • After reading this article, you will understand how to write methodology in a research proposal.
  • You will gain a clear understanding of what a research proposal is all about.
  • The article provides an in-depth discussion of the key components of the dissertation proposal structure.
  • Allocating time, staying organized, setting a realistic scope, and citing sources accurately are crucial for creating a compelling dissertation or thesis proposal.
  • The article provides insights into an example of a dissertation proposal.

What is a Dissertation Proposal?

Think of a research proposal for a dissertation as a roadmap for your academic adventure. It is the plan that points you in the right direction for your dissertation or thesis. To write a stellar Master’s research proposal finding the right topic to compose the dissertation proposal outline is crucial. Without the right thesis or dissertation topic, your paper will lack the depth, enthusiasm, and quality needed for success.

When you write your dissertation or thesis proposal, it has certain parts like an introduction, goals, a review of what has already been written, how you will do your research, what it all means, any limits, and a list of your sources. However, it is worth remembering that none of it is set in stone and can change depending on your study, school, or degree.

Strong research proposals demonstrate good research abilities and require the instructor’s feedback. Students who put in the effort and time to make their proposals clear and to the point are on the right track to academic success.

The research proposals should be complete, persuasive, and properly structured. While the research proposal serves as a valuable guide, it is still advisable to seek any further guidance required from your instructor or others in your department. Doing so will ensure that your projects adhere to all the academic rules.

A research proposal is a big deal when aiming for a higher degree. Writing a proposal for a dissertation that is simple but thorough can be challenging. Still, when you stick to the plan and get valuable advice from experts, you can build a strong foundation for your research project. Therefore, your success is assured.

How to Write a Proposal for Dissertation or Thesis?

When it comes to crafting proposals, the way you structure them up is super important. You are not alone if you are curious about writing a dissertation proposal and what it involves. But here is the deal: no universal format fits everyone.

Picking the very first dissertation proposal writing template and structure you come across might not be the best idea. Instead, you should choose a format that fits your paper like a glove. You must ensure you cover all the necessary parts, like your report’s main points, goals, and how you plan to do your research. Also, before you write a dissertation research proposal, get all the details about its structure.

Here are the key components of a thesis or dissertation proposal:

Introduction

Introducing a dissertation or thesis proposal is critical in setting the stage for your research journey. Think of it as the opening act of a play; it needs to grab your audience’s attention and give them a clear sense of what to expect. This article will shed light on the vital components of a compelling introduction.

Explaining why your proposed research is necessary is crucial to kicking things off. What gap in existing research knowledge does your study aim to fill? You must highlight the significance of the research problem you are addressing to show that your work is not just an academic exercise but contributes to the broader field.

Next, the introduction of your thesis or dissertation proposal must include a clear purpose for your research. It should clearly answer the question, “What are you trying to achieve?” Clearly state the main objective of your research paper, which gives context to your study.

Research Question:

The heart of your introduction is the research question. It is the central query that your dissertation or thesis seeks to answer. Make it concise, specific, and engaging, as it will guide your entire research.

Hypothesis:

If applicable, introduce your hypothesis. It is an educated guess about the expected outcome of your research based on existing knowledge. It helps set clear expectations for your study.

Aims and Objectives:

Conclude the introduction by outlining the aims and objectives of your research. Aims are broad, overarching goals, while objectives are specific, measurable steps that help you achieve those aims. Outlining the aims and objectives provides a roadmap for your research.

By addressing these elements in your introduction, you will give your readers a clear understanding of your research paper and demonstrate that you have thought critically about the importance and direction of your dissertation or thesis and the background of your research . It is like saying, “Welcome to my research journey; here’s why it matters, what I am trying to achieve, and how I plan to get there.” It will lay a solid foundation for the rest of your proposal.

Define Your Methodology

The research methodology section in your PhD dissertation proposal is a critical part. It is where you lay out how to gather and analyze your data. This part explains your approach, like the research methods and theories you will use, whether you are into numbers (quantitative), words (qualitative), or a mix of both. Also, it is about how you will get the data, what you will do with it, and the tools you will use.

No matter how clearly we describe them, this might confuse many students. It is where PapersOwl steps in to save the day. If you find defining your methodology in your thesis or dissertation proposal tricky, just say, “ Do my Dissertation ,”  and the professional writers will jump right in to help.

Moreover, it is crucial to give valid reasons for your methodology selections. It will ensure the validity and reliability of the study’s findings.

Literature Review

In your doctoral dissertation proposal, the literature review section should showcase the books and materials you have used for your research. Think of it as giving credit to the sources that helped you understand your topic better or served as references for previous academic studies.

If tackling a literature review for your thesis or dissertation feels overwhelming, there is an alternative: consider taking help from a dissertation writing service . The literature review is your chance to demonstrate how your work fits into the bigger picture. It is about listing your sources and showing why they matter. Here are some pointers to keep in mind while doing a literature review for your thesis or dissertation:

  • Do not shy away from discussing the stuff you disagree with. Everyone has got their take on things, and that’s what makes it interesting.
  • Make sure to use proper citations to back up your ideas. It will make your proposal look more credible and worth reading.
  • Compare and contrast different theories, arguments, and debates, and then throw in your two cents on how to find common ground.
  • Connect your research to the existing literature and explain how it will progress the subject area.

Anticipate Challenges and Limitations

When crafting a proposal for your dissertation, you must not forget to talk about the research limitations – it is a big deal. You must understand that many research topics can be pretty complicated, and by pointing out these limits, you’re saying, “Hey, I know the ins and outs of what I am dealing with.”

Give some real-life examples of these limitations that might come into play, like time constraints, tricky data collection, needing a bigger group to study, or people dropping out of your study. It is like telling your readers, “Here is the road I’m walking, and here are some potholes I might stumble upon.” By doing so, you are being upfront about the challenges you could face on your research journey.

Consider Ethical Considerations

When it comes to research proposals, ethics are a big deal. As a researcher, you must ensure your study is above board and follows ethical considerations. It means considering how you collect data, keeping your participants’ info private, and getting their consent to be part of your study. It is like doing your research the right way.

By addressing these considerations, you show your commitment and willingness to conduct ethical research. Staying honest and responsible throughout the process is a sure way to steer yourself toward creating an outstanding thesis or dissertation.

Present Research Timeline

In the prospectus, it is standard and smart to give your supervisor an idea of when you will hand in your work. You can break it down into steps, like when you finish each chapter. But here is the key – be realistic. Make sure you have enough time for research before diving into writing. This way, you will have a strong base of knowledge, and you will not need to speed through the writing the dissertation proposal part.

Outline of Future Work

When it comes to outlining your future work in your thesis or dissertation proposal, it is all about showing your dedication and commitment to the topic. It is where you paint a picture of what you plan to dive into after completing your thesis or dissertation. It is like saying, “I am not done yet, and here is what’s next.”

By outlining your future work, you demonstrate that you are in it for the long haul and are not just stopping at your current study. You show that you are passionate about your field and eager to contribute. It means saying, “It is just the beginning, and I have big plans.”

While a conclusion is not mandatory, it is kind of like the cherry on top. It is a great way to wrap things up by reviewing your main points and revisiting why you picked this topic, how you researched it, and what you expect to find.

When you offer your readers a quick recap, it’s like saying, “Hey, remember what this was all about?” It’s a neat way to connect the dots and ensure your research sticks in their minds. A solid conclusion is like leaving a strong impression, much like the final bow in a great performance.

Advice for Writing a Dissertation Proposal

If you are one of those students wondering how to write a dissertation proposal, do not worry; we have some handy advice to make the process smoother. Following this advice is super important for a bunch of reasons. And remember, there is always the option to check out the best essay writing service if you need some extra help.

When you have a well-written proposal, it is like having a golden ticket. It can help you get the green light from your advisor and committee. Plus, it helps you get your research goals, methods, and what you hope to find all sorted out. It not only saves you time but also makes your work top-notch.

By following this advice, you are showing you know your stuff and proving you are a pro-researcher. That can really open doors for you in your academic and career journey. So, let’s dive into these practical tips to make the whole process a bit quicker and smoother:

  • First things first, give yourself enough time for research. Rushing things can lead to all sorts of problems, especially time crunches.
  • Remember that the folks reviewing your proposal have stacks to go through. So, make sure your work is organized and crystal clear. It will help you get to the writing part faster.
  • A dissertation or thesis proposal is a work in progress, not a final product. Changes are expected, so don’t stress about it.
  • Be clear about your research questions and ideas, and make sure they are doable. Your proposals are judged on whether you can pull them off and how ambitious they are. Your ideas should also fit right into your field.
  • Show your passion for your research topic. Let your excitement shine through by sharing a personal story or explaining why this topic is important for your future studies and academic goals.
  • When it comes to your sources, give credit where it is due. Use your own words or quotes properly to avoid plagiarism. Remember to make a list of all the sources you used. Keep your writing clear, to the point, and well-organized.
  • Before you hit that submit button, give your work an excellent read to catch any errors.

Dissertation Proposal Example

Having access to great examples is a big help when working on a dissertation. You will come across many dissertation proposal samples, but not all examples are equal. That’s where the best dissertation proposal help comes in, offering high-quality examples that fit the bill and meet your needs.

Imagine you are working on a prospectus for something as fancy as the computational model of acquiring intellectual expertise. Sounds complicated, right? Here’s the scoop: keep your paper’s title straightforward so people know what it’s all about. And do not forget to mention your university to give it that official touch.

Now, the abstract might be short, but it is a big deal. It is like the sneak peek that helps readers understand what your project is all about. Once your abstract is good to go, it is time to organize your info into different sections. You will usually have an introduction, methodology, conclusion, and more. Give each part some attention to make sure your writing flows smoothly and makes sense.

Here’s a quick example of what the structure of a dissertation proposal might look like:

pic

Remember that this example works well for cognitive science studies, but things might be a bit different for other subjects.

Mastering the Art of Thesis and Dissertation Proposals

Embarking on crafting a proposal for your thesis or dissertation can feel daunting. However, remembering that it is a path well-trodden by countless scholars before you is worth remembering. In this guide, we will take you by the hand and walk you through the essential steps.

From understanding what a research proposal is to nailing down the key components and the pitfalls to avoid. By the end of this journey, you will be armed with the knowledge and confidence to tackle your proposal with finesse. So, let’s roll up our sleeves and dive into the thesis and dissertation proposals world. It’s a journey worth taking, and the destination? Your academic success.

How to choose dissertation proposal topics?

Choosing a topic can be daunting, but there are some helpful tips to consider. Look for a topic that aligns with your research interests and career goals, is feasible and manageable, has existing literature to build upon, and contributes to the field. Consult with your advisor for guidance and feedback.

How long should proposals be?

The length of proposals can vary depending on the guidelines provided by your study field or academic institution. Typically, proposals are between 15-25 pages long, but it’s important to check with your advisor or program requirements to ensure that you meet the necessary criteria.

What is the difference between proposals and prospectus?

Both of these are documents used in the process of planning and writing a great dissertation . However, proposals are shorter documents that show the basic research idea and approach. Prospectus is a more detail-oriented and extensive document that features literature reviews, methodology, and preliminary results.

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outline the content of a research proposal

LYNN SANTELMANN Assistant Professor, Applied Linguistics Portland State University [email protected] Outline for Research Project Proposal (adapted from Course Materials for Psycholinguistics) When writing, please use section headings to indicate where the information can be found. Subheadings need not be used, though in long sections they may facilitate organization. 1. Introduction Explain the issue you are examining and why it is significant. Describe the general area to be studied Explain why this area is important to the general area under study (e.g., psychology of language, second language acquisition, teaching methods )
Summarize what is already known about the field. Include a summary of the basic background information on the topic gleaned from your literature review (you can include information from the book and class, but the bulk should be outside sources) Discuss several critical studies that have already been done in this area(cite according to APA style). Point out why these background studies are insufficient. In other words, what question(s) do they leave unresolved that you would like to study? Choose (at least) one of these questions you might like to pursue yourself. (Make sure you do not choose too many questions)
  • List the specific question(s) that you are exploring.
  • Explain how these research questions are related to the larger issues raised in the introduction.
  • Describe what specific claim, hypothesis, and/or model of psycholinguistics you will evaluate with these questions.
  • Explain what it will show about the psychology of language if your hypothesis is confirmed.
  • Explain what it will suggest about the psychology of language if your hypothesis is disconfirmed.
Describe the general methodology you choose for your study, in order to test your hypothesis(es). Explain why this method is the best for your purposes. Participants: Who would you test and why? Describe the sample you would test and explain why you have chosen this sample. Include age, and language background and socio-economic information, if relevant to the design. Are there any participants you would exclude? Why, why not?
Describe what kinds of manipulations/variations you would make or test for in order to test your hypothesis(es). Describe the factors you would vary if you were presenting a person with stimulus sentences. Explain how varying these factors would allow you to confirm or disconfirm your hypotheses. Explain what significant differences you would need to find to confirm or disconfirm your hypothesis(es). In particular, how could your hypothesis(es) be disconfirmed by your data? Controls: What kinds of factors would you need to control for in your study? Describe what types of effects would be likely to occur which would make your results appear to confirm, or to disconfirm your hypothesis(es). Describe how you can by your design rule out or control for apparent effects.
How are you going to present the stimuli? What is the participant in the experiment going to do?
How will you analyze the results? What kind of results would confirm your hypothesis? What kind of results would disconfirm your hypothesis
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Writing a Research Proposal - Outline, Format, and Examples

Writing a Research Proposal - Outline, Format, and Examples

A research proposal is a type of academic paper like a research paper , essay, etc. A student writing a research proposal has their goal clear: to substantiate the need to conduct certain research. If necessary, the same paper serves as a request for financial support required to implement the project.

Before you proceed to the guide explaining how to write a research proposal outline and showing how to format the paper itself appropriately, there is one thing to remember. Let’s define what that paper is and what its core elements and main purposes are.

What Is a Research Proposal?

Even if you checked at least one example of a research proposal paper available on the web previously, it is worth reminding the focus points again. That work is a type of academic paper answering three main questions. You can call them WWH:

  • What is the subject?
  • Why is it critical to gain more academic knowledge about it?
  • How do you intend to investigate it (in detail)?

The research proposal formatting requirements may vary depending on your education field, school, faculty, and even supervisor. However, the majority of those papers have at least the following parts as their core:

Literature review

  • Research design
  • Bibliography (Reference list)

Parts may have other names or division principles. Still, the main point of the paper remains unchanged all the time. All research paper proposal samples you can find online have the same purpose: persuasion. A student or scientist crafts this paper to show their research value to their supervisor, school, or sponsor. Simply put, you need to prove to officials that it is worth spending time, effort, and (or) money on your research.

Scientists mostly craft research proposals to receive funds to initiate and implement some projects. Also, students are writing those proposals to ground the value of their plan for a future dissertation or thesis paper.

Summing up the points above, one might give the following recommendations to keep up with if you want to write an effective research proposal:

  • Show it is relevant – prove the originality, importance, and scientific interest behind the investigation to the supervisor.
  • Provide context – do not forget to show your knowledge about the chosen field. Let them know you are aware of the current investigation status and achievements and bring your substantial basis on top to support stated ideas.
  • Describe methods – let them see your thorough approach towards the data, instruments to use, and actions to take to finish the exploration appropriately and effectively.
  • Prove feasibility – provide reasons confirming why the research is possible to conduct within the current practical frames of the syllabus, foundation, or any educational establishment.

How long should be your paper? Research paper proposals examples available on the web are of different lengths, and that’s more than normal. The word count of a particular paper mostly depends on the academic level of a person writing it. While a thesis proposal of a future bachelor or master is fine to contain only several pages of contents, that of a dissertation for a Ph.D. candidate can easily be a couple of times longer and written with greater attention to detail .

Although you need to finish the proposal previously to even starting the planned investigation itself, those two documents’ structure reasonably looks pretty similar. It’s your thesis, yet not containing info on outcomes and a chapter with a scientific discussion of your investigation.

Why and How to Write a Research Proposal Outline?

If a proposal is the shortened version of your thesis or dissertation, its outline is obviously the basis of the proposal. Crafting an outline can help you navigate through the chosen topic easier, as that draft shows the milestones on the way to the final research proposal copy.

Additionally, a research proposal outline allows your school’s officials (for example, your supervisor) to evaluate the exploration’s potential outcome even before it is conducted and described.

Of course, nobody would expect you to develop the full version of the proposal at this stage. That’s why it is called an outline. However, it would be great if you approach it with the same thoroughness and carefulness. Here are the elements that the supervisor will expect you to show in an outline:

  • The topic of your investigation (choose your area)
  • The topic’s rationale (explain its importance)
  • The basic info on methodology (discuss the potentially suitable approach shortly)

Consideration Points of a Research Proposal Outline

The best outline format depends on the field of your exploration. So, it will be the most useful solution to discuss the milestones suiting almost any of the research topic proposal examples you might need to write.

Project title

That’s simple but critical. Here, you just come up with a short title serving as a message describing the upcoming academic research’s general perspective.

Short Research Description

What is the focus point of the project? Make sure you narrow down the problem to make it suitable to explore and review within your current paper’s volume that depends on the academic level. Avoid going too far, building too big plans, and expressing too ambitious goals. Here are more questions to think over at this stage:

  • What’s the planned investigation’s location?
  • What (who) is the subject?
  • What ideas will you explore embody?

The best way to help you set the suitable research proposal background is to show a list of questions again:

  • What’s your reason for conducting an investigation?
  • Why do you think it is critical?
  • What do you plan to explore or learn with it?
  • What will the school get from it?

A great backup for this section will be if you provide info about existing analysis or topical literature.

Methodology

It is the place to define your approach towards the investigation of the chosen topic or problem. For instance, you can mention such ways as:

  • Small exploratory study 
  • An intervention study 
  • Scientific data evaluation 

Don’t forget to come up with the supposed data collection method . Should you focus on quantitative or qualitative evaluation? Or do you think the mixed approach would suit your topic the best?

The outline does not have to include too many prescriptions, as you write it to get possible suggestions from the supervisor or mentor after you analyze the draft together. Here, it is enough to define frames suitable for a relevant sample and prepare for possible problems by coming up with basic solutions beforehand. It would be great to think over the produced data analysis methods where it is possible.

Bibliography (Reference List) 

A supervisor definitely expects you to study some topical literature. Create a list of reference sources behind your suggestions. Additionally, it would be great to mention particular literature titles that could potentially become basic at the beginning of your investigation.

How to Format a Research Proposal?

Research proposal formatting would be nothing difficult if you did a good job on your outline. Simply put, the final draft of a research proposal is an extended outline packed with more incoming data. Below, you can check the elements of its structure that are required regardless of the planned style.

On a title page, you need to specify the following info:

  • The project’s title
  • Name of your supervisor
  • Educational establishment, faculty (department), etc.

Title page formatting guidelines may vary depending on the school or faculty, so make sure you specified them precisely.

Abstract and table of contents

In case the word count of a proposal is big, it would be suitable to craft an abstract explaining the content shortly. A table of contents is an effective navigation instrument tested by time, and it suits extended proposals, too.

Introduction

In an introduction, you define the topic, set up the context and background, and then come up with the questions that your future research should answer.

See the list of critical questions to answer in your intro:

  • Who is interested in the investigated topic? (for example, the scientific community, practicing professionals, certain social groups or their members, etc.)
  • What’s the existing knowledge on the issue?
  • Which knowledge gaps exist?
  • What will be the contribution of your paper?
  • What gives value to your work?

Just like in an outline, your knowledge of the existing cornerstone research materials and explorations in your area is critical to be shown in a proposal. A worthy review lets your supervisor get clear evidence of your confidence and orientation in the topical knowledge and available theories of your chosen academic field. Additionally, that is how a supervisor sees that the planned investigation is not just a repetition of the processes and outcomes already made by other researchers.

Here, the potential contribution of your investigation to the branch’s discussions should be shown and explained as well:

  • Compare and contrast: key methods, discussions, and controversial inconveniences.
  • Critical approach: strong and weak sides of various methods and conclusions.
  • A place for your study: ways how it synthesizes, expands, or challenges the existing works by other researchers.

Research design and methods

After the literature review is done, it would be great to repeat the focus goals of your project once again to switch the attention back to it. The discussed research proposal section is called to frame the general approach and main stages you plan to pass to find the desired answers. The points of this proposal stage are:

  • Research type
  • Kind of exploration: quantitative, qualitative, or mixed
  • Data: primary/secondary sources or originally collected info
  • Design: experiment, correlation, or description
  • Data sources
  • Study subjects (for instance, college students in Washington D.C.; biology articles between 2000 and 2019, etc.)
  • Selection rules (case studies, randomized samples, in-depth search, and so on)
  • Time and place to gather the info
  • Planned methods
  • Instruments and activities to apply and take (a survey, an observation, a series of experiments, etc.)
  • Proofs explaining why the chosen instruments are the most suitable (how they help you to find answers to the posed exploration questions)
  • Practical part
  • The time required to gather the wanted data volumes
  • Planned access channels to reach sources and participants
  • Possible problems and ways to overcome them

In a research design description, you should not only show the set of methods. Your goal here is to mention the reasons making the chosen approach (and its elements) the most suitable to find answers and generate outcomes you expect to get.

Potential Contribution

This is the best point to finish the entire research proposal strongly. The showcase of the possible contribution it could bring for theoretical basis or practical knowledge is a solid proof of a future paper’s value. For instance, the research outcomes may result in:

  • Improved scientific or practical processes of a particular field of study
  • Strengthened theory
  • Doubting or denying the existing theories or popular assumptions
  • Setting up the fundamentals for further exploration of the topic.

Reference list or bibliography

Make sure you provided the required citation for each source used and mentioned in the paper’s content. Additionally, the details of every publication must be mentioned in the list of references.

In certain cases, they may want you to provide a bibliography. A bibliography contains all sources used to prepare the paper, including those not cited directly or only planned for you to study. The goal is to demonstrate the entire selection of literature materials standing behind the project.

To Conclude on Writing the Example of Research Proposal Paper

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IMAGES

  1. FREE 11+ Basic Proposal Outline Templates in PDF

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  2. 12+ Research Project Proposal Outline Templates

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  6. 2023 Research Proposal Template

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COMMENTS

  1. How to Write a Research Proposal

    The format of a research proposal varies between fields, but most proposals will contain at least these elements: Title page Introduction Literature review Research design Reference list While the sections may vary, the overall objective is always the same.

  2. How to Write a Research Proposal: Structure, Examples & Common Mistakes

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

  3. PDF A Basic Research Proposal Outline

    Summary. A synopsis of the proposed project, including the rationale for the proposed research, a statement of specific aims and objectives, the experimental approaches to be used, and the potential significance of the research. Suggested length: one-half page. Specific Aims.

  4. Academic Proposals

    Introduction An important part of the work completed in academia is sharing our scholarship with others. Such communication takes place when we present at scholarly conferences, publish in peer-reviewed journals, and publish in books. This OWL resource addresses the steps in writing for a variety of academic proposals.

  5. How to Write a Research Proposal

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

  6. PDF Research Proposal Format Example

    Following is a general outline of the material that should be included in your project proposal. I. Title Page II. Introduction and Literature Review (Chapters 2 and 3) A. Identification of specific problem area (e.g., what is it, why it is important). B. Prevalence, scope of problem. C. An overview of what we know (literature review).

  7. Writing Research Proposals

    Writing Research Proposals. The research proposal is your opportunity to show that you—and only you!—are the perfect person to take on your specific project. After reading your research proposal, readers should be confident that…. You have thoughtfully crafted and designed this project; You have the necessary background to complete this ...

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

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

  9. Writing a Research Proposal

    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.

  10. How to Write a Research Proposal

    Research proposal examples. 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'.

  11. How To Write A Research Proposal

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

  12. Writing a Scientific Research Project Proposal

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

  13. What Is A Research Proposal? Examples + Template

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

  14. How to Create a Structured Research Paper Outline

    A research paper outline is a useful tool to aid in the writing process, providing a structure to follow with all information to be included in the paper clearly organized. A quality outline can make writing your research paper more efficient by helping to: Organize your thoughts Understand the flow of information and how ideas are related

  15. How to Write a Dissertation or Thesis Proposal

    Dissertation prospectus examples. Writing a proposal or prospectus can be a challenge, but we've compiled some examples for you to get your started. Example #1: "Geographic Representations of the Planet Mars, 1867-1907" by Maria Lane. Example #2: "Individuals and the State in Late Bronze Age Greece: Messenian Perspectives on Mycenaean ...

  16. Components of a Research Proposal

    Components of a Research Proposal In general, the proposal components include: Introduction: Provides reader with a broad overview of problem in context. Statement of problem: Answers the question, "What research problem are you going to investigate?"

  17. How to write a research proposal?

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

  18. How to Write a Research Proposal

    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.

  19. Write a Research Proposal

    The structure and content of a research proposal can vary depending upon the discipline, purpose, and target audience. ... Outline why this research must be conducted and try to do so without unnecessary jargon or overwhelming detail. Start with a short statement that establishes the overall area of concern. Avoid too much detail.

  20. How to Write a Research Proposal

    '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

  21. How to Write Research Proposal for Dissertation and Thesis

    2.1 Introduction 2.1.1 Rationale: 2.1.2 Purpose: 2.1.3 Research Question: 2.1.4 Hypothesis: 2.1.5 Aims and Objectives: 2.2 Define Your Methodology 2.3 Literature Review 2.4 Anticipate Challenges and Limitations 2.5 Consider Ethical Considerations 2.6 Present Research Timeline 2.7 Outline of Future Work 2.8 Conclusion

  22. Outline for Research Proposal

    1. Introduction Explain the issue you are examining and why it is significant. Describe the general area to be studied Explain why this area is important to the general area under study(e.g., psychology of language, second language acquisition, teaching methods) 2. Background/Review of the Literature

  23. Writing a Research Proposal

    The discussed research proposal section is called to frame the general approach and main stages you plan to pass to find the desired answers. The points of this proposal stage are: Research type. Kind of exploration: quantitative, qualitative, or mixed. Data: primary/secondary sources or originally collected info.

  24. Meet the Press NOW

    The Israeli government outlines a proposal for a post-war Gaza as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken travels to the region. Retired Admiral James Stavridis outlines the areas where the Israel ...