Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Assignments

  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Analyzing a Scholarly Journal Article
  • Group Presentations
  • Dealing with Nervousness
  • Using Visual Aids
  • Grading Someone Else's Paper
  • Types of Structured Group Activities
  • Group Project Survival Skills
  • Leading a Class Discussion
  • Multiple Book Review Essay
  • Reviewing Collected Works
  • Writing a Case Analysis Paper
  • Writing a Case Study
  • About Informed Consent
  • Writing Field Notes
  • Writing a Policy Memo
  • Writing a Reflective Paper
  • Writing a Research Proposal
  • Generative AI and Writing
  • Acknowledgments

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

Lindsay Kramer

Once you’re in college and really getting into  academic writing , you may not recognize all the kinds of assignments you’re asked to complete. You know what an essay is, and you know how to respond to readings—but when you hear your professor mention a research proposal or a literature review, your mind might do a double take. 

Don’t worry; we’ve got you. Boiled down to its core, a research proposal is simply a short piece of  writing that details exactly what you’ll be covering in a larger research project. You’ll likely be required to write one for your  thesis , and if you choose to continue in academia after earning your bachelor’s degree, you’ll be writing research proposals for your master’s thesis, your dissertation , and all other research you conduct. By then, you’ll be a research proposal pro. But for now, we’ll answer all your questions and help you confidently write your first one. 

Here’s a tip: Want to make sure your writing shines? Grammarly can check your spelling and save you from grammar and punctuation mistakes. It even proofreads your text, so your work is extra polished wherever you write.

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What is the goal of 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. In some cases, a research proposal is a required part of a graduate school application. In every one of these circumstances, research proposals follow the same structure.

In a research proposal, the author demonstrates how and why their research is relevant to their field. They demonstrate that the work is necessary to the following:

  • Filling a gap in the existing body of research on their subject
  • Underscoring existing research on their subject, and/or
  • Adding new, original knowledge to the academic community’s existing understanding of their subject

A research proposal also demonstrates that the author is capable of conducting this research and contributing to the current state of their field in a meaningful way. To do this, your research proposal needs to discuss your academic background and credentials as well as demonstrate that your proposed ideas have academic merit. 

But demonstrating your research’s validity and your personal capability to carry it out isn’t enough to get your research proposal approved. Your research proposal also has to cover these things:

  • The research methodology you plan to use
  • The tools and procedures you will use to collect, analyze, and interpret the data you collect
  • An explanation of how your research fits the budget and other constraints that come with conducting it through your institution, department, or academic program

If you’ve already read our post on literature reviews , you may be thinking that a research proposal sounds pretty similar. They’re more than just similar, though—a literature review is part of a research proposal. It’s the section that covers which sources you’re using, how you’re using them, and why they’re relevant. Think of a literature review as a mini-research proposal that fits into your larger, main proposal. 

How long should a research proposal be?

Generally, research proposals for bachelor’s and master’s theses are a few pages long. Research proposals for meatier projects, like Ph.D. dissertations and funding requests, are often longer and far more detailed. A research proposal’s goal is to clearly outline exactly what your research will entail and accomplish, so including the proposal’s word count or page count isn’t nearly as important as it is to ensure that all the necessary elements and content are present. 

Research proposal structure

A research proposal follows a fairly straightforward structure. In order to achieve the goals described in the previous section, nearly all research proposals include the following sections:

Introduction

Your introduction achieves a few goals:

  • Introduces your topic
  • States your problem statement and the questions your research aims to answer
  • Provides context for your research

In a research proposal, an introduction can be a few paragraphs long. It should be concise, but don’t feel like you need to cram all of your information into one paragraph. 

In some cases, you need to include an abstract and/or a table of contents in your research proposal. These are included just before the introduction. 

Background significance

This is where you explain why your research is necessary and how it relates to established research in your field. Your work might complement existing research, strengthen it, or even challenge it—no matter how your work will “play with” other researchers’ work, you need to express it in detail in your research proposal.  

This is also the section where you clearly define the existing problems your research will address. By doing this, you’re explaining why your work is necessary—in other words, this is where you answer the reader’s “so what?” 

In your background significance section, you’ll also outline how you’ll conduct your research. If necessary, note which related questions and issues you won’t be covering in your research. 

Literature review

In your  literature review , you introduce all the sources you plan to use in your research. This includes landmark studies and their data, books, and scholarly articles. A literature review isn’t merely a list of sources (that’s what your bibliography is for); a literature review delves into the collection of sources you chose and explains how you’re using them in your research. 

Research design, methods, and schedule

Following your research review, you’ll discuss your research plans. In this section, make sure you cover these aspects:

  • The type of research you will do. Are you conducting qualitative or quantitative research? Are you collecting original data or working with data collected by other researchers?
  • Whether you’re doing experimental, correlational, or descriptive research
  • The data you’re working with. For example, if you’re conducting research in the social sciences, you’ll need to describe the population you’re studying. You’ll also need to cover how you’ll select your subjects and how you’ll collect data from them. 
  • The tools you’ll use to collect data. Will you be running experiments? Conducting surveys? Observing phenomena? Note all data collection methods here along with why they’re effective methods for your specific research.

Beyond a comprehensive look at your research itself, you’ll also need to include:

  • Your research timeline
  • Your research budget
  • Any potential obstacles you foresee and your plan for handling them

Suppositions and implications

Although you can’t know your research’s results until you’ve actually done the work, you should be going into the project with a clear idea of how your work will contribute to your field. This section is perhaps the most critical to your research proposal’s argument because it expresses exactly why your research is necessary. 

In this section, make sure you cover the following:

  • Any ways your work can challenge existing theories and assumptions in your field
  • How your work will create the foundation for future research
  • The practical value your findings will provide to practitioners, educators, and other academics in your field
  • The problems your work can potentially help to fix
  • Policies that could be impacted by your findings
  • How your findings can be implemented in academia or other settings and how this will improve or otherwise transform these settings

In other words, this section isn’t about stating the specific results you expect. Rather, it’s where you state how your findings will be valuable. 

This is where you wrap it all up. Your conclusion section, just like your conclusion paragraph for an essay , briefly summarizes your research proposal and reinforces your research’s stated purpose. 

Bibliography

Yes, you need to write a bibliography in addition to your literature review. Unlike your literature review, where you explained the relevance of the sources you chose and in some cases, challenged them, your bibliography simply lists your sources and their authors.

The way you write a citation depends on the style guide you’re using. The three most common style guides for academics are MLA , APA , and Chicago , and each has its own particular rules and requirements. Keep in mind that each formatting style has specific guidelines for citing just about any kind of source, including photos , websites , speeches , and YouTube videos .

Sometimes, a full bibliography is not needed. When this is the case, you can include a references list, which is simply a scaled-down list of all the sources you cited in your work. If you’re not sure which to write, ask your supervisor. 

Here’s a tip: Grammarly’s  Citation Generator  ensures your essays have flawless citations and no plagiarism. Try it for citing journal articles in MLA , APA , and Chicago  styles.

How to write a research proposal

Research proposals, like all other kinds of academic writing, are written in a formal, objective tone. Keep in mind that being concise is a key component of academic writing; formal does not mean flowery. 

Adhere to the structure outlined above. Your reader knows how a research proposal is supposed to read and expects it to fit this template. It’s crucial that you present your research proposal in a clear, logical way. Every question the reader has while reading your proposal should be answered by the final section. 

Editing and proofreading a research proposal

When you’re writing a research proposal, follow the same six-step writing process you follow with every other kind of writing you do. 

After you’ve got a first draft written, take some time to let it “cool off” before you start proofreading . By doing this, you’re making it easier for yourself to catch mistakes and gaps in your writing. 

Common mistakes to avoid when writing a research proposal

When you’re writing a research proposal, avoid these common pitfalls: 

Being too wordy

As we said earlier, formal does not mean flowery. In fact, you should aim to keep your writing as brief and to-the-point as possible. The more economically you can express your purpose and goal, the better.   

Failing to cite relevant sources

When you’re conducting research, you’re adding to the existing body of knowledge on the subject you’re covering. Your research proposal should reference one or more of the landmark research pieces in your field and connect your work to these works in some way. This doesn’t just communicate your work’s relevance—it also demonstrates your familiarity with the field. 

Focusing too much on minor issues

There are probably a lot of great reasons why your research is necessary. These reasons don’t all need to be in your research proposal. In fact, including too many questions and issues in your research proposal can detract from your central purpose, weakening the proposal. Save the minor issues for your research paper itself and cover only the major, key issues you aim to tackle in your proposal. 

Failing to make a strong argument for your research

This is perhaps the easiest way to undermine your proposal because it’s far more subjective than the others. A research proposal is, in essence, a piece of persuasive writing . That means that although you’re presenting your proposal in an objective, academic way, the goal is to get the reader to say “yes” to your work. 

This is true in every case, whether your reader is your supervisor, your department head, a graduate school admissions board, a private or government-backed funding provider, or the editor at a journal in which you’d like to publish your work. 

Polish your writing into a stellar proposal

When you’re asking for approval to conduct research—especially when there’s funding involved—you need to be nothing less than 100 percent confident in your proposal. If your research proposal has spelling or grammatical mistakes, an inconsistent or inappropriate tone, or even just awkward phrasing, those will undermine your credibility. 

Make sure your research proposal shines by using Grammarly to catch all of those issues. Even if you think you caught all of them while you were editing, it’s critical to double-check your work. Your research deserves the best proposal possible, and Grammarly can help you make that happen. 

what is the goal of research proposal

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11.2 Steps in Developing a Research Proposal

Learning objectives.

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

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

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

Choosing a Topic

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

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

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

Identifying Potential Topics

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

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

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

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

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

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

Narrowing Your Topic

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

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

Exploring Your Topic in Writing

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

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

Conducting Preliminary Research

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

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

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

Writing at Work

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

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

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

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

Collaboration

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

A Plan for Research

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

Formulating a Research Question

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

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

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

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

Constructing a Working ThesIs

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

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

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

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

Creating a Research Proposal

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

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

Read Jorge's research proposal

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

Writing Your Own Research Proposal

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

Key Takeaways

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

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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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Object name is IJA-60-631-g001.jpg

BASIC REQUIREMENTS OF A RESEARCH PROPOSAL

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

CONTENTS OF A RESEARCH PROPOSAL

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

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

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

Introduction

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

Review of literature

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

Aims and objectives

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

Research design and method

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

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

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

Population and sample

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

Data collection

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

Rigor (soundness of the research)

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

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

Consistency

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

Applicability

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

Data analysis

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

Ethical considerations

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

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

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

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

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

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

Financial support and sponsorship

Conflicts of interest.

There are no conflicts of interest.

SOC W 505/506 Foundations of Social Welfare Research

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

Information on Writing a Research Proposal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Write a Research Proposal

What is the purpose of a research proposal, what should i consider before writing my proposal, how do i start writing my proposal, what are the guidelines and expectations for research and thesis proposals.

  • Key Components of a Research Proposal
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A research proposal is a document that demonstrates the significance of a proposed research project to individuals or organizations who may wish to fund or support the research project.

It should provide the following information:

  • a strong foundation for a specific study
  • a detailed description of the methodology
  • an explicit plan of analysis

A research proposal should convince readers and reviewers that the proposed project is important and timely and that this research will make important contributions to the respective field, invested community, or stakeholders.

Consider your audience:

Often the people evaluating proposals (i.e., committee members, funding agencies) are comprised of non-experts. Your proposal should be written so that non-experts can clearly understand your research problem and proposed solution.

Consider your language:

  • Minimize use of field-specific jargon, abbreviations, or colloquial expressions.
  • Aim for your writing to be clear, concise, and cohesive.

The following list includes suggestions to help writers get started on their research proposals:

  • What are the recent developments in this field?​
  • What questions have not been answered in the literature?
  • Broaden your thinking to consider multiple questions, potential hypotheses, and additional areas of research.
  • Then narrow your focus and scope of research to fit within your proposed project parameters and timelines.
  • Specify the gap you want to address
  • What is the demand for this type of study?
  • Why is this research important?
  • Who are stakeholders, and why would they be interested?
  • Why are you the person to do this research?
  • What do you need to know in order to design the study?​
  • Create and clarify your research question(s)
  • Begin gathering and organizing your ideas
  • Start drafting sections of text

These following resources are designed to support your research and 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.
  • Concept Mapping Concept mapping is a visual way to represent the connections and relationships between concepts. While a few people make concept maps directly from lectures or textbooks, most people use concept maps as a way to integrate material when they're preparing for an exam.
  • Four Steps to Narrow Your Research Topic (Video) This 3-minute video provides instructions on how to narrow the focus of your research topic.

Tri-Council funding guidelines

Check out the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) , the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) , and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for their specific funding proposal expectations.

Departmental guidelines for thesis proposals

Analyzing examples of successful proposals can provide insight into structure and expectations. Some departments keep an archive of thesis and grant proposals.

Talk with your supervisor to gain a clear understanding of their specific expectations. Depending on what department you are in, you may want to emphasize certain sections, include extra sections, or even omit sections.

The "Organizing your Research Proposal - Template" in this LibGuide highlights the key components in a proposal, and this document can be shared with your supervisor to guide your discussions and help clarify expectations.

University of Guelph department-specific guidelines

Links to examples of different departmental guidelines within six of the colleges at the University of Guelph can be found below:

  • SETS handbook
  • MCB handbook
  • School of Engineering handbook
  • Political Science handbook
  • Department of Psychology handbook
  • Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics handbook
  • Sociology handbook
  • Plant Agriculture handbook
  • Biomedical Sciences handbook
  • Population Medicine handbook

To contribute to this list and to submit new links for updated handbooks, please email [email protected] .

*Please note: at the time of writing, the author could not find a handbook for the Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics.

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Home » Proposal – Types, Examples, and Writing Guide

Proposal – Types, Examples, and Writing Guide

Table of Contents

Proposal

Definition:

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

Proposal Layout

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

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

Types of Types of Proposals

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

Business Proposal

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

Project Proposal

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

Research Proposal

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

Grant Proposal

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

Sales Proposal

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

Sponsorship Proposal

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

Marketing Proposal

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

Policy Proposal

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

Training Proposal

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

Partnership Proposal

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

Event Proposal

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

Technology Proposal

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

Construction Proposal

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

Book Proposal

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

Social Media Proposal

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

Training and Development Proposal

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

Consulting Proposal

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

Policy Advocacy Proposal

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

Website Design Proposal

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

Environmental Proposal

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

Health and Wellness Proposal

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

Human Resources (HR) Proposal

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

Nonprofit Program Proposal

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

Government Contract Proposal

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

Product Development Proposal

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

Feasibility Study Proposal

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

Educational Program Proposal

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

Social Service Proposal

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

Proposal Writing Guide

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

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

Purpose of Proposal

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

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

When to write a Proposal

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

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

Importance of Proposal

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

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

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The Research Proposal

80 What are the Goals of a Research Proposal?

The research proposal has as set of specific goals, as follows Krathwohl, 2005):

  • To present and justify the need to study a research problem,
  • To present a practical way in which the proposed research study should be undertaken;
  • To demonstrate that the design elements and procedures being set forth to study the research problem meets with the governed standards within the predominant discipline in which the problem resides;  

Regardless of the research problem being investigated and the methods chosen to study that problem, all research proposals must address the following questions (Krathwohl, 2005):

  • What do you plan to accomplish? Be clear and succinct in defining the research problem and what it is you are proposing to research.
  • Why do you want to do it? In addition to detailing your research design, you must also conduct a thorough review of the literature and provide convincing evidence that the topic is worth of study. Be sure you answer the “so what?” question.
  • How are going to do it? Make sure that what you propose to do is doable. In other words, make sure you have the time, the resources and, most importantly, the stamina to undertake what you are proposing to do.

An Introduction to Research Methods in Sociology by Valerie A. Sheppard is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Research Proposal: Definition, Purpose, & Writing Steps

Few students fully get the meaning and the importance of a research proposal. If you have a good research proposal, it means that you are going to carry out adequate research. A low-quality research proposal may be the reason your research will never start.

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The main purpose of a research proposal is to convince the reader of your project’s value . You will have to prove that you have a plan for your work and that your project will be successful. Your reader has to be sure that it is not another useless piece of writing, but a profound research work that will be extremely important for science.

The main purpose of a research proposal is to convince the reader of your project's value.

Want to learn more about the reasons why it is important to have a research plan? Continue reading this article by Custom-writing.org experts!

  • 🔤 Definition
  • ❗ Purpose & Importance
  • 👣 Writing Steps

🔗 References

🔤 research proposal: definition.

A research proposal is a document that proposes a particular research project, usually in academia or sciences, intending to get funding from an institution. A typical research proposal addresses a range of points:

  • A research question(s) that the proposed research seeks to answer
  • The data & methods that will be used to answer the questions
  • The time and financial costs for the research
  • The prior research in the field
  • Potential benefits for the sponsoring institution

Research proposals are usually required when one plans to write a thesis, dissertation, or research paper. The format is similar to that of a research paper, with an introduction, a literature review, a methods section, and a conclusion.

❗ Research Proposal: Purpose & Importance

The primary goal of any research proposal is to convince a sponsoring institution that a particular research project is worthwhile. The document usually aims to cover the aspects below.

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👣 Making a Research Plan in 10 Steps

Research proposal topics.

  • A research proposal on staff attitudes to physician orders for life-sustaining treatment (POLST) . 
  • Research the aspects of corporate social responsibility integration for multinational companies. 
  • Explore the efficacy of speaker recognition technology for the crime rate reduction.  
  • Analyze the peculiarities of Nigeria’s healthcare system and the problems it faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.  
  • Marketing research proposal : study the skill deficiencies of the students of the current occupational training programs and their influence on the job perspectives.  
  • Write a research proposal on the examination of asthma risk factors for African immigrants.  
  • Research proposal on the connection between hypertension and chronic kidney disease .  
  • Conduct research on cyber terrorism as a political weapon.  
  • Explore the effective programs for asthma education among adolescents .   
  • Research proposal on the controversy of the second amendment .  
  • Examine the impact of Nokia’s marketing strategy on its product popularity and the company’s share price.  
  • Analyze the current situation of VEGA medical center and the necessity to implement sustainable change.  
  • Formulate a research proposal on the sustainable innovation strategy implementation methods for logistics companies.   
  • Research proposal on homeland security in the United States .  
  • Study the most efficient ways to implement a harm reduction approach in healthcare practice.  
  • Research the efficacy of current procedures of early ventilator-associated pneumonia diagnostics.  
  • Explore and compare the consumer behavior of generation Y in the USA and China.  
  • Research proposal on the usefulness of the mobile app English at Hands implementation in educational establishments’ curricula.  
  • Justice in healthcare: a research proposal . 
  • Analyze whether watching movies can be considered an effective method of foreign language practice. 
  • Examine the most widespread reasons for medical personnel shortage in low-income countries.  
  • Research proposal on the current state of McDonald’s company . 
  • Study the effect of lowering high-calorie food consumption on human health and life quality.  
  • Write a research proposal on the effect of technology on human health and living conditions.  
  • Explore the connection between congestive heart failure and air travel. 
  • Study the role of government in enhancing the sustainable innovation strategy implementation rates. 
  • Research the use of BMP in improving e-government security.  
  • Analyze the necessity of health teaching to middle-aged women.  
  • Research proposal on the online buying site ViaBela .  
  • Examine the current methods of suicide prevention among geriatric patients.  
  • Write a research proposal on the investigation of the COVID-19 lockdown on people with mental health issues .  
  • Explore and compare consumers’ corporate social responsibility awareness in different countries.  
  • Study the use of the national DNA database for law enforcement.  
  • Research the specifics and the ways to eliminate narcoterrorism in Mexico .  
  • Examine the contemporary ways to prevent Clostridium difficile infection .  
  • Research proposal on the advantages and disadvantages of skin-to-skin contact after labor .  
  • Explore the reasons for inadequate nurse staffing and its impact on the level of healthcare service.   
  • Anasarca and acute renal failure: a research proposal . 
  • Analyze whether telephone follow-ups will help to improve the satisfaction and life quality of diabetic patients. 
  • Write a research proposal on the safety and efficiency of fad diets .  
  • Research proposal on capital punishment application .  
  • Examine the benefits and drawbacks of wireless technologies for modern business organizations.  
  • Research the reasons that influence the participation rates of African Americans in clinical trials . 
  • Study how motivational interviews can reduce childhood obesity rates.  
  • Research proposal on the role of e-marketing strategies in business development.  
  • Analyze the connection between critical thinking and mass media literacy .  
  • Explore the benefits of medicine computerization .  
  • Research proposal on green supply chain management . 
  • Examine the impact of computer technology development on criminology . 
  • Conduct intersectionality research on prejudices against Asian American women.  
  • Writing a Research Proposal (USC Library Guides)
  • Writing a research proposal – Research & Learning Online
  • How to write a research proposal? – NCBI
  • How to Write a Research Proposal – University of Birmingham
  • How To Write an Academic Research Proposal
  • How to write a research proposal (Yale College)
  • How to write a research proposal for a strong PhD application (University of Sydney)
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Sup guys! I need definitions about research defined by scholars and year of publication plz🙏

Very informative, as for social science student. 😍

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We are so grateful for your feedback! Much appreciated.

Thanks a lot dear!! Many information gained

Glad you liked it! Thank you for your feedback!

Thanks it’s so much easier and helpful who are work first time in research proposal like me It’s interesting but I can’t decided what topic I researching for my collage project or which topic is better 🙂 so I need a guide line or instructions for choosing a good topic

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Organizing Academic Research Papers: Writing a Research Proposal

  • Purpose of Guide
  • Design Flaws to Avoid
  • Glossary of Research Terms
  • Narrowing a Topic Idea
  • Broadening a Topic Idea
  • Extending the Timeliness of a Topic Idea
  • Academic Writing Style
  • Choosing a Title
  • Making an Outline
  • Paragraph Development
  • Executive Summary
  • Background Information
  • The Research Problem/Question
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Citation Tracking
  • Content Alert Services
  • Evaluating Sources
  • Primary Sources
  • Secondary Sources
  • Tertiary Sources
  • What Is Scholarly vs. Popular?
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Using Non-Textual Elements
  • Limitations of the Study
  • Common Grammar Mistakes
  • Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Footnotes or Endnotes?
  • Further Readings
  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Dealing with Nervousness
  • Using Visual Aids
  • Grading Someone Else's Paper
  • How to Manage Group Projects
  • Multiple Book Review Essay
  • Reviewing Collected Essays
  • About Informed Consent
  • Writing Field Notes
  • Writing a Policy Memo
  • Writing a Research Proposal
  • Acknowledgements

The goal of a research proposal is to present and justify a research idea you have and to present the practical ways in which you think this research should be conducted. The forms and procedures for such research are defined by the field of study, so guidelines for research proposals are generally more exacting and less formal than a project proposal. Research proposals contain extensive literature reviews and must provide persuasive evidence that there is a need for the research study being proposed. In addition to providing rationale for the proposed research, a proposal describes detailed methodology for conducting the research consistent with requirements of the professional or academic field and a statement on anticipated outcomes and/or benefits derived from the study.

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.
  • Help learn how to conduct a comprehensive review of the literature to ensure a research problem has not already been answered [or you may determine the problem has been answered ineffectively] and, in so doing, become familiar with scholarship related to your topic.
  • Improve your general research and writing skills.
  • Practice identifying what logical steps must be taken to accomplish one's research goals.
  • Nurture a sense of inquisitiveness within yourself and to help see yourself as an active participant in the process of doing scholarly research.

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

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

  • What do you plan to accomplish? Be clear and succient in defining the research problem and what it is you are proposing to research.
  • Why do you want to do it? In addition to detailing your research design, you also must conduct a thorough review of the literature and provide convincing evidence that it is a topic worthy of study. Be sure to answer the "So what? question.
  • How are you going to do it? Be sure that what you propose is doable.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

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

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

Structure and Writing Style

Beginning the Proposal Process

As with writing a traditional research paper, research proposals are generally organized the same way throughout the social sciences. Most proposals are between ten and fifteen pages in length. However, before you begin, read the assignment carefully and, if anything seems unclear, ask your professor whether there are any specific requirements for organizing and writing the proposal.

A good place to begin is to ask yourself a series of questions:

  • What do I want to study, and why?
  • 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 my topic?
  • What exactly should I plan to do, and can I get it done in the time available?

In the end, your research proposal should document your knowledge of the topic and highlight enthusiasm for conducting the study. Approach it with the intention of leaving your readers feeling like--"Wow, that's an exciting idea and I can’t wait to see how it turns out!"

In general your proposal should include the following sections:

I.  Introduction

In the real world of higher education, a research proposal is most often written by scholars seeking grant funding for a research project or it's the first step in getting approval to write your doctoral dissertation. Even if this is just a course assignment, treat your introduction as the initial pitch of an idea. 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 sense your passion for the topic and be excited about its possible outcomes.

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

  • What is the central research problem?
  • What is the topic of study related to that problem?
  • What methods should be used to analyze the research problem?
  • Why is this important research, and why should someone reading the proposal care about the outcomes from the study?

II.  Background and Significance

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

To that end, while there are no hard and fast rules, you should attempt to deal with 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.
  • Present the rationale of your proposed study and clearly indicate why it is worth doing. Answer the "So what? question [i.e., why should anyone care].
  • Describe the major issues or problems to be addressed by your research.
  • Explain how you plan to go about conducting your research. Clearly identify the key sources you intend to use and explain how they will contribute to the analysis of your topic.
  • Set the boundaries of your proposed research in order to provide a clear focus.
  • Provide definitions of key concepts or terms, if necessary.

III.  Literature Review

Connected to the background and significance of your study is a more deliberate review and synthesis of prior studies related to the research problem under investigation . The purpose here is to place your project within the larger whole of what is currently being explored, while demonstrating to your readers that your work is original and innovative. Think about what questions other researchers have asked, what methods they've used, and what is your understanding of their findings. Assess what you believe is still missing, and state how previous research has failed to examine the issue that your study addresses.

Since a literature review is information dense, it is crucial that this section is intelligently structured to enable a reader to grasp the key arguments underpinning your study in relation to that of other researchers. A good strategy is to break the literature into "conceptual categories" [themes] rather than systematically describing materials one at a time.

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

  • Cite : keep the primary focus on the literature pertinent to your research problem.
  • Compare the various arguments, theories, methodologies, and findings expressed in the literature: what do the authors agree on? Who applies similar approaches to analyzing the research problem?
  • Contrast the various arguments, themes, methodologies, approaches and controversies expressed in the literature: what are the major areas of disagreement, controversy, or debate?
  • Critique the literature: Which arguments are more persuasive, and why? Which approaches, findings, methodologies seem most reliable, valid, or appropriate, and why? Pay attention to the verbs you use to describe what an author says/does [e.g., asserts, demonstrates, etc.] .
  • Connect the literature to your own area of research and investigation: how does your own work draw upon, depart from, or synthesize 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 . As a consequence, the reader will never have a study outcome from which to evaluate whether your methodological choices were the correct ones. The objective here is to ensure that the reader is convinced that your overall research design and methods of analysis will correctly address the research problem. Your design and methods should be absolutely and 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. Be specific about the methodological approaches you plan to undertake to collect information, about the techniques you will use to analyze it, and about 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 or times].

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

  • Specify the research operations you will undertake and the way you will interpret the results of these operations in relation to your 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 doing it.
  • Keep in mind that a methodology is not just a list of research tasks; it is an argument as to why these tasks add up to the best way to investigate the research problem. This is an important point because the mere listing of tasks to perform does not demonstrate that they add up to the best feasible approach.
  • Be sure to anticipate and acknowledge any potential barriers and pitfalls in carrying out your research design and explain how you plan to get around them.

V.  Preliminary Suppositions and Implications

Just because you don't have to actually conduct the study and analyze the results, it doesn't mean that you can skip talking about the 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 of your study will impact future scholarly research, theory, practice, forms of interventions, or policy. 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 the theoretical framework that frames 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 "real world"?
  • 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?
  • 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 will come about?

VI.  Conclusion

The conclusion reiterates the importance or significance of your proposal and provides a brief recap of the entire study . This section should be only one or two paragraphs long, emphasizing why your research study is unique, why it advances knowledge, and why the research problem is worth investigating.

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

  • Why the study was done,
  • The specific purpose of the study and the research questions it attempted to answer,
  • The research design and methods used,
  • 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 composing your proposal. In a standard research proposal, this section can take two forms, so speak with your professor about which one is preferred.

  • References -- lists only the literature that you actually used or cited in your proposal.
  • Bibliography -- lists everything you used or cited in your proposal with additional citations of 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 make sure the project will complement and not duplicate the efforts of other researchers. Start a new page and use the heading "References" or "Bibliography" 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 [i.e., education=APA; history=Chicago, etc]. This section normally does not count towards the total length of your proposal.

Develop a Research Proposal: Writing the Proposal . Office of Library Information Services. Baltimore County Public Schools; 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; 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.

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Research Objectives | Definition & Examples

Published on July 12, 2022 by Eoghan Ryan . Revised on November 20, 2023.

Research objectives describe what your research is trying to achieve and explain why you are pursuing it. They summarize the approach and purpose of your project and help to focus your research.

Your objectives should appear in the introduction of your research paper , at the end of your problem statement . They should:

  • Establish the scope and depth of your project
  • Contribute to your research design
  • Indicate how your project will contribute to existing knowledge

Table of contents

What is a research objective, why are research objectives important, how to write research aims and objectives, smart research objectives, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about research objectives.

Research objectives describe what your research project intends to accomplish. They should guide every step of the research process , including how you collect data , build your argument , and develop your conclusions .

Your research objectives may evolve slightly as your research progresses, but they should always line up with the research carried out and the actual content of your paper.

Research aims

A distinction is often made between research objectives and research aims.

A research aim typically refers to a broad statement indicating the general purpose of your research project. It should appear at the end of your problem statement, before your research objectives.

Your research objectives are more specific than your research aim and indicate the particular focus and approach of your project. Though you will only have one research aim, you will likely have several research objectives.

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Research objectives are important because they:

  • Establish the scope and depth of your project: This helps you avoid unnecessary research. It also means that your research methods and conclusions can easily be evaluated .
  • Contribute to your research design: When you know what your objectives are, you have a clearer idea of what methods are most appropriate for your research.
  • Indicate how your project will contribute to extant research: They allow you to display your knowledge of up-to-date research, employ or build on current research methods, and attempt to contribute to recent debates.

Once you’ve established a research problem you want to address, you need to decide how you will address it. This is where your research aim and objectives come in.

Step 1: Decide on a general aim

Your research aim should reflect your research problem and should be relatively broad.

Step 2: Decide on specific objectives

Break down your aim into a limited number of steps that will help you resolve your research problem. What specific aspects of the problem do you want to examine or understand?

Step 3: Formulate your aims and objectives

Once you’ve established your research aim and objectives, you need to explain them clearly and concisely to the reader.

You’ll lay out your aims and objectives at the end of your problem statement, which appears in your introduction. Frame them as clear declarative statements, and use appropriate verbs to accurately characterize the work that you will carry out.

The acronym “SMART” is commonly used in relation to research objectives. It states that your objectives should be:

  • Specific: Make sure your objectives aren’t overly vague. Your research needs to be clearly defined in order to get useful results.
  • Measurable: Know how you’ll measure whether your objectives have been achieved.
  • Achievable: Your objectives may be challenging, but they should be feasible. Make sure that relevant groundwork has been done on your topic or that relevant primary or secondary sources exist. Also ensure that you have access to relevant research facilities (labs, library resources , research databases , etc.).
  • Relevant: Make sure that they directly address the research problem you want to work on and that they contribute to the current state of research in your field.
  • Time-based: Set clear deadlines for objectives to ensure that the project stays on track.

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what is the goal of research proposal

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

Methodology

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

 Statistics

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

Research bias

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

Research objectives describe what you intend your research project to accomplish.

They summarize the approach and purpose of the project and help to focus your research.

Your objectives should appear in the introduction of your research paper , at the end of your problem statement .

Your research objectives indicate how you’ll try to address your research problem and should be specific:

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.

Scope of research is determined at the beginning of your research process , prior to the data collection stage. Sometimes called “scope of study,” your scope delineates what will and will not be covered in your project. It helps you focus your work and your time, ensuring that you’ll be able to achieve your goals and outcomes.

Defining a scope can be very useful in any research project, from a research proposal to a thesis or dissertation . A scope is needed for all types of research: quantitative , qualitative , and mixed methods .

To define your scope of research, consider the following:

  • Budget constraints or any specifics of grant funding
  • Your proposed timeline and duration
  • Specifics about your population of study, your proposed sample size , and the research methodology you’ll pursue
  • Any inclusion and exclusion criteria
  • Any anticipated control , extraneous , or confounding variables that could bias your research if not accounted for properly.

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Research Aims, Objectives & Questions

The “Golden Thread” Explained Simply (+ Examples)

By: David Phair (PhD) and Alexandra Shaeffer (PhD) | June 2022

The research aims , objectives and research questions (collectively called the “golden thread”) are arguably the most important thing you need to get right when you’re crafting a research proposal , dissertation or thesis . We receive questions almost every day about this “holy trinity” of research and there’s certainly a lot of confusion out there, so we’ve crafted this post to help you navigate your way through the fog.

Overview: The Golden Thread

  • What is the golden thread
  • What are research aims ( examples )
  • What are research objectives ( examples )
  • What are research questions ( examples )
  • The importance of alignment in the golden thread

What is the “golden thread”?  

The golden thread simply refers to the collective research aims , research objectives , and research questions for any given project (i.e., a dissertation, thesis, or research paper). These three elements are bundled together because it’s extremely important that they align with each other, and that the entire research project aligns with them.

Importantly, the golden thread needs to weave its way through the entirety of any research project , from start to end. In other words, it needs to be very clearly defined right at the beginning of the project (the topic ideation and proposal stage) and it needs to inform almost every decision throughout the rest of the project. For example, your research design and methodology will be heavily influenced by the golden thread (we’ll explain this in more detail later), as well as your literature review.

The research aims, objectives and research questions (the golden thread) define the focus and scope ( the delimitations ) of your research project. In other words, they help ringfence your dissertation or thesis to a relatively narrow domain, so that you can “go deep” and really dig into a specific problem or opportunity. They also help keep you on track , as they act as a litmus test for relevance. In other words, if you’re ever unsure whether to include something in your document, simply ask yourself the question, “does this contribute toward my research aims, objectives or questions?”. If it doesn’t, chances are you can drop it.

Alright, enough of the fluffy, conceptual stuff. Let’s get down to business and look at what exactly the research aims, objectives and questions are and outline a few examples to bring these concepts to life.

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Research Aims: What are they?

Simply put, the research aim(s) is a statement that reflects the broad overarching goal (s) of the research project. Research aims are fairly high-level (low resolution) as they outline the general direction of the research and what it’s trying to achieve .

Research Aims: Examples  

True to the name, research aims usually start with the wording “this research aims to…”, “this research seeks to…”, and so on. For example:

“This research aims to explore employee experiences of digital transformation in retail HR.”   “This study sets out to assess the interaction between student support and self-care on well-being in engineering graduate students”  

As you can see, these research aims provide a high-level description of what the study is about and what it seeks to achieve. They’re not hyper-specific or action-oriented, but they’re clear about what the study’s focus is and what is being investigated.

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Research Objectives: What are they?

The research objectives take the research aims and make them more practical and actionable . In other words, the research objectives showcase the steps that the researcher will take to achieve the research aims.

The research objectives need to be far more specific (higher resolution) and actionable than the research aims. In fact, it’s always a good idea to craft your research objectives using the “SMART” criteria. In other words, they should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound”.

Research Objectives: Examples  

Let’s look at two examples of research objectives. We’ll stick with the topic and research aims we mentioned previously.  

For the digital transformation topic:

To observe the retail HR employees throughout the digital transformation. To assess employee perceptions of digital transformation in retail HR. To identify the barriers and facilitators of digital transformation in retail HR.

And for the student wellness topic:

To determine whether student self-care predicts the well-being score of engineering graduate students. To determine whether student support predicts the well-being score of engineering students. To assess the interaction between student self-care and student support when predicting well-being in engineering graduate students.

  As you can see, these research objectives clearly align with the previously mentioned research aims and effectively translate the low-resolution aims into (comparatively) higher-resolution objectives and action points . They give the research project a clear focus and present something that resembles a research-based “to-do” list.

The research objectives detail the specific steps that you, as the researcher, will take to achieve the research aims you laid out.

Research Questions: What are they?

Finally, we arrive at the all-important research questions. The research questions are, as the name suggests, the key questions that your study will seek to answer . Simply put, they are the core purpose of your dissertation, thesis, or research project. You’ll present them at the beginning of your document (either in the introduction chapter or literature review chapter) and you’ll answer them at the end of your document (typically in the discussion and conclusion chapters).  

The research questions will be the driving force throughout the research process. For example, in the literature review chapter, you’ll assess the relevance of any given resource based on whether it helps you move towards answering your research questions. Similarly, your methodology and research design will be heavily influenced by the nature of your research questions. For instance, research questions that are exploratory in nature will usually make use of a qualitative approach, whereas questions that relate to measurement or relationship testing will make use of a quantitative approach.  

Let’s look at some examples of research questions to make this more tangible.

Research Questions: Examples  

Again, we’ll stick with the research aims and research objectives we mentioned previously.  

For the digital transformation topic (which would be qualitative in nature):

How do employees perceive digital transformation in retail HR? What are the barriers and facilitators of digital transformation in retail HR?  

And for the student wellness topic (which would be quantitative in nature):

Does student self-care predict the well-being scores of engineering graduate students? Does student support predict the well-being scores of engineering students? Do student self-care and student support interact when predicting well-being in engineering graduate students?  

You’ll probably notice that there’s quite a formulaic approach to this. In other words, the research questions are basically the research objectives “converted” into question format. While that is true most of the time, it’s not always the case. For example, the first research objective for the digital transformation topic was more or less a step on the path toward the other objectives, and as such, it didn’t warrant its own research question.  

So, don’t rush your research questions and sloppily reword your objectives as questions. Carefully think about what exactly you’re trying to achieve (i.e. your research aim) and the objectives you’ve set out, then craft a set of well-aligned research questions . Also, keep in mind that this can be a somewhat iterative process , where you go back and tweak research objectives and aims to ensure tight alignment throughout the golden thread.

The importance of strong alignment 

Alignment is the keyword here and we have to stress its importance . Simply put, you need to make sure that there is a very tight alignment between all three pieces of the golden thread. If your research aims and research questions don’t align, for example, your project will be pulling in different directions and will lack focus . This is a common problem students face and can cause many headaches (and tears), so be warned.

Take the time to carefully craft your research aims, objectives and research questions before you run off down the research path. Ideally, get your research supervisor/advisor to review and comment on your golden thread before you invest significant time into your project, and certainly before you start collecting data .  

Recap: The golden thread

In this post, we unpacked the golden thread of research, consisting of the research aims , research objectives and research questions . You can jump back to any section using the links below.

As always, feel free to leave a comment below – we always love to hear from you. Also, if you’re interested in 1-on-1 support, take a look at our private coaching service here.

what is the goal of research proposal

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This post is part of our dissertation mini-course, which covers everything you need to get started with your dissertation, thesis or research project. 

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32 Comments

Isaac Levi

Thank you very much for your great effort put. As an Undergraduate taking Demographic Research & Methodology, I’ve been trying so hard to understand clearly what is a Research Question, Research Aim and the Objectives in a research and the relationship between them etc. But as for now I’m thankful that you’ve solved my problem.

Hatimu Bah

Well appreciated. This has helped me greatly in doing my dissertation.

Dr. Abdallah Kheri

An so delighted with this wonderful information thank you a lot.

so impressive i have benefited a lot looking forward to learn more on research.

Ekwunife, Chukwunonso Onyeka Steve

I am very happy to have carefully gone through this well researched article.

Infact,I used to be phobia about anything research, because of my poor understanding of the concepts.

Now,I get to know that my research question is the same as my research objective(s) rephrased in question format.

I please I would need a follow up on the subject,as I intends to join the team of researchers. Thanks once again.

Tosin

Thanks so much. This was really helpful.

sylas

i found this document so useful towards my study in research methods. thanks so much.

Michael L. Andrion

This is my 2nd read topic in your course and I should commend the simplified explanations of each part. I’m beginning to understand and absorb the use of each part of a dissertation/thesis. I’ll keep on reading your free course and might be able to avail the training course! Kudos!

Scarlett

Thank you! Better put that my lecture and helped to easily understand the basics which I feel often get brushed over when beginning dissertation work.

Enoch Tindiwegi

This is quite helpful. I like how the Golden thread has been explained and the needed alignment.

Sora Dido Boru

This is quite helpful. I really appreciate!

Chulyork

The article made it simple for researcher students to differentiate between three concepts.

Afowosire Wasiu Adekunle

Very innovative and educational in approach to conducting research.

Sàlihu Abubakar Dayyabu

I am very impressed with all these terminology, as I am a fresh student for post graduate, I am highly guided and I promised to continue making consultation when the need arise. Thanks a lot.

Mohammed Shamsudeen

A very helpful piece. thanks, I really appreciate it .

Sonam Jyrwa

Very well explained, and it might be helpful to many people like me.

JB

Wish i had found this (and other) resource(s) at the beginning of my PhD journey… not in my writing up year… 😩 Anyways… just a quick question as i’m having some issues ordering my “golden thread”…. does it matter in what order you mention them? i.e., is it always first aims, then objectives, and finally the questions? or can you first mention the research questions and then the aims and objectives?

UN

Thank you for a very simple explanation that builds upon the concepts in a very logical manner. Just prior to this, I read the research hypothesis article, which was equally very good. This met my primary objective.

My secondary objective was to understand the difference between research questions and research hypothesis, and in which context to use which one. However, I am still not clear on this. Can you kindly please guide?

Derek Jansen

In research, a research question is a clear and specific inquiry that the researcher wants to answer, while a research hypothesis is a tentative statement or prediction about the relationship between variables or the expected outcome of the study. Research questions are broader and guide the overall study, while hypotheses are specific and testable statements used in quantitative research. Research questions identify the problem, while hypotheses provide a focus for testing in the study.

Saen Fanai

Exactly what I need in this research journey, I look forward to more of your coaching videos.

Abubakar Rofiat Opeyemi

This helped a lot. Thanks so much for the effort put into explaining it.

Lamin Tarawally

What data source in writing dissertation/Thesis requires?

What is data source covers when writing dessertation/thesis

Latifat Muhammed

This is quite useful thanks

Yetunde

I’m excited and thankful. I got so much value which will help me progress in my thesis.

Amer Al-Rashid

where are the locations of the reserch statement, research objective and research question in a reserach paper? Can you write an ouline that defines their places in the researh paper?

Webby

Very helpful and important tips on Aims, Objectives and Questions.

Refiloe Raselane

Thank you so much for making research aim, research objectives and research question so clear. This will be helpful to me as i continue with my thesis.

Annabelle Roda-Dafielmoto

Thanks much for this content. I learned a lot. And I am inspired to learn more. I am still struggling with my preparation for dissertation outline/proposal. But I consistently follow contents and tutorials and the new FB of GRAD Coach. Hope to really become confident in writing my dissertation and successfully defend it.

Joe

As a researcher and lecturer, I find splitting research goals into research aims, objectives, and questions is unnecessarily bureaucratic and confusing for students. For most biomedical research projects, including ‘real research’, 1-3 research questions will suffice (numbers may differ by discipline).

Abdella

Awesome! Very important resources and presented in an informative way to easily understand the golden thread. Indeed, thank you so much.

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Purpose and Benefits of a Research Proposal

Table of Contents

Research proposals are essential to the academic world, providing a roadmap for research and experimentation. They enable academics to hone their ideas and articulate them in a way that peers and potential collaborators can understand. In addition, they serve as a means of demonstrating one’s expertise in a subject area and can also have important benefits beyond academia. Proposals can help secure funding. This article will discuss the  purpose of a proposal  in academia.

Purpose of a Proposal

A research proposal is a document that outlines the proposed research project and its aims, objectives, methods, results, and conclusion . It serves as an essential tool to get approval from potential sponsors or funding agencies to proceed with the research. A well-drafted research proposal should demonstrate the author’s expertise in the field of study and convey their intentions clearly to readers. Here are the specific purposes a research proposal serves.

Provide Information About the Study

The primary purpose of a research proposal is to provide sufficient information about the intended research study. It helps readers to evaluate its value and make a decision on whether to fund it or not. The proposal must also convince reviewers that the investigator has the appropriate knowledge and skills to conduct the study successfully. Therefore, it is important to present the research plan in a concise, accurate, logical, and understandable manner. The proposal should include all necessary details such as background information, objectives, methodology, data collection plans, timeline, budget, and expected outcomes.

Research Guidance

A man and a woman laughing behind a table

A secondary purpose of a research proposal is to offer practical guidance for conducting the planned investigation. In other words, it provides step-by-step instructions for designing and carrying out the research work. This includes identifying suitable research participants, specifying which variables will be measured, and determining how data will be collected. It also includes analyzing data accurately and drawing valid conclusions from it. Furthermore, a research proposal helps to define the scope of a particular project. It identifies any methodological challenges associated with it, develops strategies to address them, and assesses any risks posed by external factors.

Shows Feasibility

A third purpose of a research proposal is to show the feasibility of your study. Through your research proposal’s methodology, you can convince evaluators that your research goal is attainable. Not every study is feasible or can be done, but research proposals serve as proof of its feasibility.

Shows Relevance

A research proposal is an important document that outlines the relevance of a proposed study. It helps to demonstrate how the project will contribute to existing knowledge and understanding in the field. It also explains its potential impact on society. The proposal should explain why the topic is worth researching and what new insights it could bring. This includes outlining gaps in current knowledge that the research aims to fill and demonstrating how it relates to other studies in the area. The proposal should also provide evidence of the practical applications of the research, such as how it might benefit individuals or organizations.

Final Thoughts

Finally, writing a research proposal requires intense preparation in terms of time and effort. The  purpose of a proposal cannot be narrowed down to a single purpose. It serves multiple purposes. Through the proposal, researchers can analyze problems more thoroughly. It helps clarify their thoughts and helps them get a deeper understanding of their topic area before commencing their projects.

Purpose and Benefits of a Research Proposal

Abir Ghenaiet

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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Learning the Ropes to Write My First Research Proposal

Everyone starts somewhere. Before I applied to the Hamel Center’s Research Experience and Apprenticeship Program (REAP), I contemplated whether I was qualified. Back in high school, I had no idea that research was a viable career option and as a first-year student at UNH, I had no internships nor experience. I took a lot of classes, but they didn’t seem relevant to the advanced engineering project that I was interested in proposing. At least, not until I learned how to justify the skillsets that I gained from my courses in a meaningful way. 

To preface, if you are interested in any form of research, there is no escaping reading or writing. You will be doing a lot of both. As a chemical engineer, having a strong writing skillset and ability to review scientific literature is as important as being able to repair equipment and engineer reactions in the laboratory. When applying to REAP, one of the ways I highlighted my qualifications was by detailing the importance of my humanities discovery course—HUMA 444E: What Is a Criminal—in learning the ropes for proposal writing. 

HUMA 444E was a course that I signed up for out of left field, but it became one of my most influential courses at UNH. In the class, my professor assigned a major project that was completely open-ended and required me to formulate my own scope and direction, much like my future REAP project. I planned to stay close to home, looking for a topic related to Maine and New Hampshire as a starting point. I did not know what specific topic would interest me, so I reached out to members of the local justice system to help me narrow it down. Police officers taught me about their roles in law enforcement (even letting me ride shotgun during patrols). Regional libraries assisted me in reviewing primary source documents, like newspapers and memos, to learn more about the history of famous crimes and criminal justice reforms in the region. Even inmates at the Strafford County Prison thoughtfully shared their stories about life behind bars with me. Each conversation guided me closer towards identifying a topic to focus on. Notably, I never approached a project like this in high school. I was a bookworm, and that was all I needed to be to achieve good grades. But in college, the most valuable knowledge was beyond books or webpages; I had to seek it out. 

After gathering information on police patrols, the thirteen colonies, and life behind bars, I had to organize it. Or, in other words, I had a wide scope but no clear direction. In my writing, I tended to build grand narratives that explored many ideas rather than one. This left me struggling to connect the information together for weeks! I met with my professor multiple times to identify how I could build a stronger case for my project. He acknowledged that large narratives were interesting but also emphasized that key ideas needed to be laid out explicitly very early in the writing. The reader needed to have a clear, concentrated introduction that was not overwhelming. I experimented with focusing on one overarching idea and supporting my conclusions with many pieces of related evidence, much like building a credible court case. In doing so, I found a pattern between each of my sources: sheriffs. 

It turned out that the role of the sheriff in Maine and New Hampshire had a long, rocky history, gradually changing with population, technology, and authority. Sheriffs once rode horseback but now drive interceptors. They once possessed governing powers under the English monarch but now abide by checks and balances decided by a state legislature. Understanding why these changes occurred made for an interesting story. And now that I had a clear scope and direction, I returned to the library to find additional sources and sharpen the narrative. Draft after draft, my story became more and more accessible because the content remained constant while my expository approach was changing. Consequently, I realized that rather than adding new content, subtle revisions to my rhetoric, word choice, and prose structure made my writing stronger and stronger.  

In hindsight, this writing approach seems obvious. But without an initial direction, it was quite challenging to develop a comprehensive narrative. Learning to identify patterns between my source materials was also incredibly challenging because I had to keep careful track of my references. Accordingly, these lessons became invaluable when writing my REAP proposal one semester later. It was about catalysts, a substance that facilitates chemical reactions, rather than sheriffs. Although I shifted from the humanities to science, writing concisely with a clear direction was still the key to producing a robust proposal. I used the same strategies that I adopted during HUMA 444E and distilled my proposal into achieving one major goal by addressing three research objectives. Rather than deciphering Maine criminal code, I instead unraveled techniques on engineering chemical reactions. Rather than tackling many possible research directions, I selected the most promising ones and laid out contingency plans if the idea failed. Furthermore, identifying patterns between similar experiments gave me an intuitive pathway to make research plans. If I needed supporting evidence to defend my research objectives, then I backtracked how to collect it based on similar experiments reported in scientific literature. For example, to address an objective on synthesizing a new catalyst, I searched for patterns between research methodologies that would generate supporting data to validate the catalysts’ chemical characteristics. Identifying these patterns enabled me to quickly establish why my proposed objective was important and clearly showcase how viable the proposed methods were for a ten week project. Thus, changing the way that I approached my writing extended far beyond HUMA 444E, directly influencing how I thought about my project’s design and planning. 

When I signed up for HUMA 444E, I thought I was just satisfying a requirement. The topics were completely unrelated to my major. However, the skills that I developed during that course are reflected in every proposal I’ve written since. So, if you are on the fence about whether you are adequately prepared to write your first research proposal, know that you have already been learning the ropes for years in some familiar places. Focus your attention on redefining seemingly unrelated experiences or skills as future strengths and remember, above all else, your proposal must tell a clear story – not a long one.  

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Office of the Vice President for Research

Five tools to take your research to the next level in the new year.

With each new year comes an opportunity to set intentions for the year ahead.

Explore the resources available through the Office of the Vice President for Research to help researchers, scholars, and creators across our campus achieve their research goals. These strategic tools and initiatives  assist in improving the competitiveness of funding applications, gathering insights on writing samples, creating opportunities to disseminate research to broad audiences, and getting started in the technology commercialization process.  

Research collage, University of Iowa

1.     Sign up to receive reviews of your grant proposal before submission

“The opportunity to receive personalized feedback on a grant proposal prior to submission can significantly improve the likelihood of funding,” said Aaron Kline, director of the Research Development Office (RDO).

  Through a program sponsored by RDO , researchers can receive an external reviewer’s written critique of their proposal’s strengths and weaknesses as well as its overall impact and significance to the field. In addition to a written critique, the PI, external reviewer, and RDO representative participate in a 30-60 minute Zoom call to discuss the critique. 

 Since the program began in FY18, proposals reviewed by external reviewers as a part of this program have had a 56%* success rate, which significantly higher than the national average.

 Researchers must notify the RDO 10 weeks in advance of their deadline so they can line up reviewers with relevant expertise. The draft proposal is due six weeks in advance.  Learn how faculty member Anna Stanhewicz utilized the program to polish her $3 million NIH grant submission.

  *This number does not include proposals that are pending a funding decision.

2.    Take advantage of the UI’s license for the anti-plagiarism tool iThenticate

The easy-to-use anti-plagiarism tool iThenticate helps researchers proactively check their work for originality. It ienables researchers and scholars to check their original works for any instances of potential plagiarism before the submission of manuscripts, dissertations, journal articles, grant proposals, and other forms of research and scholarly work. With iThenticate, users can check their document against an expansive database of 140 million major periodicals and books, 89 million works from top publishers, 99 billion webpages, and 975,000 thesis and dissertations.

 “This allows authors to proactively remediate any potential plagiarism, including  self-plagiarism ,” said Mike Andrews, director of research integrity and security in the Office of the Vice President for Research. “Plagiarism of research and scholarly work, even if inadvertent, is a form of research misconduct and can potentially taint an individual’s reputation and undermine the credibility of research and scholarship with the general public.”

 “We routinely use iThenticate in my research group to check documents, manuscripts, and grants for potential overlap with published work,” said Ali Salem, associate vice president for research and Bighley Chair and professor in the College of Pharmacy. “We use this as a standard tool in our process of preparing documents before they are sent out for review.”

3.     Disseminate your work to new public audiences

Launched in July 2023, the OVPR-sponsored “Writing for the Public Good” initiative offers a variety of skills-based workshops to help position researchers and scholars to write essays, op-eds, and research-informed journalistic essays for broad audiences beyond the borders of academia.

These writing and communications workshops are offered throughout the year on various topics including general science communication, crafting a persuasive message through op-eds, and media training. Sign up to participate on the Writing for the Public Good website .

The University of Iowa also has a new institutional membership to The Conversation , which allows UI researchers and scholars to work directly with an editor to publish essays on the independent news organization’s website, which is dedicated to unlocking the knowledge of academic experts for the public good. The Conversation has a monthly readership of 20 million.

The project aligns with the UI strategic plan goal to leverage the institution’s areas of distinction and the talent of its people to have a transformative societal impact. “By extending the reach of the knowledge gleaned through academic research and scholarship, we are hoping to position the University of Iowa as the leading institute where faculty across the disciplines are known for writing strengths,” said Kristy Nabhan-Warren.

4.     Attend an agency-specific workshop to boost your proposal success

The RDO hosts a variety of programs throughout the academic year that are designed to improve proposal success rates for specific agencies and funding programs.

Their calendar of events for 2024 includes sessions that focused on the prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER program, the Department of Defense, the William T. Grant Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, Department of Energy, and much more.

Sign up for a workshop to glean insights from program officials and/or successful grantees about their current priorities, proposal tips, and much more.

5.     Amplify the impact of your research with the UI Research Foundation

The University of Iowa Research Foundation (UIRF) works with researchers to obtain intellectual property protection—patents and copyrights—on their innovations. The UIRF team also works collaboratively with industry partners for the commercial development of new products and services.

“By pursuing commercial development, innovations that emerge from your research can have a positive impact on students, patients, other researchers, and communities worldwide,” said Marie Kerbeshian, assistant vice president and executive director of the UIRF. By working with the UIRF, UI researchers have translated their work into real-world applications, including: providing a COVID mouse model to fellow researchers around the world, helping a grandfather in England walk without pain with his new artificial ankle, and helping nursing students throughout the US study for their exams.

Not sure where to start? UIRF offers introductory courses for the UI community and are also available to present to faculty meetings and retreats, lab meetings, resident training programs, graduate and undergraduate classes, and faculty/staff orientations. Reach out to get started.

Weill Cornell Medicine

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Office of Sponsored Research Administration

Grant review

Proposal Development, Review, and Submission

Review the  competitive grant application review and submission sop  for detailed information on the policy, review procedures, application review requirements, and application review criteria., key aspects of grant applications at wcm:.

  • A research grant application is a formal request for financial assistance to a sponsoring agency in support of a proposed project or activity
  • Whether to federal or state agencies, private foundations, or industry sponsors, all applications need to be submitted to OSRA for full review and approval prior to submission 
  • All grant applications require an associated record in the Weill Research Gateway (WRG)
  • All submissions require internal approvals by the contact Principal Investigator, the Department Financial Approver or its delegate, and the Department Head Approver or its delegate
  • Only certain officials have legal authority to submit proposals or approve submissions on behalf of Weill Cornell Medicine
  • Any individual intending to serve as PI on a grant application must be a paid employee and have a primary appointment in a department
  • Pre- and Post-Doctoral Fellows and Graduate Students may serve as PI only on grant applications targeted specifically to Fellows and Graduate Students
  • Individuals may serve as PIs before their official start date if: 1. A formal acceptance letter signed by all parties is on file with the Department; and 2. The CWID for the person has been activated.

Roles and Responsibilities

Principal investigators are responsible for engaging research administrators as early in the process as possible, and for preparing proposal narratives in sufficient detail to allow adequate review. PIs should collaborate with departmental personnel for the development of project budgets and administrative elements of proposals, such as bio sketches, other support information, research-related assurances, and any documentation of commitments from collaborators at other institutions.

Departmental research administration staff is responsible for following internal policies and review timelines in collaboration with the PI, and for reviewing the sponsor’s guidelines and funding requirements. They are responsible for communicating to investigators the outcomes of OSRA review and for working with the PIs to address comments and requests in a timely manner.

OSRA Grants Specialists are responsible for addressing questions during proposal development, review, and submission process, and for providing guidance to PIs and Departments based on sponsor guidelines, previous experience, and expertise. Specialists must escalate inquiries as needed and in a timely fashion and will provide detailed or limited review feedback, depending on timeline of routing.

Proposal Routing and Timeline

  System to System (S2S) records

S2S Route Path

Non-System to System (non-S2S) records

Non-S2S Route Path

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can be a pi on proposals submitted at weill cornell medicine.

Any individual intending to serve as PI on a grant application must be a paid employee of Weill Cornell Medicine and have a primary appointment in a Department. Pre- and Post-Doctoral Fellows and Graduate Students may serve as PI only on grant applications targeted specifically to Fellows and Graduate Students.

PIs and/or their DAs must retrieve all relevant submission forms and guidelines for a funding opportunity for which they are eligible and meet program criteria. For an NIH application, PIs must ensure they have a valid and updated eRA Commons username and account. Any questions on eligibility or eRA Commons requests should be directed to the Grants Specialist assigned to the Department’s portfolio.

Do I need to create a WRG record for letters-of-intent or pre-applications? Sometimes they require letters of institutional support and other documents. How can I obtain these?

Letters of Intent and pre-applications are not subject to OSRA’s review and can be prepared and submitted directly to the sponsor by the PI or Department. If the letter of intent or pre-application require institutional signature, the PI or Department staff should contact the respective Grants Specialist to facilitate.

I routed the record, but my Specialist is saying it has not reached OSRA queue for review. What should I do?

Even though the status is automatically updated in WRG, a record will only reach OSRA as an action item once it has been approved by PI and Departmental approvers.

A record routed for pre-review must be approved by the Financial Approver and the Departmental approver before being available to OSRA for review.

A record routed for final review must be approved by the PI, Financial approver and Departmental approver before being available to OSRA for review.

For S2S applications, the “Submission Progress Widget” will show the approval path and pending approvers. Learn more about the widget here.

Submission Widget Image

I am looking to apply for an opportunity that is limited to only one application per institution. Can I simply start the record and route for review?

No. Limited submissions must be approved by the Office of the Research Dean. Typically, they will send out calls for submission for internal review for these opportunities, but if it happens for a PI/Department to come across an opportunity that limits the number of submissions by the applicant organization, the Department should contact the Office of the Research Dean expressing interest and providing a general outline of the proposed project

I am working on an NIH resubmission and the system is asking for a Federal Identifier. What is that?

All revisions and resubmissions must include the Institute/Center and serial number of the award must be listed on 4 a. Federal Identifier of the SF424 cover page (as in AB123456 if it is a resubmission of grant 1 R01 AB123456-01)

My proposal has key personnel that will not be included in the budget. How can I add them to the application?

There are many applications in which collaborating personnel will not be committing effort/having salary support. Those are typically mentors/sponsors on fellowships and career development awards, members of advisory boards, and other significant contributors/collaborators. While they need to be listed as key personnel in order for their profile and biosketch to appear at the final assembled version, these personnel should not be listed on the budget. To add WCM personnel to a proposal without them being listed on the budget, Department should select “consultant-key” in the personnel type and from there enter their specific role – in this case “Sponsor”. For any personnel that is external to WCM, the Department needs to select “external consultant-key”, and then proceed specifying the role.

The PHS assignment form is optional, but it is being requested by the OSRA Specialist. Why do I need to provide this?

While the PHS assignment form is optional, it has two very important functions for review: 1. It allows both Department research administrator and OSRA to confirm that the indented IC participates in the Funding Opportunity and 2. It allows OSRA to ensure that the application follows any IC-specific requirement that may not be included in the RFA (the NCI, for instance, has thresholds for effort commitment that must be met for certain programs). The form is not needed if the RFP is IC-specific.

I am getting an error saying that Attachment Filenames are above 49 characters. Do I need to delete and reupload everything?

By clicking on the Attachment Filenames hyperlink, on the Finalize tab, you can rename any file with a name above 49 characters without having to reupload it! File names above 49 characters are not accepted by the NIH and will generate an error and prevent submission.

XML Validation

A few sections of the application have hyperlink and urls and the PI would prefer not to remove it, but the Specialist advised against. Do they need to be removed?

According to the NIH SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, the use of hypertext (e.g. hyperlinks and URLS) in applications is restricted due to multiple concerns, including reviewer confidentiality, “overstuffing” applications, review consistency, and malware. If the FOA explicitly permits hyperlinks, then you may include them (always read the entire text of the FOA). The following is allowed:

  • Hyperlink/url to the senior personnel “MyNCBI” profile is allowed in the NIH biosketch
  • When hyperlinks are permitted, in the interest of transparency, the full URL must be presented, as in  https://www.nih.gov
  • Institutional websites and emails listed on letterheads of letters of support or other letters don’t need to be removed
  • There are no special permissions for links to NIH or other government websites
  • There is no explicit allowance for links in application sections, such as “Facilities and Other Resources” that do not have page limits
  • For biographical sketches, citations that are not covered by the Public Access Policy, but are publicly available in a free, online format may include URLs or PubMed ID (PMID) numbers along with the full reference. Active hyperlinks in this section are not allowed.

Risk avoidance is the most convincing reason to reconsider listing a hyperlink on your proposal, because the NIH may withdraw your application from consideration if they believe the hyperlink is providing additional information. The best approach is to ensure that the application is self-contained.

Do I need to have signed Consortium Statements from subawards?

These are formal arrangement between collaborating sites for a proposal. Commonly referred to as Statement of Intent for Consortium/Consortium Statement, these documents confirm that the information provided for the proposal has been vetted and approved by an institutional officer at the subsite. While NIH does not require the actual SOI to be uploaded, these documents are subject to audit and must be on file at the prime applicant institution prior to submission.

Do all proposals require a cover letter?

Cover letters are not considered part of the application itself and are reviewed by the NIH Center for Science Review only (CSR). In addition to any requirement in the specific FOA, general cover letter requirements are listed here: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/how-to-apply-application-guide/forms-h/general/g.200-sf-424-(r&r)-form.htm#21

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IMAGES

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

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  5. How to write a research proposal (Chapter 2)

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COMMENTS

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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.

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    Write with Grammarly What is the goal of 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.

  5. 14.1 What are the Goals of a Research Proposal?

    To present a practical way in which the proposed research study should be undertaken. To demonstrate that the design elements and procedures being set forth to study the research problem meet with the governed standards within the predominant discipline in which the problem resides.

  6. 11.2 Steps in Developing a Research Proposal

    Learning Objectives Identify the steps in developing a research proposal. Choose a topic and formulate a research question and working thesis. Develop a research proposal. Writing a good research paper takes time, thought, and effort. Although this assignment is challenging, it is manageable.

  7. How to prepare a Research Proposal

    A research proposal is intended to convince others that you have a worthwhile research project and that you have the competence and the work-plan to complete it.

  8. How to write a research proposal?

    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]

  9. What is a Research Proposal?

    The goal of the research proposal is to convince others that the investigator has (a) an important idea; (b) the skills, knowledge, and resources to carry out the project; and (c) a plan to implement the project on time and within budget. This entry discusses the process of developing a research proposal and the elements of an effective proposal.

  10. Start Here

    A research proposal is a document that demonstrates the significance of a proposed research project to individuals or organizations who may wish to fund or support the research project. It should provide the following information: a strong foundation for a specific study; a detailed description of the methodology; an explicit plan of analysis

  11. Proposal

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

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    The research proposal has as set of specific goals, as follows Krathwohl, 2005): To present and justify the need to study a research problem, To present a practical way in which the proposed research study should be undertaken;

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    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.

  15. What is a research proposal? (And how to write one)

    A research proposal is an introductory document that maps out the areas of study you intend to address. The research proposal is usually prepared in advance of starting a project. The proposal outlines the research area, indicates the existing literature and proposes a research objective and methodology to achieve the objective.

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    The goal of a research proposal is to present and justify a research idea you have and to present the practical ways in which you think this research should be conducted.

  18. PDF What is the purpose of research proposals

    The research proposal is the document that finally establishes that there is a niche for your chosen area of study and that the research design is feasible. What should the proposal include? 1. An outline of the research objectives/hypotheses 2. A brief account of prior research in the topic area 3.

  19. Research Objectives

    Knowledge Base Starting the research process Research Objectives | Definition & Examples Research Objectives | Definition & Examples Published on July 12, 2022 by Eoghan Ryan . Revised on November 20, 2023. Research objectives describe what your research is trying to achieve and explain why you are pursuing it.

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    Introduction Research is at the center of everything researchers do, and setting clear, well-defined research objectives plays a pivotal role in guiding scholars toward their desired outcomes. Research papers are essential instruments for researchers to effectively communicate their work.

  23. Purpose and Benefits of a Research Proposal

    Purpose of a Proposal. A research proposal is a document that outlines the proposed research project and its aims, objectives, methods, results, and conclusion. It serves as an essential tool to get approval from potential sponsors or funding agencies to proceed with the research. A well-drafted research proposal should demonstrate the author ...

  24. Learning the Ropes to Write My First Research Proposal

    Although I shifted from the humanities to science, writing concisely with a clear direction was still the key to producing a convincing proposal. I used the same strategies that I adopted during HUMA 444E and distilled my proposal into achieving one major goal by addressing three research objectives. Rather than deciphering Maine criminal code ...

  25. Inclusive Data Research Skills for Arts and Humanities/What should a

    Outputs - what is the end point and work backwards. What is the research trying to achieve? - Social impact. - Economic impact. - Innovation. - Pedagogy. Your research proposal doesn't need to address all of these!

  26. The Basics of Writing a Grant Proposal

    A grant proposal is a written document submitted to request grant funding, per G2. Grant proposals outline the proposed project, explain why funding is needed and predict the expected outcomes and benefits if funding is received. Key components of a grant proposal often include background on the applicant, a detailed budget breaking down how ...

  27. Five tools to take your research to the next level in the new year

    With each new year comes an opportunity to set intentions for the year ahead. Explore the resources available through the Office of the Vice President for Research to help researchers, scholars, and creators across our campus achieve their research goals. These strategic tools and initiatives

  28. Proposal Development, Review, and Submission

    Office of Sponsored Research Administration. 1300 York Avenue. New York, NY 10065. (646) 962-8290. Review the Competitive Grant Application Review and Submission SOP for detailed information on the policy, review procedures, application review requirements, and application review criteria.Key aspects of grant applications at WCM:A research ...