Research Paper Guide

Writing Research Proposal

Last updated on: Nov 20, 2023

Writing a Research Proposal - Outline, Format, and Examples

By: Nathan D.

13 min read

Reviewed By: Rylee W.

Published on: Mar 24, 2023

Research Proposal

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

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

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

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

So get ready to rock this proposal writing journey!

Research Proposal

On this Page

What is a Research Proposal?

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

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

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

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

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

Purpose of Research Proposal 

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

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

Filling Gaps in Existing Knowledge 

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

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

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

Underscoring Existing Knowledge 

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

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

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

Adding New Original Knowledge 

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

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

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

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

How to Create a Research Proposal Outline?

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

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

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

  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Research Methodology

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

Here is a sample template to further explain the outline.

Research Proposal Template

RESEARCH PROPOSAL TEMPLATE

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

How to Start a Research Proposal?

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

Below are the important steps to start a research proposal.

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

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

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

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How to Write a Research Proposal

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

1. Choose the Title Carefully

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

2. Add a Concise Abstract

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

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

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

3. Add a Strong Introduction

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

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

The introduction usually covers the following elements.

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

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

4. Clarify the Research Objectives

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

  • Available time
  • Infrastructure
  • Other important resources.

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

5. Add Relevant Literature Review

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

The following are the basic purposes of the literature review.

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

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

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

6. Mention the Significance of the Research

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

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

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7. Explain the Research Methodology

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

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

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

i.) Types of Research Methodology

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. Present the Hypothesis or the Expected Research Results

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

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

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9. Mention the Ethical Considerations

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

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

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

10. Discuss the Research Limitations

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

  • Unavailability of resources
  • Small sample size
  • Wrong methodology

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

11. Add Proper References and Citation

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

There are two ways to cite your sources.

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

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

12. Edit and Proofread

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

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

Why Do Research Proposals Get Rejected?

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

Here are some of those mistakes.

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

These are the common mistakes that result in rejection.

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

Research Proposal Examples

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

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

RESEARCH PROPOSAL SAMPLE

RESEARCH PROPOSAL EXAMPLE - APA

HOW TO WRITE A RESEARCH GRANT PROPOSAL

NSF RESEARCH PROPOSAL SAMPLE

MARKET RESEARCH PROPOSAL SAMPLE

PH.D. RESEARCH PROPOSAL SAMPLE

Research Proposal Topics

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

Here are a few topics you can choose from.

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

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

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

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

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

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes a strong research proposal.

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

How many pages a research proposal should be?

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

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

What tense should a research proposal be written in?

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

How long is a research proposal?

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

Does a research proposal have chapters?

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

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

What are the 7 parts of the research proposal?

The 7 parts of a research proposal include 

  • Problem statement
  • Literature review 
  • Methodology

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

Nathan D.

PhD Essay, Literature

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

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What (Exactly) Is A Research Proposal?

A simple explainer with examples + free template.

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

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

Overview: Research Proposal Basics

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

What is a research proposal?

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

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

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

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

What goes into a research proposal?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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what are the outline of a research proposal

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

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

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

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

Free Webinar: How To Write A Research Proposal

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

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

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

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

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

How To Structure A Research Proposal

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

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

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

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

Research Proposal Examples/Samples

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

Proposal Writing FAQs

How long should a research proposal be.

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

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

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

How do I choose a topic for my research proposal?

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

How do I write a literature review for my proposal?

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

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

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

Which referencing format should I use in my research proposal?

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

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

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

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

Key Takeaways & Additional Resources

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

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

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

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

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

Literature Review Course

Psst… there’s more!

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

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51 Comments

Myrna Pereira

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

I would be interested in getting some coaching.

BARAKAELI TEREVAELI

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

masebo joseph

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

In view of the above, I welcome more coaching.

Zakia Ghafoor

Wonderful guidelines, thanks

Annie Malupande

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

KYARIKUNDA MOREEN

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

Ahsanullah Mangal

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

Derek Jansen

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

Cheruiyot Moses Kipyegon

Cheruiyot Moses Kipyegon

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

agnelius

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Abubakar

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

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Very useful. I am grateful.

belina nambeya

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

You’re welcome 🙂

Marjorie

Thank you, this was so helpful.

Amitash Degan

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

Glaudia Njuguna

Thank you, great insights

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

Yebirgual

Wow thank you, great insights, thanks a lot

Roseline Soetan

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

Rebecca

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Cheruiyot M Kipyegon

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Arega Berlie

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Siyanda

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

Weluzani

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Roswitta

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

Alice Kuyayama

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

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

Abdurahman Bayoh

I need any research proposal

Silverline

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

Nosi

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Imam

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Bernie E. Balmeo

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Ishmael kwame Appiah

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

David Mweemba

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

Andrea Eccleston

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

Thank you very much.

Georgina Ngufan

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

Charity

Thank you for the clarity

Mondika Solomon

Thank you. Very helpful.

BLY

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

Md Moneruszzaman Kayes

What is JAM? Please explain.

Gentiana

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

azeem kakar

very very wonderful…

Koang Kuany Bol Nyot

thank you for the video but i need a written example

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How to Create a Structured Research Paper Outline | Example

Published on August 7, 2022 by Courtney Gahan . Revised on August 15, 2023.

How to Create a Structured Research Paper Outline

A research paper outline is a useful tool to aid in the writing process , providing a structure to follow with all information to be included in the paper clearly organized.

A quality outline can make writing your research paper more efficient by helping to:

  • Organize your thoughts
  • Understand the flow of information and how ideas are related
  • Ensure nothing is forgotten

A research paper outline can also give your teacher an early idea of the final product.

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Table of contents

Research paper outline example, how to write a research paper outline, formatting your research paper outline, language in research paper outlines.

  • Definition of measles
  • Rise in cases in recent years in places the disease was previously eliminated or had very low rates of infection
  • Figures: Number of cases per year on average, number in recent years. Relate to immunization
  • Symptoms and timeframes of disease
  • Risk of fatality, including statistics
  • How measles is spread
  • Immunization procedures in different regions
  • Different regions, focusing on the arguments from those against immunization
  • Immunization figures in affected regions
  • High number of cases in non-immunizing regions
  • Illnesses that can result from measles virus
  • Fatal cases of other illnesses after patient contracted measles
  • Summary of arguments of different groups
  • Summary of figures and relationship with recent immunization debate
  • Which side of the argument appears to be correct?

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Follow these steps to start your research paper outline:

  • Decide on the subject of the paper
  • Write down all the ideas you want to include or discuss
  • Organize related ideas into sub-groups
  • Arrange your ideas into a hierarchy: What should the reader learn first? What is most important? Which idea will help end your paper most effectively?
  • Create headings and subheadings that are effective
  • Format the outline in either alphanumeric, full-sentence or decimal format

There are three different kinds of research paper outline: alphanumeric, full-sentence and decimal outlines. The differences relate to formatting and style of writing.

  • Alphanumeric
  • Full-sentence

An alphanumeric outline is most commonly used. It uses Roman numerals, capitalized letters, arabic numerals, lowercase letters to organize the flow of information. Text is written with short notes rather than full sentences.

  • Sub-point of sub-point 1

Essentially the same as the alphanumeric outline, but with the text written in full sentences rather than short points.

  • Additional sub-point to conclude discussion of point of evidence introduced in point A

A decimal outline is similar in format to the alphanumeric outline, but with a different numbering system: 1, 1.1, 1.2, etc. Text is written as short notes rather than full sentences.

  • 1.1.1 Sub-point of first point
  • 1.1.2 Sub-point of first point
  • 1.2 Second point

To write an effective research paper outline, it is important to pay attention to language. This is especially important if it is one you will show to your teacher or be assessed on.

There are four main considerations: parallelism, coordination, subordination and division.

Parallelism: Be consistent with grammatical form

Parallel structure or parallelism is the repetition of a particular grammatical form within a sentence, or in this case, between points and sub-points. This simply means that if the first point is a verb , the sub-point should also be a verb.

Example of parallelism:

  • Include different regions, focusing on the different arguments from those against immunization

Coordination: Be aware of each point’s weight

Your chosen subheadings should hold the same significance as each other, as should all first sub-points, secondary sub-points, and so on.

Example of coordination:

  • Include immunization figures in affected regions
  • Illnesses that can result from the measles virus

Subordination: Work from general to specific

Subordination refers to the separation of general points from specific. Your main headings should be quite general, and each level of sub-point should become more specific.

Example of subordination:

Division: break information into sub-points.

Your headings should be divided into two or more subsections. There is no limit to how many subsections you can include under each heading, but keep in mind that the information will be structured into a paragraph during the writing stage, so you should not go overboard with the number of sub-points.

Ready to start writing or looking for guidance on a different step in the process? Read our step-by-step guide on how to write a research paper .

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Home » Research Proposal – Types, Template and Example

Research Proposal – Types, Template and Example

Table of Contents

Research Proposal

Research Proposal

Research proposal is a document that outlines a proposed research project . It is typically written by researchers, scholars, or students who intend to conduct research to address a specific research question or problem.

Types of Research Proposal

Research proposals can vary depending on the nature of the research project and the specific requirements of the funding agency, academic institution, or research program. Here are some common types of research proposals:

Academic Research Proposal

This is the most common type of research proposal, which is prepared by students, scholars, or researchers to seek approval and funding for an academic research project. It includes all the essential components mentioned earlier, such as the introduction, literature review , methodology , and expected outcomes.

Grant Proposal

A grant proposal is specifically designed to secure funding from external sources, such as government agencies, foundations, or private organizations. It typically includes additional sections, such as a detailed budget, project timeline, evaluation plan, and a description of the project’s alignment with the funding agency’s priorities and objectives.

Dissertation or Thesis Proposal

Students pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree often need to submit a proposal outlining their intended research for their dissertation or thesis. These proposals are usually more extensive and comprehensive, including an in-depth literature review, theoretical framework, research questions or hypotheses, and a detailed methodology.

Research Project Proposal

This type of proposal is often prepared by researchers or research teams within an organization or institution. It outlines a specific research project that aims to address a particular problem, explore a specific area of interest, or provide insights for decision-making. Research project proposals may include sections on project management, collaboration, and dissemination of results.

Research Fellowship Proposal

Researchers or scholars applying for research fellowships may be required to submit a proposal outlining their proposed research project. These proposals often emphasize the novelty and significance of the research and its alignment with the goals and objectives of the fellowship program.

Collaborative Research Proposal

In cases where researchers from multiple institutions or disciplines collaborate on a research project, a collaborative research proposal is prepared. This proposal highlights the objectives, responsibilities, and contributions of each collaborator, as well as the overall research plan and coordination mechanisms.

Research Proposal Outline

A research proposal typically follows a standard outline that helps structure the document and ensure all essential components are included. While the specific headings and subheadings may vary slightly depending on the requirements of your institution or funding agency, the following outline provides a general structure for a research proposal:

  • Title of the research proposal
  • Name of the researcher(s) or principal investigator(s)
  • Affiliation or institution
  • Date of submission
  • A concise summary of the research proposal, typically limited to 200-300 words.
  • Briefly introduce the research problem or question, state the objectives, summarize the methodology, and highlight the expected outcomes or significance of the research.
  • Provide an overview of the subject area and the specific research problem or question.
  • Present relevant background information, theories, or concepts to establish the need for the research.
  • Clearly state the research objectives or research questions that the study aims to address.
  • Indicate the significance or potential contributions of the research.
  • Summarize and analyze relevant studies, theories, or scholarly works.
  • Identify research gaps or unresolved issues that your study intends to address.
  • Highlight the novelty or uniqueness of your research.
  • Describe the overall approach or research design that will be used (e.g., experimental, qualitative, quantitative).
  • Justify the chosen approach based on the research objectives and question.
  • Explain how data will be collected (e.g., surveys, interviews, experiments).
  • Describe the sampling strategy and sample size, if applicable.
  • Address any ethical considerations related to data collection.
  • Outline the data analysis techniques or statistical methods that will be applied.
  • Explain how the data will be interpreted and analyzed to answer the research question(s).
  • Provide a detailed schedule or timeline that outlines the various stages of the research project.
  • Specify the estimated duration for each stage, including data collection, analysis, and report writing.
  • State the potential outcomes or results of the research.
  • Discuss the potential significance or contributions of the study to the field.
  • Address any potential limitations or challenges that may be encountered.
  • Identify the resources required to conduct the research, such as funding, equipment, or access to data.
  • Specify any collaborations or partnerships necessary for the successful completion of the study.
  • Include a list of cited references in the appropriate citation style (e.g., APA, MLA).

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Research Proposal Example Template

Here’s an example of a research proposal to give you an idea of how it can be structured:

Title: The Impact of Social Media on Adolescent Well-being: A Mixed-Methods Study

This research proposal aims to investigate the impact of social media on the well-being of adolescents. The study will employ a mixed-methods approach, combining quantitative surveys and qualitative interviews to gather comprehensive data. The research objectives include examining the relationship between social media use and mental health, exploring the role of peer influence in shaping online behaviors, and identifying strategies for promoting healthy social media use among adolescents. The findings of this study will contribute to the understanding of the effects of social media on adolescent well-being and inform the development of targeted interventions.

1. Introduction

1.1 Background and Context:

Adolescents today are immersed in social media platforms, which have become integral to their daily lives. However, concerns have been raised about the potential negative impact of social media on their well-being, including increased rates of depression, anxiety, and body dissatisfaction. It is crucial to investigate this phenomenon further and understand the underlying mechanisms to develop effective strategies for promoting healthy social media use among adolescents.

1.2 Research Objectives:

The main objectives of this study are:

  • To examine the association between social media use and mental health outcomes among adolescents.
  • To explore the influence of peer relationships and social comparison on online behaviors.
  • To identify strategies and interventions to foster positive social media use and enhance adolescent well-being.

2. Literature Review

Extensive research has been conducted on the impact of social media on adolescents. Existing literature suggests that excessive social media use can contribute to negative outcomes, such as low self-esteem, cyberbullying, and addictive behaviors. However, some studies have also highlighted the positive aspects of social media, such as providing opportunities for self-expression and social support. This study will build upon this literature by incorporating both quantitative and qualitative approaches to gain a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between social media and adolescent well-being.

3. Methodology

3.1 Research Design:

This study will adopt a mixed-methods approach, combining quantitative surveys and qualitative interviews. The quantitative phase will involve administering standardized questionnaires to a representative sample of adolescents to assess their social media use, mental health indicators, and perceived social support. The qualitative phase will include in-depth interviews with a subset of participants to explore their experiences, motivations, and perceptions related to social media use.

3.2 Data Collection Methods:

Quantitative data will be collected through an online survey distributed to schools in the target region. The survey will include validated scales to measure social media use, mental health outcomes, and perceived social support. Qualitative data will be collected through semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of participants. The interviews will be audio-recorded and transcribed for thematic analysis.

3.3 Data Analysis:

Quantitative data will be analyzed using descriptive statistics and regression analysis to examine the relationships between variables. Qualitative data will be analyzed thematically to identify common themes and patterns within participants’ narratives. Integration of quantitative and qualitative findings will provide a comprehensive understanding of the research questions.

4. Timeline

The research project will be conducted over a period of 12 months, divided into specific phases, including literature review, study design, data collection, analysis, and report writing. A detailed timeline outlining the key milestones and activities is provided in Appendix A.

5. Expected Outcomes and Significance

This study aims to contribute to the existing literature on the impact of social media on adolescent well-being by employing a mixed-methods approach. The findings will inform the development of evidence-based interventions and guidelines to promote healthy social media use among adolescents. This research has the potential to benefit adolescents, parents, educators, and policymakers by providing insights into the complex relationship between social media and well-being and offering strategies for fostering positive online experiences.

6. Resources

The resources required for this research include access to a representative sample of adolescents, research assistants for data collection, statistical software for data analysis, and funding to cover survey administration and participant incentives. Ethical considerations will be taken into account, ensuring participant confidentiality and obtaining informed consent.

7. References

Research Proposal Writing Guide

Writing a research proposal can be a complex task, but with proper guidance and organization, you can create a compelling and well-structured proposal. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you through the process:

  • Understand the requirements: Familiarize yourself with the guidelines and requirements provided by your institution, funding agency, or program. Pay attention to formatting, page limits, specific sections or headings, and any other instructions.
  • Identify your research topic: Choose a research topic that aligns with your interests, expertise, and the goals of your program or funding opportunity. Ensure that your topic is specific, focused, and relevant to the field of study.
  • Conduct a literature review : Review existing literature and research relevant to your topic. Identify key theories, concepts, methodologies, and findings related to your research question. This will help you establish the context, identify research gaps, and demonstrate the significance of your proposed study.
  • Define your research objectives and research question(s): Clearly state the objectives you aim to achieve with your research. Formulate research questions that address the gaps identified in the literature review. Your research objectives and questions should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).
  • Develop a research methodology: Determine the most appropriate research design and methodology for your study. Consider whether quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-methods approaches will best address your research question(s). Describe the data collection methods, sampling strategy, data analysis techniques, and any ethical considerations associated with your research.
  • Create a research plan and timeline: Outline the various stages of your research project, including tasks, milestones, and deadlines. Develop a realistic timeline that considers factors such as data collection, analysis, and report writing. This plan will help you stay organized and manage your time effectively throughout the research process.
  • A. Introduction: Provide background information on the research problem, highlight its significance, and introduce your research objectives and questions.
  • B. Literature review: Summarize relevant literature, identify gaps, and justify the need for your proposed research.
  • C . Methodology: Describe your research design, data collection methods, sampling strategy, data analysis techniques, and any ethical considerations.
  • D . Expected outcomes and significance: Explain the potential outcomes, contributions, and implications of your research.
  • E. Resources: Identify the resources required to conduct your research, such as funding, equipment, or access to data.
  • F . References: Include a list of cited references in the appropriate citation style.
  • Revise and proofread: Review your proposal for clarity, coherence, and logical flow. Check for grammar and spelling errors. Seek feedback from mentors, colleagues, or advisors to refine and improve your proposal.
  • Finalize and submit: Make any necessary revisions based on feedback and finalize your research proposal. Ensure that you have met all the requirements and formatting guidelines. Submit your proposal within the specified deadline.

Research Proposal Length

The length of a research proposal can vary depending on the specific guidelines provided by your institution or funding agency. However, research proposals typically range from 1,500 to 3,000 words, excluding references and any additional supporting documents.

Purpose of Research Proposal

The purpose of a research proposal is to outline and communicate your research project to others, such as academic institutions, funding agencies, or potential collaborators. It serves several important purposes:

  • Demonstrate the significance of the research: A research proposal explains the importance and relevance of your research project. It outlines the research problem or question, highlights the gaps in existing knowledge, and explains how your study will contribute to the field. By clearly articulating the significance of your research, you can convince others of its value and potential impact.
  • Provide a clear research plan: A research proposal outlines the methodology, design, and approach you will use to conduct your study. It describes the research objectives, data collection methods, data analysis techniques, and potential outcomes. By presenting a clear research plan, you demonstrate that your study is well-thought-out, feasible, and likely to produce meaningful results.
  • Secure funding or support: For researchers seeking funding or support for their projects, a research proposal is essential. It allows you to make a persuasive case for why your research is deserving of financial resources or institutional backing. The proposal explains the budgetary requirements, resources needed, and potential benefits of the research, helping you secure the necessary funding or support.
  • Seek feedback and guidance: Presenting a research proposal provides an opportunity to receive feedback and guidance from experts in your field. It allows you to engage in discussions and receive suggestions for refining your research plan, improving the methodology, or addressing any potential limitations. This feedback can enhance the quality of your study and increase its chances of success.
  • Establish ethical considerations: A research proposal also addresses ethical considerations associated with your study. It outlines how you will ensure participant confidentiality, obtain informed consent, and adhere to ethical guidelines and regulations. By demonstrating your awareness and commitment to ethical research practices, you build trust and credibility in your proposed study.

Importance of Research Proposal

The research proposal holds significant importance in the research process. Here are some key reasons why research proposals are important:

  • Planning and organization: A research proposal requires careful planning and organization of your research project. It forces you to think through the research objectives, research questions, methodology, and potential outcomes before embarking on the actual study. This planning phase helps you establish a clear direction and framework for your research, ensuring that your efforts are focused and purposeful.
  • Demonstrating the significance of the research: A research proposal allows you to articulate the significance and relevance of your study. By providing a thorough literature review and clearly defining the research problem or question, you can showcase the gaps in existing knowledge that your research aims to address. This demonstrates to others, such as funding agencies or academic institutions, why your research is important and deserving of support.
  • Obtaining funding and resources: Research proposals are often required to secure funding for your research project. Funding agencies and organizations need to evaluate the feasibility and potential impact of the proposed research before allocating resources. A well-crafted research proposal helps convince funders of the value of your research and increases the likelihood of securing financial support, grants, or scholarships.
  • Receiving feedback and guidance: Presenting a research proposal provides an opportunity to seek feedback and guidance from experts in your field. By sharing your research plan and objectives with others, you can benefit from their insights and suggestions. This feedback can help refine your research design, strengthen your methodology, and ensure that your study is rigorous and well-informed.
  • Ethical considerations: A research proposal addresses ethical considerations associated with your study. It outlines how you will protect the rights and welfare of participants, maintain confidentiality, obtain informed consent, and adhere to ethical guidelines and regulations. This emphasis on ethical practices ensures that your research is conducted responsibly and with integrity.
  • Enhancing collaboration and partnerships: A research proposal can facilitate collaborations and partnerships with other researchers, institutions, or organizations. When presenting your research plan, you may attract the interest of potential collaborators who share similar research interests or possess complementary expertise. Collaborative partnerships can enrich your study, expand your resources, and foster knowledge exchange.
  • Establishing a research trajectory: A research proposal serves as a foundation for your research project. Once approved, it becomes a roadmap that guides your study’s implementation, data collection, analysis, and reporting. It helps maintain focus and ensures that your research stays on track and aligned with the initial objectives.

When to Write Research Proposal

The timing of when to write a research proposal can vary depending on the specific requirements and circumstances. However, here are a few common situations when it is appropriate to write a research proposal:

  • Academic research: If you are a student pursuing a research degree, such as a Ph.D. or Master’s by research, you will typically be required to write a research proposal as part of the application process. This is usually done before starting the research program to outline your proposed study and seek approval from the academic institution.
  • Funding applications: When applying for research grants, scholarships, or funding from organizations or institutions, you will often need to submit a research proposal. Funding agencies require a detailed description of your research project, including its objectives, methodology, and expected outcomes. Writing a research proposal in this context is necessary to secure financial support for your study.
  • Research collaborations: When collaborating with other researchers, institutions, or organizations on a research project, it is common to prepare a research proposal. This helps outline the research objectives, roles and responsibilities, and expected contributions from each party. Writing a research proposal in this case allows all collaborators to align their efforts and ensure a shared understanding of the project.
  • Research project within an organization: If you are conducting research within an organization, such as a company or government agency, you may be required to write a research proposal to gain approval and support for your study. This proposal outlines the research objectives, methodology, resources needed, and expected outcomes, ensuring that the project aligns with the organization’s goals and objectives.
  • Independent research projects: Even if you are not required to write a research proposal, it can still be beneficial to develop one for your independent research projects. Writing a research proposal helps you plan and structure your study, clarify your research objectives, and anticipate potential challenges or limitations. It also allows you to communicate your research plans effectively to supervisors, mentors, or collaborators.

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11.2 Steps in Developing a Research Proposal

Learning objectives.

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

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

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

Choosing a Topic

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

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

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

Identifying Potential Topics

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

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

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

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

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

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

Narrowing Your Topic

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

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

Exploring Your Topic in Writing

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

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

Conducting Preliminary Research

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

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

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

Writing at Work

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

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

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

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

Collaboration

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

A Plan for Research

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

Formulating a Research Question

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

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

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

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

Constructing a Working ThesIs

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

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

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

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

Creating a Research Proposal

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

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

Read Jorge's research proposal

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

Writing Your Own Research Proposal

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

Key Takeaways

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

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

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Blog Education

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

By Danesh Ramuthi , Nov 29, 2023

How to Write a Research Proposal

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

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

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

What to include in a research proposal?

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

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

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

Light Blue Shape Semiotic Analysis Research Proposal

How to format a research proposal?

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

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

Green And Orange Modern Research Proposal

How to write a research proposal in 11 steps?

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

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

Step 1: title and abstract.

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

Step 2: Introduction

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

Step 3: Research objectives

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

Step 4: Literature review

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

Step 5: Methodology

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

Step 6: Timeline

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

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

Step 7: Resources

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

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

Step 8: Ethical considerations

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

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

Step 9: Expected outcomes and significance

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

Step 10: References

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

Step 11: Appendices

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

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

Beige And Dark Green Minimalist Research Proposal

Research proposal FAQs

1. how long should a research proposal be.

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

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

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

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

Simple Minimalist White Research Proposal

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

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

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

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

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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

Advice and guidance on writing a proposal for a student research project.

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Purpose of a Research Proposal

A research proposal should describe what you will investigate, why it is important to the discipline and how you will conduct your research.

Simply put, it is your plan for the research you intend to conduct. All research proposals are designed to persuade someone about how and why your intended project is worthwhile. 

In your proposal you will need to explain and defend your choices. Always think about the exact reasons why you are making specific choices and why they are the best options available to you and your project. 

Your research proposal aims should be centred on: 

  • Relevance - You want to convince the reader how and why your research is relevant and significant to your field and how it is original. This is typically done in parts of the introduction and the literature review.
  • Context - You should demonstrate that you are familiar with the field, you understand the current state of research on the topic and your ideas have a strong academic basis (i.e., not simply based on your instincts or personal views). This will be the focus of your introduction and literature review. 
  • Approach - You need to make a case for your methodology, showing that you have carefully thought about the data, tools and procedures you will need to conduct the research. You need to explicitly defend all of your choices. This will be presented in the research design section. 
  • Feasibility - You need to demonstrate clearly that your project is both reasonable and feasible within the practical constraints of the course, timescales, institution or funding. You need to make sure you have the time and access to resources to complete the project in a reasonable period. 

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Proposal format

The format of a research proposal varies between fields and levels of study but most proposals should contain at least these elements: introduction, literature review, research design and reference list.

Generally, research proposals can range from 500-1500 words or one to a few pages long. Typically, proposals for larger projects such as a PhD dissertation or funding requests, are longer and much more detailed.

Remember, the goal of your research proposal is to outline clearly and concisely exactly what your research will entail and accomplish, how it will do so and why it is important. If you are writing to a strictly enforced word count, a research proposal can be a great test of your ability to express yourself concisely!

Introduction

The first part of your proposal is the initial pitch for your project, so make sure it succinctly explains what you want to do and why. In other words, this is where you answer the reader’s “so what?” It should typically include: introducing the topic , outlining your problem statement and research question(s) and giving background and context. Some important questions to shape your introduction include: 

  • Who has an interest in the topic (e.g. scientists, practitioners, policymakers, particular members of society)?
  • How much is already known about the problem and why is it important?
  • What is missing from current knowledge and why?
  • What new insights will your research contribute?
  • Why is this research worth doing?

If your proposal is very long, you might include separate sections with more detailed information on the background and context, problem statement, aims and objectives, and importance of the research.

Literature Review 

It’s important to show that you’re familiar with the most important research on your topic. A strong literature review convinces the reader that your project has a solid foundation in existing knowledge or theory (i.e. how it relates to established research in the field).

Your literature review will also show that you’re not simply repeating what other people have already done or said. This is also where you explain why your research is necessary. You might want to consider some of the following prompts:

  • Comparing and contrasting: what are the main theories, methods, debates and controversies?
  • Being critical: what are the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches?
  • Showing how your research fits in: how will you build on, challenge or synthesise the work of others? 
  • Filling a gap in the existing body of research: why is your idea innovative? 

Research design and methods

Following the literature review, it is a good idea to restate your main objectives, bringing the focus back to your own project. The research design/ methodology section should describe the overall approach and practical steps you will take to answer your research questions. You also need to demonstrate the feasibility of the project keeping in mind time and other constraints. 

You should definitely include:

  • Qualitative vs quantitative research? Combination? 
  • Will you collect original data or work with primary/secondary sources? 
  • Is your research design descriptive, correlational or experimental? Something completely different?
  • If you are undertaking your own study, when and where will you collect the data? How will you select subjects or sources? Ethics review? Exactly what or who will you study?
  • What tools and procedures will you use (e.g. systematic reviews, surveys, interviews, observation, experiments, bibliographic data) to collect your data? 
  • What tools/methods will you use to analyse your data? 
  • Why are these the best methods to answer your research question(s)? This is where you should justify your choices. 
  • How much time will you need to collect the data? 
  • How will you gain access to participants and sources?
  • Do you foresee any potential obstacles and if so, how will you address them?

Make sure you are not simply compiling a list of methods. Instead, aim to make an argument for why this is the most appropriate, valid and reliable way to approach answering your question. Remember you should always be defending your choices! 

Implications and Contributions to Knowledge

To ensure you finish your proposal on a strong note, it is a good idea to explore and/or emphasise the potential implications of the research. This means: what do you intend to contribute to existing knowledge on the topic?

Although you cannot know the results of your research until you have 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 might even be considered the most critical to your research proposal’s argument because it expresses exactly why your research is necessary. 

You should consider covering at least some of the following topics:

  • Ways in which your work can challenge existing theories and assumptions in your field. 
  • How your work will create the foundation for future research and theory. 
  • The practical value your findings will provide to practitioners, educators and other academics in your field. 
  • The problems or issues your work can potentially help to resolve. 
  • 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. 

This part is not about stating the specific results that you expect to obtain but rather, this is the section where you explicitly state how your findings will be valuable. 

This section is where you want to wrap it all up in a nice pretty bow. It is just like the concluding paragraph that you would structure and craft for a typical essay. You should briefly summarise your research proposal and reinforce your research purpose. 

Reference List or Bibliography

Your research proposal MUST include proper citations for every source you have used and full references. Please consult your departmental referencing styles to ensure you are citing and referencing in an appropriate way. 

Common mistakes to avoid 

Try and avoid these common pitfalls when you are writing your research proposal: 

  • Being too wordy: Remember formal does not mean flowery or pretentious. In fact, you should really aim to keep your writing as concise and accessible as possible. The more economically you can express your goals and ideas, the better. 
  • Failing to cite relevant information/sources: You are adding to the existing body of knowledge on the subject you are covering. Therefore, your research proposal should reference the main research pieces in your field (while referencing them correctly!) and connect your proposal to these works in some way. This does not mean just communicating the relevance of your work, it should explicitly demonstrate your familiarity with the field. 
  • Focusing too much on minor issues: Your research is most likely important for so many great reasons. However, they do not all need to be listed in your research proposal. Generally, including too many questions and issues in your research proposal can serve as a red flag and detract from your main purpose(s). This will in turn weaken your proposal. Only involve the main/key issues you plan to address. 
  • Failing to make a strong argument for your research: This is the simplest way to undermine your proposal. Your proposal is a piece of persuasive and critical writing . This means that, although you are presenting your proposal in an academic and hopefully objective manner, the goal is to get the reader to say ‘yes’ to your work. 
  • Not polishing your writing : If your proposal has spelling or grammatical errors, an inconsistent or inappropriate tone or even just awkward phrasing it can undermine your credibility. Check out some of these resources to help guide you in the right direction: Manchester Academic Phrasebank , Proofreading Guide , Essay Checklist and Grammar Guide . Remember to double and triple check your work. 

Links and Resources

You might also need to include a schedule and/or a budget depending on your requirements. Some tools to help include: 

  • Manchester University Academic Phrasebank
  • Leeds Beckett Assignment Calculator
  • Calendarpedia

Related information

Dissertation planning

Writing a literature review

Research methods

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How to write a research proposal

What is a research proposal.

A research proposal should present your idea or question and expected outcomes with clarity and definition – the what.

It should also make a case for why your question is significant and what value it will bring to your discipline – the why. 

What it shouldn't do is answer the question – that's what your research will do.

Why is it important?

Research proposals are significant because Another reason why it formally outlines your intended research. Which means you need to provide details on how you will go about your research, including:

  • your approach and methodology
  • timeline and feasibility
  • all other considerations needed to progress your research, such as resources.

Think of it as a tool that will help you clarify your idea and make conducting your research easier.

How long should it be?

Usually no more than 2000 words, but check the requirements of your degree, and your supervisor or research coordinator.

Presenting your idea clearly and concisely demonstrates that you can write this way – an attribute of a potential research candidate that is valued by assessors.

What should it include?

Project title.

Your title should clearly indicate what your proposed research is about.

Research supervisor

State the name, department and faculty or school of the academic who has agreed to supervise you. Rest assured, your research supervisor will work with you to refine your research proposal ahead of submission to ensure it meets the needs of your discipline.

Proposed mode of research

Describe your proposed mode of research. Which may be closely linked to your discipline, and is where you will describe the style or format of your research, e.g. data, field research, composition, written work, social performance and mixed media etc. 

This is not required for research in the sciences, but your research supervisor will be able to guide you on discipline-specific requirements.

Aims and objectives

What are you trying to achieve with your research? What is the purpose? This section should reference why you're applying for a research degree. Are you addressing a gap in the current research? Do you want to look at a theory more closely and test it out? Is there something you're trying to prove or disprove? To help you clarify this, think about the potential outcome of your research if you were successful – that is your aim. Make sure that this is a focused statement.

Your objectives will be your aim broken down – the steps to achieving the intended outcome. They are the smaller proof points that will underpin your research's purpose. Be logical in the order of how you present these so that each succeeds the previous, i.e. if you need to achieve 'a' before 'b' before 'c', then make sure you order your objectives a, b, c.

A concise summary of what your research is about. It outlines the key aspects of what you will investigate as well as the expected outcomes. It briefly covers the what, why and how of your research. 

A good way to evaluate if you have written a strong synopsis, is to get somebody to read it without reading the rest of your research proposal. Would they know what your research is about?

Now that you have your question clarified, it is time to explain the why. Here, you need to demonstrate an understanding of the current research climate in your area of interest.

Providing context around your research topic through a literature review will show the assessor that you understand current dialogue around your research, and what is published.

Demonstrate you have a strong understanding of the key topics, significant studies and notable researchers in your area of research and how these have contributed to the current landscape.

Expected research contribution

In this section, you should consider the following:

  • Why is your research question or hypothesis worth asking?
  • How is the current research lacking or falling short?
  • What impact will your research have on the discipline?
  • Will you be extending an area of knowledge, applying it to new contexts, solving a problem, testing a theory, or challenging an existing one?
  • Establish why your research is important by convincing your audience there is a gap.
  • What will be the outcome of your research contribution?
  • Demonstrate both your current level of knowledge and how the pursuit of your question or hypothesis will create a new understanding and generate new information.
  • Show how your research is innovative and original.

Draw links between your research and the faculty or school you are applying at, and explain why you have chosen your supervisor, and what research have they or their school done to reinforce and support your own work. Cite these reasons to demonstrate how your research will benefit and contribute to the current body of knowledge.

Proposed methodology

Provide an overview of the methodology and techniques you will use to conduct your research. Cover what materials and equipment you will use, what theoretical frameworks will you draw on, and how will you collect data.

Highlight why you have chosen this particular methodology, but also why others may not have been as suitable. You need to demonstrate that you have put thought into your approach and why it's the most appropriate way to carry out your research. 

It should also highlight potential limitations you anticipate, feasibility within time and other constraints, ethical considerations and how you will address these, as well as general resources.

A work plan is a critical component of your research proposal because it indicates the feasibility of completion within the timeframe and supports you in achieving your objectives throughout your degree.

Consider the milestones you aim to achieve at each stage of your research. A PhD or master's degree by research can take two to four years of full-time study to complete. It might be helpful to offer year one in detail and the following years in broader terms. Ultimately you have to show that your research is likely to be both original and finished – and that you understand the time involved.

Provide details of the resources you will need to carry out your research project. Consider equipment, fieldwork expenses, travel and a proposed budget, to indicate how realistic your research proposal is in terms of financial requirements and whether any adjustments are needed.

Bibliography

Provide a list of references that you've made throughout your research proposal. 

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

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  • How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

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

Structure of a research proposal

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

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

Introduction

Literature review.

  • Research design

Reference list

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

Table of contents

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

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

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

Research proposal length

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

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

Download our research proposal template

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

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

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

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

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

Your introduction should:

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

To guide your introduction , include information about:

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

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

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

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

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

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

For example, your results might have implications for:

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

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

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

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

Download our research schedule template

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

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

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

To determine your budget, think about:

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

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

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

I will compare …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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McCombes, S. & George, T. (2023, June 13). How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates. Scribbr. Retrieved 20 March 2024, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/the-research-process/research-proposal-explained/

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Guidance on Writing an Outline Research Proposal

In order to assess your application, it is helpful to see an outline of the research area in which you would like to do your doctoral study. This information helps your application in two ways: 

  • It helps us to see if we have research supervisors who are experts in your area and who can support your project. 
  • It gives us an idea of how well you are able to conceptualise and articulate your ideas. 

We do not expect a fully comprehensive and detailed research proposal at this stage. The main information that we are looking for is the:

  • research topic (ie. the subject area)
  • rationale for this topic (ie. why is it important?)
  • methodological approach that you think you might take (eg. qualitative or quantitative?)

Research proposal considerations

The most suitable format for your outline will depend partly on the area of the study, but the following considerations are likely to apply to most topics.

Project title

At this stage, you need only give some thought to a brief title that communicates an overview of the project you have in mind.

Brief description of the project

What is the project about? The problem should be focused enough that it is able to be researched in a single PhD study. It should not be over-ambitious. Remember that you will be working largely on your own with limited financial resources. Where will it be located? Who or what will you be investigating? Where possible, try and identify one or two research questions. In addition, try and define the major concepts embodied in your project.

Background and rationale for the project

Why do you think this issue needs to be investigated? What will we learn? What will we gain? Why is it important? What are the implications? It would be helpful if this section can mention previous research and other academic literature related to the topic area.

The suggested methodological background

Describe how you think you could investigate your topic. How can you answer the research question? In this section you should pay particular attention to formulating a plan of action that you can pursue, bearing in mind the time available and costs involved. You may also need to consider whether your plan is feasible. The content of this section will range widely. For example, it might include the following:

  • Large survey
  • Intervention study 
  • Evaluation 
  • Small exploratory study 

Think about how you will collect data to answer your research question? Will your approach be qualitative, quantitative or mixed? What kind of sample would you need? You are not expected to be too prescriptive here as you would receive guidance from a supervisor once you embarked on the study. At this stage you should be able to identify a relevant sample and to appreciate any problems of sample size or accessibility your research might generate. Where possible, think about the ways in which you would analyse the data that you produce. 

Bibliography 

We would expect you to have done some initial reading around your topic area. Here you should list those sources to which you have referred and that have informed your thinking. In addition, list sources that you feel would be key texts in embarking on the study. 

The above notes are only intended to assist planning of a research proposal. However, you will find that thought given to these points at the beginning of the research can save a considerable amount of confusion and wasted effort later.

Points to think about when writing a research outline:

  • What is your research question? 
  • Why does it matter? 
  • How will you address this question? (ie. what will be your methodology?) 
  • How important is this activity to nursing, midwifery or physiotherapy or to your health service or to service users? 
  • How many subjects do you need? How will you choose them? (ie. discuss issues of access and sampling) 
  • How will you analyse your data? 
  • The University Postgraduate Prospectus offers general advice on writing a research proposal .

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  • 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.

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Conflicts of interest.

There are no conflicts of interest.

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Components of a research proposal.

In general, the proposal components include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How to Write a Research Proposal: Steps, Outline, Example, and More

How to Write a Research Proposal: Steps, Outline, Example, and More

Writing a research proposal involves a thorough and systematic thinking process. Within the academic context, it is a crucial task, especially for graduate students, as it provides them with an opportunity to identify gaps in the existing knowledge and contribute to their field of interest. A well-written research proposal explicitly outlines the questions that the proposed study aims to answer, identifies the significance of the research, and showcases the value that the findings will bring to the academic community.

One of the most common mistakes that writers make when writing a research proposal is not thoroughly reviewing the existing literature. A literature review not only helps in finding the most relevant information related to the proposed research topic but also helps in identifying the gaps that the study aims to fill. By underscoring the gaps, writers can demonstrate the significance of their research and justify the need for further investigation.

To make the research proposal more compelling, it is helpful to include examples and case studies that support the proposed study. These examples can be from your own research or from others within the field. By providing concrete examples, writers can show how their research fits into the existing body of knowledge and how it builds upon the work of others. This is particularly important when seeking funding or when trying to attract the interest of potential supervisors or collaborators.

Steps to Writing a Research Proposal

  • Step 2: Literature Review

In this step, you need to provide a comprehensive review of relevant literature in your field. This involves reading and analyzing previous research papers, reviews, and studies to demonstrate your familiarity with the topic and to establish the importance of your proposed research.

  • Step 3: Research Questions

Identify specific research questions that your study aims to answer. These questions should be clear, focused, and concise, and should directly address the gaps identified in your literature review. Your research questions will guide your study and serve as the basis for your research design.

  • Step 4: Methodology

In this step, you need to explain the proposed methods that you will use to investigate your research questions. This includes details about the research design, sample size, data collection methods, and data analysis procedures. Be sure to justify your choices and explain how they align with your research questions.

  • Step 5: Expected Results

Describe the expected results or outcomes of your research. This section should explain what you hope to find and how your findings might contribute to the existing knowledge in your field. It is important to be realistic and informed in your expectations, based on the limitations and scope of your study.

  • Step 6: Timeline

Create a timeline or schedule that outlines the key tasks and milestones of your research project. This will show the readers that you have a clear plan and are able to complete your research within a specific timeframe. It also demonstrates your organization and dedication towards undertaking the proposed research.

By following these steps, you can create a well-structured and informed research proposal that will increase your chances of success, whether you are an undergraduate student or someone filling in the gaps of previous studies. Remember to think critically and thoroughly about each step to avoid any mistakes and ensure that your proposal-writing is effective and influential.

Understanding the purpose of a research proposal

One of the main goals of a research proposal is to show the reader, whether it be an academic or someone in the field, how the proposed study will contribute to the existing body of knowledge. By providing a thorough review of existing studies and literature, the researcher can showcase their understanding of the topic and demonstrate that their work builds upon known research.

The research proposal enables the writer to lay a solid foundation for their study. It outlines the structure and format of the research, including the sections that will be included and their order. By providing an outline, writers are better able to identify any potential problems or gaps in their research, and can make necessary revisions to ensure a well-structured and coherent paper.

Moreover, an effective research proposal helps to avoid early mistakes and formatting problems that might arise when writing a dissertation or an academic paper. By going through the process of writing a research proposal, the researcher has the opportunity to think through the steps they will take, identify potential challenges, and seek alternatives and solutions.

The research proposal also hinges on the ability of the writer to explain the research’s theme and objective clearly. By providing an abstract or summary of the proposed study, the writer gives readers a concise understanding of what the research seeks to accomplish and the questions it aims to answer.

Demonstrating a thorough understanding of existing studies and research is also helpful in a research proposal. By underscoring the value of the research and a comprehensive review of the literature, the researcher can convince the reader of their knowledge and expertise in the field.

Overall, the purpose of a research proposal is to help the writer think through the steps of their research, show the value and implications of their study, identify and fill gaps in existing knowledge, and contribute to their respective field or discipline. By following a step-by-step template and outlining their research, writers can create a well-structured and effective proposal that offers valuable insights and advances the research in their field.

Further reading:

  • How to Write a Research Proposal: Step-by-Step Guide by David Rosenberg
  • Why do most movie posters have ridiculously photoshopped humans on them instead of using the actors real photos snapped on set? – Example of a research question in another field.
  • Bibliographic information for known academic papers and books – A useful resource for finding and citing relevant sources for a research proposal.

Outlining your research proposal

First and foremost, it is important to explicitly state the purpose of your research proposal. This means clearly explaining what knowledge gap you are trying to fill, what questions you want to answer, and what outcomes you expect to achieve. This will help you stay focused and ensure that your proposal addresses the specific topic in a well-bounded manner.

In the methodology section, you need to outline the design and methods you plan to use in your research. This may include details about data collection, sample selection, data analysis techniques, and any ethical considerations. Make sure to explain why these methods are appropriate for your research and how they will help you answer your research questions.

Lastly, it is important to create a timeline or schedule for your research. This will help you plan and manage your time effectively, ensuring that you stay on track and complete your project within the given timeframe. It is also helpful to list any resources or assistance you may need, such as access to specific equipment or collaboration with other researchers.

By following this step-by-step outline, you can create an effective research proposal that addresses the key topics and makes a strong case for your study. Remember to double-check your proposal for any grammar or spelling mistakes, as well as ensuring that it is well-structured and logically organized. Good luck with your proposal-writing!

Example of a research proposal

Every research proposal should have a clear and well-bounded structure that follows specific guidelines, such as those outlined by the APA (American Psychological Association). Below is an example of a research proposal outline:

  • Background and context
  • Research problem and justification
  • Research question(s)
  • Research objectives
  • Review of existing research on the theme
  • Significance of the proposed research
  • Identification of gaps or problems in the existing research
  • Research design
  • Data collection methods
  • Data analysis techniques
  • Research limitations
  • Significance of the research proposal
  • Potential contributions to the field
  • Future implications of the research findings
  • Research timeline
  • Estimated budget for the research
  • Summary of the proposed research
  • Final remarks and next steps

Here is an example of a research proposal that focuses on investigating the effects of social media on undergraduate students:

Title: The Impact of Social Media on Undergraduate Students’ Academic Performance and Well-being

Literature Review: This section reviews existing research on the effects of social media on academic performance and well-being. It discusses the various studies that have been conducted in this area and highlights any gaps or problems in the existing research. The significance of the proposed research is discussed in relation to the potential contribution it can make to the field of psychology and education.

Methodology: This section outlines the research design, which will involve a quantitative survey to gather data on social media usage, academic performance, and well-being among undergraduate students. The data collection methods and analysis techniques are described, along with any limitations of the research design.

Note: The specific details of the methodology will vary depending on the nature of the research study being proposed.

Expected Outcomes and Implications: This section discusses the potential significance of the research proposal, including the impact it may have on understanding the effects of social media on undergraduate students. It also explores the potential contributions the research can make to the field and the implications for future studies and interventions.

Timeline and Budget: This section provides a timeline for the research, outlining when specific milestones will be achieved. It also includes an estimated budget for the research, detailing the funding needed to conduct the study effectively.

By following this example, you can create a research proposal that is well-structured, original, and demonstrates your knowledge and understanding of the topic. Remember to rely on proper academic and bibliographic guidelines, such as the APA style, to ensure that your proposal is properly formatted and cited.

Investigating a research topic can be hard and time-consuming, but it is also exciting and can contribute valuable insights to the academic community. By thoroughly reviewing existing literature, identifying research gaps, and proposing alternatives, you can contribute to the existing body of knowledge in a meaningful way. Write everything down, and don’t be afraid to ask for help or feedback from your advisors, professors, or fellow graduate students. Remember, a well-structured and well-thought-out research proposal is one of the most important things you can do to ensure that your research project is ready to be conducted and that it aligns with the goals and expectations of the academic community.

More tips and resources for writing a research proposal

Writing a research proposal can be a challenging task, but there are several tips and resources that can help you navigate the process effectively. Here are some additional steps and advice to consider:

  • Follow a step-by-step guide: It’s important to have a clear structure for your research proposal. Following a step-by-step guide can help you organize your thoughts and ensure that you cover all the necessary components.
  • Think about the major contributions: When writing your research proposal, it’s important to clearly explain the significance and value of your study. Consider how your work fits within the existing literature and the contributions it can make to the field.
  • Review relevant literature: An effective research proposal incorporates a thorough review of the existing literature. Make sure to cite and reference the appropriate sources, providing a well-bounded context for your study.
  • Double-check your thesis statement: Your research proposal should clearly state your thesis or research question. Double-check that your thesis is well-defined and properly justified.
  • Use proper citation and referencing: Properly citing and referencing your sources is crucial in a research proposal. Make sure to use a proper format and provide all the necessary bibliographic details.
  • Take advantage of online resources: There are virtual libraries, online databases, and other resources available that can greatly assist you in your research. Take advantage of these tools to enhance the quality and depth of your proposal.
  • Seek feedback and review: It’s always a good idea to have others review your research proposal. Seek feedback from mentors, colleagues, or professors who can provide valuable insight and suggestions.
  • Consider adding an abstract: An abstract is a concise summary of your research proposal. Including an abstract can provide readers with a quick overview of your study and why it is worth further exploration.
  • Be detail-oriented: Pay attention to the details in your research proposal. Make sure that your methodology, objectives, and expected outcomes are clear and well-documented.

Writing a research proposal may be difficult, but with proper planning and attention to detail, you can create a strong and effective proposal. Remember to keep focused on the specific aims of your study and tailor your proposal to fit within the guidelines and requirements of the funding or academic institution you are targeting.

Purpose of a Research Proposal

A research proposal serves as a roadmap for filling the gaps in knowledge and addressing specific research questions. It outlines the key objectives, methods, and timeline of the study, providing a clear plan for the research project.

Writing a research proposal keeps your mind focused on the main theme and ideas of your study. It helps you identify the contributions your research can make to the existing knowledge and show why it is valuable. By explicitly outlining the purpose and goals of your research, you are able to assess whether your study fits within the broader context of the field.

One of the major purposes of a research proposal is to convince the academics or post-docs who will review it that your study is worth pursuing. Therefore, it is important to clearly define your research question and explain why it is important. This section of the proposal should also highlight the expected outcomes and the potential impact of the study.

Moreover, a research proposal acts as a guide for the writer, helping them stay on track and avoid getting lost in the vast sea of information. It helps in identifying the problems that may arise during the research and suggests potential solutions. By having a well-structured outline, the writer can more effectively communicate their research ideas and objectives.

Furthermore, a research proposal serves as a reference for the writer to consult throughout the research process. It provides a common framework for referencing existing literature or software tools, such as bibliographic software. This ensures that the research is grounded in established knowledge and contributes to the existing body of literature.

What is a research proposal?

A research proposal is a document that outlines the research project you plan to undertake. It explains the research problem, the objectives, the methodology, and the expected outcomes.

What are the steps to write a research proposal?

The steps to write a research proposal include identifying the research problem, conducting a literature review, defining the research objectives, selecting the research methodology, outlining the research plan, and preparing a budget.

Can you provide an outline for a research proposal?

Sure! A typical outline for a research proposal includes the title, abstract, introduction, literature review, research objectives, methodology, expected outcomes, timeline, and references.

Do you have an example of a research proposal?

Yes, here is an example research proposal:

What are the contributions to knowledge that a research proposal can make?

A research proposal can contribute to knowledge by addressing a research gap, proposing a new research methodology, providing insights into a specific topic, or suggesting practical implications for a particular field. The expected outcomes of the research project can further enhance the existing knowledge and contribute to the overall understanding of the subject.

A research proposal is a document that outlines the objective, methodology, and significance of a research project. It is used to convince others, such as funding agencies or academic institutions, of the importance and feasibility of the proposed research.

Why is it important to write a research proposal?

Writing a research proposal is important because it allows researchers to clearly articulate their research objectives, methodology, and expected outcomes. It also helps to ensure that the research is conducted ethically and with proper consideration of potential risks and benefits. Additionally, a well-written research proposal can increase the chances of obtaining funding or securing approval from academic institutions.

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What Are The Elements Of A Good Research Proposal?

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by  Antony W

March 10, 2023

elements of a good research proposal

The key to writing a great research proposal for your upcoming research project is to make sure the document has the right structure.

Your paper must include all the components that your professor expects to see. So in this guide, we’ll outline all the elements of a good research proposal and explain why they’re important.

The elements of a good research proposal are the title, the introduction, literature review, aims and objectives, methodology, scope of the research, outline and timetable, and bibliography.

It’s important to include these elements in your research proposal exactly in the order in which they appear in the list above.

Why The Key Elements Of A Research Proposal Matter

The basic elements of a research proposal are important because they communicate your thought process, present the originality of your ideas, and demonstrate that you’re passionate about the subject in question.

If you structure and write your research proposal well, your paper can convince your professor that your project is feasible and you have what it takes to take   your research project to the next level.

Have no time to read this guide and would rather get quick writing help? Let us write your research proposal for you! 

7 Key Elements of a Research Proposal 

While developing a detailed and comprehensive research proposal requires a lot of planning, attention to details, and academic writing skills , understanding the core elements of the paper is the first step to getting your proposal accepted.

So here are the elements that you should include in your research proposal.

It sounds somewhat obvious when we say that your research proposal with a title. To say the least, you already know you should.

But perhaps the most common mistake that many students make is to write general titles that lack focus.

Instead of writing a long title that’s hard to read or a short title that fails to highlight the theme of your research, write a clear and concise headline that tells your reader what your research proposal is about at a first glance.

2. Introduction

The starting paragraph to a research project is one of the elements of a good research proposal because it introduces the subject you wish to address or a research problem you wish to analyze.

Because the introduction of a research proposal is what sets the tone for the rest of the paper, it’s important to start with a hook and then organize your thoughts in a logical and organized manner.

The introduction to your research proposal should give background information and explain why you believe a research question is worth exploring. While not mandatory, you can briefly describe your methodologies in the introduction and then expand them later on.

Your introduction should be clear and concise. Make sure you include only the most relevant information in this section so you don’t make it unnecessarily too long.

3. Literature Review

Although a research proposal doesn’t include a full literature review , it’s important to include an overview of the most significant studies in your field.

The section should feature evidence and statistical data to demonstrate the significance of your research.

Through the literature review, you can easily draw your reader’s attention to existing research, identify gaps in existing studies, and make your reader understand how your proposal will contribute to the already existing research.

4. Aims and Objectives

Aims and objectives are what you wish your research proposal to accomplish. Your aims will be your overall outcome or what you want the research to achieve.

Objectives tend to be narrower and more focused. More often than not, you need to provide an explanation for each of your objectives to show how they will help to meet the aims of your study.

Unless required, you don’t really have to include a hypothesis that your research proposal looks forward to test.

5. Research Methodology

Methodologies are simply the research methods you will use to conduct your study and they must appear in your research proposal whether or not you’re conducting an experimental research.

The methodologies include analysis and sampling techniques equipment, research approaches, and ethical concerns.

Make sure your explanation for each methodology is clear and precise. It helps to justify why you’ve chosen to use a certain methodology over an alternative. This will go a long way to show that you took your time to think about your methodologies before picking them.

It’s important to explain how you will collect data, the sample size you plan to consider for your research investigation, and the techniques you consider the most appropriate to analyze the data.

6. Scope of the Research

Because you’ll be working with limited time and resource, it’s reasonable to include a section on the scope of the research in your proposal. In other words, you have to show your reader that you can start and complete your research within the constraints of these two resources.

Remember, your research will more than likely have limits, and addressing them in this section not only shows that you have given them a thought but also makes your research proposal strong and authentic.

Don’t just focus on the challenges that you’re likely to come across during your studies. You should also propose alternative solutions that you can use and why they might help.

7. Outline and Timetable

Your professor expects to see an outline and a timetable in your research proposal so it’s important that you include them in your research proposal.

The purpose of the outline is to show how you plan to structure your dissertation . Briefly note what each section will cover and explain how it all fits into the argument of your research project.

The purpose of the timetable is to show how much time you’ll need to complete your research. In particular, you need to make sure you mention exactly how long you expect each stage of your study to take.

Don’t just mention how long the research process will take. Make sure you also indicate how long you’ll take to compile your research.

Get Help with Research Proposal Writing

Knowing the elements of a good research proposal is one thing. Writing the proposal is where there’s a lot of work. If you don’t have the time to complete the work yourself, feel free to take advantage of our research proposal writing and get the paper done on time.

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

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  1. How to Write a Research Proposal

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  2. How To Write A Research Proposal

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

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    Learn what a research proposal is and how to write a high-quality proposal. Includes clear examples and a free proposal template. About Us; Services. 1-On-1 Coaching ... In some cases, a rough outline of the topic is all that's needed, while in other cases, universities expect a very detailed proposal that essentially forms the first three ...

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  9. PDF Research Proposal Format Example

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

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    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.

  13. How to write a research proposal

    Proposal format. The format of a research proposal varies between fields and levels of study but most proposals should contain at least these elements: introduction, literature review, research design and reference list. Generally, research proposals can range from 500-1500 words or one to a few pages long.

  14. How to write a research proposal

    A research proposal should present your idea or question and expected outcomes with clarity and definition - the what. It should also make a case for why your question is significant and what value it will bring to your discipline - the why. What it shouldn't do is answer the question - that's what your research will do.

  15. Outline for Research Proposal

    Outline for Research Project Proposal. (adapted from Course Materials for Psycholinguistics) When writing, please use section headings to indicate where the information can be found. Subheadings need not be used, though in long sections they may facilitate organization. 1. Introduction Explain the issue you are examining and why it is significant.

  16. How to Write a Research Proposal

    Research proposal examples. Writing a research proposal can be quite challenging, but a good starting point could be to look at some examples. We've included a few for you below. Example research proposal #1: 'A Conceptual Framework for Scheduling Constraint Management'.

  17. PDF Structural Outline of a Research Proposal

    Structural Outline of a Research Proposal Prepared by Marjorie Batey, Professor Emeritus. A research proposal, whether prepared for a Thesis or as a research grant application, or as a Scholarly Project in one's ongoing work, is an explication of each aspect of the proposed study. Its first section, known as the conceptual phase of

  18. Guidance on Writing an Outline Research Proposal

    The above notes are only intended to assist planning of a research proposal. However, you will find that thought given to these points at the beginning of the research can save a considerable amount of confusion and wasted effort later. Summary. Points to think about when writing a research outline: What is your research question? Why does it ...

  19. How to write 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 ...

  20. Components of a Research Proposal

    In general, the proposal components include: Introduction: Provides reader with a broad overview of problem in context. Statement of problem: Answers the question, "What research problem are you going to investigate?" Literature review: Shows how your approach builds on existing research; helps you identify methodological and design issues in studies similar to your own; introduces you to ...

  21. How to Write a Research Proposal: Steps, Outline, Example, and More

    Example of a research proposal Outline. Every research proposal should have a clear and well-bounded structure that follows specific guidelines, such as those outlined by the APA (American Psychological Association). Below is an example of a research proposal outline: Background and context; Research problem and justification; Research question(s)

  22. What Are The Elements Of A Good Research Proposal?

    So in this guide, we'll outline all the elements of a good research proposal and explain why they're important. The elements of a good research proposal are the title, the introduction, literature review, aims and objectives, methodology, scope of the research, outline and timetable, and bibliography. It's important to include these ...

  23. use the research and outline from draft a proposal planning

    A written proposal allows for a structured and logical presentation of this information. Proposal Purpose: The goal is to persuade the owner to invest in metal 3D printing. A well-written proposal with supporting evidence can effectively present the case and its potential positive impact on Pronto Engineering. 5. 1.

  24. ☞微信ada100-2 各科 ☞essay/paper/report ☞proposal/summary ☞outline/AB

    0 likes, 0 comments - essayxueba04 on January 14, 2024: "☞微信ada100-2 各科 ☞essay/paper/report ☞proposal/summary ☞outline/AB ☞literature review/research paper ☞midterm/final exa..." ☞微信ada100-2 各科 ☞essay/paper/report ☞proposal/summary ☞outline/AB ☞literature review/research paper ☞midterm/final exa ...

  25. How Would Joe Biden and Donald Trump's Social Security Plans Affect

    One way to implement this proposal is to make all income of $400,000 or more subject to the payroll tax used to fund Social Security. Then-candidate Biden recommended this approach in his 2020 ...