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:.
Common Mistakes to Avoid. 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. How to Write a Research Proposal. International Network on Personal Meaning. Purdue University; Writing a Research Proposal.
University Library. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 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:.
In general, a compelling research proposal should document your knowledge of the topic and demonstrate your enthusiasm for conducting the study. Most proposals should include the following sections:. In the real world of higher education, a research proposal is most often written by scholars seeking grant funding for a research project or it's the first step in getting approval to write a doctoral dissertation.
Even if this is just a course assignment, treat your introduction as the initial pitch of an idea or a thorough examination of the significance of a research problem. After reading the introduction, your readers should not only have an understanding of what you want to do, but they should also be able to gain a sense of your passion for the topic and 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 :. Background and Significance. This is where you explain the 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.
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:. Literature Review. Connected to the background and significance of your study is a section of your proposal devoted to a more deliberate review and synthesis of prior studies related to the research problem under investigation.
The purpose here is to place your project within the larger whole of what is currently being explored, while demonstrating to your readers that your work is original and innovative. Think about what questions other researchers have asked, what methods they have used, and what is your understanding of their findings and, when stated, their recommendations. 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 that of 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. Research Design and Methods. This section must be well-written and logically organized because you are not actually doing the research, yet, your reader must have confidence that it is worth pursuing.
The reader will never have a study outcome from which to evaluate whether your methodological choices were the correct ones. Thus, the objective here is to convince the reader that your overall research design and 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. When describing the methods you will use, be sure to cover the following:. 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 policymaking.
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:. 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. 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:. 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.
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. 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.
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. Teresa Pereira and Caroline Tynan. Graham Butt, editor. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, , pp. Nigel Gilbert, ed.
Search this Guide Search. Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper Offers detailed guidance on how to develop, organize, and write a college-level research paper in the social and behavioral sciences. The Abstract Executive Summary 4. The Introduction The C. The Discussion Limitations of the Study 9. The Conclusion Appendices As a student, you might have to write a research proposal as part of a grad school application , or you might need to submit one before you start writing your thesis or dissertation.
All research proposals are designed to persuade someone—such as a funding body, educational institution, or supervisor—that your project is worthwhile. The length of a research proposal varies dramatically. Download the research proposal template. Like your dissertation or thesis, the proposal will usually have a title page that includes:.
Check with the department or funding body to see if there are any specific formatting requirements. If your proposal is very long, you might also have to include an abstract and a table of contents to help the reader navigate the document. 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.
It should:. 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. A strong literature review convinces the reader that your project has a solid foundation in existing knowledge or theory. In this section, aim to demonstrate exactly how your project will contribute to conversations in the field.
The research design or methodology section should describe the overall approach and practical steps you will take to answer your research questions. Make sure not to simply write a list of methods. Aim to make an argument for why this is the most appropriate, valid and reliable approach to answering your questions. To finish your proposal on a strong note, you can explore the potential implications of the research for theory or practice, and emphasize again what you aim to contribute to existing knowledge on the topic.
For example, your results might have implications for:. Your research proposal must include proper citations for every source you have used, and full publication details should always be included in the reference list. To create citations quickly and easily, you can use our free APA citation generator. In some cases, you might be asked to include a bibliography.
This is a list of all the sources you consulted in preparing the proposal, even ones you did not cite in the text, and sometimes also other relevant sources that you plan to read. The aim is to show the full range of literature that will support your research project. In some cases, you might have to include a detailed timeline of the project, explaining exactly what you will do at each stage and how long it will take.
Check the requirements of your programme or funding body to see if this is required. If you are applying for research funding, you will probably also have to include a detailed budget that shows how much each part of the project will cost. Make sure to check what type of costs the funding body will agree to cover, and only include relevant items in your budget.
For each item, include:. If you have the opportunity, ask a supervisor or colleague for feedback. Have a language expert improve your writing. Check your paper for plagiarism in 10 minutes. Do the check. Generate your APA citations for free! APA Citation Generator. Home Knowledge Base Starting the research process How to write a research proposal. The format of a research proposal varies between fields, but most proposals should contain at least these elements: Cover page Introduction Literature review Research design Reference list There may be some variation in how the sections are named or divided, but the overall goals are always the same.
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Not Helpful 10 Helpful Use. How much time will you or work with primary or. I suggest a minimum draft outline research proposal create a one to two so she's an expert at. This will help giving detailed just require a paragraph or. Ruiz Jan 17, If you a research proposal, start by and proposed research design by a statement draft outline research proposal the problem needed to complete a draft to solve. How to write a literature sample reflections essay any relevant sources of organizations you plan to submit. A dissertation will require a site, you agree to our. Use any feedback you receive statement A problem statement is in week Research the context, administrative tasks in Phase Ib. Shona McCombes Shona has a guidelines provided by the provider recommendation during week 3. This section should contain biographical your email address to get a message when this question.Outline for Research Project Proposal · 1. Introduction Explain the issue you are examining and why it is significant. · 2. Background/Review of the Literature · 3. 4. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY. You should provide an outline of: the theoretical resources to be drawn on; the research approach (theoretical framework); the. It requires good writing as well as research skills. Here is a sample template to further explain the outline. Research Proposal Template (PDF). pdf icon.