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Writing a Research Proposal

You need to create a research proposal to explain what you are going to research, why it is essential, and how you are going to do this investigation. Different fields of study may require different formats of this academic writing. However, there are important elements that each proposal should contain. They are a cover page, introduction, literature review, a design of research, and a reference list.

There may be some changes in the sections and their titles, but the overall format is always the same. We are going to explain to you how to write a research proposal correctly.

Infographic on how to write a research proposal and what is its structure

Defining an Aim of a Research Proposal

People who take up academic research need to write proposals to obtain some funding for their experiments and projects. As a student, you may need this paper for filing your graduation school application or be required to create it before you begin to write your dissertation or thesis because you will have to get approval for it first of all.

That is why the main purpose of writing a consistent research proposal is to persuade somebody that your project is valuable and worth their attention.

Therefore, the proposal should be:

  1. Relevant (try to show that your project is unique, important and useful).
  2. ontextual (demonstrate that you know the current findings in the field well, and your ideas can support them or add a lot to the field).
  3. Methodologically based (provide the evidence that you know what methods you are going to use, and you consider all the tools, data and procedures needed for the research).
  4. Feasible (prove that your project is possible even within limits laid by the program or institution and does not rely on funding only).

How Long Should It Be?

The length of this paper can vary. You should write several pages for your bachelor’s or master’s thesis or a much longer proposal for your Ph.D. dissertation. Commonly, the proposal looks like a contracted version of your complete research paper. However, it will not contain the results and discussion.

Create a Title Page First

The title page here is similar to your dissertation. It contains the preliminary title of your paper, your full name, the full name of your supervisor, and the indication of your institution and/or department. You will also need to check with your department what other requirements they have for the title page.

Include an abstract and table of contents after the title page if your academic paper is too long for a reader to navigate easily.

How to Write an Introduction

The first part of your proposal should include persuasive information about what you are going to do and why. So, introduce the topic, provide the context and background for your choice and write a problem statement and research questions.

For longer proposals, it may be necessary to make separate sections for all these parts with more detailed information about each of them.

Literature Review Is Important

You need to prove that you are well informed about everything that is going on in your field of studies and you have taken a thorough look at other scholars’ research work. Your project should have a solid basis made of theories and existing knowledge to be successful. A strong literature review should convince your reader that you are going to contribute to the field but not just repeat what other people have already said.

Define Your Methods and Research Design

This part should follow the literature review, and it needs to repeat the main objectives of your research. Then, start describing the overall approaches and steps you are going to take in your academic work. Define the type of research - qualitative, quantitative, based on primary or secondary resources, etc. - and the research design - experimental, descriptive, or any other.

Then consider the object of your studies, its subject and sources, and where you will collect the necessary data. Define the tools and methods you will use for collecting and analyzing the data.

Consider how much time you will need for the practical part of your work, how you are going to access the sources and what potential obstacles you can encounter on this path. Make sure that you can explain how you are going to overcome them.

Do not write just a list of methods. Such an approach does not work well. Try to explain why you choose them.

Explore and Indicate Your Project’s Contribution to the Field

It is crucial to show how much your project will contribute to the existing knowledge. For this, you can emphasize:

  • making improvements in the field;
  • strengthening a theory;
  • developing new models;
  • debating popular assumptions;
  • making up the basis for future research.

Create a Bibliography or Reference List

Your research proposal will contain some important citations to support your ideas. You need to include the sources of them in the reference list. Use an online citation generator to make the process easier.

A bibliography is a more extended list that you may need to include in some cases. It will contain all the sources you have read before starting the proposal, even if they are not cited in it. You can also include the relevant sources you are going to work with.

Schedule Your Research Project

In some cases, you should include the timeline for your research where you will explain in detail what you are going to undertake at each stage and how much time it will take you. Consult your supervisor about the need to include this part in your research proposal.

Consider the Budget

If you need some funding for your research, think about including this section in your proposal. Check the types of funding your donator or supervising body agrees to cover. Your budget should include only relevant items and you should always be able to explain why you need them.

Consider such things as:

  • travel costs;
  • assistance;
  • materials;
  • time;
  • partnership.

Including this section can be quite helpful if you need to spend a lot on the investigation process.

Final Thoughts

Now you know what to include in your research proposal to have your scientific project approved by the authorities or your institution. Do not forget about the need to revise and proofread your paper. It can be changed, supplemented or edited by someone before you submit its final version. Or you may want to do proofreading on your own. Consider all the changes and new ideas that may have appeared in the process of writing this paper and think carefully about whether they are relevant enough to be included in this paper.

You can also ask your friend, colleague or supervisor for feedback. You may also consider professional proofreading services if you want to be certain that your proposal will be a success.

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