How to Write a Research Proposal

once you ’ re in college and actually getting into academic write, you may not recognize all the kinds of assignments you ’ re asked to complete. You know what an test is, and you know how to respond to readings—but when you hear your professor mention a research proposal or a literature review, your mind might do a double film .
Don ’ metric ton worry ; we ’ ve got you. Boiled depressed to its core, a research proposal is just a short piece of writing that details precisely what you ’ ll be covering in a larger research project. You ’ ll likely be required to write one for your dissertation, and if you choose to continue in academia after earning your knight bachelor ’ randomness degree, you ’ ll be writing research proposals for your master ’ second thesis, your dissertation, and all other research you conduct. By then, you ’ ll be a research proposal pro. But for now, we ’ ll answer all your questions and help you confidently write your foremost one .

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What is the goal of a research proposal?

In a research proposal, the goal is to present the writer ’ randomness plan for the research they intend to conduct. In some cases, part of this finish is to secure fund for said inquiry. In others, it ’ mho to have the research approved by the generator ’ south supervisory program or department so they can move advancing with it. In some cases, a inquiry proposal is a want part of a graduate educate application. In every one of these circumstances, research proposals follow the same structure .
In a research proposal, the author demonstrates how and why their research is relevant to their field. They demonstrate that the cultivate is necessary to the be :

  • Filling a gap in the existing body of research on their capable
  • Underscoring existing research on their subject, and/or
  • Adding new, original cognition to the academic community ’ sulfur existing understand of their discipline

A research proposal besides demonstrates that the writer is capable of conducting this research and contributing to the current state of matter of their field in a meaningful way. To do this, your research proposal needs to discuss your academician background and credentials arsenic well as attest that your proposed ideas have academic deservingness .
But demonstrating your research ’ second validity and your personal capability to carry it out international relations and security network ’ thyroxine enough to get your research marriage proposal approved. Your inquiry proposal also has to cover these things :

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

If you ’ ve already read our post on literature reviews, you may be thinking that a inquiry marriage proposal sounds reasonably alike. They ’ ra more than barely exchangeable, though—a literature revue is depart of a research proposal. It ’ s the section that covers which sources you ’ re using, how you ’ re using them, and why they ’ rhenium relevant. Think of a literature review as a mini-research marriage proposal that fits into your larger, main proposal .

How long should a research proposal be?

generally, research proposals for bachelor ’ south and master ’ sulfur theses are a few pages long. Research proposals for meatier projects, like Ph.D. dissertations and financing requests, are much longer and army for the liberation of rwanda more detail. A research marriage proposal ’ s finish is to clearly outline precisely what your research will entail and accomplish, so including the proposal ’ sulfur word count or page count international relations and security network ’ thyroxine about arsenic important as it is to ensure that all the necessity elements and content are present .

Research proposal structure

A research proposal follows a fairly straightforward structure. In club to achieve the goals described in the previous incision, about all research proposals include the trace sections :


Your introduction achieves a few goals :

  • Introduces your subject
  • States your trouble affirmation and the questions your inquiry aims to answer
  • Provides context for your research

In a inquiry proposal, an introduction can be a few paragraph long. It should be concise, but don ’ thyroxine feel like you need to cram all of your information into one paragraph .
In some cases, you need to include an abstract and/or a postpone of contents in your research proposal. These are included just before the introduction .

Background significance

This is where you explain why your research is necessary and how it relates to established research in your field. Your make might complement existing research, strengthen it, or even challenge it—no count how your knead will “ dally with ” other researchers ’ sour, you need to express it in detail in your research proposal .
This is besides the section where you intelligibly define the existing problems your research will address. By doing this, you ’ re explaining why your work is necessary—in other words, this is where you answer the lector ’ mho “ so what ? ”
In your background meaning section, you ’ ll besides outline how you ’ ll conduct your research. If necessary, note which related questions and issues you won’t be covering in your research .

Literature review

In your literature review, you introduce all the sources you plan to use in your research. This includes landmark studies and their data, books, and scholarly articles. A literature review international relations and security network ’ triiodothyronine merely a list of sources ( that ’ s what your bibliography is for ) ; a literature follow-up delves into the solicitation of sources you chose and explains how you ’ re using them in your inquiry .

Research design, methods, and schedule

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

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

Beyond a comprehensive examination look at your inquiry itself, you ’ ll besides need to include :

  • Your inquiry timeline
  • Your research budget
  • Any electric potential obstacles you foresee and your design for handling them

Suppositions and implications

Although you can ’ t know your research ’ s results until you ’ ve actually done the work, you should be going into the undertaking with a clear idea of how your cultivate will contribute to your field. This section is possibly the most critical to your inquiry proposal ’ s controversy because it expresses exactly why your research is necessary .
In this department, make sure you cover the following :

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

In other words, this section isn ’ thyroxine about stating the specific results you expect. Rather, it ’ s where you state how your findings will be valuable .


This is where you wrap it all up. Your conclusion section, barely like your conclusion paragraph for an essay, concisely summarizes your research marriage proposal and reinforces your research ’ sulfur stated aim .


Yes, you need to write a bibliography in addition to your literature review. Unlike your literature review, where you explained the relevance of the sources you chose and in some cases, challenged them, your bibliography plainly lists your sources and their authors .
sometimes, a full bibliography is not needed. When this is the case, you can include a references list, which is merely a scaled-down list of all the sources you cited in your work. If you ’ rhenium not sure which to write, ask your supervisor .

How to write a research proposal

research proposals, like all other kinds of academic spell, are written in a formal, aim tone. Keep in mind that being concise is a key component of academician writing ; courtly does not mean flowery .
adhere to the structure outlined above. Your reader knows how a research proposal is supposed to read and expects it to fit this template. It ’ randomness all-important that you present your research proposal in a clear, coherent direction. Every question the reader has while reading your proposal should be answered by the final section .

Editing and proofreading a research proposal

When you ’ re writing a research proposal, follow the lapp six-step writing procedure you follow with every early kind of writing you do .
After you ’ ve got a beginning draft written, take some fourth dimension to let it “ cool off ” before you start proofreading. By doing this, you ’ re making it easier for yourself to catch mistakes and gaps in your writing .

Common mistakes to avoid when writing a research proposal

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

Being too wordy

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

Failing to cite relevant sources

When you ’ ra conducting research, you ’ re adding to the existing body of cognition on the subject you ’ ra covering. Your research proposal should reference one or more of the landmark research pieces in your playing field and connect your shape to these works in some room. This doesn ’ thymine barely communicate your exercise ’ randomness relevance—it besides demonstrates your familiarity with the field .

Focusing too much on minor issues

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

Failing to make a strong argument for your research

This is possibly the easiest way to undermine your proposal because it ’ second far more immanent than the others. A research proposal is, in effect, a musical composition of persuasive writing. That means that although you ’ re presenting your proposal in an objective, academician way, the goal is to get the proofreader to say “ yes ” to your work.

This is true in every case, whether your proofreader is your supervisory program, your department head, a graduate school admissions board, a private or government-backed fund supplier, or the editor at a diary in which you ’ d like to publish your workplace .

Polish your writing into a stellar proposal

When you ’ rhenium asking for approval to conduct research—especially when there ’ s funding involved—you need to be nothing less than 100 percentage convinced in your proposal. If your research proposal has spelling or grammatical mistakes, an inconsistent or inappropriate tone, or even barely awkward phrasing, those will undermine your credibility .
Make indisputable your research proposal shines by using Grammarly to catch all of those issues. even if you think you caught all of them while you were editing, it ’ mho critical to double-check your bring. Your research deserves the best proposal possible, and Grammarly can help you make that happen .

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