Research Proposal - Complete Format Guide and Template
Academic assignments involving research work usually haunt students. A research proposal is a first and integral step in writing a research paper. It is considered as a complex task because it requires multiple skills and a critical approach.
Similarly, a good research proposal must contain the contribution of the research work to a particular field of study. It should also include why and how a research study is useful for the society and the audience.
If you deliver an ordinary proposal, you are more likely to get a low score. Thus, make sure you invest all the time and energy to draft a strong proposal.
This guide offers a comprehensive outlook of the steps required to write a winning research project proposal.
What is a Research Proposal?
As per the research proposal definition, it is a concise summary of the entire study and the main research questions. It is also used to describe what you will inquire about why it is important, and how you will conduct the research work.
Similarly, a good proposal also identifies the knowledge of existing literature and suggests practical solutions. Here you will explain the nature and significance of the research study to persuade the audience.
Purpose of a Research Proposal
Below given are the purposes of making a research proposal.
- It is crucial for academics to get funding for their projects.
- Students get their thesis and dissertation plan approved.
- It convinces the audience about the importance of a research study.
- It shows the writer’s in-depth understanding of a particular field.
- It also makes a case for your research methodology to collect data.
- It polishes the research and critical thinking skills.
- It also identifies the logical steps that need to be taken to achieve the goals.
- It analyzes the data to address the research problem.
How Long is a Research Proposal?
The length of a proposal varies in different course programs. It consists of only a few pages for writing a bachelor’s or master’s thesis proposal. However, the proposals for PhD dissertations are long and detailed.
How to Write a Research Proposal?
To write a research proposal, a writer must answer the following questions.
What are you planning to accomplish?
Specify what you will propose to a particular research field. Be clear and brief while defining the research problem.
Why do you want to conduct the research work?
Before you begin, ask yourself, why are you doing it? This sounds like an ordinary question but matters the most in research proposals.
It will direct you to conduct a thorough review of the literature. Also, offer convincing evidence to explain the contribution of the topic to the existing field.
How will you accomplish it?
Describe what methods and techniques you will use to conduct the research work. Similarly, also discuss why you are the correct person to carry out this research. However, never make the mistake of proposing a solution that is not feasible.
Here is a detailed guide that will help you write a research paper.
Research Proposal Format
The research paper steps included in the format are discussed below in detail.
A title page is the first section of a research proposal that includes:
- The main title of the research work.
- Student’s name.
- Supervisor’s name.
- The institution and department.
Abstract and Table of Contents
A research proposal abstract provides a concise summary of your paper in not more than 250 words. On the other hand, an organized table of contents will help the readers to navigate the document. Both these sections are required if the proposal is too long.
A well-structured research proposal outline is used to organize ideas in a single place. Similarly, it also decides the future headings and subheadings of a research paper.
Research Paper Introduction
The introduction should be brief and catchy to grab the reader’s attention. It must include the below-given elements.
- Introduction of the topic.
- Discussion of the main research problem.
- Background of the issue.
- The methodology used to analyze the research problem.
- Significance and importance of the research.
- Future plan for the research.
Background and Significance
The background and significance section explains the detailed context of your research work. You can merge this section with the introduction. However, create a separate section with extensive information if the proposal is lengthy.
Highlight the following key points while writing a background and significance section.
- State the problem and offer a detailed explanation.
- Mention the rationale of the study and indicate why it is worth pursuing.
- Pinpoint the critical issues addressed by the research.
- Explain your chosen type of research methodology and sources that you are planning to use.
- Define the boundaries of the research clearly.
- Write definitions of key terms or concepts for easy understanding.
A comprehensive literature review instills energy in the paper and offers you important insights. It requires a thorough analysis of a literature source that is relevant to the research topic.
Moreover, this section is usually challenging to complete because it contains lots of information. However, a strong literature review aims to convince readers about a valuable contribution to the existing knowledge.
Analyze what research questions are raised by others. Similarly, identify the methods used by them.
Don’t be afraid to challenge the findings of others. Nevertheless, make sure that you have challenged their results with substantial and relevant information.
Here are the 5 C’s that can make up a literature review.
By using them, compare and contrast the main theories and methods. Also, identify the strengths and weaknesses of the different approaches while writing a literature review.
Lastly, emphasize how your work will challenge the work of others.
Research Design and Methods
The methodology section explains the overall strategy and steps you should take to address your research questions.
Don't just compose a list of methods. Instead, try to prove that your method is the most relevant and practical approach to answering the questions.
Similarly, always be specific. Choosing multiple methodologies creates confusion in the reader’s mind.
The below table will help you identify the methodology in a research proposal.
The hypothesis section sets a clear objective for the thesis. It further highlights the implications of the study as per the researcher's view. Moreover, if the hypothesis is clear and understandable, it becomes easy to conduct the research work.
When drafting a potential hypothesis of your thesis, keep in mind the following questions.
- What is going to be the result of your study concerning the theoretical framework and underlying assumptions?
- What possible suggestions could arise from the research outcomes?
- How results will contribute to the natural setting of the workplace?
- Will the outcomes contribute to social and economic problems?
- How outcomes will influence policy decisions?
- How can research work benefit individuals or groups?
- What can be improved as a result of your study?
- How will the outcomes of the study be implemented in the future?
The substantive, methodological, and theoretical frameworks are generally highlighted in the discussion. The primary purpose is to analyze the significance of your findings in light of the research problem. Similarly, this section also explores new and fresh insights for future research studies.
It is likely to be connected to the introduction, research questions, and hypothesis. Thus, stick to the purpose of the research to make it easier for the audience to understand.
Research Paper Conclusion
The conclusion is a summary of the entire research study. It describes the importance and significance of your proposal.
Moreover, this section should be one to two paragraphs long that emphasizes on:
- Why should you conduct the research study?
- How will it advance the existing knowledge?
- How will it benefit other scholars?
Lastly, discuss the prospects for future implications.
A research proposal formatting must include proper citations for every source that you have used. Similarly, the referencing list should also contain full publication details.
A standard paper proposal has two kinds of citations.
- References - Only list the sources you have used in the proposal.
- Bibliography - List sources used along with other additional citations that you have studied to conduct the research.
Also, choose the specific citation formats required by the professors. It includes APA, MLA, and Chicago.
Writing the work cited list properly will increase the credibility of your work.
Research Proposal Examples
Have a look at the sample research proposal for a better understanding.
APA Research Proposal (PDF)
Research Proposal Example (PDF)
Research Proposal Sample (PDF)
Research Proposal Template (PDF)
Research Proposal on Covid 19 (PDF)
Research Proposal Topics
Below is a list of interesting and easy research proposal topics.
- How can a political system influence society?
- Discuss the difference between Fascism and Nazism.
- How can terrorism affect the economy of a state?
- What is the importance of advertising in running a business?
- Advantages and disadvantages of a testing system.
- Education is the basis for developing a child’s character.
- Role of methodology in a research paper.
- Impact of non-governmental organizations.
- How can waste management programs influence society?
- Educational technologies for higher education.
If you still need more ideas, here are some research paper topics to help you choose a good topic.
Research Proposal Writing Strategies
To write a perfect research proposal, follow the below given writing strategies:
- A research proposal should be focused with a clear sense of purpose.
- Landmark works must be cited in the literature review.
- The proposal should also lay a foundation for understanding the scope of the research study.
- It should limit the boundaries of your research (e.g., time, place, or people).
- It must inform the readers how and when the study will examine the main research problem.
- A coherent and persuasive argument should be developed for the research proposal.
- Avoid poor grammar and informal proposal writing. Instead, it must be well-written and follow the rules of good academic writing.
- The proposal should provide enough details about the major issues to support the argument.
- Minor points can also be discussed but should not dominate the overall narrative.
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