How to Write a Research Proposal

July 19, 2022

Last Updated on July 19, 2022


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A research proposal is undeniably one of the key milestones in every student’s life. Knowing how to write a research proposal becomes an important success factor in pursuing one’s studying goals. In this article, we explore the main elements of a research proposal and give valuable pieces of advice on how to write each one of them. 

1) Research Topic

The first step to writing a research proposal is to come up with a research topic. First of all, you should think about a topic that interests you, a topic that will help you understand and contribute to a specific scientific or academic area. Besides, the topic should inspire you as an author, as inspiring topics have the power to motivate and contribute to scientific breakthroughs. 

You should not also forget that the purpose of your research proposal is to obtain research funding needed to conduct your work. Therefore, you must ensure that the proposal is compelling enough to warrant such funding.

2) The Purpose of the Research Proposal

When writing a research proposal, you should be able to clearly answer why you are undertaking this research, why it is worth investigating, and how exactly you plan to complete the project. Anyone reviewing the proposal should have no difficulties in understanding the answers to these questions. This is why it is important to write clearly, with academic language, and to convince the reader that you are knowledgeable in the topic.

3) The Title Page and the Abstract

Ideally, the title of the topic should be short. It also needs to be catchy and generate interest in the proposal. The title of the research proposal is written on the very first page, often called the Title Page, in the upper left corner. Also on the title page, you should indicate the name of the author (which is obviously you) and the academic institution (college or university name) with which they are associated. The latter information should be positioned in the center of the title page, right below the title itself.

The title page is followed by a short and clear abstract, which does not exceed a paragraph in length, and which summarizes the main ideas of the research proposal. It usually spans about 90-120 words. 

4) The Introduction

The abstract is followed by the introduction. On a high level, it is the same good introduction, which we all learn to write in our high school and college essays. The introduction provides background information on the subject of your research, demonstrates the unexplored areas of a particular subject, introduces research on a proposed topic, and, most importantly, contains a research hypothesis.

A hypothesis assumes a correlation between two or more variables and is the main aspect of a research proposal that you try to prove or disprove by conducting an experiment. In the introduction, you should also thoroughly describe why you are studying a particular topic, how you plan to implement your research (using which methods) and reaffirm the burning need to study this topic.

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5) Literature Review

After the introduction, there should be a comprehensive review of the literature used in your research proposal. The purpose of the literature review is to pay tribute to those who have already studied the subject and essentially laid the foundation for your current work. The aim of the literature review is also to present what is already known on the subject and to identify areas that could benefit from further exploration.

6) The Methodology

Further, the research proposal contains the methodology by which the research will be conducted. The methodology section should be detailed enough so that any other researcher can run (and verify) the same experiment. Verification of your research findings will be very important in the later stages.  In the Methodology section, it is also necessary to specify the means for obtaining qualitative or quantitative data that will be used in your research, what tools will be used, who the participants will be, where the research will be conducted, and how long it will take.

The research proposal should then briefly state how it will collect the results from the methodology and how this step will help prove or disprove the hypothesis.

 7) The Conclusion

Finally, a research proposal should contain a conclusion that summarizes the experiment and links the hypothesis to the research methodology and results. In conclusion, it is also a good idea to reiterate how the research findings will contribute to the chosen scientific area. We highly recommend being very specific in this matter and mentioning the importance of your hypothesis and research questions, so that the readers will have little doubt that your research will help move the science forward.

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