How to Write a Research Proposal

So your professor has assigned the class research proposals. What the heck is a research proposal? Is it the same as a research paper? Both good questions. Research proposals and research papers are indeed different types of writing. While proposals can occur in any discipline, they are most commonly associated with the sciences such as biology and chemistry as well as social sciences such as sociology and psychology. This type of writing is most typically assigned during graduate-level studies. Essentially, research proposals are a thorough outline of how you plan to research a particular topic. It provides specific insight into the problem, what research methods you will use to gather data, and ultimately, how you will interpret the results of the data. While often not as long as a research paper, writing a proposal may take several pages. Typically, a research proposal is around 2,000 words. This writing provides very specific details; since proposals are often reviewed and approved or denied by a group of faculty members, the more details included increases the student’s chance of the proposal being accepted.

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Research Proposal Template – Follow It For A Reason

Different faculty committees will likely provide their preferred research proposal template. However, if they don’t, a standard research proposal template can be found below. Remember: it’s always a good idea to ask questions about required elements before you get started; doing so will make the writing process much, much easier to organize. Note that all the research proposal examples that can be found on our website follow the stated structure. Here’s a sample research proposal template:

  • Introduction
    Like most research assignments, it should begin with an Introduction. This page-long section introduces the topic area, a well-worded research question, and why answering this question is important to the discipline and the world in general.
  • Literature Review
    The purpose of this section is to investigate relevant research regarding the selected topic. This ensures that the student isn’t recreating experiments or conducting research that has already been done. It additionally provides the student with comparisons so that his or her data can be understood with the context of the discipline. This section should contain a summary of key findings relating to the student’s research proposal as well as the unanswered questions surrounding the subject and its implications to the discipline.
  • Methodology
    This section focuses on detailing how the student plans to conduct research. At a minimum, this section should include the approach, data needs, analytic techniques, and data interpretation method(s).
  • Expected Results
    In this paragraph, the writer explores what he or she expects the research to uncover based on similar research and information from the literature review section. This section communicates a well-stated hypothesis based on current, available information.
  • Budget
    The committee reviewing all research proposals will want to know the planned budget for the project. This section should be very specific and account for everything from photocopying costs for surveys to any disposable lab equipment that will need to be purchased. Really sit down and think through what the research project will need start to finish—the more thought and accountability this section communicates, the more likely the reviewers will be to approve the research proposal.
  • Bibliography
    This section lists all resources used to investigate and form the research proposal. It should be formatted according to whatever citation method the discipline prefers: MLA, APA, Chicago, or another. For research proposals, the Bibliography page is typically one page, but may be longer.
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Research Proposal Example – Things To Keep An Eye On

Does writing a research proposal seem daunting? Wondering how to start a research paper? It can be, especially if this is the first time you’ve ever written one. Have no fear! Finding help for a research proposal format online is simple. A quick online search will yield a ton of papers that are stated to be a research proposal example, but you need to critically evaluate if all standards were followed before considering to use it. These examples offer an excellent springboard to help you navigate this type of writing. Still not sure about how to write a research proposal outline?

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It’s crucial to begin academic writing assignments such as research proposal with an outline. These outlines provide a way to not only brainstorm your approach to the topic but also to organize all your notes once you have them. The first outline should focus on how you plan to unveil your argument regarding the research idea being explored in the paper. Then, once you’ve read current literature and reviewed relevant research, it’s time to create a detailed sentence outline organizing the notes from the weakest argument to the strongest argument. Outlines are an amazing writing tool which students should use to help present the most logical, concise argument possible. Begin this assignment early; avoid waiting until the last possible minute. Ensuring that you have enough time to create a research proposal outline will drastically improve your chances of earning the grade you want on any academically challenging writing assignment.

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Research Proposal Format

Once you’ve finished the research proposal outline and fleshed it out, it’s time to format everything. Formatting your research proposal takes a keen eye to detail. Make sure you know the margin width and font expected from your professor. Should this assignment be double or single spaced? Should headings be bolded or regular? In addition, a key research proposal format element includes literature citations. You’ll need to know which method the professor expects to see. Finally, check to ensure that the writing assignment meets the minimum (or maximum) page requirements. Some professors may additionally require a title page, which should include the title of the research proposal, your name, the date and time of the class, and the professor’s name. While these are all common research proposal format aspects, it’s important that you read any provided guidelines, samples, or rubrics carefully to ensure that you’re meeting the professor’s expectations in every way. Avoid procrastination—leave ample time at the end to check and double check not only the content within the completed research proposal but its final presentation as well.

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