Writing a Research Proposal – What You Should Know


A research proposal is a concise and coherent document proposing a specific research project. A research proposal is usually written in academia or sciences, which typically consists of a request for sponsorship on the research. A proposal is written to describe the idea for research and thereby to outline the process of how the project will be carried out.

A research proposal may be written to acquire a grant. It can also be written to seek approval from your institution to go ahead with particular research for your thesis. It is also good practice to outline the research you are about to embark on. You should also summarize your plan, the reason, and the resources for the research. Additionally, it will serve as a blueprint to keep your research on track when you eventually begin.

Research proposals are forms of persuasive technical writing. It is needed to persuade sponsors, project supervisors, and other stakeholders in research. Also, research proposals are usually between 1,500 to 3,000 words; they must be passionate and articulately detail the research and why you want to do the research.

Furthermore, a research proposal should be well-structured, define the question you are asking and state how the research hopes to answer it. Also, the proposal should be written with flexibility so it can be able to allow for changes needed as the project progresses.

Steps to Writing Your Research Proposal

What it takes to write a proposal

When writing your research proposal, here are the simple steps to follow to be able to write a well-crafted and appealing proposal.

  • Review the literature

When embarking on any research, it is crucial to conduct a literature review. Reviewing current literature relating to your research will help you know what to focus on and establish the hypothesis to be addressed. Literature reviews will bring you up to date on the current studies relating to your topic.

  • Create hypotheses

Having reviewed different literature relating to your study, it will give you an idea of what exactly you are trying to achieve. These ideas will serve as your hypothesis for the research, write them down, and get familiar with them.

  • Craft your methodology

After knowing your hypothesis, come up with the best research methodology that will help test your hypothesis accurately. There are diverse research methodologies. However, you must choose the best suited for the research.

  • Write an abstract

At this stage, you should already have hypotheses and a methodology. The next step is to have a good abstract. An abstract is vital in serious writing. It keeps you honest throughout writing the proposal. It is a simple statement of what your hypotheses, the methodology you have chosen, the result you intend to have, and to whom the research will benefit.

  • Outline

The next step is to know how to format your proposal. It is also a crucial step because it states how your proposal will be accepted. There are generic outlines to follow when writing a research proposal. However, some institutions or funders have their own bespoke outline that must be adhered to. This is why you must be sure of the right outline to use when writing a research proposal.

  • Write

After following all the steps that came before, you are done with the prep work. Now, it is time to write your research proposal. Writing the actual proposal is the final step to take in writing a proposal, be concise and clear in your write up. Your proposal must present your methods, limitation, and significance of the research. (Get help with copy editing your proposal!)

Outline of a Research Proposal

What is the outline?

Depending on whom you are writing the research proposal, the outline of the proposal may be slightly different, but here are the outlines required for proposal writing.

  • Title page

Your research title should be about ten words in length. It should be clear and explain your area of study. The title page should contain personal information of the author and information about whom the proposal is being submitted to. Your title page should be written in such a way that it will prick the interest of the reader. (Learn about APA style of a title page or MLA style of a title page)

  • Abstract

This is a summary of the proposal that should be clear and concise. An abstract should include the hypotheses of the research, the method, and the expected findings of the research.

  • Introduction

The introduction should provide the necessary background of the research. Also, the introduction should give information about past research, grab the attention of the reader. Also, the introduction should provide a hint on whether your research is qualitative or quantitative.

  • Statement of the problem

Your research proposal should have a statement of the problem. This should adequately describe the problem your research is hoping to solve. The statement of the problem should be clear and straight to the point.

  • Purpose of the study

This section gives the reason why the research is to be embarked upon. It should be written in a balanced, intelligent, and substantial manner.

  • Research questions and hypotheses

This section should detail the questions the research is trying to give answers to. Also, it should have the list of hypotheses to be tested in the course of the research.

  • Limitations

This section should detail the limitation s that may arise during the research.

  • Literature review

This section of the proposal helps to ensure that you are not “reinventing the wheel,” which demonstrates your knowledge of the research problem. The literature review should also indicate relating researches and the things that have been done concerning your research. Finally, your literature review should iterate the theoretical and conceptual framework to be used for the research.

  • Methodology

This section should detail the type of research methods to be used to be able to test the hypotheses and answer the research question. It should also explain the variable to be used during the research, as well as the materials to be used for the research.

  • References

This section should list all the material referenced in the proposal. It should typically follow a particular format.

In Conclusion

Writing a research proposal might look hard but have it at the back of your mind that it is just a means to an end. It is to convince your readers that your research is worth embarking on.

Following the guidelines stated in this article will help you write a convincing research proposal that will surely help get the approval or grant you are seeking.

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By Bizhan Romani

Dr. Bizhan Romani has a PhD in medical virology. When it comes to writing an article about science and research, he is one of our best writers. He is also an expert in blogging about writing styles, proofreading methods, and literature.

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