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How to write a research proposal

title page for a research proposal

What is a research proposal?

What is the purpose of a research proposal , how long should a research proposal be, what should be included in a research proposal, 1. the title page, 2. introduction, 3. literature review, 4. research design, 5. implications, 6. reference list, frequently asked questions about writing a research proposal, related articles.

If you’re in higher education, the term “research proposal” is something you’re likely to be familiar with. But what is it, exactly? You’ll normally come across the need to prepare a research proposal when you’re looking to secure Ph.D. funding.

When you’re trying to find someone to fund your Ph.D. research, a research proposal is essentially your “pitch.”

A research proposal is a concise and coherent summary of your proposed research.

You’ll need to set out the issues that are central to the topic area and how you intend to address them with your research. To do this, you’ll need to give the following:

  • an outline of the general area of study within which your research falls
  • an overview of how much is currently known about the topic
  • a literature review that covers the recent scholarly debate or conversation around the topic

➡️  What is a literature review? Learn more in our guide.

Essentially, you are trying to persuade your institution that you and your project are worth investing their time and money into.

It is the opportunity for you to demonstrate that you have the aptitude for this level of research by showing that you can articulate complex ideas:

It also helps you to find the right supervisor to oversee your research. When you’re writing your research proposal, you should always have this in the back of your mind.

This is the document that potential supervisors will use in determining the legitimacy of your research and, consequently, whether they will invest in you or not. It is therefore incredibly important that you spend some time on getting it right.

Tip: While there may not always be length requirements for research proposals, you should strive to cover everything you need to in a concise way.

If your research proposal is for a bachelor’s or master’s degree, it may only be a few pages long. For a Ph.D., a proposal could be a pretty long document that spans a few dozen pages.

➡️ Research proposals are similar to grant proposals. Learn how to write a grant proposal in our guide.

When you’re writing your proposal, keep in mind its purpose and why you’re writing it. It, therefore, needs to clearly explain the relevance of your research and its context with other discussions on the topic. You need to then explain what approach you will take and why it is feasible.

Generally, your structure should look something like this:

  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Research Design
  • Implications

If you follow this structure, you’ll have a comprehensive and coherent proposal that looks and feels professional, without missing out on anything important. We’ll take a deep dive into each of these areas one by one next.

The title page might vary slightly per your area of study but, as a general point, your title page should contain the following:

  • The proposed title of your project
  • Your supervisor’s name
  • The name of your institution and your particular department

Tip: Keep in mind any departmental or institutional guidelines for a research proposal title page. Also, your supervisor may ask for specific details to be added to the page.

The introduction is crucial   to your research proposal as it is your first opportunity to hook the reader in. A good introduction section will introduce your project and its relevance to the field of study.

You’ll want to use this space to demonstrate that you have carefully thought about how to present your project as interesting, original, and important research. A good place to start is by introducing the context of your research problem.

Think about answering these questions:

  • What is it you want to research and why?
  • How does this research relate to the respective field?
  • How much is already known about this area?
  • Who might find this research interesting?
  • What are the key questions you aim to answer with your research?
  • What will the findings of this project add to the topic area?

Your introduction aims to set yourself off on a great footing and illustrate to the reader that you are an expert in your field and that your project has a solid foundation in existing knowledge and theory.

The literature review section answers the question who else is talking about your proposed research topic.

You want to demonstrate that your research will contribute to conversations around the topic and that it will sit happily amongst experts in the field.

➡️ Read more about how to write a literature review .

There are lots of ways you can find relevant information for your literature review, including:

  • Research relevant academic sources such as books and journals to find similar conversations around the topic.
  • Read through abstracts and bibliographies of your academic sources to look for relevance and further additional resources without delving too deep into articles that are possibly not relevant to you.
  • Watch out for heavily-cited works . This should help you to identify authoritative work that you need to read and document.
  • Look for any research gaps , trends and patterns, common themes, debates, and contradictions.
  • Consider any seminal studies on the topic area as it is likely anticipated that you will address these in your research proposal.

This is where you get down to the real meat of your research proposal. It should be a discussion about the overall approach you plan on taking, and the practical steps you’ll follow in answering the research questions you’ve posed.

So what should you discuss here? Some of the key things you will need to discuss at this point are:

  • What form will your research take? Is it qualitative/quantitative/mixed? Will your research be primary or secondary?
  • What sources will you use? Who or what will you be studying as part of your research.
  • Document your research method. How are you practically going to carry out your research? What tools will you need? What procedures will you use?
  • Any practicality issues you foresee. Do you think there will be any obstacles to your anticipated timescale? What resources will you require in carrying out your research?

Your research design should also discuss the potential implications of your research. For example, are you looking to confirm an existing theory or develop a new one?

If you intend to create a basis for further research, you should describe this here.

It is important to explain fully what you want the outcome of your research to look like and what you want to achieve by it. This will help those reading your research proposal to decide if it’s something the field  needs  and  wants,  and ultimately whether they will support you with it.

When you reach the end of your research proposal, you’ll have to compile a list of references for everything you’ve cited above. Ideally, you should keep track of everything from the beginning. Otherwise, this could be a mammoth and pretty laborious task to do.

Consider using a reference manager like Paperpile to format and organize your citations. Paperpile allows you to organize and save your citations for later use and cite them in thousands of citation styles directly in Google Docs, Microsoft Word, or LaTeX.

Paperpile reference manager

Your project may also require you to have a timeline, depending on the budget you are requesting. If you need one, you should include it here and explain both the timeline and the budget you need, documenting what should be done at each stage of the research and how much of the budget this will use.

This is the final step, but not one to be missed. You should make sure that you edit and proofread your document so that you can be sure there are no mistakes.

A good idea is to have another person proofread the document for you so that you get a fresh pair of eyes on it. You can even have a professional proofreader do this for you.

This is an important document and you don’t want spelling or grammatical mistakes to get in the way of you and your reader.

➡️ Working on a research proposal for a thesis? Take a look at our guide on how to come up with a topic for your thesis .

A research proposal is a concise and coherent summary of your proposed research. Generally, your research proposal will have a title page, introduction, literature review section, a section about research design and explaining the implications of your research, and a reference list.

A good research proposal is concise and coherent. It has a clear purpose, clearly explains the relevance of your research and its context with other discussions on the topic. A good research proposal explains what approach you will take and why it is feasible.

You need a research proposal to persuade your institution that you and your project are worth investing their time and money into. It is your opportunity to demonstrate your aptitude for this level or research by showing that you can articulate complex ideas clearly, concisely, and critically.

A research proposal is essentially your "pitch" when you're trying to find someone to fund your PhD. It is a clear and concise summary of your proposed research. It gives an outline of the general area of study within which your research falls, it elaborates how much is currently known about the topic, and it highlights any recent debate or conversation around the topic by other academics.

The general answer is: as long as it needs to be to cover everything. The length of your research proposal depends on the requirements from the institution that you are applying to. Make sure to carefully read all the instructions given, and if this specific information is not provided, you can always ask.

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What (Exactly) Is A Research Proposal?

A simple explainer with examples + free template.

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) | Reviewed By: Dr Eunice Rautenbach | June 2020 (Updated April 2023)

Whether you’re nearing the end of your degree and your dissertation is on the horizon, or you’re planning to apply for a PhD program, chances are you’ll need to craft a convincing research proposal . If you’re on this page, you’re probably unsure exactly what the research proposal is all about. Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Overview: Research Proposal Basics

  • What a research proposal is
  • What a research proposal needs to cover
  • How to structure your research proposal
  • Example /sample proposals
  • Proposal writing FAQs
  • Key takeaways & additional resources

What is a research proposal?

Simply put, a research proposal is a structured, formal document that explains what you plan to research (your research topic), why it’s worth researching (your justification), and how  you plan to investigate it (your methodology). 

The purpose of the research proposal (its job, so to speak) is to convince  your research supervisor, committee or university that your research is  suitable  (for the requirements of the degree program) and  manageable  (given the time and resource constraints you will face). 

The most important word here is “ convince ” – in other words, your research proposal needs to  sell  your research idea (to whoever is going to approve it). If it doesn’t convince them (of its suitability and manageability), you’ll need to revise and resubmit . This will cost you valuable time, which will either delay the start of your research or eat into its time allowance (which is bad news). 

A research proposal is a  formal document that explains what you plan to research , why it's worth researching and how you'll do it.

What goes into a research proposal?

A good dissertation or thesis proposal needs to cover the “ what “, “ why ” and” how ” of the proposed study. Let’s look at each of these attributes in a little more detail:

Your proposal needs to clearly articulate your research topic . This needs to be specific and unambiguous . Your research topic should make it clear exactly what you plan to research and in what context. Here’s an example of a well-articulated research topic:

An investigation into the factors which impact female Generation Y consumer’s likelihood to promote a specific makeup brand to their peers: a British context

As you can see, this topic is extremely clear. From this one line we can see exactly:

  • What’s being investigated – factors that make people promote or advocate for a brand of a specific makeup brand
  • Who it involves – female Gen-Y consumers
  • In what context – the United Kingdom

So, make sure that your research proposal provides a detailed explanation of your research topic . If possible, also briefly outline your research aims and objectives , and perhaps even your research questions (although in some cases you’ll only develop these at a later stage). Needless to say, don’t start writing your proposal until you have a clear topic in mind , or you’ll end up waffling and your research proposal will suffer as a result of this.

Need a helping hand?

title page for a research proposal

As we touched on earlier, it’s not good enough to simply propose a research topic – you need to justify why your topic is original . In other words, what makes it  unique ? What gap in the current literature does it fill? If it’s simply a rehash of the existing research, it’s probably not going to get approval – it needs to be fresh.

But,  originality  alone is not enough. Once you’ve ticked that box, you also need to justify why your proposed topic is  important . In other words, what value will it add to the world if you achieve your research aims?

As an example, let’s look at the sample research topic we mentioned earlier (factors impacting brand advocacy). In this case, if the research could uncover relevant factors, these findings would be very useful to marketers in the cosmetics industry, and would, therefore, have commercial value . That is a clear justification for the research.

So, when you’re crafting your research proposal, remember that it’s not enough for a topic to simply be unique. It needs to be useful and value-creating – and you need to convey that value in your proposal. If you’re struggling to find a research topic that makes the cut, watch  our video covering how to find a research topic .

Free Webinar: How To Write A Research Proposal

It’s all good and well to have a great topic that’s original and valuable, but you’re not going to convince anyone to approve it without discussing the practicalities – in other words:

  • How will you actually undertake your research (i.e., your methodology)?
  • Is your research methodology appropriate given your research aims?
  • Is your approach manageable given your constraints (time, money, etc.)?

While it’s generally not expected that you’ll have a fully fleshed-out methodology at the proposal stage, you’ll likely still need to provide a high-level overview of your research methodology . Here are some important questions you’ll need to address in your research proposal:

  • Will you take a qualitative , quantitative or mixed -method approach?
  • What sampling strategy will you adopt?
  • How will you collect your data (e.g., interviews, surveys, etc)?
  • How will you analyse your data (e.g., descriptive and inferential statistics , content analysis, discourse analysis, etc, .)?
  • What potential limitations will your methodology carry?

So, be sure to give some thought to the practicalities of your research and have at least a basic methodological plan before you start writing up your proposal. If this all sounds rather intimidating, the video below provides a good introduction to research methodology and the key choices you’ll need to make.

How To Structure A Research Proposal

Now that we’ve covered the key points that need to be addressed in a proposal, you may be wondering, “ But how is a research proposal structured? “.

While the exact structure and format required for a research proposal differs from university to university, there are four “essential ingredients” that commonly make up the structure of a research proposal:

  • A rich introduction and background to the proposed research
  • An initial literature review covering the existing research
  • An overview of the proposed research methodology
  • A discussion regarding the practicalities (project plans, timelines, etc.)

In the video below, we unpack each of these four sections, step by step.

Research Proposal Examples/Samples

In the video below, we provide a detailed walkthrough of two successful research proposals (Master’s and PhD-level), as well as our popular free proposal template.

Proposal Writing FAQs

How long should a research proposal be.

This varies tremendously, depending on the university, the field of study (e.g., social sciences vs natural sciences), and the level of the degree (e.g. undergraduate, Masters or PhD) – so it’s always best to check with your university what their specific requirements are before you start planning your proposal.

As a rough guide, a formal research proposal at Masters-level often ranges between 2000-3000 words, while a PhD-level proposal can be far more detailed, ranging from 5000-8000 words. In some cases, a rough outline of the topic is all that’s needed, while in other cases, universities expect a very detailed proposal that essentially forms the first three chapters of the dissertation or thesis.

The takeaway – be sure to check with your institution before you start writing.

How do I choose a topic for my research proposal?

Finding a good research topic is a process that involves multiple steps. We cover the topic ideation process in this video post.

How do I write a literature review for my proposal?

While you typically won’t need a comprehensive literature review at the proposal stage, you still need to demonstrate that you’re familiar with the key literature and are able to synthesise it. We explain the literature review process here.

How do I create a timeline and budget for my proposal?

We explain how to craft a project plan/timeline and budget in Research Proposal Bootcamp .

Which referencing format should I use in my research proposal?

The expectations and requirements regarding formatting and referencing vary from institution to institution. Therefore, you’ll need to check this information with your university.

What common proposal writing mistakes do I need to look out for?

We’ve create a video post about some of the most common mistakes students make when writing a proposal – you can access that here . If you’re short on time, here’s a quick summary:

  • The research topic is too broad (or just poorly articulated).
  • The research aims, objectives and questions don’t align.
  • The research topic is not well justified.
  • The study has a weak theoretical foundation.
  • The research design is not well articulated well enough.
  • Poor writing and sloppy presentation.
  • Poor project planning and risk management.
  • Not following the university’s specific criteria.

Key Takeaways & Additional Resources

As you write up your research proposal, remember the all-important core purpose:  to convince . Your research proposal needs to sell your study in terms of suitability and viability. So, focus on crafting a convincing narrative to ensure a strong proposal.

At the same time, pay close attention to your university’s requirements. While we’ve covered the essentials here, every institution has its own set of expectations and it’s essential that you follow these to maximise your chances of approval.

By the way, we’ve got plenty more resources to help you fast-track your research proposal. Here are some of our most popular resources to get you started:

  • Proposal Writing 101 : A Introductory Webinar
  • Research Proposal Bootcamp : The Ultimate Online Course
  • Template : A basic template to help you craft your proposal

If you’re looking for 1-on-1 support with your research proposal, be sure to check out our private coaching service , where we hold your hand through the proposal development process (and the entire research journey), step by step.

Literature Review Course

Psst… there’s more!

This post is an extract from our bestselling Udemy Course, Research Proposal Bootcamp . If you want to work smart, you don't want to miss this .

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51 Comments

Myrna Pereira

I truly enjoyed this video, as it was eye-opening to what I have to do in the preparation of preparing a Research proposal.

I would be interested in getting some coaching.

BARAKAELI TEREVAELI

I real appreciate on your elaboration on how to develop research proposal,the video explains each steps clearly.

masebo joseph

Thank you for the video. It really assisted me and my niece. I am a PhD candidate and she is an undergraduate student. It is at times, very difficult to guide a family member but with this video, my job is done.

In view of the above, I welcome more coaching.

Zakia Ghafoor

Wonderful guidelines, thanks

Annie Malupande

This is very helpful. Would love to continue even as I prepare for starting my masters next year.

KYARIKUNDA MOREEN

Thanks for the work done, the text was helpful to me

Ahsanullah Mangal

Bundle of thanks to you for the research proposal guide it was really good and useful if it is possible please send me the sample of research proposal

Derek Jansen

You’re most welcome. We don’t have any research proposals that we can share (the students own the intellectual property), but you might find our research proposal template useful: https://gradcoach.com/research-proposal-template/

Cheruiyot Moses Kipyegon

Cheruiyot Moses Kipyegon

Thanks alot. It was an eye opener that came timely enough before my imminent proposal defense. Thanks, again

agnelius

thank you very much your lesson is very interested may God be with you

Abubakar

I am an undergraduate student (First Degree) preparing to write my project,this video and explanation had shed more light to me thanks for your efforts keep it up.

Synthia Atieno

Very useful. I am grateful.

belina nambeya

this is a very a good guidance on research proposal, for sure i have learnt something

Wonderful guidelines for writing a research proposal, I am a student of m.phil( education), this guideline is suitable for me. Thanks

You’re welcome 🙂

Marjorie

Thank you, this was so helpful.

Amitash Degan

A really great and insightful video. It opened my eyes as to how to write a research paper. I would like to receive more guidance for writing my research paper from your esteemed faculty.

Glaudia Njuguna

Thank you, great insights

Thank you, great insights, thank you so much, feeling edified

Yebirgual

Wow thank you, great insights, thanks a lot

Roseline Soetan

Thank you. This is a great insight. I am a student preparing for a PhD program. I am requested to write my Research Proposal as part of what I am required to submit before my unconditional admission. I am grateful having listened to this video which will go a long way in helping me to actually choose a topic of interest and not just any topic as well as to narrow down the topic and be specific about it. I indeed need more of this especially as am trying to choose a topic suitable for a DBA am about embarking on. Thank you once more. The video is indeed helpful.

Rebecca

Have learnt a lot just at the right time. Thank you so much.

laramato ikayo

thank you very much ,because have learn a lot things concerning research proposal and be blessed u for your time that you providing to help us

Cheruiyot M Kipyegon

Hi. For my MSc medical education research, please evaluate this topic for me: Training Needs Assessment of Faculty in Medical Training Institutions in Kericho and Bomet Counties

Rebecca

I have really learnt a lot based on research proposal and it’s formulation

Arega Berlie

Thank you. I learn much from the proposal since it is applied

Siyanda

Your effort is much appreciated – you have good articulation.

You have good articulation.

Douglas Eliaba

I do applaud your simplified method of explaining the subject matter, which indeed has broaden my understanding of the subject matter. Definitely this would enable me writing a sellable research proposal.

Weluzani

This really helping

Roswitta

Great! I liked your tutoring on how to find a research topic and how to write a research proposal. Precise and concise. Thank you very much. Will certainly share this with my students. Research made simple indeed.

Alice Kuyayama

Thank you very much. I an now assist my students effectively.

Thank you very much. I can now assist my students effectively.

Abdurahman Bayoh

I need any research proposal

Silverline

Thank you for these videos. I will need chapter by chapter assistance in writing my MSc dissertation

Nosi

Very helpfull

faith wugah

the videos are very good and straight forward

Imam

thanks so much for this wonderful presentations, i really enjoyed it to the fullest wish to learn more from you

Bernie E. Balmeo

Thank you very much. I learned a lot from your lecture.

Ishmael kwame Appiah

I really enjoy the in-depth knowledge on research proposal you have given. me. You have indeed broaden my understanding and skills. Thank you

David Mweemba

interesting session this has equipped me with knowledge as i head for exams in an hour’s time, am sure i get A++

Andrea Eccleston

This article was most informative and easy to understand. I now have a good idea of how to write my research proposal.

Thank you very much.

Georgina Ngufan

Wow, this literature is very resourceful and interesting to read. I enjoyed it and I intend reading it every now then.

Charity

Thank you for the clarity

Mondika Solomon

Thank you. Very helpful.

BLY

Thank you very much for this essential piece. I need 1o1 coaching, unfortunately, your service is not available in my country. Anyways, a very important eye-opener. I really enjoyed it. A thumb up to Gradcoach

Md Moneruszzaman Kayes

What is JAM? Please explain.

Gentiana

Thank you so much for these videos. They are extremely helpful! God bless!

azeem kakar

very very wonderful…

Koang Kuany Bol Nyot

thank you for the video but i need a written example

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How to write a successful research proposal

As the competition for PhD places is incredibly fierce, your research proposal can have a strong bearing on the success of your application - so discover how to make the best impression

What is a research proposal?

Research proposals are used to persuade potential supervisors and funders that your work is worthy of their support. These documents setting out your proposed research that will result in a Doctoral thesis are typically between 1,500 and 3,000 words in length.

Your PhD research proposal must passionately articulate what you want to research and why, convey your understanding of existing literature, and clearly define at least one research question that could lead to new or original knowledge and how you propose to answer it.

Professor Leigh Wilson, director of the graduate school at the University of Westminster, explains that while the research proposal is about work that hasn't been done yet, what prospective supervisors and funders are focusing on just as strongly is evidence of what you've done - how well you know existing literature in the area, including very recent publications and debates, and how clearly you've seen what's missing from this and so what your research can do that's new. Giving a strong sense of this background or frame for the proposed work is crucial.

'Although it's tempting to make large claims and propose research that sweeps across time and space, narrower, more focused research is much more convincing,' she adds. 'To be thorough and rigorous in the way that academic work needs to be, even something as long as a PhD thesis can only cover a fairly narrow topic. Depth not breadth is called for.'

The structure of your research proposal is therefore important to achieving this goal, yet it should still retain sufficient flexibility to comfortably accommodate any changes you need to make as your PhD progresses.

Layout and formats vary, so it's advisable to consult your potential PhD supervisor before you begin. Here's what to bear in mind when writing a research proposal.

Your provisional title should be around ten words in length, and clearly and accurately indicate your area of study and/or proposed approach. It should be catchy, informative and interesting.

The title page should also include personal information, such as your name, academic title, date of birth, nationality and contact details.

Aims and objectives

This is a short summary of your project. Your aims should be two or three broad statements that emphasise what you ultimately want to achieve, complemented by several focused, feasible and measurable objectives - the steps that you'll take to answer each of your research questions. This involves clearly and briefly outlining:

  • how your research addresses a gap in, or builds upon, existing knowledge
  • how your research links to the department that you're applying to
  • the academic, cultural, political and/or social significance of your research questions.

Literature review

This section of your PhD proposal discusses the most important theories, models and texts that surround and influence your research questions, conveying your understanding and awareness of the key issues and debates.

It should focus on the theoretical and practical knowledge gaps that your work aims to address, as this ultimately justifies and provides the motivation for your project.

Methodology

Here, you're expected to outline how you'll answer each of your research questions. A strong, well-written methodology is crucial, but especially so if your project involves extensive collection and significant analysis of primary data.

In disciplines such as humanities the research proposal methodology identifies the data collection and analytical techniques available to you, before justifying the ones you'll use in greater detail. You'll also define the population that you're intending to examine.

You should also show that you're aware of the limitations of your research, qualifying the parameters that you plan to introduce. Remember, it's more impressive to do a fantastic job of exploring a narrower topic than a decent job of exploring a wider one.

Concluding or following on from your methodology, your timetable should identify how long you'll need to complete each step - perhaps using bi-weekly or monthly timeslots. This helps the reader to evaluate the feasibility of your project and shows that you've considered how you'll go about putting the PhD proposal into practice.

Bibliography

Finally, you'll provide a list of the most significant texts, plus any attachments such as your academic CV . Demonstrate your skills in critical reflection by selecting only those resources that are most appropriate.

Final checks

Before submitting this document along with your PhD application, you'll need to ensure that you've adhered to the research proposal format. This means that:

  • every page is numbered
  • it's professional, interesting and informative
  • the research proposal has been proofread by both an experienced academic (to confirm that it conforms to academic standards) and a layman (to correct any grammatical or spelling errors)
  • it has a contents page
  • you've used a clear and easy-to-read structure, with appropriate headings.

Research proposal examples

To get a better idea of how your PhD proposal may look, some universities have provided examples of research proposals for specific subjects:

  • The Open University - Social Policy and Criminology
  • University of Sheffield - Sociological Studies
  • University of Sussex
  • University of York - Politics

Find out more

  • Explore PhD studentships .
  • For tips on writing a thesis, see 7 steps to writing a dissertation .
  • Read more about PhD study .

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How to Write a Research Proposal

Last Updated: March 20, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Christopher Taylor, PhD . Christopher Taylor is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Austin Community College in Texas. He received his PhD in English Literature and Medieval Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 779,542 times.

The exact format and requirements for a research proposal can vary slightly depending on the type of research being proposed and the specific demands of the institution you plan to submit your proposal to, but there are a few basics that are almost always needed. Overall, a good research proposal takes time to write and must identify what the proposed research will address and why the proposed research is so important. Here is a brief explanation of the sections needed to complete a standard research proposal as well as the writing timeline you should strive to follow.

Research Proposal Help

title page for a research proposal

Sections of a Proposal

Step 1 Come up with a title for your proposal.

  • For example, try a short, informative title like, “Medieval Plagues and the Movement Towards Humanism,” or “The Negative Impact of Alcohol on Liver Function.”
  • Avoid phrases like “An Investigation of…” or “A Review of the…”

Step 2 Create a title page.

  • Each sponsoring agency may specify a format for the title page. If an agency does not, apply the APA style. [2] X Research source
  • Include a "running head" in the upper left corner. The running head will appear on all pages of the document and should be a shortened version of the title.
  • Include the page number in the upper right corner. The page number should appear on all pages of the proposal.
  • Center the full title of your research proposal roughly 1/3 of the way down the page. Double space it, and immediately below the title, insert your name. Below your name, list the institution you are affiliated with and the names and affiliations of any co-investigators you’re working with. In some styles, you may include their contact information as well.

Step 3 Summarize the proposal...

  • Center the word "Abstract" at the top of the page.
  • Begin the text of your abstract directly below the word "Abstract." Do not indent the paragraph.
  • The text of you abstract will usually be between 150 and 250 words.

Step 4 List keywords that will come up in your proposal.

  • For example, if your proposal is about heart diseases, you might use phrases like circulatory system, blood, heart attack, etc.
  • Your keywords can be single words, or phrases of 2-4 words.

Step 5 Include a table of contents.

  • Brief proposals that only span a few pages do not often need a table of contents. Leaving out a table of contents is common, but depends on the type of research you’re doing and the institution you’re submitting the proposal to.
  • Especially long proposals may also need a list of illustrations, figures, or tables.
  • List all major parts and divisions of the proposal.

Step 6 Move into your introduction.

  • Restate and center the title of your paper before moving into your introduction. Include a quick note about the topic being discussed and a definition of the theory from which your proposed research will be based.
  • Write "Statement of Problem" before moving into a paragraph detailing the problem. When writing this part of the introduction, seek to answer the question: why does this research need to be conducted and what new issues does this research raise?
  • Type "Purpose of Study" before writing this section of the introduction. Identify the goal of the study in one precise terms.
  • Type "Significance of Research." In the paragraph below, answer why the area of research is important and identify the type of research or analysis proposed.

Step 7 Provide background in the introduction.

  • If desired, you can break this section into multiple subsections.
  • Under a header reading "Research Question" or "Research Hypothesis," describe the relationship between variables in the research or predict the relationship between variables. This essentially identifies the research problem.
  • Under a header reading "Definition of Terms," define the central ideas that will be utilized in the proposed research.
  • Also provide evidence supporting your competence or expertise in the field.

Step 8 Write a Literature...

  • Don’t turn this section into a list or a bland summary. Sum up existing research in a story-like manner that draws readers in while exposing the hole that your research will attempt to fill.

Step 9 Describe the proposed research.

  • This section can also be titled "Methodology."
  • Provide a complete explanation of your proposed research. Address the explanation to experts in the field rather than laymen.
  • The set up and information in this section will depend on whether your research is qualitative and quantitative. You’ll likely have subsections like "Research Design," "Instrumentation," "Data Collection and Analysis Procedures." You may include information about what you will do to protect the rights of human subjects, if necessary, under a section called "Protection of Human Rights.” Other possible subsections might include “Rigor,” “Neutrality,” “Consistency,” and “Applicability.”
  • You should also demonstrate your knowledge of alternative methods, while making the case that your approach is the most effective way to tackle your research question.
  • Be realistic about what you hope to accomplish, clear about your focus, and explicit about everything the research relies on. The description should also include a detailed schedule of the proposed work and thorough about all groundwork and materials needed.
  • Also include information about sample size and target populations, if applicable.

Step 10 Describe relevant institutional resources.

  • Identify information like the institution's past competence or contributions within the field of research, the university's supportive services, or the institution's research facilities.

Step 11 List references.

  • Note that this section is not always included, especially for shorter proposals.
  • State the expertise and responsibilities of each contributor.

Step 13 Include appendices, if necessary.

  • Each cost should include justifying information.

Writing Timeline

Step 1 Take several months to prepare your research proposal.

  • At 26 weeks, review administrative requirements for the foundations and organizations you plan to submit your proposal to. Double-check due dates and submission requirements.
  • At 23 to 25 weeks, create a one to two page preliminary statement defining your proposed research.
  • If working with an adviser or colleagues, present this short version of your proposal at 23 weeks. Use any feedback you receive to further focus your research in week 22.
  • Research the context, history, and background of your research problem at 21 weeks.
  • At 19 weeks, write a two to three page document exploring questions and possible methodological approaches.
  • Contact experts in the field at 17 weeks to learn about the feasibility and relevance of each potential methodological approach.
  • Continue your research during week 16 and refine your research question by week 14.

Step 3 Perform early administrative tasks in Phase Ib.

  • At 20 weeks, identify and contact any relevant sources of information, including experts, archives, and organizations.
  • Begin researching your budget needs by 18 weeks and your protocol process by 14 weeks.
  • Request any necessary transcripts by 13 weeks.

Step 4 Focus your writing and administration in Phase II.

  • Create a single 5-page document containing your research question, framework, and proposed research design by week 13.
  • Gather any additional data needed to complete a draft during week 12.
  • Reconnect with collaborators and organizations. Determine which will be most helpful.
  • Add the remaining details needed to complete your draft. Use the above guidelines or guidelines provided by the provider of the grant provider. Complete this between weeks 10 and 12.
  • Ask your colleagues or adviser for more feedback by the 9 week mark.
  • Revise your draft at 8 weeks. Create a tentative budget and ask advisers for letters of recommendation.

Step 5 Edit and submit your proposal during Phase II.

  • At 5 weeks, review specific requirements addressed by the application and revise your proposal to meet this requirements and incorporate adviser suggestions.
  • Give yourself a break during week 4 to let things settle.
  • Remind your adviser and other faculty about your letters of recommendation during week 3.
  • At 2 weeks, assemble your materials, review your proposal, and finalize your proposal.
  • Ask colleagues to help you copy-edit 10 days in advance.
  • Print your final copy and collect your materials 3 to 4 days in advance.
  • Submit your research proposal 2 to 3 days before the due date.

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • Include images, charts, and diagrams in your methodology section if allowed and if applicable. The resources can structure the information in an easy-to-digest format while also breaking up otherwise long, monotonous blocks of text. Thanks Helpful 5 Not Helpful 0
  • Be objective. Throughout the entire research proposal, you must strive to maintain an objective tone. Identify the importance of your research using broad academic reasons instead of narrow personal reasons. Thanks Helpful 3 Not Helpful 1

title page for a research proposal

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  • ↑ https://library.sacredheart.edu/c.php?g=29803&p=185911
  • ↑ https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/paper-format/title-page
  • ↑ https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/abstract
  • ↑ https://libguides.lvc.edu/c.php?g=333843&p=2247147
  • ↑ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5037942/
  • ↑ https://library.sacredheart.edu/c.php?g=29803&p=185916
  • ↑ https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/literaturereview
  • ↑ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3282423/
  • ↑ https://academicanswers.waldenu.edu/faq/72739

About This Article

Christopher Taylor, PhD

To write a research proposal, start by writing an introduction that includes a statement of the problem that your research is trying to solve. After you've established the problem, move into describing the purpose and significance of your research within the field. After this introduction, provide your research questions and hypotheses, if applicable. Finally, describe your proposed research and methodology followed by any institutional resources you will use, like archives or lab equipment. To learn how to construct a realistic writing timeline, keep reading. Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Business Research Methodology pp 109–121 Cite as

Research Proposal

  • Sergey K. Aityan 2  
  • First Online: 01 January 2022

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Part of the book series: Classroom Companion: Business ((CCB))

The proposal submission and approval are the final activities in the preparation for research. The goal of the research proposal is to present the prospective research proposal for review and approval. The research proposal is a structured document that describes what you plan to do in the research project and how you plan to do it. The proposal should include all the necessary information that allow the approval organization to make decision on the prospective research. As the proposal is approved, you get the green light to conduct the research.

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Aityan, S.K. (2022). Research Proposal. In: Business Research Methodology. Classroom Companion: Business. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-76857-7_7

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Assignment 1-Research Proposal

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  1. Research Proposal Title Page

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  2. 🏷️ Research title sample. How to Start a Research Title? Examples from

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COMMENTS

  1. How to Write a Research Proposal

    Example research proposal #1: "A Conceptual Framework for Scheduling Constraint Management" Example research proposal #2: "Medical Students as Mediators of Change in Tobacco Use" Title page. Like your dissertation or thesis, the proposal will usually have a title page that includes: The proposed title of your project; Your name; Your ...

  2. How To Write A Research Proposal

    Research Proposal Format. The format of a research proposal may vary depending on the specific requirements of the institution or funding agency. However, the following is a commonly used format for a research proposal: 1. Title Page: Include the title of your research proposal, your name, your affiliation or institution, and the date. 2. Abstract:

  3. Writing Your Proposal Title Page, Abstract, Introduction and Table of

    TITLE PAGE. Include here the title of the proposal, complete identification of the principal investigator(s) (PI), institutional name(s), and the address, telephone number, FAX number, and email address of the PI(s). ABSTRACT. This is a brief, clear summary of your project, usually not more than half a page.

  4. How To Write A Research Proposal (With Examples)

    Ingredient #1 - Topic/Title Header. Your research proposal's title should be your main research question in its simplest form, possibly with a sub-heading providing basic details on the specifics of the study. For example: "Compliance with equality legislation in the charity sector: a study of the 'reasonable adjustments' made in ...

  5. How to write a research proposal

    A research proposal is a concise and coherent summary of your proposed research. Generally, your research proposal will have a title page, introduction, literature review section, a section about research design and explaining the implications of your research, and a reference list. 😧 What are the characteristics of a good research proposal?

  6. How to Create an Expert Research Proposal (+Templates)

    With a wide range of templates available in Visme's library, you're sure to find a research proposal sample that fits your needs. In the Visme dashboard, click Create New>Project and scroll to the category-Proposal. Browse through the collection of templates until you find one that best fits your industry or company.

  7. PDF Research Proposal Format Example

    Research Proposal Format Example. Following is a general outline of the material that should be included in your project proposal. I. Title Page II. Introduction and Literature Review (Chapters 2 and 3) A. Identification of specific problem area (e.g., what is it, why it is important). B. Prevalence, scope of problem.

  8. Proposal Title Pages: Title, Subtitle, & Design

    An appealing title page design can set your proposal apart in a sea of competitors. You can be as creative as you'd like with your proposal cover page as long as it is professional and industry-appropriate. The design should be appealing to the audience, while also being functional by building on the proposal's theme.

  9. How to Write a Research Proposal

    Hannah Skaggs. Hannah, a writer and editor since 2017, specializes in clear and concise academic and business writing. She has mentored countless scholars and companies in writing authoritative and engaging content. Write a research proposal with purpose and accuracy. Learn about the objective, parts, and key elements of a research proposal in ...

  10. Research Proposal Example (PDF + Template)

    Detailed Walkthrough + Free Proposal Template. If you're getting started crafting your research proposal and are looking for a few examples of research proposals, you've come to the right place. In this video, we walk you through two successful (approved) research proposals, one for a Master's-level project, and one for a PhD-level ...

  11. What Is A Research Proposal? Examples + Template

    The purpose of the research proposal (its job, so to speak) is to convince your research supervisor, committee or university that your research is suitable (for the requirements of the degree program) and manageable (given the time and resource constraints you will face). The most important word here is "convince" - in other words, your ...

  12. How to Write a Research Proposal

    Example research proposal #1: 'A Conceptual Framework for Scheduling Constraint Management' Example research proposal #2: 'Medical Students as Mediators of Change in Tobacco Use' Title page. Like your dissertation or thesis, the proposal will usually have a title page that includes: The proposed title of your project; Your name; Your ...

  13. How to write a successful research proposal

    the research proposal has been proofread by both an experienced academic (to confirm that it conforms to academic standards) and a layman (to correct any grammatical or spelling errors) it has a contents page; you've used a clear and easy-to-read structure, with appropriate headings. Research proposal examples. To get a better idea of how your ...

  14. Title page setup

    Follow the guidelines described next to format each element of the student title page. Place the title three to four lines down from the top of the title page. Center it and type it in bold font. Capitalize major words of the title. Place the main title and any subtitle on separate double-spaced lines if desired.

  15. How to Write a Research Proposal in 2024: Structure, Examples & Common

    A research proposal outline's content typically varies in length, from 3 to 35 pages, with references (and appendices, if necessary). But like any academic activity, start the research proposal template writing process by first carefully reading the instructions. Make sure to clarify anything that needs clarification and only proceed once ...

  16. How To Write A Proposal

    1. Title Page: Include the title of your proposal, your name or organization's name, the date, and any other relevant information specified by the guidelines. 2. Executive Summary: Provide a concise overview of your proposal, highlighting the key points and objectives.

  17. How to Write a Research Proposal (with Pictures)

    Include the page number in the upper right corner. The page number should appear on all pages of the proposal. Center the full title of your research proposal roughly 1/3 of the way down the page. Double space it, and immediately below the title, insert your name.

  18. Research Proposal Template (Free Template for Academics)

    Depending on the length of your research proposal, you may wish to include a contents page for the proposal itself (not for your main research project: suggested contents for this are included in your Proposed Chapter Outline, section 9), as follows (add page numbers/subsections when you know them, depending on your research).As you introduce sub-sections into your different sections, number ...

  19. Research Proposal

    The title page shows the tentative title, author(s), organization, type of the proposal, and submission date. Some organizations may require some other information to be shown in the title page. A typical sample title page for the graduate research proposal is presented in Fig. 7.2. The formats of the title page may vary.

  20. PDF How to Craft a Winning Title for Your Research Proposal

    A title that stands out from others and virtually . compels . reviewers to read your application adds one more advantage to your chances of achieving a high score (if the substance of your proposal is top-notch). This significant piece of information must be a unique, relevant and . intriguing . description of your research plan — all packed ...

  21. Assignment 1-Research Proposal (docx)

    Scenario Project Proposal Template (2022) Name(s) Title Give your research topic a name that is concise and conveys your research in plain language. For example: The Future of Aging in Smart Environments: Scenarios of the US in 2050. Topic Provide a short, 1 sentence description of the topic you want to explore with scenarios. Background Provide a brief (1-2 paragraph description) introduction ...