How to Write a Research Proposal: An Introduction

How to Write a Research Proposal

Before finding out how to write a research proposal, let’s find out what it is first. According to the most reputable academic sources, a research proposal that contains a detailed description of the proposed research with information on any prior researches and studies completed. A research proposal is usually handed in together with an application for a scholarship or research grant. The proposal serves a very distinctive topic of letting the board know that the applicant has put enough effort and time into preliminary research in their area of interest and know exactly what they can offer to the scientific community besides a generic description of a broad section of science.

There is no fixed guideline for writing a research proposal for one simple reason: over the course of the research the direction of the study can change multiple times, which makes it nearly impossible to predict the outcome of the research. However, even though the board doesn’t have an established guideline for evaluating your research proposal, the work you present should still meet a number of important criteria:

  • You have identified a relevant scientific problem
  • You can conduct the research on a realistic schedule and budget
  • You have the theoretical background and methodology required for solving the problem

Only when you are positive your research proposal can meet all three criteria, you can move on to the writing itself. Consult your instructor for specific guidelines on writing and formatting the work, as they can differ from institution to institution.



How To Write A Research Proposal: Step By Step Guide

  1. Title page. The title page of your proposal needs to include all information relevant to the research. Start by listing your name, academic title, position at the university, contact information, and date of birth. Then move on to writing the title of the work. The title needs to be brief but very effective. You need to choose your words carefully, so that every word in the title is meaningful and serves your purpose. The ideal length of the title is about 10 words or 60 characters. The title page should also include the information on where you plan to conduct your research, the assumed time frame for the process, as well as the names of your possible collaborators and supervisors.
  2. Abstract. This section of the research proposal is only one page long, but it may be one of the most crucial details of the work. Here you have to list every aspect of the research topic picked by you. One of the main objectives here is to avoid making the topic too broad.
  3. Review of research literature. The name of this chapter speaks for itself – here you need to briefly yet concisely to offer your view on the way the research topic is featured in scientific publications. Demonstrate your grasp of the theoretical basis for the research, evaluate the state of the problem in the works of other authors, and identify the main problem that you will be dealing with in your research.
  4. Preparation. In this part you need to show your prior work on the subject. List the work done by you prior to writing the research proposal and attach any relevant publications of your own to demonstrate your prolonged interest in the topic.
  5. Objective of the research proposal. Perhaps, the most crucial part of your research proposal is the one where you need to convince the board that your research proposal is viable and deserves attention. Here you need to give an outline of the academic and non-academic objectives you expect to achieve through your work. Make an emphasis on the theoretical and practical significance of the research, as well as the relevance of the topic to the modern science.
  6. Outline of the research. This part is as essential for the success of the proposal as the objective, but it covers a broader range of topics: most importantly, the research procedure and how it can fit in the given time frame, the time table for the research, the sources and evidence you plan to consult, and the scientific methods you will be using, both for the data gathering and data analysis.
  7. Timetable. You’ve touched on this part before, but now you need to present the complete timetable, preferably in a table form. Here you need to give the estimated time frame for each stage of the research – remember that the time frames can change over the course of your work.
  8. Bibliography. List academic sources you’ve previously mentioned in your research proposal, as well as sources you intend to use for your research later in the process.
  9. Attachments. Any relevant documents like your CV or references should be included in this part of the research proposal.



How To Write A Research Proposal: Writing And Editing

Here are the tips for making sure your research proposal is well-written:

  • The title, the abstract, and the complete content of your research proposal should be linked between each other and follow the same narrative.
  • Structure your work well, including headings, summaries, and bullet points to make it easier for the reader to go through the text.
  • A declarative writing style is a must for research proposals – avoid overusing passive verbs and other vocabulary that isn’t fit for scientific works.
  • Using visuals and highlighting the important parts in the text is an excellent way to make your work easily readable and visually appealing.
  • Grammatical and spelling mistakes, as well as typos, can negatively affect the outcome of even the most brilliant research proposal; if you’re not sure in your grammar skills, you can have someone proofread your work for you.
  • Letting an established academic proofread your text is a great way of making sure your research proposal conforms to the highest academic standards.

How To Write A Research Proposal: Common Rejection Reasons

After analyzing over 700 rejected research proposals, we are ready to list the most common reasons for rejecting a proposal:

  1. The board has doubts that the research will bring useful or new results.
  2. The hypothesis is not sound.
  3. The research plan presented in the proposal is too broad and lacks details.
  4. No adequate controlling plan is presented for the research.
  5. The research plan is not coherently designed.
  6. The results that can be obtained from the proposed methods are not accurate.
  7. The applicant needs to study the relevant literature more diligently.
  8. The applicants lack training for researching the proposed problem.
  9. The applicants will need to devote too much time to the duties not linked with the research.

The continuation for the research cannot be obtained as it will negatively affect the outcome of the work.