Wednesday, January 19, 2022

How to Write a Research Proposal

How to Write a Research Proposal is the most searched and asked question by students whoa re planning to apply for n different scholarships all across the world. Today we are here with a complete guideline on writing the best research proposal for your scholarship applications and for admission in different university degree programs.

What is a research proposal?

A research proposal is a concise document that is intended to outline the reason for taking the research project, thesis or dissertation, and presentation of plans for carrying out a particular project. It is an official document that depicts your objectives, expected challenges, study execution plan to achieve milestones, and it is supported with authentic scientific credentials.

The research proposal is created with the inclusion of necessary information relevant to the subject. It convinces the stakeholders, funders, and administrators that the proposed research project is worthful by focusing on the candidate’s ability to achieve the mentioned goals. The citations added in the research proposals should describe the subject qualitatively.

Purpose of Research Proposal

The key purpose of the research proposal is to get funds or approval for the thesis from the institute or stakeholders. Apart from getting funded or approval, the other purposes of the research proposal are a significant contribution to knowledge, formulation of a detailed plan of the project including methodological approach and theoretical framework, assurance of proposed research that it is achievable within the required time and with the available resources, demonstration of adequate expertise and experience to undertake the project.

In other words, your research proposal should aim to present relevancy; to convince the reader your project is interesting, original, and important, Context; to familiarize reader that you know your field very well and your ideas are based on strong academic background, Approach; you understand the requirement of all the things in methodology to conduct the research, Feasibility; your project is possible to easily carry out within the defined limit of the institute.

Content of Research proposal

When you are writing a research proposal, do consult with your supervisor. Because the content of the research proposal varies from one field to another. S, the consultation with your supervisor will let you know about the particular requirements of your chosen field.

Generally, the research proposals contain the following contents:

  • Topic Background, significance and research problem
  • Research aims and questions
  • Review of literature
  • Study/project design
  • Timeline
  • Expected outcomes/impact

Research Proposal Format

A well-written research proposal always starts with a succinct title which is self- explanatory. The introduction comes after it, gives a clear and in-depth explanation of the title with a supportive literature review to highlight the problems or challenges, objectives, and significance of the research study being mentioned in the document. Then the candidate has to describe all the aspects of the proposed research project through the sections or elements in the document. It should include the most updated scientific terms. The researcher should determine the research study design type whether it is descriptive research or explanatory research study, and write the proposal according to study type.

Research Proposal Sections

Mostly, the research proposals must include the following sections:

  • The Title
  • Abstract
  • Keywords
  • Introduction
  • Research Methodology
  • Research Plan
  • Implications
  • Conclusion

How to Write a Research Proposal Introduction Title

The title of the research proposal should be short and meaningful. It should clearly describe the research project that is going to be conducted by conveying the idea properly. According to studies conducted last year, most of the proposals get rejected due to long and unmeaningful titles. The self-contradictory titles often lead to questions that ultimately reject the project by the judiciary of institutions.

If the title is long yet meaningful, there are chances that the proposal got accepted. The proposal should be revised by the candidate once the reviewers suggest changes in the proposal. The title can be changed after the research get started to better show the research project in the title.

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Sometimes the proposal got rejected due to the ambiguity of the abstract. The abstract or executive summary is the sum of words that summarizes the whole proposal. It should be clear enough as the rest of the proposal sections. It consists of almost 300 words. But the word limit is given by the supervisor or institute.

There is no use of citations or references here. It is the readable summary that includes the key research topic, the reasons for choosing a particular topic, any hypothesis that would be adopted, and the research methodology. It is independent of the rest of the proposal sections which are inter-linked.

Keywords for Research proposal

This element is sometimes required by the institutions. Because the research proposals one got selected, they will become a part of institute databases. These keywords will help the institutes to keep the record, and keep the document in a specific category.

Normally, three to five keywords are required by the education institute. These keywords help the indexing of your document on the search engines of database websites.

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How to Write a Research Proposal Introduction

A research proposal introduction acts as the initial pitch of an idea or a thorough examination of the significance of a research problem. Your introduction should be narratively written in two to four paragraphs.

An introduction is clear enough that give a proper understanding of all the aspects of research. It should provide a framework that connects the background of the main research completed previously with a proposed research study. It should answer the following questions like What is the central research problem? What is the topic of the study related to that research problem? What methods should be used to analyze the research problem? Why is this important research, what is its significance, and why should someone reading the proposal care about the outcomes of the proposed study?

The background and significance of the proposal can become under the introduction section or their separate heading can be formed. Describe the context of your proposal by providing every detail of the research proposal. Do not write an essay about how much knowledge you have about the research project. Explain only those points which are extremely relevant in describing the purpose.

Statement of Objectives

These objectives describe the list of goals of your research project. These include both general and specific aims. Each goal should be one line long and precise. It should be more convincing and attractive so that reader can explore the proposal in depth by himself.

The objectives should be precise and clear, achievable within a specific timeframe, not too extensive in their scope, and should be quantifiable and realistic.

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How to Write a Research Proposal Literature Review

The literature review will provide sufficient background to the research problem. It helps the reader to see the proposed research study from the right perspective. It will provide the certainty of your research project whether it is done before or not. This part must include citations and references.

The structure of this section should fulfill the functions such as knowledge establishment regarding research problem, capabilities to conduct research, awareness of the present theory related to the proposed research, and persuasion of the subject prospect.

How to Write a Research Proposal Plan

This section focuses on all the details of the method or approach to carry out research. The methods are a way of reliable validation that the research can be carried out by the execution of certain processes. The number of activities done by the candidate is also mentioned in this section. The nature of the research study is also defined by certain approaches i.e., descriptive, exploratory, analytical, correlational, casual, inferential, qualitative and quantitative research techniques, etc.  The proposal writer should know the research design writing style.

The proposal review of previous research can be described by considering the “five C’s” while writing a literature review:

Cite: to keep the primary focus on the literature pertinent to the research problem.

Compare: the various arguments, theories, methodologies, and findings expressed in the literature

Contrast: the various arguments, themes, methodologies, approaches, and controversies expressed in the literature.

Critique the literature: to see the persuasive agreements and reasons, the most reliable approaches, findings, and methodologies.

Connect: the literature to the proposed area of research and investigation

Research Design

The element is the most important one, and it should be organized and well-written. The candidate has to convince the reader that the overall research design and proposed methods of analysis will correctly address the problem and that the methods will provide the means to effectively interpret the potential results. Because the reader does not have sufficient time to evaluate the methodological processes. The research design and methods are unquestionably linked with your subject study.

Describe the details of the research design by explaining the examples from the literature review. The candidate should specifically illustrate the methodological processes, data analysis techniques, and other tests that must be validated during research.

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Estimated Budget

A detailed budget must be included in the proposal to show the cost of each part of the project. The candidate should know the amount and type of cost provided by the funding institute before submitting a proposal so that chances of approval from the funding body will be increased. The budget should include:

Cost: the exact amount of money

Justification: reason to determine the amount of money to complete the research

Source: calculation of the amount

The budget can be determined by the Travel costs; if the candidate needs to go to specific locations to collect data, Materials; the need of access to any tools or technologies, Assistance: need to hire research assistants for the project, and Time; total time span to complete the research.

Research Implications

The candidate should finish the research proposal by strongly depicting the potential use of the research theory in the future. The importance of proposed research can be emphasized by contribution to the present knowledge.

 The purpose of this section is to show the reader an argument that in what ways the proposed research will refine, revise, or extend existing knowledge in the subject area under investigation.  The impact of the anticipated results of the proposed research can be described in future scholarly research, theory, practice, forms of interventions, or policymaking. This element is a kind of discussion that will lead to categorizing the significance of research in the substantive [a potential new policy], theoretical [a potential new understanding], or methodological [a potential new way of analyzing] significance. It should not comprise any idle speculation or idea. But it should reflect the gap in recent literature.


It should consist of one or two paragraphs to repeat the importance and significance of the research problem. It concludes the entire study. It may be getting optional when an abstract or executive summary is already given. But sometimes it is asked to write a conclusion separately to answer the question of why the research problem is worth investigating, and how it broadens and advances the current knowledge.

Listing of Co-workers

The second last element express the particulars of co-workers and team. Identify the number of expertise and people that are going to require in the above-mentioned project. It can include detail of every member in the order of expertise required, schedule of responsibilities of each team member, CVs of all the key team members, and written participation consent from all the mentioned research team members.

How to Write a Research Proposal References and Bibliography

The research proposal must be cited in the end like any other scholarly article. The candidate should consult the supervisor that which method of citation can be used to cite the proposal. Usually, there are two methods:

References: lists only the literature that is used or cited in the proposal.

Bibliography: lists everything used or cited in the proposal, with additional citations to any key sources relevant to understanding the research problem.

This section can be started from a new page or with the same page under the heading of references or bibliography. The cited works always use in the proper citation format like APA=education or any format suggested by the professor or supervisor.

This section can be started from a new page or with the same page under the heading of references or bibliography. The cited works always use in the proper citation format like APA=education or any format suggested by the professor or supervisor.

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Tips for Writing a Research Proposal


The aspirant must work on his skills before writing a research proposal. The applicant should work on three types of skills:

Subject knowledge and research skills: Master the subject knowledge and familiarize yourself with current research trends.

Critical thinking skills: Display evidence of advanced analysis, evaluation, and synthesis skills, as well as creativity and the ability to combine vertical and lateral thinking.

Communication skills: Improve the ability to express yourself in precise and concise language.

Steps to Define the specific area to Project study

There are four steps to think of research proposal outline:

Step 1: Choose a specific research area in the broader landscape of the discipline, and reason for its significance.

Step 2: Identify an existing or newly identified gap in knowledge that can be developed into a significant research problem.  

Step 3: You have to Build a convincing case for the proposed project as a practical way of approaching the research problem.

Step 4: Then Demonstrate that the approach to the problem is achievable within the given period of enrollment.

 Ethical Approval

If the proposed project study involves human or animal subjects, the candidate must take approval from the institute ethics committee. Fill out the required form or consult your supervisor for approval.

Word Limit

There is a word limit given by the Institute for research proposal. Usually, the word count of undergraduate and postgraduate research proposal varies. So, must check the word limit.

Stick to the word limit. Do not write only 500 words without proper structure to save time, because this short and irregular writing piece is going to ruin your whole career. Take time and learn things to make research proposal drafts. Once it is all edited and to the point, submit your research proposal.

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Article Written By:

Miss Mahpara Tabassum (Pharm-D)


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