Writing a Research Proposal - Outline, Format and Examples
Do you also find writing a research paper a dreadful task?
To write a successful research paper, you need to know how to write a research proposal in a way that the thesis committee accepts and approves it.
- 1. What is a Research Proposal?
- 2. Research Proposal Outline
- 3. How to Write a Research Proposal?
- 3.1 Title
- 3.2 Abstract
- 3.3 Introduction
- 3.4 Literature Review
- 3.5 Significance of the Research
- 3.6 Research Methodology
- 3.7 Research Objectives
- 3.8 Ethical Considerations
- 3.9 Research Limitations
- 3.10 Result
- 3.11 Discussion
- 3.12 Citation
- 3.13 Proofreading
- 4. Research Proposal Example
- 5. Research Proposal Topics
1. What is a Research Proposal?
A research proposal is a concise summary of your research paper. It creates the general idea of your research by highlighting the questions and issues you are going to address in your paper.
For writing it, demonstrate the uniqueness of your research paper. This is the first draft that demonstrates your skills to conduct research.
To clarify the concept further, it is the most important document as it tells how you will successfully conduct complex research by communicating your clear and concise ideas.
1.1 Research Proposal Definition
A detailed definition is,
A research proposal is a document written with the goal of presenting and justifying your interest and need for conducting research on a particular topic. It must highlight the benefits and outcomes of the proposed study, supported by persuasive evidence.
2. Research Proposal Outline
Sometimes students don’t realize how important a research paper proposal is and just end up putting all the information together without following the basic outline or thinking this through.
To summarize its importance, if you want a successful research project, you need to write a great proposal for it.
Before starting with the outline, you need to understand the basic components. It goes without saying that a clear outline is important when it comes to presenting the literature review and writing the entire paper.
2.1 Research Proposal Template
It might seem like a dreadful task and especially for the students who are new to this. It requires good writing as well as research skills. Here is a sample template to further explain the outline.
Research Proposal Template (PDF)
Continue reading to know more about proposal writing.
2.2 Research Proposal Format
Your proposal proposal should have enough data and information to persuade and convince your readers regarding the significance of your research. Here is a basic format you can follow while writing your proposal.
- Literature Review
- Research Methodology
3. How to Write a Research Proposal
Now you have the basic outline you can follow. Let’s discuss how to write it by following the format mentioned above.
Your proposal title should be concise and clear to indicate your research question. The title is the first thing that your reader is going to read. A catchy yet informative title will attract readers.
Your readers should know what to expect in the paper after reading the title. Your title should clearly indicate the relationship between the independent and dependent variables. Avoid writing titles in a general perspective or phrases like “An investigation of …” or “A review of …” etc. Make it concise and well defined.
The abstract is a short summary that is around 100-250 words. The abstract should include the research question, hypothesis of your research (if there is any), the research methodology and findings.
If the proposal is detailed then it will require a section of the table of contents after the abstract.
You need to start with a strong introduction. The introduction is written to provide a background or context related to your research problem. It is important to frame the research question while writing the proposal.
Your entire proposal will revolve around your research question. If the research question is not specific and has a very general literature review, then your proposal might seem insignificant. A specific research question will make your research focused on.
However, there is no one way to frame your research question. Start the introduction with a general statement related to the problem area you are focusing on and the justification for your study.
The introduction usually covers the following elements.
- What is the purpose of your research or study?
- Mention the background information and significance before you introduce your research question.
- Introduce your research question in a way that its significance is highlighted by setting the stage for it.
- Briefly mention the issues that you are going to discuss and highlight in your study.
- Make sure that you identify the independent and dependent variables in the title of your study.
- If there is a hypothesis or a theory related to your research, state it in the introduction.
Have a very clear and concise idea related to your research to make sure you do not deviate from the boundaries set for your study. A clear idea will help you craft a perfect thesis. Here is how you can create a crisp and interesting thesis introduction along with a basic guideline.
3.4 Literature Review
As per the requirements of your instructor, you can incorporate the literature review in the introduction or create a separate section for the review. A separate section dedicated to the literature review will allow you to conduct extensive background research and support your research question with ample proof from credible sources and research.
The following are the basic purposes of the literature review.
- To give reference to the researchers whose study has been a part of your research.
- To help you construct a precise and clear research question.
- To critically evaluate previous literature information related to your research.
- To understand research issues relevant to the topic of your research.
- To convince the reader that your research is an important contribution to the relevant niche.
A literature review is an important component. However, there are some common mistakes that students make while reviewing the literature.
- Lack of organization and coherence.
- No proper structure.
- Lack of focus on the topic.
- Not citing the papers and researchers properly.
- Not including the recent studies relevant to the topic.
- Trivial citation
Keep your literature review organized by adding a subheading to maintain a smooth flow in the content. Reading literature review might seem boring to a few people. Try not to bore your readers and your instructor, or the committee.. Write it in an engaging manner.
3.5 Significance of the Research
The significance of your research will identify the importance of your work. It should be mainly stated in the introductory paragraph. You must highlight how your research is beneficial to the development of science and society in general. Similarly, you can also state its contribution to the field in both the broader and narrow sense.
3.6 Research Methodology
This section explains how you are going to conduct your research and the method you choose for your research question. Explain why the specific method is suitable for your research and how will it help you attain your research goals. Your research methodology will give you an organized plan for the research.
Mention sufficient information regarding your research methodology for readers to understand how you are conducting your research. It must contain enough information regarding the study for another researcher to implement it.
Choose the type of research methodology that is suitable for your research. Quantitative research is suitable for projects involving collecting and analysis of statistical data like that in social sciences, medicine, and psychology. Qualitative type is used in a theoretical type of research like that in literature. Some research involves both; if your research topic also involves an analysis of both the statistical data and theory, then make sure that you use them appropriately.
For a qualitative approach, the method section of your proposal needs to be more detailed and elaborate as compared to the one in the quantitative approach. How you will collect your data and analyze it according to the qualitative approach should be described with great care.
When you choose a quantitative approach for your research, the method section should contain answers to the following elements.
Design – Is it a laboratory experiment or a survey?
What are the sample size and the subject of your study?
What is the procedure of your study and how will you carry out the activities involved in it?
Describe your questionnaire or the instruments you will be using in the experiment.
Have detailed knowledge of all the research methodologies to justify your approach towards the research problem.
3.7 Research Objectives
Your research objectives will clearly concise what the writer is trying to achieve. Moreover, these aims and objectives must be achievable. It means that it must be framed according to the:
- Available time
- Other important resources.
However, it is beneficial to read all the developments in the field and find research gaps before deciding your objective. It will help you come up with suitable aims for your projects.
3.8 Ethical Considerations
It is an essential part of your outline. Researchers need to consider ethical values while conducting research work. Furthermore, you also have to be very careful in the data collection process and need to respect the rights of the participants.
They should not subject to harm in any way. Similarly, full consent should be obtained from them prior to the study.
Lastly, it is the moral duty of the writer to promise complete confidentiality so that they feel comfortable while sharing information.
3.9 Research Limitations
The research limitations indicate the flaws and shortcomings of your research. These may include:
- Unavailability of resources.
- Small sample size
- Wrong methodology
Listing the limitations shows your honesty and complete understanding of the topic.
You won’t be having any results of your experiment while you are writing the proposal. In this section, you can describe how you will analyze your research question; present hypothesis based on the data you have collected in the research.
Describe what will be the potential impact of your research and highlight the reasons of choosing the respective topic. Don’t exaggerate the merits of your research just to enhance the significance in the eyes of the readers.
Also, mention the limitations of your study in terms of lack of time, resources and budget; mention its scope for future study.
Don’t forget the citation section.You don’t want to get blamed for plagiarism. Always give references to the authors and the literature you have studied for your research.
There are two ways to cite your sources.
Reference – List the literature that you have used in your proposal.
Bibliography – List everything that you have studied, cited or not, while doing your study or while writing.
Follow a specific format for the citation section as instructed by your supervisor. It can be written in APA, MLA, Chicago or Harvard style. Both references and bibliography included in it.
Why Research Proposals Get Rejected?
An analysis of 500 rejected proposals allowed us to identify the common blunders made in them.
These blunders caused the rejection of otherwise promising research.
- The proposal stated a flawed hypothesis.
- The professor doubts the research will not bring new or useful results.
- The plan mentioned in the proposal lacks details and is unrealistic.
- It lacks coherence.
- The results obtained, or the hypothesis,from the chosen method will be inaccurate.
- The review of literature is not done correctly.
- Sufficient time was not devoted to writing the proposal.
- The proposal is copied or has been used by many other students in the past.
These are the common ways that result in rejection.
If you desire to make it shine, stick to your instructor’s guidelines and stay away from committing these mistakes. They will kill the purpose and effort you have put into your proposal and tarnish your reputation also.
The Perfect Strategy to Maximize Acceptance of the Research Proposal
None wants the proposal to be rejected in the first place. The acceptance gives you a head start.
Your writing style is significant in this regard; it will decide if your proposal is accepted or not.
Always proceed to establish a declarative writing format. Never use informal vocabulary or overused idioms and passive verbs. Typos, spelling mistakes and poor grammar casts a negative impact on the professor.
If you don’t have perfect grammatical skills, you can never write a brilliant piece of paper.
Many students prefer not to proofread the proposal after completion, which is a grave mistake If you proofread the paper on your own, you may fail to identify the mistakes. Use online tools or have a helping hand from your friend to give it a good read.
In the end, edit the document as per the needs.
4. Research Proposal Example
Looking for some helpful and detailed research proposal examples to get you started? Examples are great for a quick understanding of how something works or is written, in our case. The examples and samples added here will help you in formulating a functional outline for your proposal and prepare your document easily.
To clarify the concept further, here is an example following the outline mentioned above.
4.1 Research Proposal (PDF)
Here is another complete research paper proposal sample to help you write a research proposal.
You can also read our blog about research paper outline for better understanding.
4.2 Research Proposal Sample (PDF
To write your proposal in APA format, review the following APA research proposal example.
4.3 Research Proposal Example APA (PDF)
5. Research Proposal Topics
You can take ideas for your topic from books, journals, previously done researches and dissertations.
Here are a few topics you can choose from.
- How technology has evolved the English language over the last 10 years?
- What are the effects of individualism in British literature?
- How Feminism has helped women get their rights over the last decade?
- Fall of the Roman empire and its effects.
- What factors caused World War II?
- Effects of World War II on diplomacy.
- Can cultural differences affect social interactions?
- How violent video games have affected brain development among children?
- How does alcohol affect aggression among few people?
- Is death penalty effective?
If you want to know more about finding a topic for your research paper and research paper topic examples, here is a list of interesting research paper topics..
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