How to write a research proposal

When students are willing to know how to write a research proposal, they should always start with task’s definition. The main aim of a research proposal is to explain relevance of the problem and justify its analysis. This assignment should also contain information on methodology you are planning to use throughout the research.

Guidelines on how to complete such a task are quite different depending on the field and academic level, so you need to ask your professor for requirements to complete the task properly.

A typical research proposal format consist of the following elements:

  • Introduction, where you identify the topic;
  • Literature review, which justifies that you have necessary experience on the subject;
  • Used methodology;
  • Geographical or historical borders of the research;
  • Subjects of the research if any;
  • Explanation of how your research will contribute to the field and to the future researches.

It doesn’t matter whether you are going to write your assignment on your own or use a research proposal sample, there are most widespread mistakes you need to avoid:

  • Having no purpose. It is not an essay or a review, so you need to remain concise, focusing on the main goal;
  • Absence of citing. Every quote, data or statistics should be properly cited;
  • Lack of details on important issues and too much of them on minor ones;
  • Weak lexis and grammar. You should always sound professional, so don’t forget to proofread your proposal thoroughly;
  • Poor argument. It should persuade the reader and make him want to learn more.

Examples of research proposal

Using a research proposal example is quite a typical practice for most of the students, as it helps them to save time and get a better understanding of the assignment.

A sample research proposal helps scholars to get familiar with the paper’s structure, its key elements and size. You can download an example and tailor it according to your own requirements, which will greatly save your nerves and eliminate a necessity of asking other students for help.

Research Proposal Template

Writing a research proposal is all about strict rules and guidelines, so you need to keep in mind all the elements your proposal needs to contain. They include:

  • Title. Try to make it remarkable but don’t worry if you still have no ideas, as you can revise it along the way;
  • Abstract. In several sentences try to explain what the main question of your research is;
  • Context of the research. Add some information on the matter’s background and how your research may change the current situation. This will allow you to show knowledge of the topic;
  • Questions of the research. Remember that your proposal should contain the main questions and goals of the future research, so you need to take your time and write down the main questions you are planning to answer. Many students get distracted on side topics, so having a list of key questions is a great way to stick to the point. It is especially important for PhD or MPhil degrees. If you have too many questions you’d like to answer, try to rank them in accordance to priority. Mark two main issues and concentrate on them, giving additional information on less important questions along the way;
  • Methodology. In this section you need to explain what tools and instruments you are going to use in your research. These may be study materials from libraries, surveys and interviews, and so on. Make sure every source and instrument is reliable and credible, providing relevant links;
  • Research importance. You need to demonstrate that your research is original and can be valuable for the field. There is no point in writing about the things, which were discussed a thousand times before you. Give your reasons why the topic is actual at the moment;
  • Bibliography. Provide a brief list of sources, which are the most important for your study.

Now you know how to write a proposal for a research paper and can make it remarkable, helping your audience to decide whether they want to read the whole research.


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In case you still don’t know whether you can cope with the assignment, you can always download a research proposal template and familiarize with every element of the task.