Caleb S.
Caleb S.

An Extensive Guide on Writing a Research Proposal

12 min read

Published on: Mar 24, 2020

Last updated on: Dec 23, 2022

Research Proposal

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The first and foremost step of writing a research paper or conducting research is to write a research proposal. A research proposal helps you to organize your research plans, while it also conveys your research design and implications to your research committee.

It is very important to write an impressive research proposal if you do not want to downplay your research ideas. A bad or inaccurate research proposal may undermine your research paper entirely.

So, if you are looking for a guide to write an impressive and technically sound research proposal, then you are at the right place!

This guide on writing a research proposal has all the information that you need to know to write a good research proposal.

Let’s begin!

What is a Research Proposal?

According to the research proposal definition, a research proposal is a brief summary of your entire study or research. Proposal writing in research is a way to summarize the entire research proposal concisely. Moreover, a research proposal also explains the significance of the research being conducted.

An engaging research proposal is a reflection of the entire research and the writer’s subjectivity. It is crucial because it sets the first impression of your research on your designated committee.

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Purpose of Writing a Research Proposal

The main reasons for writing a research proposal or the purposes that it serves are as follows:

  • Important to get funding for your research, especially for academic researchers.
  • A research proposal assists academic researchers in getting their thesis and dissertations approved.
  • The research proposal also highlights the significance of your research.
  • It depicts the in-depth understanding of the writer about their respective field of study.
  • It helps the writer to develop and polish their critical thinking skills. Some writers even get new ideas while writing their proposals.
  • Helps the researcher to finalize the logical steps required to complete the proposed research.
  • A technical research proposal identifies the data analysis methods required to address the research problem.

How Long is a Research Proposal?

There is no fixed length of a research proposal. It varies according to the institutional requirements, academic level, and field of study.

A Bachelor’s research proposal is only a few pages long. However, a research proposal is written for a Master’s thesis, or a Ph.D. dissertation is relatively long. They are long and detailed due to the complexity of the research.

Questions Addressed by a Research Proposal

All research proposals are supposed to address some common queries about your research. It doesn’t matter which academic level or field you belong to. Your research proposal should answer the following questions:

What are You Planning to Accomplish?

You need to inform the reader about the research problem being addressed through your research. You need to tell what you plan to achieve and what are your expected outcomes. However, while explaining this, be clear and concise. Don’t elaborate excessively at this stage.

Why Do You Want to Conduct Research work?

After you inform the reader about the research problem that you are going to address, you then need to tell its significance. You need to explain to the reader why this research problem is research worthy.

For this, you can tell how your research will contribute to society in general or to your field of study, in particular.

How Will You Accomplish It?

Lastly, you need to tell how you are going to materialize your research plans. This means you briefly need to elucidate your research methodology and design. Through this, the readers will understand that your research plans are actually applicable and doable.

How to Write a Research Proposal? Steps and Structure

“How to make a research proposal?”

In order to write a research proposal, you have to follow a standard format. You need to make a research paper outline accordingly. The contents of a research proposal might vary slightly according to the academic disciplines. However, a general structure has the following elements of the research proposal.

“What are the main sections of a research proposal?”

1. Title Page

The first section of a research proposal is its title page. A title page should have the following information:

      • Research title
      • Researcher’s name
      • Supervisor’s name
      • Institution name and logo
      • Department name

2. Abstract

An abstract in a research proposal is a short summary of your research paper. An abstract should be such that the reader is able to get a thorough idea of your research by only reading the abstract, even if they don’t read the whole paper.

The ideal length of an abstract is 250-300 words. However, you can customize the length according to the research proposal components. But, do not make the abstract excessively lengthy.

3. Introduction

“How to write an introduction in a research proposal?”

The introduction section is written to introduce your research topic. It also acts as an attention grabber and hooks your reader to your research paper. An apt introduction should have the following elements:

      • Topic introduction
      • Explanation of the main research problem
      • Brief background of the topic
      • A highlight of the methods employed for the research

4. Aims and Objectives

The aims and objectives can also be simply called the research purpose. As the name indicates, it highlights a specific outcome of the research that the researcher aims to achieve.

Examples of Research Objectives in a Research Proposal

  • Objective: Describe the factors taken into account by the farmers when they decide whether they should adopt modern technologies for farming or not. Also, to decide which groups should be preferred for cultivation.
  • Objective: Developing a budget for pollution reduction for a particular enterprise.
  • Objective: Describing the habitat and survival conditions of the Gian Panda in China.

The research objective can also be the hypothesis that is being tested. Similarly, the problem statement that is presented in the research can also be called the chief objective of the research.

Example of Problem Statement in Research Proposal

“After exercising, the human body is depleted of hydration and electrolytes from sweating. (Context)

The person then needs to decide how best to rehydrate the body and replenish the lost electrolytes. (Issue)

Not all beverages are equally beneficial after exercise. The coach must decide what drink to offer volleyball players during a game or practice. (Relevance)

In this experiment, we will investigate the electrolyte content found in standard sports drinks compared to what is found in plain coconut water. (Objective)”

5. Background and significance

This is the section where you explain the context of your research proposal. You need to persuade the reader why your research is important and should be conducted.

While writing this section, you should assume that you know about your research problem more than the readers and try to inform them about it.

Here are a few strategies that can be applied to describe the background and significance:

      • Justify your problem statement and explain its dimensions.
      • Explain the rationale and usability of your research in your field of study.
      • Highlight the significant issues that could be addressed if you conduct the research that you are planning to do.
      • Clearly write about the boundaries of your research aims and objectives. This develops a clear focus of your research, and it is easy for the reader to know what you are exactly planning to do and why.
      • You can also provide definitions of the key terms and concepts.

6. Literature review

The review or analysis of the existing literature on your research topic of hypothesis is very vital. It will help you develop a sense of the gravity of the issue being addressed. It will also give you new ideas about what you can do within your research.

By conducting a literature review, you will be able to identify the research gap. It means you will get to know the areas that have been addressed by other researchers and those that have been missed.

You need to then tell how these research gaps will be addressed through your research.

A good literature review can be written b using the 5C strategy:

      • Cite: Add relevant research material in your literature review from other journals, articles, books, etc. and cite them properly.
      • Compare: Compare the arguments, theories, methodologies, and findings of other researchers with yours.
      • Contrast: Similarly, you need to describe the differences between your theories, methodologies, and findings and the others’. This will signify your research even more.
      • Critique the Literature: You need to identify the research gap left in the field by the previous researchers. However, be careful that you have to identify the gap and not criticize another’s work.
      • Connect: Try to connect the existing literature with your own research. This will tell the readers how your research plays a role in the relevant field of study.

7. Research Design and Methods

“How to write a methodology in a research proposal?”

In this section, you need to elaborate on your methodology and the steps that you will take to conduct the research. You also need to tell how your methodology will address the proposed hypothesis or research question.

While writing the methodology, don’t only write the steps or mention the name of the methods. Instead, also explain how the specific methodology is practically the best to conduct the said research.

Also, try to keep a narrow focus while writing the methodology. Don’t use too many methods or dive into each and every detail, as that may confuse the reader.

Research Type

Qualitative or quantitative research?

Primary or secondary sources?

Descriptive, correlational, and experimental research design?


Method of collection of sources (case studies, random, sampling, etc.?)

Place of collection of the data?

Time of collection of data?

Research Methods

Procedures used to analyze the data? (surveys, observations, interviews, experiments)

Tools used to collect data?


Time required for data collection?

Modes of access to the participants and sources?

Challenges and obstacles in data collection and how they are addressed?

8. Preliminary Suppositions and Implications

Though you are writing the research proposal before conducting the actual research, and you haven’t got the results, you still need to analyze their implications.

Here you basically need to tell the implications of your research. You can do this by telling how your research will refine, revise, or extend existing knowledge in the field of your study.

You can anticipate the results according to the aims and objectives of your research. You can also do this by using scholarly research, theory, and some forms of interventions.

9. Ethical Considerations

Some specific researchers, more than others, are required to get a certificate of ethical considerations before conducting the research. This is because their research and data collecting requires dealing with living organisms who have rights.

This is mostly applicable to the medical sciences or humanities. So, you need to present your research design to an ethical committee. Then you will get ethical approval from the committee. You then need to mention in your proposal that you have acquired the ethical approval to conduct the research.

10. Conclusion

Your entire research plan is summarized in the conclusion sections. But, make sure not to elongate the conclusion unnecessarily. The ideal length of a conclusion is one to two paragraphs.

Here you need to reiterate the following information about your research:

      • Reason for conducting the research
      • Purpose of research, hypothesis, or the problem statement
      • Reasons for choosing the research methodology that is being used
      • Predicted implications of the research
      • Significance of the research

11. Citations

Like any other scholarly study, you need to mention the sources that you have used to conduct the research and write the proposal. Usually, a research proposal’s citations can take the following two forms:

      • References: Cites the literature that you actually used in the proposal
      • Bibliography: Cites the actual literature used in the paper and also additional sources that can be used to understand the research problem or other components of the study.

There are various citation styles that can be used. These include MLA, APA, Harvard, Chicago, Oxford, etc. You can choose a citation style based on the academic guidelines, institutional requirements, or your field of study.

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Common Mistakes to Avoid While Writing a Research Proposal

  • Being Excessively Elaborate: A research proposal is a shorter version of the research paper, so it should be concise. If it is excessively elaborate, then it loses its purpose.
  • Improper or Insufficient Citations: It is considered plagiarism and a serious academic offense if you do not cite your sources properly. It is important to cite all the relevant sources.
  • Not Addressing Contextual Boundaries: You need to be clear and concise while writing a research proposal. You need to define the boundaries of your research so that the focus of the research is evident. If you become too broad in your approach, it will get confusing.
  • Failing to Develop an Argument for the Proposed Research: Your research proposal should convince the reader or the research committee that your research should be conducted. It should argue in favor of the significance of your research.
  • Improper or Incorrect Grammar and Vocabulary: Writing incorrect grammar or using the wrong vocabulary can set a wrong impression on your reader. It makes them question your abilities and skills. So, make sure you proofread your proposal after writing it and omit such mistakes.
  • Emphasis on Minor Issues Rather than Major Details: Avoid writing a very detailed explanation of the minor information. Instead, try to highlight the major outcomes of the research.

How to Write a Research Proposal Example?

Below are some research proposal examples for students that can help you get an idea of how a research proposal is written and what is a proper research proposal format.

You might be looking for free research proposal samples pdf as an undergraduate as this is your first time writing it. Here is an example to help you out.

Research Proposal Topics

Here are some research proposal topics for your help:

  • Does the political system influence society?
  • Elucidate the difference between Fascism and Nazism.
  • Describe the effects of Terrorism on the State’s economy
  • What is the significance of advertisement for establishing a business?
  • Pros and cons of a testing system
  • Education is the basis of forming a child’s character
  • The function of methodology in a research paper
  • Role and importance of non-governmental organizations in the current era
  • Influence of the waste management programs on our society
  • Educational technologies that are apt for higher education and e-learning

You can also find other research paper topics by visiting this blog.

So, if you are at the last stage of your graduation and have a pending research project, gear up to write a research proposal.

Use this guide and the above examples to write an impressive research proposal!

However, if you find it to be a tedious task, then you can take help from EssayWriter.college. We have highly-qualified subject matter experts who have their own published papers as well. So rest assured, they can write a well-articulated impressive research proposal for you.

Place an order, and get your research proposal within your deadline.

Caleb S.


Caleb S. (Marketing, Literature)

Helping students achieve their academic dreams is what brings Caleb S. the most fulfillment. With his Master's degree from Oxford University, Caleb has plenty of experience with writing that he can utilize to benefit those who seek his help. Prioritizing his client's needs, he always goes above and beyond to provide top-notch service.

Helping students achieve their academic dreams is what brings Caleb S. the most fulfillment. With his Master's degree from Oxford University, Caleb has plenty of experience with writing that he can utilize to benefit those who seek his help. Prioritizing his client's needs, he always goes above and beyond to provide top-notch service.

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