Research Proposal

How to Write a Research Proposal

 Writing a good research proposal could mean the difference between mediocre grades and excellent grades.  Learn how to write a solid research proposal by following these important guidelines.

Things to Keep in Mind Before Writing a Research Proposal

  •  Your research proposal needs to make an impact on the reader so that your message is put across clearly and convincingly.
  • Ensure that you are able to answer these questions in your work: What type of research project you plan to undertake, why is it important to study whatever you are planning to research, and how you will proceed with the research.

Writing a Research Proposal Introduction

Your main objective is to deliver a punch from the first line of your research proposal.  This means that the introduction should make an impact and should flow easily into the hypothesis section of the research proposal.

Writing a Research Proposal Hypothesis

 Many students find this to be the trickiest part of their research proposal.  Stick to these rules to write a good hypothesis:

  • The hypothesis should be one, catchy phrase with the express purpose of advancing your idea in your chosen field.
  • The hypothesis is essentially your proposal’s thesis and should provide a statement that can be tested and that is an idea (compared to being simply a fact).
  • Try and get a fresh take on the subject matter and think ‘outside the box’. Don’t play safe with trendy subjects.

Presenting your Ideas

Right after the hypothesis, you should provide short answers to the three questions you asked yourself in the paragraph “Things to Keep in Mind when Writing a Research Proposal”.  There is no need to elaborate beyond a few phrases – you’ll be able to do so in the paper.

Literature Review

 At this stage of the paper, you will need to essentially prove that no research has been undertaken in what you are proposing to study.  To do so, you will need to do the following:

  •  Enumerate and critically analyze a list or bibliography.
  • There is no need to review all the articles and books you mention in your bibliography.
  • Use clear, easy to understand language to get your message across.
  • Convince the reader why your research is so important in your particular field (eg. opening new research horizons, accelerating the development of knowledge in the field, etc.)

Writing the Methodology

 The methodology section of the research proposal should outline which methods will be used to answer the question. 

  •  The methods used should be divided into quantitative (eg. statistics) and qualitative (eg. questionnaires and interviews).
  • Show why you picked one or both methods.  Some proposals are only suited for quantitative or qualitative methods, while others can use a mix of both.

 Writing the Conclusion of a Research Proposal

 The conclusion section of your research proposal should be a summary of everything written above.  Remind the reader again that the hypothesis is new and the research worth being undertaken.  Your conclusion should answer the research question simply and clearly.

 Tips for Writing a Successful Research Proposal

  •  The length of your research proposal will be determined by your educational institution, but generally speaking, you should stick to no more than 1500 words.
  • Check online to see examples of a sample research proposal. There are many handy tools on the Internet that you could use to help you.  Consider buying a pre-writtten research proposal to see an entire example of how a research proposal should be written.

Helpful Links

A Guide to APA Citation

A Guide to MLA Citation

Recently published research proposals