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How to write a research paper proposal

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Some people would argue that writing a research paper proposal is more important and in some ways more difficult than writing the actual research paper. Certainly it is possible to get your research paper proposal wrong or have it deemed unsatisfactory. If that's the case you have to start again. That being the case it is clearly important that you get the proposal right the first time. Don’t put the cart in front of the horse. It’s a simple truism. Write an excellent proposal and thus be able to write an excellent research paper. That is the best way to learn how to write a research paper proposal.

What is the purpose of a research paper proposal?

There are two basic reasons for having a student create a proposal and the first is to test the waters. The supervisor wants to know if the title and the proposal demonstrate that the student knows enough about the subject already to be able to write a research paper. In other words, how much reading have they done? It's not wise to try and bluff your way through a proposal. If there is a viva voce exam or interview regarding the proposal, any student who does not have the background in reading will be caught out in the interview.

The second reason is of course to see if the student has seriously thought about the topic. Again it is easy to provide a written proposal which at first glance seems to be okay. But when the student is asked to expand upon a point or points in their proposal, unless they have given it considerable thought again, they will be left high and dry. So you are off to discuss your proposal. You reckon you can wing it. Wrong. Your supervisor has likely discussed research paper proposals with hundreds, maybe even thousands of students. Prepare well both in the written proposal and in the answers you will give during any discussion. Certainly it will pay big dividends in the long run.

What should your research paper proposal contain?

Your job is to convince your supervisor that your proposal is the real thing. You need to convince them that your thesis statement is solid and is a statement or question which can be tackled with vigour and in great detail. A weak thesis statement is a sure fire way to flunk your proposal. The more time you spend on thinking about your thesis statement, the greater your chance of success. Think strong thesis statement and think success. When you know how to write a research paper proposal, your thesis statement will dominate.

You need to have both a theory and a practical approach to your proposal. There will be the abstract thinking, the theoretical approach and then this must be accompanied by the practical steps you will take to answer the question or prove the statement. You need both of these components and when both are on song, when the practical proposal supports the theory, you could well be on a winner.

Finally you need to be able to convince whoever is studying your proposal that you are able to complete what you aim to complete on time. The amount of time which is to be allowed for your research paper is finite. If your topic is worthwhile of itself, it still needs to be expanded and turned into a research paper by the set deadline. If you haven't got the research material and the background information to create the research paper, your proposal may very well be rejected.

Your research paper will need to be written according to your supervisor’s or college’s requirements. This could mean a research paper MLA style and here the rules are clear if detailed. Learn the rules, follow them and make your proposal a winner.

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