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How to Write a Research Paper Proposal in a Quality Manner

In a research proposal, you have to demonstrate that you understand the subject you are going to research, that you know what you are going to do and why. Proper layout and presentation is extremely important as your ability to follow academic guidelines will also be assessed.

Structure of Your Research Proposal

There is no universally acceptable structure of a research proposal. Requirements vary greatly across academic institutions, disciplines, courses, and even professors. Therefore, the first step to writing a quality research proposal is to find out which specific guidelines apply in your case and follow them strictly. Browse your university library or consult your instructor.

Most research proposals incorporate the following elements:

  • Introduction to your topic or subject.
  • Briefly introduce your research area. What are you going to investigate? Why is it important? Use no more than a single paragraph.

  • Thesis statement (or research goal).
  • State the main point of your paper in a single sentence. Focus on the specific question you are going to answer, or a specific assumption you want to test. It should logically flow from the broader context explained in your introduction. Never formulate your thesis statement as a question; it should be an assertion.

  • Literature review.
  • Briefly summarize the most important findings by previous researchers in your field. Discuss the ideas you are using as a basis for your investigation. Introduce your main sources (usually no more than ten) and explain their relevance. Keep a proper balance; do not rely entirely on internet sources. The sources mentioned in your research proposal should include scholarly books, academic articles, credible websites, and possibly an interview if you are going to conduct one.

  • Project outline.
  • Explain your research procedure in sufficient detail. Include the methods of data collecting, the control variables tested, and the methods of data analysis. Give rationale for your choice of these methods. Develop a timeline. You will not have to follow it exactly – just estimate the time you will need for each stage of your research.

  • Predicted findings.
  • Speculate on what you may discover as a result of your research. Your assumed findings should answer your hypothesis or research question.

Depending on your course guidelines, you may be required to include other sections as well: definition of terms, lists of graphs and charts, etc.

Other Tips

  • Be concise. Your proposal is usually not supposed to be longer than two pages. Address all relevant points as briefly as you can.
  • Do not write in the first person unless required. Refer to yourself as “the author.”
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