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  • How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

Published on October 12, 2022 by Shona McCombes and Tegan George. Revised on November 21, 2023.

Structure of a research proposal

A research proposal describes what you will investigate, why it’s important, and how you will conduct your research.

The format of a research proposal varies between fields, but most proposals will contain at least these elements:

Introduction

Literature review.

  • Research design

Reference list

While the sections may vary, the overall objective is always the same. A research proposal serves as a blueprint and guide for your research plan, helping you get organized and feel confident in the path forward you choose to take.

Table of contents

Research proposal purpose, research proposal examples, research design and methods, contribution to knowledge, research schedule, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about research proposals.

Academics often have to write research proposals to get funding for their projects. As a student, you might have to write a research proposal as part of a grad school application , or prior to starting your thesis or dissertation .

In addition to helping you figure out what your research can look like, a proposal can also serve to demonstrate why your project is worth pursuing to a funder, educational institution, or supervisor.

Research proposal length

The length of a research proposal can vary quite a bit. A bachelor’s or master’s thesis proposal can be just a few pages, while proposals for PhD dissertations or research funding are usually much longer and more detailed. Your supervisor can help you determine the best length for your work.

One trick to get started is to think of your proposal’s structure as a shorter version of your thesis or dissertation , only without the results , conclusion and discussion sections.

Download our research proposal template

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Writing a research proposal can be quite challenging, but a good starting point could be to look at some examples. We’ve included a few for you below.

  • Example research proposal #1: “A Conceptual Framework for Scheduling Constraint Management”
  • Example research proposal #2: “Medical Students as Mediators of Change in Tobacco Use”

Like your dissertation or thesis, the proposal will usually have a title page that includes:

  • The proposed title of your project
  • Your supervisor’s name
  • Your institution and department

The first part of your proposal is the initial pitch for your project. Make sure it succinctly explains what you want to do and why.

Your introduction should:

  • Introduce your topic
  • Give necessary background and context
  • Outline your  problem statement  and research questions

To guide your introduction , include information about:

  • Who could have an interest in the topic (e.g., scientists, policymakers)
  • How much is already known about the topic
  • What is missing from this current knowledge
  • What new insights your research will contribute
  • Why you believe this research is worth doing

As you get started, it’s important to demonstrate that you’re familiar with the most important research on your topic. A strong literature review  shows your reader that your project has a solid foundation in existing knowledge or theory. It also shows that you’re not simply repeating what other people have already done or said, but rather using existing research as a jumping-off point for your own.

In this section, share exactly how your project will contribute to ongoing conversations in the field by:

  • Comparing and contrasting the main theories, methods, and debates
  • Examining the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches
  • Explaining how will you build on, challenge, or synthesize prior scholarship

Following the literature review, restate your main  objectives . This brings the focus back to your own project. Next, your research design or methodology section will describe your overall approach, and the practical steps you will take to answer your research questions.

To finish your proposal on a strong note, explore the potential implications of your research for your field. Emphasize again what you aim to contribute and why it matters.

For example, your results might have implications for:

  • Improving best practices
  • Informing policymaking decisions
  • Strengthening a theory or model
  • Challenging popular or scientific beliefs
  • Creating a basis for future research

Last but not least, your research proposal must include correct citations for every source you have used, compiled in a reference list . To create citations quickly and easily, you can use our free APA citation generator .

Some institutions or funders require a detailed timeline of the project, asking you to forecast what you will do at each stage and how long it may take. While not always required, be sure to check the requirements of your project.

Here’s an example schedule to help you get started. You can also download a template at the button below.

Download our research schedule template

If you are applying for research funding, chances are you will have to include a detailed budget. This shows your estimates of how much each part of your project will cost.

Make sure to check what type of costs the funding body will agree to cover. For each item, include:

  • Cost : exactly how much money do you need?
  • Justification : why is this cost necessary to complete the research?
  • Source : how did you calculate the amount?

To determine your budget, think about:

  • Travel costs : do you need to go somewhere to collect your data? How will you get there, and how much time will you need? What will you do there (e.g., interviews, archival research)?
  • Materials : do you need access to any tools or technologies?
  • Help : do you need to hire any research assistants for the project? What will they do, and how much will you pay them?

If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

Methodology

  • Sampling methods
  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility

 Statistics

  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

Once you’ve decided on your research objectives , you need to explain them in your paper, at the end of your problem statement .

Keep your research objectives clear and concise, and use appropriate verbs to accurately convey the work that you will carry out for each one.

I will compare …

A research aim is a broad statement indicating the general purpose of your research project. It should appear in your introduction at the end of your problem statement , before your research objectives.

Research objectives are more specific than your research aim. They indicate the specific ways you’ll address the overarching aim.

A PhD, which is short for philosophiae doctor (doctor of philosophy in Latin), is the highest university degree that can be obtained. In a PhD, students spend 3–5 years writing a dissertation , which aims to make a significant, original contribution to current knowledge.

A PhD is intended to prepare students for a career as a researcher, whether that be in academia, the public sector, or the private sector.

A master’s is a 1- or 2-year graduate degree that can prepare you for a variety of careers.

All master’s involve graduate-level coursework. Some are research-intensive and intend to prepare students for further study in a PhD; these usually require their students to write a master’s thesis . Others focus on professional training for a specific career.

Critical thinking refers to the ability to evaluate information and to be aware of biases or assumptions, including your own.

Like information literacy , it involves evaluating arguments, identifying and solving problems in an objective and systematic way, and clearly communicating your ideas.

The best way to remember the difference between a research plan and a research proposal is that they have fundamentally different audiences. A research plan helps you, the researcher, organize your thoughts. On the other hand, a dissertation proposal or research proposal aims to convince others (e.g., a supervisor, a funding body, or a dissertation committee) that your research topic is relevant and worthy of being conducted.

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What (Exactly) Is A Research Proposal?

A simple explainer with examples + free template.

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) | Reviewed By: Dr Eunice Rautenbach | June 2020 (Updated April 2023)

Whether you’re nearing the end of your degree and your dissertation is on the horizon, or you’re planning to apply for a PhD program, chances are you’ll need to craft a convincing research proposal . If you’re on this page, you’re probably unsure exactly what the research proposal is all about. Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Overview: Research Proposal Basics

  • What a research proposal is
  • What a research proposal needs to cover
  • How to structure your research proposal
  • Example /sample proposals
  • Proposal writing FAQs
  • Key takeaways & additional resources

What is a research proposal?

Simply put, a research proposal is a structured, formal document that explains what you plan to research (your research topic), why it’s worth researching (your justification), and how  you plan to investigate it (your methodology). 

The purpose of the research proposal (its job, so to speak) is to convince  your research supervisor, committee or university that your research is  suitable  (for the requirements of the degree program) and  manageable  (given the time and resource constraints you will face). 

The most important word here is “ convince ” – in other words, your research proposal needs to  sell  your research idea (to whoever is going to approve it). If it doesn’t convince them (of its suitability and manageability), you’ll need to revise and resubmit . This will cost you valuable time, which will either delay the start of your research or eat into its time allowance (which is bad news). 

A research proposal is a  formal document that explains what you plan to research , why it's worth researching and how you'll do it.

What goes into a research proposal?

A good dissertation or thesis proposal needs to cover the “ what “, “ why ” and” how ” of the proposed study. Let’s look at each of these attributes in a little more detail:

Your proposal needs to clearly articulate your research topic . This needs to be specific and unambiguous . Your research topic should make it clear exactly what you plan to research and in what context. Here’s an example of a well-articulated research topic:

An investigation into the factors which impact female Generation Y consumer’s likelihood to promote a specific makeup brand to their peers: a British context

As you can see, this topic is extremely clear. From this one line we can see exactly:

  • What’s being investigated – factors that make people promote or advocate for a brand of a specific makeup brand
  • Who it involves – female Gen-Y consumers
  • In what context – the United Kingdom

So, make sure that your research proposal provides a detailed explanation of your research topic . If possible, also briefly outline your research aims and objectives , and perhaps even your research questions (although in some cases you’ll only develop these at a later stage). Needless to say, don’t start writing your proposal until you have a clear topic in mind , or you’ll end up waffling and your research proposal will suffer as a result of this.

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what is research proposal and its contents

As we touched on earlier, it’s not good enough to simply propose a research topic – you need to justify why your topic is original . In other words, what makes it  unique ? What gap in the current literature does it fill? If it’s simply a rehash of the existing research, it’s probably not going to get approval – it needs to be fresh.

But,  originality  alone is not enough. Once you’ve ticked that box, you also need to justify why your proposed topic is  important . In other words, what value will it add to the world if you achieve your research aims?

As an example, let’s look at the sample research topic we mentioned earlier (factors impacting brand advocacy). In this case, if the research could uncover relevant factors, these findings would be very useful to marketers in the cosmetics industry, and would, therefore, have commercial value . That is a clear justification for the research.

So, when you’re crafting your research proposal, remember that it’s not enough for a topic to simply be unique. It needs to be useful and value-creating – and you need to convey that value in your proposal. If you’re struggling to find a research topic that makes the cut, watch  our video covering how to find a research topic .

Free Webinar: How To Write A Research Proposal

It’s all good and well to have a great topic that’s original and valuable, but you’re not going to convince anyone to approve it without discussing the practicalities – in other words:

  • How will you actually undertake your research (i.e., your methodology)?
  • Is your research methodology appropriate given your research aims?
  • Is your approach manageable given your constraints (time, money, etc.)?

While it’s generally not expected that you’ll have a fully fleshed-out methodology at the proposal stage, you’ll likely still need to provide a high-level overview of your research methodology . Here are some important questions you’ll need to address in your research proposal:

  • Will you take a qualitative , quantitative or mixed -method approach?
  • What sampling strategy will you adopt?
  • How will you collect your data (e.g., interviews, surveys, etc)?
  • How will you analyse your data (e.g., descriptive and inferential statistics , content analysis, discourse analysis, etc, .)?
  • What potential limitations will your methodology carry?

So, be sure to give some thought to the practicalities of your research and have at least a basic methodological plan before you start writing up your proposal. If this all sounds rather intimidating, the video below provides a good introduction to research methodology and the key choices you’ll need to make.

How To Structure A Research Proposal

Now that we’ve covered the key points that need to be addressed in a proposal, you may be wondering, “ But how is a research proposal structured? “.

While the exact structure and format required for a research proposal differs from university to university, there are four “essential ingredients” that commonly make up the structure of a research proposal:

  • A rich introduction and background to the proposed research
  • An initial literature review covering the existing research
  • An overview of the proposed research methodology
  • A discussion regarding the practicalities (project plans, timelines, etc.)

In the video below, we unpack each of these four sections, step by step.

Research Proposal Examples/Samples

In the video below, we provide a detailed walkthrough of two successful research proposals (Master’s and PhD-level), as well as our popular free proposal template.

Proposal Writing FAQs

How long should a research proposal be.

This varies tremendously, depending on the university, the field of study (e.g., social sciences vs natural sciences), and the level of the degree (e.g. undergraduate, Masters or PhD) – so it’s always best to check with your university what their specific requirements are before you start planning your proposal.

As a rough guide, a formal research proposal at Masters-level often ranges between 2000-3000 words, while a PhD-level proposal can be far more detailed, ranging from 5000-8000 words. In some cases, a rough outline of the topic is all that’s needed, while in other cases, universities expect a very detailed proposal that essentially forms the first three chapters of the dissertation or thesis.

The takeaway – be sure to check with your institution before you start writing.

How do I choose a topic for my research proposal?

Finding a good research topic is a process that involves multiple steps. We cover the topic ideation process in this video post.

How do I write a literature review for my proposal?

While you typically won’t need a comprehensive literature review at the proposal stage, you still need to demonstrate that you’re familiar with the key literature and are able to synthesise it. We explain the literature review process here.

How do I create a timeline and budget for my proposal?

We explain how to craft a project plan/timeline and budget in Research Proposal Bootcamp .

Which referencing format should I use in my research proposal?

The expectations and requirements regarding formatting and referencing vary from institution to institution. Therefore, you’ll need to check this information with your university.

What common proposal writing mistakes do I need to look out for?

We’ve create a video post about some of the most common mistakes students make when writing a proposal – you can access that here . If you’re short on time, here’s a quick summary:

  • The research topic is too broad (or just poorly articulated).
  • The research aims, objectives and questions don’t align.
  • The research topic is not well justified.
  • The study has a weak theoretical foundation.
  • The research design is not well articulated well enough.
  • Poor writing and sloppy presentation.
  • Poor project planning and risk management.
  • Not following the university’s specific criteria.

Key Takeaways & Additional Resources

As you write up your research proposal, remember the all-important core purpose:  to convince . Your research proposal needs to sell your study in terms of suitability and viability. So, focus on crafting a convincing narrative to ensure a strong proposal.

At the same time, pay close attention to your university’s requirements. While we’ve covered the essentials here, every institution has its own set of expectations and it’s essential that you follow these to maximise your chances of approval.

By the way, we’ve got plenty more resources to help you fast-track your research proposal. Here are some of our most popular resources to get you started:

  • Proposal Writing 101 : A Introductory Webinar
  • Research Proposal Bootcamp : The Ultimate Online Course
  • Template : A basic template to help you craft your proposal

If you’re looking for 1-on-1 support with your research proposal, be sure to check out our private coaching service , where we hold your hand through the proposal development process (and the entire research journey), step by step.

Literature Review Course

Psst… there’s more!

This post is an extract from our bestselling Udemy Course, Research Proposal Bootcamp . If you want to work smart, you don't want to miss this .

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50 Comments

Myrna Pereira

I truly enjoyed this video, as it was eye-opening to what I have to do in the preparation of preparing a Research proposal.

I would be interested in getting some coaching.

BARAKAELI TEREVAELI

I real appreciate on your elaboration on how to develop research proposal,the video explains each steps clearly.

masebo joseph

Thank you for the video. It really assisted me and my niece. I am a PhD candidate and she is an undergraduate student. It is at times, very difficult to guide a family member but with this video, my job is done.

In view of the above, I welcome more coaching.

Zakia Ghafoor

Wonderful guidelines, thanks

Annie Malupande

This is very helpful. Would love to continue even as I prepare for starting my masters next year.

KYARIKUNDA MOREEN

Thanks for the work done, the text was helpful to me

Ahsanullah Mangal

Bundle of thanks to you for the research proposal guide it was really good and useful if it is possible please send me the sample of research proposal

Derek Jansen

You’re most welcome. We don’t have any research proposals that we can share (the students own the intellectual property), but you might find our research proposal template useful: https://gradcoach.com/research-proposal-template/

Cheruiyot Moses Kipyegon

Cheruiyot Moses Kipyegon

Thanks alot. It was an eye opener that came timely enough before my imminent proposal defense. Thanks, again

agnelius

thank you very much your lesson is very interested may God be with you

Abubakar

I am an undergraduate student (First Degree) preparing to write my project,this video and explanation had shed more light to me thanks for your efforts keep it up.

Synthia Atieno

Very useful. I am grateful.

belina nambeya

this is a very a good guidance on research proposal, for sure i have learnt something

Wonderful guidelines for writing a research proposal, I am a student of m.phil( education), this guideline is suitable for me. Thanks

You’re welcome 🙂

Marjorie

Thank you, this was so helpful.

Amitash Degan

A really great and insightful video. It opened my eyes as to how to write a research paper. I would like to receive more guidance for writing my research paper from your esteemed faculty.

Glaudia Njuguna

Thank you, great insights

Thank you, great insights, thank you so much, feeling edified

Yebirgual

Wow thank you, great insights, thanks a lot

Roseline Soetan

Thank you. This is a great insight. I am a student preparing for a PhD program. I am requested to write my Research Proposal as part of what I am required to submit before my unconditional admission. I am grateful having listened to this video which will go a long way in helping me to actually choose a topic of interest and not just any topic as well as to narrow down the topic and be specific about it. I indeed need more of this especially as am trying to choose a topic suitable for a DBA am about embarking on. Thank you once more. The video is indeed helpful.

Rebecca

Have learnt a lot just at the right time. Thank you so much.

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thank you very much ,because have learn a lot things concerning research proposal and be blessed u for your time that you providing to help us

Cheruiyot M Kipyegon

Hi. For my MSc medical education research, please evaluate this topic for me: Training Needs Assessment of Faculty in Medical Training Institutions in Kericho and Bomet Counties

Rebecca

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Arega Berlie

Thank you. I learn much from the proposal since it is applied

Siyanda

Your effort is much appreciated – you have good articulation.

You have good articulation.

Douglas Eliaba

I do applaud your simplified method of explaining the subject matter, which indeed has broaden my understanding of the subject matter. Definitely this would enable me writing a sellable research proposal.

Weluzani

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Roswitta

Great! I liked your tutoring on how to find a research topic and how to write a research proposal. Precise and concise. Thank you very much. Will certainly share this with my students. Research made simple indeed.

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Thank you very much. I an now assist my students effectively.

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Abdurahman Bayoh

I need any research proposal

Silverline

Thank you for these videos. I will need chapter by chapter assistance in writing my MSc dissertation

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I really enjoy the in-depth knowledge on research proposal you have given. me. You have indeed broaden my understanding and skills. Thank you

David Mweemba

interesting session this has equipped me with knowledge as i head for exams in an hour’s time, am sure i get A++

Andrea Eccleston

This article was most informative and easy to understand. I now have a good idea of how to write my research proposal.

Thank you very much.

Georgina Ngufan

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Charity

Thank you for the clarity

Mondika Solomon

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azeem kakar

very very wonderful…

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Components of a research proposal.

In general, the proposal components include:

Introduction: Provides reader with a broad overview of problem in context.

Statement of problem: Answers the question, “What research problem are you going to investigate?”

Literature review: Shows how your approach builds on existing research; helps you identify methodological and design issues in studies similar to your own; introduces you to measurement tools others have used effectively; helps you interpret findings; and ties results of your work to those who’ve preceded you.

Research design and methods: Describes how you’ll go about answering your research questions and confirming your hypothesis(es). Lists the hypothesis(es) to be tested, or states research question you’ll ask to seek a solution to your research problem. Include as much detail as possible: measurement instruments and procedures, subjects and sample size.

The research design is what you’ll also need to submit for approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) or the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) if your research involves human or animal subjects, respectively.

Timeline: Breaks your project into small, easily doable steps via backwards calendar.

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  • Indian J Anaesth
  • v.60(9); 2016 Sep

How to write a research proposal?

Department of Anaesthesiology, Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Devika Rani Duggappa

Writing the proposal of a research work in the present era is a challenging task due to the constantly evolving trends in the qualitative research design and the need to incorporate medical advances into the methodology. The proposal is a detailed plan or ‘blueprint’ for the intended study, and once it is completed, the research project should flow smoothly. Even today, many of the proposals at post-graduate evaluation committees and application proposals for funding are substandard. A search was conducted with keywords such as research proposal, writing proposal and qualitative using search engines, namely, PubMed and Google Scholar, and an attempt has been made to provide broad guidelines for writing a scientifically appropriate research proposal.

INTRODUCTION

A clean, well-thought-out proposal forms the backbone for the research itself and hence becomes the most important step in the process of conduct of research.[ 1 ] The objective of preparing a research proposal would be to obtain approvals from various committees including ethics committee [details under ‘Research methodology II’ section [ Table 1 ] in this issue of IJA) and to request for grants. However, there are very few universally accepted guidelines for preparation of a good quality research proposal. A search was performed with keywords such as research proposal, funding, qualitative and writing proposals using search engines, namely, PubMed, Google Scholar and Scopus.

Five ‘C’s while writing a literature review

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Object name is IJA-60-631-g001.jpg

BASIC REQUIREMENTS OF A RESEARCH PROPOSAL

A proposal needs to show how your work fits into what is already known about the topic and what new paradigm will it add to the literature, while specifying the question that the research will answer, establishing its significance, and the implications of the answer.[ 2 ] The proposal must be capable of convincing the evaluation committee about the credibility, achievability, practicality and reproducibility (repeatability) of the research design.[ 3 ] Four categories of audience with different expectations may be present in the evaluation committees, namely academic colleagues, policy-makers, practitioners and lay audiences who evaluate the research proposal. Tips for preparation of a good research proposal include; ‘be practical, be persuasive, make broader links, aim for crystal clarity and plan before you write’. A researcher must be balanced, with a realistic understanding of what can be achieved. Being persuasive implies that researcher must be able to convince other researchers, research funding agencies, educational institutions and supervisors that the research is worth getting approval. The aim of the researcher should be clearly stated in simple language that describes the research in a way that non-specialists can comprehend, without use of jargons. The proposal must not only demonstrate that it is based on an intelligent understanding of the existing literature but also show that the writer has thought about the time needed to conduct each stage of the research.[ 4 , 5 ]

CONTENTS OF A RESEARCH PROPOSAL

The contents or formats of a research proposal vary depending on the requirements of evaluation committee and are generally provided by the evaluation committee or the institution.

In general, a cover page should contain the (i) title of the proposal, (ii) name and affiliation of the researcher (principal investigator) and co-investigators, (iii) institutional affiliation (degree of the investigator and the name of institution where the study will be performed), details of contact such as phone numbers, E-mail id's and lines for signatures of investigators.

The main contents of the proposal may be presented under the following headings: (i) introduction, (ii) review of literature, (iii) aims and objectives, (iv) research design and methods, (v) ethical considerations, (vi) budget, (vii) appendices and (viii) citations.[ 4 ]

Introduction

It is also sometimes termed as ‘need for study’ or ‘abstract’. Introduction is an initial pitch of an idea; it sets the scene and puts the research in context.[ 6 ] The introduction should be designed to create interest in the reader about the topic and proposal. It should convey to the reader, what you want to do, what necessitates the study and your passion for the topic.[ 7 ] Some questions that can be used to assess the significance of the study are: (i) Who has an interest in the domain of inquiry? (ii) What do we already know about the topic? (iii) What has not been answered adequately in previous research and practice? (iv) How will this research add to knowledge, practice and policy in this area? Some of the evaluation committees, expect the last two questions, elaborated under a separate heading of ‘background and significance’.[ 8 ] Introduction should also contain the hypothesis behind the research design. If hypothesis cannot be constructed, the line of inquiry to be used in the research must be indicated.

Review of literature

It refers to all sources of scientific evidence pertaining to the topic in interest. In the present era of digitalisation and easy accessibility, there is an enormous amount of relevant data available, making it a challenge for the researcher to include all of it in his/her review.[ 9 ] It is crucial to structure this section intelligently so that the reader can grasp the argument related to your study in relation to that of other researchers, while still demonstrating to your readers that your work is original and innovative. It is preferable to summarise each article in a paragraph, highlighting the details pertinent to the topic of interest. The progression of review can move from the more general to the more focused studies, or a historical progression can be used to develop the story, without making it exhaustive.[ 1 ] Literature should include supporting data, disagreements and controversies. Five ‘C's may be kept in mind while writing a literature review[ 10 ] [ Table 1 ].

Aims and objectives

The research purpose (or goal or aim) gives a broad indication of what the researcher wishes to achieve in the research. The hypothesis to be tested can be the aim of the study. The objectives related to parameters or tools used to achieve the aim are generally categorised as primary and secondary objectives.

Research design and method

The objective here is to convince the reader that the overall research design and methods of analysis will correctly address the research problem and to impress upon the reader that the methodology/sources chosen are appropriate for the specific topic. It should be unmistakably tied to the specific aims of your study.

In this section, the methods and sources used to conduct the research must be discussed, including specific references to sites, databases, key texts or authors that will be indispensable to the project. There should be specific mention about the methodological approaches to be undertaken to gather information, about the techniques to be used to analyse it and about the tests of external validity to which researcher is committed.[ 10 , 11 ]

The components of this section include the following:[ 4 ]

Population and sample

Population refers to all the elements (individuals, objects or substances) that meet certain criteria for inclusion in a given universe,[ 12 ] and sample refers to subset of population which meets the inclusion criteria for enrolment into the study. The inclusion and exclusion criteria should be clearly defined. The details pertaining to sample size are discussed in the article “Sample size calculation: Basic priniciples” published in this issue of IJA.

Data collection

The researcher is expected to give a detailed account of the methodology adopted for collection of data, which include the time frame required for the research. The methodology should be tested for its validity and ensure that, in pursuit of achieving the results, the participant's life is not jeopardised. The author should anticipate and acknowledge any potential barrier and pitfall in carrying out the research design and explain plans to address them, thereby avoiding lacunae due to incomplete data collection. If the researcher is planning to acquire data through interviews or questionnaires, copy of the questions used for the same should be attached as an annexure with the proposal.

Rigor (soundness of the research)

This addresses the strength of the research with respect to its neutrality, consistency and applicability. Rigor must be reflected throughout the proposal.

It refers to the robustness of a research method against bias. The author should convey the measures taken to avoid bias, viz. blinding and randomisation, in an elaborate way, thus ensuring that the result obtained from the adopted method is purely as chance and not influenced by other confounding variables.

Consistency

Consistency considers whether the findings will be consistent if the inquiry was replicated with the same participants and in a similar context. This can be achieved by adopting standard and universally accepted methods and scales.

Applicability

Applicability refers to the degree to which the findings can be applied to different contexts and groups.[ 13 ]

Data analysis

This section deals with the reduction and reconstruction of data and its analysis including sample size calculation. The researcher is expected to explain the steps adopted for coding and sorting the data obtained. Various tests to be used to analyse the data for its robustness, significance should be clearly stated. Author should also mention the names of statistician and suitable software which will be used in due course of data analysis and their contribution to data analysis and sample calculation.[ 9 ]

Ethical considerations

Medical research introduces special moral and ethical problems that are not usually encountered by other researchers during data collection, and hence, the researcher should take special care in ensuring that ethical standards are met. Ethical considerations refer to the protection of the participants' rights (right to self-determination, right to privacy, right to autonomy and confidentiality, right to fair treatment and right to protection from discomfort and harm), obtaining informed consent and the institutional review process (ethical approval). The researcher needs to provide adequate information on each of these aspects.

Informed consent needs to be obtained from the participants (details discussed in further chapters), as well as the research site and the relevant authorities.

When the researcher prepares a research budget, he/she should predict and cost all aspects of the research and then add an additional allowance for unpredictable disasters, delays and rising costs. All items in the budget should be justified.

Appendices are documents that support the proposal and application. The appendices will be specific for each proposal but documents that are usually required include informed consent form, supporting documents, questionnaires, measurement tools and patient information of the study in layman's language.

As with any scholarly research paper, you must cite the sources you used in composing your proposal. Although the words ‘references and bibliography’ are different, they are used interchangeably. It refers to all references cited in the research proposal.

Successful, qualitative research proposals should communicate the researcher's knowledge of the field and method and convey the emergent nature of the qualitative design. The proposal should follow a discernible logic from the introduction to presentation of the appendices.

Financial support and sponsorship

Conflicts of interest.

There are no conflicts of interest.

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  • How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

Published on 30 October 2022 by Shona McCombes and Tegan George. Revised on 13 June 2023.

Structure of a research proposal

A research proposal describes what you will investigate, why it’s important, and how you will conduct your research.

The format of a research proposal varies between fields, but most proposals will contain at least these elements:

Introduction

Literature review.

  • Research design

Reference list

While the sections may vary, the overall objective is always the same. A research proposal serves as a blueprint and guide for your research plan, helping you get organised and feel confident in the path forward you choose to take.

Table of contents

Research proposal purpose, research proposal examples, research design and methods, contribution to knowledge, research schedule, frequently asked questions.

Academics often have to write research proposals to get funding for their projects. As a student, you might have to write a research proposal as part of a grad school application , or prior to starting your thesis or dissertation .

In addition to helping you figure out what your research can look like, a proposal can also serve to demonstrate why your project is worth pursuing to a funder, educational institution, or supervisor.

Research proposal length

The length of a research proposal can vary quite a bit. A bachelor’s or master’s thesis proposal can be just a few pages, while proposals for PhD dissertations or research funding are usually much longer and more detailed. Your supervisor can help you determine the best length for your work.

One trick to get started is to think of your proposal’s structure as a shorter version of your thesis or dissertation , only without the results , conclusion and discussion sections.

Download our research proposal template

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Writing a research proposal can be quite challenging, but a good starting point could be to look at some examples. We’ve included a few for you below.

  • Example research proposal #1: ‘A Conceptual Framework for Scheduling Constraint Management’
  • Example research proposal #2: ‘ Medical Students as Mediators of Change in Tobacco Use’

Like your dissertation or thesis, the proposal will usually have a title page that includes:

  • The proposed title of your project
  • Your supervisor’s name
  • Your institution and department

The first part of your proposal is the initial pitch for your project. Make sure it succinctly explains what you want to do and why.

Your introduction should:

  • Introduce your topic
  • Give necessary background and context
  • Outline your  problem statement  and research questions

To guide your introduction , include information about:

  • Who could have an interest in the topic (e.g., scientists, policymakers)
  • How much is already known about the topic
  • What is missing from this current knowledge
  • What new insights your research will contribute
  • Why you believe this research is worth doing

As you get started, it’s important to demonstrate that you’re familiar with the most important research on your topic. A strong literature review  shows your reader that your project has a solid foundation in existing knowledge or theory. It also shows that you’re not simply repeating what other people have already done or said, but rather using existing research as a jumping-off point for your own.

In this section, share exactly how your project will contribute to ongoing conversations in the field by:

  • Comparing and contrasting the main theories, methods, and debates
  • Examining the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches
  • Explaining how will you build on, challenge, or synthesise prior scholarship

Following the literature review, restate your main  objectives . This brings the focus back to your own project. Next, your research design or methodology section will describe your overall approach, and the practical steps you will take to answer your research questions.

To finish your proposal on a strong note, explore the potential implications of your research for your field. Emphasise again what you aim to contribute and why it matters.

For example, your results might have implications for:

  • Improving best practices
  • Informing policymaking decisions
  • Strengthening a theory or model
  • Challenging popular or scientific beliefs
  • Creating a basis for future research

Last but not least, your research proposal must include correct citations for every source you have used, compiled in a reference list . To create citations quickly and easily, you can use our free APA citation generator .

Some institutions or funders require a detailed timeline of the project, asking you to forecast what you will do at each stage and how long it may take. While not always required, be sure to check the requirements of your project.

Here’s an example schedule to help you get started. You can also download a template at the button below.

Download our research schedule template

If you are applying for research funding, chances are you will have to include a detailed budget. This shows your estimates of how much each part of your project will cost.

Make sure to check what type of costs the funding body will agree to cover. For each item, include:

  • Cost : exactly how much money do you need?
  • Justification : why is this cost necessary to complete the research?
  • Source : how did you calculate the amount?

To determine your budget, think about:

  • Travel costs : do you need to go somewhere to collect your data? How will you get there, and how much time will you need? What will you do there (e.g., interviews, archival research)?
  • Materials : do you need access to any tools or technologies?
  • Help : do you need to hire any research assistants for the project? What will they do, and how much will you pay them?

Once you’ve decided on your research objectives , you need to explain them in your paper, at the end of your problem statement.

Keep your research objectives clear and concise, and use appropriate verbs to accurately convey the work that you will carry out for each one.

I will compare …

A research aim is a broad statement indicating the general purpose of your research project. It should appear in your introduction at the end of your problem statement , before your research objectives.

Research objectives are more specific than your research aim. They indicate the specific ways you’ll address the overarching aim.

A PhD, which is short for philosophiae doctor (doctor of philosophy in Latin), is the highest university degree that can be obtained. In a PhD, students spend 3–5 years writing a dissertation , which aims to make a significant, original contribution to current knowledge.

A PhD is intended to prepare students for a career as a researcher, whether that be in academia, the public sector, or the private sector.

A master’s is a 1- or 2-year graduate degree that can prepare you for a variety of careers.

All master’s involve graduate-level coursework. Some are research-intensive and intend to prepare students for further study in a PhD; these usually require their students to write a master’s thesis . Others focus on professional training for a specific career.

Critical thinking refers to the ability to evaluate information and to be aware of biases or assumptions, including your own.

Like information literacy , it involves evaluating arguments, identifying and solving problems in an objective and systematic way, and clearly communicating your ideas.

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11.2 Steps in Developing a Research Proposal

Learning objectives.

  • Identify the steps in developing a research proposal.
  • Choose a topic and formulate a research question and working thesis.
  • Develop a research proposal.

Writing a good research paper takes time, thought, and effort. Although this assignment is challenging, it is manageable. Focusing on one step at a time will help you develop a thoughtful, informative, well-supported research paper.

Your first step is to choose a topic and then to develop research questions, a working thesis, and a written research proposal. Set aside adequate time for this part of the process. Fully exploring ideas will help you build a solid foundation for your paper.

Choosing a Topic

When you choose a topic for a research paper, you are making a major commitment. Your choice will help determine whether you enjoy the lengthy process of research and writing—and whether your final paper fulfills the assignment requirements. If you choose your topic hastily, you may later find it difficult to work with your topic. By taking your time and choosing carefully, you can ensure that this assignment is not only challenging but also rewarding.

Writers understand the importance of choosing a topic that fulfills the assignment requirements and fits the assignment’s purpose and audience. (For more information about purpose and audience, see Chapter 6 “Writing Paragraphs: Separating Ideas and Shaping Content” .) Choosing a topic that interests you is also crucial. You instructor may provide a list of suggested topics or ask that you develop a topic on your own. In either case, try to identify topics that genuinely interest you.

After identifying potential topic ideas, you will need to evaluate your ideas and choose one topic to pursue. Will you be able to find enough information about the topic? Can you develop a paper about this topic that presents and supports your original ideas? Is the topic too broad or too narrow for the scope of the assignment? If so, can you modify it so it is more manageable? You will ask these questions during this preliminary phase of the research process.

Identifying Potential Topics

Sometimes, your instructor may provide a list of suggested topics. If so, you may benefit from identifying several possibilities before committing to one idea. It is important to know how to narrow down your ideas into a concise, manageable thesis. You may also use the list as a starting point to help you identify additional, related topics. Discussing your ideas with your instructor will help ensure that you choose a manageable topic that fits the requirements of the assignment.

In this chapter, you will follow a writer named Jorge, who is studying health care administration, as he prepares a research paper. You will also plan, research, and draft your own research paper.

Jorge was assigned to write a research paper on health and the media for an introductory course in health care. Although a general topic was selected for the students, Jorge had to decide which specific issues interested him. He brainstormed a list of possibilities.

If you are writing a research paper for a specialized course, look back through your notes and course activities. Identify reading assignments and class discussions that especially engaged you. Doing so can help you identify topics to pursue.

  • Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) in the news
  • Sexual education programs
  • Hollywood and eating disorders
  • Americans’ access to public health information
  • Media portrayal of health care reform bill
  • Depictions of drugs on television
  • The effect of the Internet on mental health
  • Popularized diets (such as low-carbohydrate diets)
  • Fear of pandemics (bird flu, HINI, SARS)
  • Electronic entertainment and obesity
  • Advertisements for prescription drugs
  • Public education and disease prevention

Set a timer for five minutes. Use brainstorming or idea mapping to create a list of topics you would be interested in researching for a paper about the influence of the Internet on social networking. Do you closely follow the media coverage of a particular website, such as Twitter? Would you like to learn more about a certain industry, such as online dating? Which social networking sites do you and your friends use? List as many ideas related to this topic as you can.

Narrowing Your Topic

Once you have a list of potential topics, you will need to choose one as the focus of your essay. You will also need to narrow your topic. Most writers find that the topics they listed during brainstorming or idea mapping are broad—too broad for the scope of the assignment. Working with an overly broad topic, such as sexual education programs or popularized diets, can be frustrating and overwhelming. Each topic has so many facets that it would be impossible to cover them all in a college research paper. However, more specific choices, such as the pros and cons of sexual education in kids’ television programs or the physical effects of the South Beach diet, are specific enough to write about without being too narrow to sustain an entire research paper.

A good research paper provides focused, in-depth information and analysis. If your topic is too broad, you will find it difficult to do more than skim the surface when you research it and write about it. Narrowing your focus is essential to making your topic manageable. To narrow your focus, explore your topic in writing, conduct preliminary research, and discuss both the topic and the research with others.

Exploring Your Topic in Writing

“How am I supposed to narrow my topic when I haven’t even begun researching yet?” In fact, you may already know more than you realize. Review your list and identify your top two or three topics. Set aside some time to explore each one through freewriting. (For more information about freewriting, see Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” .) Simply taking the time to focus on your topic may yield fresh angles.

Jorge knew that he was especially interested in the topic of diet fads, but he also knew that it was much too broad for his assignment. He used freewriting to explore his thoughts so he could narrow his topic. Read Jorge’s ideas.

Conducting Preliminary Research

Another way writers may focus a topic is to conduct preliminary research . Like freewriting, exploratory reading can help you identify interesting angles. Surfing the web and browsing through newspaper and magazine articles are good ways to start. Find out what people are saying about your topic on blogs and online discussion groups. Discussing your topic with others can also inspire you. Talk about your ideas with your classmates, your friends, or your instructor.

Jorge’s freewriting exercise helped him realize that the assigned topic of health and the media intersected with a few of his interests—diet, nutrition, and obesity. Preliminary online research and discussions with his classmates strengthened his impression that many people are confused or misled by media coverage of these subjects.

Jorge decided to focus his paper on a topic that had garnered a great deal of media attention—low-carbohydrate diets. He wanted to find out whether low-carbohydrate diets were as effective as their proponents claimed.

Writing at Work

At work, you may need to research a topic quickly to find general information. This information can be useful in understanding trends in a given industry or generating competition. For example, a company may research a competitor’s prices and use the information when pricing their own product. You may find it useful to skim a variety of reliable sources and take notes on your findings.

The reliability of online sources varies greatly. In this exploratory phase of your research, you do not need to evaluate sources as closely as you will later. However, use common sense as you refine your paper topic. If you read a fascinating blog comment that gives you a new idea for your paper, be sure to check out other, more reliable sources as well to make sure the idea is worth pursuing.

Review the list of topics you created in Note 11.18 “Exercise 1” and identify two or three topics you would like to explore further. For each of these topics, spend five to ten minutes writing about the topic without stopping. Then review your writing to identify possible areas of focus.

Set aside time to conduct preliminary research about your potential topics. Then choose a topic to pursue for your research paper.

Collaboration

Please share your topic list with a classmate. Select one or two topics on his or her list that you would like to learn more about and return it to him or her. Discuss why you found the topics interesting, and learn which of your topics your classmate selected and why.

A Plan for Research

Your freewriting and preliminary research have helped you choose a focused, manageable topic for your research paper. To work with your topic successfully, you will need to determine what exactly you want to learn about it—and later, what you want to say about it. Before you begin conducting in-depth research, you will further define your focus by developing a research question , a working thesis, and a research proposal.

Formulating a Research Question

In forming a research question, you are setting a goal for your research. Your main research question should be substantial enough to form the guiding principle of your paper—but focused enough to guide your research. A strong research question requires you not only to find information but also to put together different pieces of information, interpret and analyze them, and figure out what you think. As you consider potential research questions, ask yourself whether they would be too hard or too easy to answer.

To determine your research question, review the freewriting you completed earlier. Skim through books, articles, and websites and list the questions you have. (You may wish to use the 5WH strategy to help you formulate questions. See Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” for more information about 5WH questions.) Include simple, factual questions and more complex questions that would require analysis and interpretation. Determine your main question—the primary focus of your paper—and several subquestions that you will need to research to answer your main question.

Here are the research questions Jorge will use to focus his research. Notice that his main research question has no obvious, straightforward answer. Jorge will need to research his subquestions, which address narrower topics, to answer his main question.

Using the topic you selected in Note 11.24 “Exercise 2” , write your main research question and at least four to five subquestions. Check that your main research question is appropriately complex for your assignment.

Constructing a Working ThesIs

A working thesis concisely states a writer’s initial answer to the main research question. It does not merely state a fact or present a subjective opinion. Instead, it expresses a debatable idea or claim that you hope to prove through additional research. Your working thesis is called a working thesis for a reason—it is subject to change. As you learn more about your topic, you may change your thinking in light of your research findings. Let your working thesis serve as a guide to your research, but do not be afraid to modify it based on what you learn.

Jorge began his research with a strong point of view based on his preliminary writing and research. Read his working thesis statement, which presents the point he will argue. Notice how it states Jorge’s tentative answer to his research question.

One way to determine your working thesis is to consider how you would complete sentences such as I believe or My opinion is . However, keep in mind that academic writing generally does not use first-person pronouns. These statements are useful starting points, but formal research papers use an objective voice.

Write a working thesis statement that presents your preliminary answer to the research question you wrote in Note 11.27 “Exercise 3” . Check that your working thesis statement presents an idea or claim that could be supported or refuted by evidence from research.

Creating a Research Proposal

A research proposal is a brief document—no more than one typed page—that summarizes the preliminary work you have completed. Your purpose in writing it is to formalize your plan for research and present it to your instructor for feedback. In your research proposal, you will present your main research question, related subquestions, and working thesis. You will also briefly discuss the value of researching this topic and indicate how you plan to gather information.

When Jorge began drafting his research proposal, he realized that he had already created most of the pieces he needed. However, he knew he also had to explain how his research would be relevant to other future health care professionals. In addition, he wanted to form a general plan for doing the research and identifying potentially useful sources. Read Jorge’s research proposal.

Read Jorge's research proposal

Before you begin a new project at work, you may have to develop a project summary document that states the purpose of the project, explains why it would be a wise use of company resources, and briefly outlines the steps involved in completing the project. This type of document is similar to a research proposal. Both documents define and limit a project, explain its value, discuss how to proceed, and identify what resources you will use.

Writing Your Own Research Proposal

Now you may write your own research proposal, if you have not done so already. Follow the guidelines provided in this lesson.

Key Takeaways

  • Developing a research proposal involves the following preliminary steps: identifying potential ideas, choosing ideas to explore further, choosing and narrowing a topic, formulating a research question, and developing a working thesis.
  • A good topic for a research paper interests the writer and fulfills the requirements of the assignment.
  • Defining and narrowing a topic helps writers conduct focused, in-depth research.
  • Writers conduct preliminary research to identify possible topics and research questions and to develop a working thesis.
  • A good research question interests readers, is neither too broad nor too narrow, and has no obvious answer.
  • A good working thesis expresses a debatable idea or claim that can be supported with evidence from research.
  • Writers create a research proposal to present their topic, main research question, subquestions, and working thesis to an instructor for approval or feedback.

Writing for Success Copyright © 2015 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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What is a research proposal?

A research proposal is a type of text which maps out a proposed central research problem or question and a suggested approach to its investigation.

In many universities, including RMIT, the research proposal is a formal requirement. It is central to achieving your first milestone: your Confirmation of Candidature. The research proposal is useful for both you and the University: it gives you the opportunity to get valuable feedback about your intended research aims, objectives and design. It also confirms that your proposed research is worth doing, which puts you on track for a successful candidature supported by your School and the University. 

Although there may be specific School or disciplinary requirements that you need to be aware of, all research proposals address the following central themes:

  • what   you propose to research
  • why   the topic needs to be researched
  • how  you plan to research it.

Purpose and audience

Before venturing into writing a research purposal, it is important to think about the  purpose  and  audience of this type of text.  Spend a moment or two to reflect on what these might be.

What do you think is the purpose of your research proposal and who is your audience?

The purpose of your research proposal is:

1. To allow experienced researchers (your supervisors and their peers) to assess whether

  • the research question or problem is viable (that is, answers or solutions are possible)
  • the research is worth doing in terms of its contribution to the field of study and benefits to stakeholders
  • the scope is appropriate to the degree (Masters or PhD)
  • you’ve understood the relevant key literature and identified the gap for your research
  • you’ve chosen an appropriate methodological approach.

2. To help you clarify and focus on what you want to do, why you want to do it, and how you’ll do it. The research proposal helps you position yourself as a researcher in your field. It will also allow you to:

  • systematically think through your proposed research, argue for its significance and identify the scope
  • show a critical understanding of the scholarly field around your proposed research
  • show the gap in the literature that your research will address
  • justify your proposed research design
  • identify all tasks that need to be done through a realistic timetable
  • anticipate potential problems
  • hone organisational skills that you will need for your research
  • become familiar with relevant search engines and databases
  • develop skills in research writing.

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The main audience for your research proposal is your reviewers. Universities usually assign a panel of reviewers to which you need to submit your research proposal. Often this is within the first year of study for PhD candidates, and within the first six months for Masters by Research candidates.

Your reviewers may have a strong disciplinary understanding of the area of your proposed research, but depending on your specialisation, they may not. It is therefore important to create a clear context, rationale and framework for your proposed research. Limit jargon and specialist terminology so that non-specialists can comprehend it. You need to convince the reviewers that your proposed research is worth doing and that you will be able to effectively ‘interrogate’ your research questions or address the research problems through your chosen research design.

Your review panel will expect you to demonstrate:

  • a clearly defined and feasible research project
  • a clearly explained rationale for your research
  • evidence that your research will make an original contribution through a critical review of the literature
  • written skills appropriate to graduate research study.

Research and Writing Skills for Academic and Graduate Researchers Copyright © 2022 by RMIT University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Chapter 14: The Research Proposal

14.3 Components of a Research Proposal

Krathwohl (2005) suggests and describes a variety of components to include in a research proposal. The following sections – Introductions, Background and significance, Literature Review; Research design and methods, Preliminary suppositions and implications; and Conclusion present these components in a suggested template for you to follow in the preparation of your research proposal.

Introduction

The introduction sets the tone for what follows in your research proposal – treat it as the initial pitch of your idea. After reading the introduction your reader should:

  • understand what it is you want to do;
  • have a sense of your passion for the topic; and
  • be excited about the study’s possible outcomes.

As you begin writing your research proposal, it is helpful to think of the introduction as a narrative of what it is you want to do, written in one to three paragraphs. Within those one to three paragraphs, it is important to briefly answer the following questions:

  • What is the central research problem?
  • How is the topic of your research proposal related to the problem?
  • What methods will you utilize to analyze the research problem?
  • Why is it important to undertake this research? What is the significance of your proposed research? Why are the outcomes of your proposed research important? Whom are they important?

Note : You may be asked by your instructor to include an abstract with your research proposal. In such cases, an abstract should provide an overview of what it is you plan to study, your main research question, a brief explanation of your methods to answer the research question, and your expected findings. All of this information must be carefully crafted in 150 to 250 words. A word of advice is to save the writing of your abstract until the very end of your research proposal preparation. If you are asked to provide an abstract, you should include 5 to 7 key words that are of most relevance to your study. List these in order of relevance.

Background and significance

The purpose of this section is to explain the context of your proposal and to describe, in detail, why it is important to undertake this research. Assume that the person or people who will read your research proposal know nothing or very little about the research problem. While you do not need to include all knowledge you have learned about your topic in this section, it is important to ensure that you include the most relevant material that will help to explain the goals of your research.

While there are no hard and fast rules, you should attempt to address some or all of the following key points:

  • State the research problem and provide a more thorough explanation about the purpose of the study than what you stated in the introduction.
  • Present the rationale for the proposed research study. Clearly indicate why this research is worth doing. Answer the “so what?” question.
  • Describe the major issues or problems to be addressed by your research. Do not forget to explain how and in what ways your proposed research builds upon previous related research.
  • Explain how you plan to go about conducting your research.
  • Clearly identify the key or most relevant sources of research you intend to use and explain how they will contribute to your analysis of the topic.
  • Set the boundaries of your proposed research, in order to provide a clear focus. Where appropriate, state not only what you will study, but what will be excluded from your study.
  • Provide clear definitions of key concepts and terms. Since key concepts and terms often have numerous definitions, make sure you state which definition you will be utilizing in your research.

Literature review

This key component of the research proposal is the most time-consuming aspect in the preparation of your research proposal. As described in Chapter 5 , the literature review provides the background to your study and demonstrates the significance of the proposed research. Specifically, it is a review and synthesis of prior research that is related to the problem you are setting forth to investigate. Essentially, your goal in the literature review is to place your research study within the larger whole of what has been studied in the past, while demonstrating to your reader that your work is original, innovative, and adds to the larger whole.

As the literature review is information dense, it is essential that this section be intelligently structured to enable your reader to grasp the key arguments underpinning your study. However, this can be easier to state and harder to do, simply due to the fact there is usually a plethora of related research to sift through. Consequently, a good strategy for writing the literature review is to break the literature into conceptual categories or themes, rather than attempting to describe various groups of literature you reviewed. Chapter 5   describes a variety of methods to help you organize the themes.

Here are some suggestions on how to approach the writing of your literature review:

  • Think about what questions other researchers have asked, what methods they used, what they found, and what they recommended based upon their findings.
  • Do not be afraid to challenge previous related research findings and/or conclusions.
  • Assess what you believe to be missing from previous research and explain how your research fills in this gap and/or extends previous research.

It is important to note that a significant challenge related to undertaking a literature review is knowing when to stop. As such, it is important to know when you have uncovered the key conceptual categories underlying your research topic. Generally, when you start to see repetition in the conclusions or recommendations, you can have confidence that you have covered all of the significant conceptual categories in your literature review. However, it is also important to acknowledge that researchers often find themselves returning to the literature as they collect and analyze their data. For example, an unexpected finding may develop as you collect and/or analyze the data; in this case, it is important to take the time to step back and review the literature again, to ensure that no other researchers have found a similar finding. This may include looking to research outside your field.

This situation occurred with one of this textbook’s authors’ research related to community resilience. During the interviews, the researchers heard many participants discuss individual resilience factors and how they believed these individual factors helped make the community more resilient, overall. Sheppard and Williams (2016) had not discovered these individual factors in their original literature review on community and environmental resilience. However, when they returned to the literature to search for individual resilience factors, they discovered a small body of literature in the child and youth psychology field. Consequently, Sheppard and Williams had to go back and add a new section to their literature review on individual resilience factors. Interestingly, their research appeared to be the first research to link individual resilience factors with community resilience factors.

Research design and methods

The objective of this section of the research proposal is to convince the reader that your overall research design and methods of analysis will enable you to solve the research problem you have identified and also enable you to accurately and effectively interpret the results of your research. Consequently, it is critical that the research design and methods section is well-written, clear, and logically organized. This demonstrates to your reader that you know what you are going to do and how you are going to do it. Overall, you want to leave your reader feeling confident that you have what it takes to get this research study completed in a timely fashion.

Essentially, this section of the research proposal should be clearly tied to the specific objectives of your study; however, it is also important to draw upon and include examples from the literature review that relate to your design and intended methods. In other words, you must clearly demonstrate how your study utilizes and builds upon past studies, as it relates to the research design and intended methods. For example, what methods have been used by other researchers in similar studies?

While it is important to consider the methods that other researchers have employed, it is equally, if not more, important to consider what methods have not been but could be employed. Remember, the methods section is not simply a list of tasks to be undertaken. It is also an argument as to why and how the tasks you have outlined will help you investigate the research problem and answer your research question(s).

Tips for writing the research design and methods section:

Specify the methodological approaches you intend to employ to obtain information and the techniques you will use to analyze the data.

Specify the research operations you will undertake and the way you will interpret the results of those operations in relation to the research problem.

Go beyond stating what you hope to achieve through the methods you have chosen. State how you will actually implement the methods (i.e., coding interview text, running regression analysis, etc.).

Anticipate and acknowledge any potential barriers you may encounter when undertaking your research, and describe how you will address these barriers.

Explain where you believe you will find challenges related to data collection, including access to participants and information.

Preliminary suppositions and implications

The purpose of this section is to argue how you anticipate that your research will refine, revise, or extend existing knowledge in the area of your study. Depending upon the aims and objectives of your study, you should also discuss how your anticipated findings may impact future research. For example, is it possible that your research may lead to a new policy, theoretical understanding, or method for analyzing data? How might your study influence future studies? What might your study mean for future practitioners working in the field? Who or what might benefit from your study? How might your study contribute to social, economic or environmental issues? While it is important to think about and discuss possibilities such as these, it is equally important to be realistic in stating your anticipated findings. In other words, you do not want to delve into idle speculation. Rather, the purpose here is to reflect upon gaps in the current body of literature and to describe how you anticipate your research will begin to fill in some or all of those gaps.

The conclusion reiterates the importance and significance of your research proposal, and provides a brief summary of the entire proposed study. Essentially, this section should only be one or two paragraphs in length. Here is a potential outline for your conclusion:

Discuss why the study should be done. Specifically discuss how you expect your study will advance existing knowledge and how your study is unique.

Explain the specific purpose of the study and the research questions that the study will answer.

Explain why the research design and methods chosen for this study are appropriate, and why other designs and methods were not chosen.

State the potential implications you expect to emerge from your proposed study,

Provide a sense of how your study fits within the broader scholarship currently in existence, related to the research problem.

Citations and references

As with any scholarly research paper, you must cite the sources you used in composing your research proposal. In a research proposal, this can take two forms: a reference list or a bibliography. A reference list lists the literature you referenced in the body of your research proposal. All references in the reference list must appear in the body of the research proposal. Remember, it is not acceptable to say “as cited in …” As a researcher you must always go to the original source and check it for yourself. Many errors are made in referencing, even by top researchers, and so it is important not to perpetuate an error made by someone else. While this can be time consuming, it is the proper way to undertake a literature review.

In contrast, a bibliography , is a list of everything you used or cited in your research proposal, with additional citations to any key sources relevant to understanding the research problem. In other words, sources cited in your bibliography may not necessarily appear in the body of your research proposal. Make sure you check with your instructor to see which of the two you are expected to produce.

Overall, your list of citations should be a testament to the fact that you have done a sufficient level of preliminary research to ensure that your project will complement, but not duplicate, previous research efforts. For social sciences, the reference list or bibliography should be prepared in American Psychological Association (APA) referencing format. Usually, the reference list (or bibliography) is not included in the word count of the research proposal. Again, make sure you check with your instructor to confirm.

Research Methods for the Social Sciences: An Introduction by Valerie Sheppard is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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  • What Is A Research Proposal? Definition and Step By Step Guide

Introduction: 

A research proposal is the foundation of any scholarly pursuit, laying the groundwork for a successful research endeavor. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the core elements of a research proposal, demystifying its purpose and significance.

what is research proposal and its contents

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Defining the Research Proposal: 

A research proposal is a systematic blueprint that outlines the key components and objectives of a research project. It serves as a roadmap, guiding researchers through the journey of inquiry.

Crafting the Research Question: 

At the heart of a research proposal lies the research question. Articulate a clear and compelling question that defines the scope and direction of your study.

The Significance of Literature Review: 

A well-crafted literature review demonstrates your grasp of existing research and sets the context for your study. Synthesize and analyze prior work to identify gaps and contributions.

Methodology Matters: 

The methodology section elucidates the research design, data collection methods, and analytical approaches. Choose the most appropriate methods to ensure the credibility and reliability of your findings.

Ethical Considerations: 

Ethics are paramount in research. Address potential ethical issues, ensuring the welfare and confidentiality of research participants.

Theoretical Framework: 

A theoretical framework provides a conceptual structure for your study, guiding data analysis and interpretation . Align your research with established theories or develop new frameworks.

Importance of Research Objectives: 

Clearly defined research objectives set the course for your investigation, ensuring focus and clarity in your study.

Expected Outcomes and Implications: 

Discuss the expected outcomes of your research and its potential implications for academia and real-world applications.

Timeline and Resources: 

Present a realistic timeline for your research and detail the resources needed to execute the project successfully.

Conclusion: 

A research proposal serves as the compass that navigates researchers through uncharted territories. Embrace its significance, and witness your research aspirations evolve into groundbreaking discoveries.

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what is research proposal and its contents

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  • What is a Research Proposal?
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Information on Writing a Research Proposal

From the Sage Encyclopedia of Educational Research, Measurement and Evaluation:

Research proposals are written to propose a research project and oftentimes request funding, or sponsorship, for that research. The research proposal is used to assess the originality and quality of ideas and the feasibility of a proposed project. The goal of the research proposal is to convince others that the investigator has (a) an important idea; (b) the skills, knowledge, and resources to carry out the project; and (c) a plan to implement the project on time and within budget. This entry discusses the process of developing a research proposal and the elements of an effective proposal.

For a graduate student, a research proposal may be required to begin the dissertation process. This serves to communicate the research focus to others, such as members of the student’s dissertation committee. It also indicates the investigator’s plan of action, including a level of thoroughness and sufficient detail to replicate the study. The research proposal could also be considered as a contract, once members of the committee agree to the execution of the project.

Requirements may include:  an abstract, introduction, literature review, method section, and conclusion.  A research proposal has to clearly and concisely identify the proposed research and its importance. The background literature should support the need for the research and the potential impact of the findings.

The method section proposes a comprehensive explanation of the research design, including subjects, timeline, and data analysis. Research questions should be identified as well as measurement instruments and methods to answer the research questions. Proposals for research involving human subjects identify how the investigators will protect participants throughout their research project. 

Proposals often require engaging in an external review either by an external evaluator or advisory  board consisting of expert consultants in the field. References are included to provide documentation about the supporting literature identified in the proposal. Appendixes and supplemental materials may also be included, following the sponsoring organization’s guidelines. As a general rule, educational research proposals follow the American Psychological Association formatting guidelines and publishing standards. If funding is being requested, it is important for the proposal to identify how the research will benefit the sponsoring organization and its constituents.

The success of a research proposal depends on both the quality of the project and its presentation. A proposal may have specific goals, but if they are neither realistic nor desirable, the probability of obtaining funding is reduced. Similar to manuscripts being considered for journal articles, reviewers evaluate each research proposal to identify strengths and criticisms based on a general framework and scoring rubric determined by the sponsoring organization. Research proposals that meet the scoring criteria are considered for funding opportunities. If a proposal does not meet the scoring criteria, revisions may be necessary before resubmitting the proposal to the same or a different sponsoring organization.

Common mistakes and pitfalls can often be avoided in research proposal writing through awareness and careful planning. In an effective research proposal, the research idea is clearly stated as a problem and there is an explanation of how the proposed research addresses a demonstrable gap in the current literature. In addition, an effective proposal is well structured, frames the research question(s) within sufficient context supported by the literature, and has a timeline that is appropriate to address the focus and scope of the research project. All requirements of the sponsoring organization, including required project elements and document formatting, need to be met within the research proposal. Finally, an effective proposal is engaging and demonstrates the researcher’s passion and commitment to the research addressed.

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How to Write a Research Proposal

As part of the application for admission onto our MJur, MPhil and PhD programmes, you must prepare a research proposal outlining your proposed area of study.

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What is a research proposal?

A research proposal is a concise and coherent summary of your proposed research. It sets out the central issues or questions that you intend to address. It outlines the general area of study within which your research falls, referring to the current state of knowledge and any recent debates on the topic. It also demonstrates the originality of your proposed research.

The proposal is the most important document that you submit as part of the application process. It gives you an opportunity to demonstrate that you have the aptitude for graduate level research, for example, by demonstrating that you have the ability to communicate complex ideas clearly, concisely and critically. The proposal also helps us to match your research interest with an appropriate supervisor.

What should you include in the proposal?

Regardless of whether you are applying for the MJur, MPhil or PhD programmes, your research proposal should normally include the following information:

This is just a tentative title for your intended research. You will be able to revise your title during the course of your research if you are accepted for admission.

Examples of the thesis titles of some of our current and recent research students can be seen on our Current Projects page .

2. Abstract

The proposal should include a concise statement of your intended research of no more than 100 words. This may be a couple of sentences setting out the problem that you want to examine or the central question that you wish to address.

3. Research Context

You should explain the broad background against which you will conduct your research. You should include a brief overview of the general area of study within which your proposed research falls, summarising the current state of knowledge and recent debates on the topic. This will allow you to demonstrate a familiarity with the relevant field as well as the ability to communicate clearly and concisely.

4. Research Questions

The proposal should set out the central aims and questions that will guide your research. Before writing your proposal, you should take time to reflect on the key questions that you are seeking to answer. Many research proposals are too broad, so reflecting on your key research questions is a good way to make sure that your project is sufficiently narrow and feasible (i.e. one that is likely to be completed with the normal period for a MJur, MPhil or PhD degree).

You might find it helpful to prioritize one or two main questions, from which you can then derive a number of secondary research questions. The proposal should also explain your intended approach to answering the questions: will your approach be empirical, doctrinal or theoretical etc?

5. Research Methods

The proposal should outline your research methods, explaining how you are going to conduct your research. Your methods may include visiting particular libraries or archives, field work or interviews.

Most research is library-based. If your proposed research is library-based, you should explain where your key resources (e.g. law reports, journal articles) are located (in the Law School’s library, Westlaw etc). If you plan to conduct field work or collect empirical data, you should provide details about this (e.g. if you plan interviews, who will you interview? How many interviews will you conduct? Will there be problems of access?). This section should also explain how you are going to analyse your research findings.

6. Significance of Research

The proposal should demonstrate the originality of your intended research. You should therefore explain why your research is important (for example, by explaining how your research builds on and adds to the current state of knowledge in the field or by setting out reasons why it is timely to research your proposed topic).

7. Bibliography

The proposal should include a short bibliography identifying the most relevant works for your topic.

How long should the proposal be?

The proposal should usually be around 2,500 words. It is important to bear in mind that specific funding bodies might have different word limits.

Can the School comment on my draft proposal?

We recognise that you are likely still developing your research topic. We therefore recommend that you contact a member of our staff with appropriate expertise to discuss your proposed research. If there is a good fit between your proposed research and our research strengths, we will give you advice on a draft of your research proposal before you make a formal application. For details of our staff and there areas of expertise please visit our staff pages . 

Read a sample proposal from a successful application  

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What Are The Elements Of A Good Research Proposal?

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by  Antony W

March 10, 2023

elements of a good research proposal

The key to writing a great research proposal for your upcoming research project is to make sure the document has the right structure.

Your paper must include all the components that your professor expects to see. So in this guide, we’ll outline all the elements of a good research proposal and explain why they’re important.

The elements of a good research proposal are the title, the introduction, literature review, aims and objectives, methodology, scope of the research, outline and timetable, and bibliography.

It’s important to include these elements in your research proposal exactly in the order in which they appear in the list above.

Why The Key Elements Of A Research Proposal Matter

The basic elements of a research proposal are important because they communicate your thought process, present the originality of your ideas, and demonstrate that you’re passionate about the subject in question.

If you structure and write your research proposal well, your paper can convince your professor that your project is feasible and you have what it takes to take   your research project to the next level.

Have no time to read this guide and would rather get quick writing help? Let us write your research proposal for you! 

7 Key Elements of a Research Proposal 

While developing a detailed and comprehensive research proposal requires a lot of planning, attention to details, and academic writing skills , understanding the core elements of the paper is the first step to getting your proposal accepted.

So here are the elements that you should include in your research proposal.

It sounds somewhat obvious when we say that your research proposal with a title. To say the least, you already know you should.

But perhaps the most common mistake that many students make is to write general titles that lack focus.

Instead of writing a long title that’s hard to read or a short title that fails to highlight the theme of your research, write a clear and concise headline that tells your reader what your research proposal is about at a first glance.

2. Introduction

The starting paragraph to a research project is one of the elements of a good research proposal because it introduces the subject you wish to address or a research problem you wish to analyze.

Because the introduction of a research proposal is what sets the tone for the rest of the paper, it’s important to start with a hook and then organize your thoughts in a logical and organized manner.

The introduction to your research proposal should give background information and explain why you believe a research question is worth exploring. While not mandatory, you can briefly describe your methodologies in the introduction and then expand them later on.

Your introduction should be clear and concise. Make sure you include only the most relevant information in this section so you don’t make it unnecessarily too long.

3. Literature Review

Although a research proposal doesn’t include a full literature review , it’s important to include an overview of the most significant studies in your field.

The section should feature evidence and statistical data to demonstrate the significance of your research.

Through the literature review, you can easily draw your reader’s attention to existing research, identify gaps in existing studies, and make your reader understand how your proposal will contribute to the already existing research.

4. Aims and Objectives

Aims and objectives are what you wish your research proposal to accomplish. Your aims will be your overall outcome or what you want the research to achieve.

Objectives tend to be narrower and more focused. More often than not, you need to provide an explanation for each of your objectives to show how they will help to meet the aims of your study.

Unless required, you don’t really have to include a hypothesis that your research proposal looks forward to test.

5. Research Methodology

Methodologies are simply the research methods you will use to conduct your study and they must appear in your research proposal whether or not you’re conducting an experimental research.

The methodologies include analysis and sampling techniques equipment, research approaches, and ethical concerns.

Make sure your explanation for each methodology is clear and precise. It helps to justify why you’ve chosen to use a certain methodology over an alternative. This will go a long way to show that you took your time to think about your methodologies before picking them.

It’s important to explain how you will collect data, the sample size you plan to consider for your research investigation, and the techniques you consider the most appropriate to analyze the data.

6. Scope of the Research

Because you’ll be working with limited time and resource, it’s reasonable to include a section on the scope of the research in your proposal. In other words, you have to show your reader that you can start and complete your research within the constraints of these two resources.

Remember, your research will more than likely have limits, and addressing them in this section not only shows that you have given them a thought but also makes your research proposal strong and authentic.

Don’t just focus on the challenges that you’re likely to come across during your studies. You should also propose alternative solutions that you can use and why they might help.

7. Outline and Timetable

Your professor expects to see an outline and a timetable in your research proposal so it’s important that you include them in your research proposal.

The purpose of the outline is to show how you plan to structure your dissertation . Briefly note what each section will cover and explain how it all fits into the argument of your research project.

The purpose of the timetable is to show how much time you’ll need to complete your research. In particular, you need to make sure you mention exactly how long you expect each stage of your study to take.

Don’t just mention how long the research process will take. Make sure you also indicate how long you’ll take to compile your research.

Get Help with Research Proposal Writing

Knowing the elements of a good research proposal is one thing. Writing the proposal is where there’s a lot of work. If you don’t have the time to complete the work yourself, feel free to take advantage of our research proposal writing and get the paper done on time.

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

  • How to Write a Research Proposal

How to Write a Research Proposal - Structure and Guidelines

To obtain any higher degree of education, you will be required to write a research paper as a part of your final project. A research proposal is written before you write your research paper. It is a description of your research topic and the details of your paper. There is a particular format for writing a research proposal. To learn more about what a research proposal is, go through this article.

Table of Contents

What is the purpose of a research proposal, abstract and table of contents, introduction, aims and objectives, background significance, literature review, research design and methodology, research questions, suppositions and implications, bibliography, tips to write a research proposal, frequently asked questions on writing a research proposal.

The purpose of writing a research proposal is to present the plan for the research. It can also be written as a proposal for the research project’s funding. First, a research proposal is sent to the guide or mentor for approval. Only after their approval can you proceed with the research.

No matter what your reasons are for drafting a research proposal, the format remains the same. The researcher portrays how and why the research topic is relevant to the field. They explain the research gap and the ways to fill up the research gap. A research proposal also proves that the author can conduct the research and make a significant contribution to the field’s current status. To do this, your research proposal must detail your academic history and credentials and also establish the academic worth of your proposed ideas.

Listed below are the important things to be covered in a research proposal.

  • The research methodology
  • The research tools and procedures to be used by the researcher to collect and analyse the data
  • Explanation of how the research can fit the budget and other restrictions imposed by the institution, department, or academic program

Structure of a Research Proposal

A research proposal must include the following.

An abstract and table of contents are added at the beginning of the research proposal, just before the introduction. An abstract talks about the research in brief. It can also include keywords used in the proposal towards the end.

Like in any other academic writing, the introduction of a research proposal introduces your research idea. It covers the research problem and the questions it raises. The introduction provides the context for your research. It must be precise and must cover all the relevant information. Be careful not to make it look like all the information is crammed into one paragraph.

This is an important section of a research proposal. This is where you explain your objectives for conducting the research and what you intend to achieve through it. This will help the reader understand your point of view more clearly. Mention the objectives in bullet points.

This is the section where you explain why the research is essential and how it is related to the field. You have to also explain the research problems and why you have to work on them here.

The literature review plays a vital role in a research proposal. In this section, you will explain information related to the study from books, articles and other sources. The main objective here is to establish the research gap.

After the literature review, the important thing to discuss in the research proposal is the research methodology and the design of your research. In this section, you will mention about,

  • The type of research to be conducted – qualitative or quantitative. You will have to mention if the data is collected originally by you or if you are analysing other researchers’ works.
  • You will also have to explain if you are conducting an experimental, correlational, or descriptive type of research.
  • Discuss the data you are working with. If you are conducting social science research, for example, you will have to describe the demographic you are looking at. You must also explain how you will choose your subjects and collect data from them.
  • Also, explain the tools to be used while conducting the research. It can be surveys, interviews, videos, etc.

After looking at your research and the type of research, you can also add information regarding the budget, time frame, and obstacles.

Research questions direct you to stick to the research and not deviate from it at any point. It can be two to four or five questions that you seek to find answers to with your research.

Although you will not know the findings of your research until you’ve completed it, you should have a clear sense of how your work will benefit your field before you begin. This section of your research proposal is likely the most important because it expresses why your research is vital. You can explain the below-given points in this section.

  • How your research will create the foundation for future research.
  • How it can be challenging to the already existing theories.
  • How it adds practical value to the practitioners, researchers, teachers, etc.
  • The problems that you may have to work on and fix.
  • Policies that can be impacted by your findings.
  • How your findings can be implemented in academics, and how they can transform the system.

Primarily this section talks about the value that your research can add. Rather than talking about the exact result or exact answer, you can discuss the expected outcomes.

The conclusion contains the overall summary of the proposal. Make sure you do not end it abruptly.

A bibliography plays a crucial role in a research paper as well as a research proposal. It is the list of sources you have referred to and cited to avoid plagiarism and copyright issues. At times, the full list of the bibliography is not needed. In such a case, we can just add the reference list. You can seek help from your guide or supervisor for the correct format.

  • Include all the information regarding the final research paper to make it understandable to the supervisor, guide, etc.
  • Citations play a major role. Cite every source you have referred to and used.
  • Follow one format of writing, e.g. MLA format, APA format, etc. Consult with your guide and find out which format you have to follow to write your research proposal.
  • Establish a strong argument for your research proposal because your objective is to make your reader say “Yes” to your proposal.
  • Proofread and edit it to avoid any possible errors.

What are the essential components of a research proposal?

The essential components of a research proposal are the introduction, literature review, research questions, aims and objectives, and the research methodology.

Why is a research proposal written?

A research proposal is written to seek approval from the research guide, to get financial support, or to prepare a representation of your research plan and strategies.

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The Dissertation Proposal Writing Process and Conference Preparation

The past few months of my PhD journey have been an absolute whirlwind! Aside from my typical class and GTA responsiblities, I was juggling my dissertation proposal, an ASEE conference paper, and preparing for the KEEN (Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network) National Conference! It was a lot of work at times and a little daunting, but whenever I took a step back from it all, I realized how cool all the work is that I’m doing and how amazing it is to be doing it as a PhD student. Along the way, I learned several important lessons that will inform how move through Engineering Education moving forward.

A long term goal of mine was to finish my dissertation proposal, send it to my committee, and formally start my candidacy exam on February 1st which happened! I blocked of time weekly to work on my proposal and flesh out my research design since the Summer of 2023, and seeing the kind of progress and growth I was making was incredible. For some time, I had learned about all the different elements of research design, what kinds of things I need to consider, and what decisions need to be justified, and finally putting all this knowledge into practice helped to make all this conceptual knowledge more tangible. This process also showed me the power of setting aside dedicated work time for specific projects. With each passing week, I could see the progress I was making and always ended each week a few steps ahead than where I started.

While finishing up my proposal and sending that to my committee, I was able to work on an ASEE paper with fellow RIME members, Amanda Singer and Carter Huber, along with Drs. Kajfez and Kecskemety! This paper focused on the application of some indirect assessments our KEEN Research & Assessment Team developed in the honors track of our first-year program. We had some interesting findings in our data analysis and it’s exciting to put this out into the world for other practitioners to reference as they help their students develop an entrepreneurial mindset. It was also very cool to begin collaborating with my peers on research! I think we all brought something valuable to our work and that helped to make our findings shine.

The submission of both my proposal and this ASEE paper culminated with a trip to the KEEN National Conference (KNC) which was held in Austin, Texas this year! It was refreshing to be with a group of educators who are also invested in how we teach students and making sure it’s done in a way that benefits their growth. The conferenced largely focused on different kinds of workshops and helping educators see how they could bring new ideas and practices into their classrooms to enhance student learning. But, the best parts of the conference were attending with Dr. Kajfez and meeting up with fellow RIME member, Meg West, and RIME alumn, Abby Clark (see photo below).

Looking forward, I will soon begin working on the written portion of my candidacy exam. While it can be a little intimidating, it will encourage me to think deeply about different pieces and parts of my study design and make sure I’m ready to think through any curveballs that come my way post-candidacy. I’m excited to begin this part of my PhD journey and see what my study design will look like by the end of the spring semester!

what is research proposal and its contents

Read our research on: Immigration & Migration | Podcasts | Election 2024

Regions & Countries

How americans view the situation at the u.s.-mexico border, its causes and consequences, 80% say the u.s. government is doing a bad job handling the migrant influx.

what is research proposal and its contents

Pew Research Center conducted this study to understand the public’s views about the large number of migrants seeking to enter the U.S. at the border with Mexico. For this analysis, we surveyed 5,140 adults from Jan. 16-21, 2024. Everyone who took part in this survey is a member of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. Read more about the ATP’s methodology .

Here are the questions used for the report and its methodology .

The growing number of migrants seeking entry into the United States at its border with Mexico has strained government resources, divided Congress and emerged as a contentious issue in the 2024 presidential campaign .

Chart shows Why do Americans think there is an influx of migrants to the United States?

Americans overwhelmingly fault the government for how it has handled the migrant situation. Beyond that, however, there are deep differences – over why the migrants are coming to the U.S., proposals for addressing the situation, and even whether it should be described as a “crisis.”

Factors behind the migrant influx

Economic factors – either poor conditions in migrants’ home countries or better economic opportunities in the United States – are widely viewed as major reasons for the migrant influx.

About seven-in-ten Americans (71%), including majorities in both parties, cite better economic opportunities in the U.S. as a major reason.

There are wider partisan differences over other factors.

About two-thirds of Americans (65%) say violence in migrants’ home countries is a major reason for why a large number of immigrants have come to the border.

Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are 30 percentage points more likely than Republicans and Republican leaners to cite this as a major reason (79% vs. 49%).

By contrast, 76% of Republicans say the belief that U.S. immigration policies will make it easy to stay in the country once they arrive is a major factor. About half as many Democrats (39%) say the same.

For more on Americans’ views of these and other reasons, visit Chapter 2.

How serious is the situation at the border?

A sizable majority of Americans (78%) say the large number of migrants seeking to enter this country at the U.S.-Mexico border is eithera crisis (45%) or a major problem (32%), according to the Pew Research Center survey, conducted Jan. 16-21, 2024, among 5,140 adults.

Related: Migrant encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border hit a record high at the end of 2023 .

Chart shows Border situation viewed as a ‘crisis’ by most Republicans; Democrats are more likely to call it a ‘problem’

  • Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to describe the situation as a “crisis”: 70% of Republicans say this, compared with just 22% of Democrats.
  • Democrats mostly view the situation as a major problem (44%) or minor problem (26%) for the U.S. Very few Democrats (7%) say it is not a problem.

In an open-ended question , respondents voice their concerns about the migrant influx. They point to numerous issues, including worries about how the migrants are cared for and general problems with the immigration system.

Yet two concerns come up most frequently:

  • 22% point to the economic burdens associated with the migrant influx, including the strains migrants place on social services and other government resources.
  • 22% also cite security concerns. Many of these responses focus on crime (10%), terrorism (10%) and drugs (3%).

When asked specifically about the impact of the migrant influx on crime in the United States, a majority of Americans (57%) say the large number of migrants seeking to enter the country leads to more crime. Fewer (39%) say this does not have much of an impact on crime in this country.

Republicans (85%) overwhelmingly say the migrant surge leads to increased crime in the U.S. A far smaller share of Democrats (31%) say the same; 63% of Democrats instead say it does not have much of an impact.

Government widely criticized for its handling of migrant influx

For the past several years, the federal government has gotten low ratings for its handling of the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border. (Note: The wording of this question has been modified modestly to reflect circumstances at the time).

Chart shows Only about a quarter of Democrats and even fewer Republicans say the government has done a good job dealing with large number of migrants at the border

However, the current ratings are extraordinarily low.

Just 18% say the U.S. government is doing a good job dealing with the large number of migrants at the border, while 80% say it is doing a bad job, including 45% who say it is doing a very bad job.

  • Republicans’ views are overwhelmingly negative (89% say it’s doing a bad job), as they have been since Joe Biden became president.
  • 73% of Democrats also give the government negative ratings, the highest share recorded during Biden’s presidency.

For more on Americans’ evaluations of the situation, visit Chapter 1 .

Which policies could improve the border situation?

There is no single policy proposal, among the nine included on the survey, that majorities of both Republicans and Democrats say would improve the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border. There are areas of relative agreement, however.

A 60% majority of Americans say that increasing the number of immigration judges and staff in order to make decisions on asylum more quickly would make the situation better. Only 11% say it would make things worse, while 14% think it would not make much difference.

Nearly as many (56%) say creating more opportunities for people to legally immigrate to the U.S. would make the situation better.

Chart shows Most Democrats and nearly half of Republicans say boosting resources for quicker decisions on asylum cases would improve situation at Mexico border

Majorities of Democrats say each of these proposals would make the border situation better.

Republicans are less positive than are Democrats; still, about 40% or more of Republicans say each would improve the situation, while far fewer say they would make things worse.

Opinions on other proposals are more polarized. For example, a 56% majority of Democrats say that adding resources to provide safe and sanitary conditions for migrants arriving in the U.S. would be a positive step forward.

Republicans not only are far less likely than Democrats to view this proposal positively, but far more say it would make the situation worse (43%) than better (17%).

Chart shows Wide partisan gaps in views of expanding border wall, providing ‘safe and sanitary conditions’ for migrants

Building or expanding a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border was among the most divisive policies of Donald Trump’s presidency. In 2019, 82% of Republicans favored expanding the border wall , compared with just 6% of Democrats.

Today, 72% of Republicans say substantially expanding the wall along the U.S. border with Mexico would make the situation better. Just 15% of Democrats concur, with most saying either it would not make much of a difference (47%) or it would make things worse (24%).

For more on Americans’ reactions to policy proposals, visit Chapter 3 .

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Report Materials

Table of contents, fast facts on how greeks see migrants as greece-turkey border crisis deepens, americans’ immigration policy priorities: divisions between – and within – the two parties, from the archives: in ’60s, americans gave thumbs-up to immigration law that changed the nation, around the world, more say immigrants are a strength than a burden, latinos have become less likely to say there are too many immigrants in u.s., most popular.

About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts .

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hUMNs of Chemistry #11

Steven Diaz headshot

Steven Diaz

He/him/él Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Frontiera Group

Tell us about your journey to the University of Minnesota.

As a 6th year graduate student at the University of Rochester, I was interested in applying to postdoctoral research positions and had initial conversations with Dr. Frontiera about what joining her lab as a postdoc would look like. She had also mentioned a fellowship she had heard about here at UMN. With her recommendation, I applied to the President's Postdoctoral Fellowship Program with no expectations and a vague idea of defending my thesis sometime late 2023. In early 2023, Dr. Frontiera sent me an email letting me know my fellowship application had been awarded and that I needed to start the position by September 1st. Luckily, my PI at Rochester was very understanding and helped me defend my thesis sooner than we had anticipated so I could be here at UMN in the fall. If you'd like to hear about the 48 hour adventure that was defending my thesis, I encourage you to ask! 

Do you have a background in or like chemistry? Tell us about it!

I both have a background in and like chemistry! One of my first jobs was working as an aquatic specialist at a pet store where I had to regularly test the waters for common chemical analytes (pH, ammonia content, hardness, etc.) While working at the pet store, I obtained my B.Sc. in Chemistry with a minor in Physics from the University of Northern Colorado in 2017. I then proceeded to obtain my Masters degree in Chemistry at the University of Rochester in 2019, and my Ph.D. at U of R in 2023.

Researchers: We would love to hear more about your research! What do you hope to accomplish with this work? What is the real-world impact for the average person?

My research questions are primarily in two regions: developing novel technology for non-perturbative images and spectra; and assessing computational model accuracy with experiments. I'd like to imagine and aid in designing a world where we could measure health information quickly and non-invasively with wearable technologies. 

What do you hope to contribute to the chemistry community at the University?

While I won't be here forever, I hope to provide a voice and aid in action towards the improvement of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). As a first-generation Mexican-American scholar, I enjoy discussing and educating in these topics with a lens unique to my experiences. 

What’s your favorite piece of chemistry/science pop culture media? Why do you love it?

I would be surprised if this hasn't been an answer before, but I really enjoy listening to the podcast SciShow tangents. I really enjoy this podcast because the hosts discuss a variety of science facts on topics that range from cheese to color to telescopes. 

Tell us about who makes up your household (including pets).

My household consists of me and my dog Almond. She is a 70-lb purebred German Shepard Dog who I'm positive would trade me for 3 chicken nuggets. Her favorite toy is a rubber ball, but she also loves her lobster, red squishy star, and blue tug-of-war toys. 

portrait of Professor Christopher Douglas

Chris Douglas

He/Him Associate Professor

I first came to the U as an undergraduate in the fall of 1995.  UMN was attractive to me in many ways - far enough from my home in WI that I could retreat home easily, big and scary enough to challenge this farm boy, and full of opportunity. Reciprocity-lowered tuition certainly helped lure me here too.  I completed my degree in '99 after taking organic chemistry classes & labs taught by Steve Kass, Craig Forsyth, Ben Lui, Wayland Noland, Richard Hsung, Gary Gray, and George Barany... I took a lot of organic.  I had memorable classes from Wayne Gladfelter, Doreen Leopold, Kent Mann, Larry Que, and Hal Swofford.  Stephanie Stathopolous made the big institution feel friendly and kind.

After my PhD and Post-Doc out in California, I was on the academic job market in 2007.  I went the the alumni breakfast at the fall ACS meeting in San Diego and struck up a conversation with Tim Lodge.  He introduced me to the chair of that year's search committee, Marc Hillmyer.  Fortunately, I landed the interview and then later the dream job: becoming a PI at my alma mater.

We would love to hear more about your research! What do you hope to accomplish with this work? What is the real-world impact for the average person?

No surprise, I love organic chemistry. Particularly the part where we make stuff. My group has two main thrusts: organic electronic materials and reaction discovery.  

In organic materials we want to understand and ultimately control the properties of materials by changing the molecular structure. Much easier said than done.  Molecules we've prepared here have contributed to fundamental studies on how charges move in organic solids and how absorbed light can be converted into useable energy... there's an alphabet soup of applications: OLED (organic light emitting diodes), OPVs (organic photovoltaics, i.e. solar cells), and OFETs (organic field-effect transistors).

On discovering new reactions, we've focused on catalyzing reactions that would never take place in a million years without the catalyst. Often that means breaking and forming particularly strong bonds over the course of the reaction.  We try to use the reactions we discover in syntheses that highlight new ways to make molecules - strategies that were not possible before the discovery of our chemistry.

What courses do you teach? What can students expect to get out of your course?

This year I'm teaching two courses:

CHEM 8322/4322: Advanced Organic Chemistry - the big goal is for students to learn how to propose syntheses of complex organic molecules from simple ones.  Students can expect to learn lots of reactions, strategies, and concepts along the way, like applied qualitative molecular orbital theory & conservation of orbital symmetry. Another big goal is to teach our Grad Students and advanced undergrads to be life-long learners. There are just too many organic reactions to cover in one semester! So I try to teach students how to teach themselves.

CHEM 1903: Freshman Seminar: Chemistry in the Kitchen - Students can expect to learn fundamental chemistry concepts through food and cooking.  I cover cross linked polymers through the gluten in Chinese Lamian noodles... chirality through comparing corkscrews to spoons... pH & food preservation through pickling red onions in lime juice (they turn pink), miscibility & solubility through making lemon extracts... the Maillard reaction through making caramel apples.  Expect to get an intro to some interesting concepts & something to eat. 

Excellence in research, teaching, and service.

When you visit other universities, what do you love to share about our UMN community?

How collaborative we are here! It's fun to 'name drop' all the groups I've co-authored and collaborated with here at UMN, particularly when I talk about our materials projects.

Tell us about an important mentor in your academic life?

Tom Hoye.  He was kinda difficult to pin down on a time to chat, but I was willing to work with whatever time he would give. We met in that corner room on the 4th floor of Smith... at about 8PM or so.  After a bit of chatting (~ an hour?) about the student's NMR he was looking at when I came in, Tom went through my latest proposal rejection and its reviews line-by-line in only the way he can. I took lots of notes. I emerged from Tom's "office" around 2:30AM with new wisdom.  My proposal was funded on the next attempt.

Tell us about an important mentee in your academic life?

Todd Hyster was the first undergraduate to join my group.  One day he told me he'd like to come in on Saturdays to do some experiments.  Todd didn't have a key to the lab so we'd meet up before getting in the lab.  One weekend I found him sitting on the floor outside the lab waiting for me.  I knew he was going places.

What do you do outside of the classroom/lab/office for fun?

Quality time with my wife & kids, hiking, cooking, baking, working out, board games (Settlers of Catan), the occasional video game time (StarCraft II). 

Making soap/nitroglycerine in Fight Club. It's a compelling plot with a twist.  Lye burns don't hurt like that, though.

What was your very first job?

Lifeguard/Swim Instructor

Where is your favorite spot in the Twin Cities?

Al's Breakfast

My wife of 21 years, Rosalind.  My 16 year old son, Jack.  And my 12 year old daughter, Cate.  

What non-chemistry interest or activity might surprise department members?

Not a surprise to some, but I've been a 'member' of the FIRE movement since about 2015.  FIRE stands for "Financially Independent, Retire Early".  I could have retired in 2020 and nearly did.  I only do this job because I want to.  

Dan MacEwan headshot

Daniel MacEwan

He\Him\His I.T. Manager

Please give a brief description of your role within the UMN Chemistry department.

I'm responsible for everything that talks on the data network (WiFi, ethernet, etc), devices that sample data, and printers.  These responsibilities cover all devices in Smith and Kolthoff hall, both research and teaching.  My daily focus is to design and support strategies that maximize instrument up time, protect research data, and create value purchase propositions.  I support and analyze compliance with U of M policies for security, software licenses, and central resource use.  In short, I try to keep everyone inside the Chemistry buildings happy and keep everyone outside our buildings content.

I am the Electronics Shop supervisor.  We analyze and repair computers and equipment when possible and refer people to local vendors that we trust when our expertise is insufficient.  We also gently help people realize when the answer is to just buy a replacement device.

I am the departmental computer lab (Microlab) supervisor.  I hire and train the Microlab's revolving staff of seven undergraduate students that staff and maintain the facility for upper-division Chemistry students.

I also, like an old school news journalist, research and become a temporary subject matter expert on a variety of technology projects.

After a tour in the Navy, I arrived at the U of MN as a freshman in 1990.  My goal was a bit arbitrary and lofty.  I wanted to become a Chemical Engineer from one of the best programs in the nation.  My dad was a civil engineer, his dad was an aeronautical engineer, so this felt suitable.  I hit a wall in my second year, redirected my efforts into grabbing a Spanish degree, then realized I loved science but not engineering, and knocked out a degree in Chemistry.  At the end of that journey I became the Chemistry department's computer lab supervisor and, eventually, the I.T. Manager.

I have a bachelor's degree in Chemistry from I.T. (now the College of Science and Engineering) here at the U of MN.  I did my undergraduate directed studies with Kent Mann.  Kent was very kind to add me to the research publication for the compound we were characterizing.

http://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/ja016010x

What professional successes are most important to you?

This is a historical reflective question which is awkward for me.  I prefer to focus on today and move with strategy and intentionality into the next handful of weeks\months\years.

I would love for the Chemistry Department to have a soul that resonates for the folks in it.  My fear is people feel "I have to work here".  I want people to universally be able to say "I GET to work here."  If I've contributed to that in a consistent and clear manner, that's a win. I can go to sleep at night and smile.

I worked at a car wash when I was 14 years old.  I didn't have a car, so a friend who was older had to drive me.  Most days they wouldn't use me and would give work to the older men.  They eventually tested and trusted my work ethic.  I rose the illustrious position of detail supervisor.

I also spend time with family in Mexico for annual winter vacations.  It's very therapeutic. My inner child will occasionally indulge in a video game.  My collection of games on Steam is pretty big.  Maybe I'll have time in retirement to ACTUALLY enjoy some of them?  :) I've also spent a lifetime playing table top games. I few favorites are Sagrada, Arboretum, Splendor, and Star Realms.  I keep up on the Spiel des Jahres and YouTube channels that review games. I'm responsible for showing up to family holiday get-togethers with new options. Sometimes something like good ol' Cribbage is perfect. I learned it from my grandfather on camping trips growing up.  Good vibes.

What non-chemistry interest or activity of yours might surprise department members?

I have an Excel spreadsheet that documents all of my exercise, food trends, and biometric values going back to the year 2000.  That's when I was struggling with Syndrome X (now called metabolic syndrome) and wanted a way to do my own study with variable controls to get a grip on this body.  I have over 24 years of combinations of exercise and diet data and have a decent feel for how to make my biometric number better and what won't work.  Be your own science project.  Own it.  The result of this has been a slow drift to becoming a vegetarian.  I don't really LIKE that idea.  But I'm learning how to get there.  For me, avocado toast, citrus fruit, Beyond Burgers and Caesar salads with home made dressing (avocado oil) are cornerstones that I currently live by.  I'm always looking to tune, refine, and improve my diet without being angry at what I'm pushing into my face.  Eating food that makes you angry is just the worst.

Um, my home?  I love being at home.  But if I must adventure out, it's probably for good food: Mi-Sant, World Street Kitchen, StepChld, Taco Libre, Listo!, Que Viet, The Anchor, Khao Hom Thai, etc.

In my house, It's just me and my dog.  I have a Border Collie named Yoda.  I picked him up as a rescue in Boise, Idaho when he was about 2 years old.  He was found running down the dirt roads of some farms, no microchip, no collar, starving.  My guess is he escaped a breeding kennel.  Look, Border Collies can soak up your life.  If you let them, you won't have time for other relationships.  At the very minimum, that means lots of long walks.  A one hour walk each day is our normal routine.  It turns into two hours if I'll let him walk to his satisfaction.  Is it below 20 degrees out?  He doesn't care.  He might take a shorter 30m walk, but out a-walking he will go.  He loves to play fetch, but he doesn't just give you the ball.  He drops it 6 feet in front of you and lets it bounce and roll to your feet.  He catches and kills a couple squirrels every year.  He's stupid fast.  In fact, the fastest land animal I've ever seen in person might be Yoda.  When I first got him at 2 years old I threw a Chuck It ball for him as hard as I could, bouncing along the ground.  His body sort of morphed and streamlined as he picked up speed.  His legs were gone man.  Just a torpedo blur of raw speed and focused purpose.  His energy and joy are so infectious.  (Who saved who?)

I spend most of my time collaborating with my partner, Dorothy, and helping to raise kids.  Dorothy has eleven and I have one (who moved out two years ago).  We walk Yoda and talk about parenting strategy all the time.  Launching each kid is its own process.  There is joy and relief as each one makes the jump into The Real World.  Dorothy lives half a block away from my house, so I can retreat to my house (the introvert nest) when I need a reprieve from the chaos.

Are there any family or cultural traditions you want to share with our community?

Family traditions?  Um.... therapy?  I'm a big believer in therapy.  I'm serious that this can and should be a 'tradition' for almost all families.  Get thee to a therapee session.  Or date someone with a professional background in therapeutic strategies.  Your choice.  It's an investment in you and the "you" that you give everyone else.  How is that not a win-win?

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NASA Logo

Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Science (ROSES)-2024 Released

NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) announces the release of its annual omnibus solicitation for basic and applied research, Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Science (ROSES) 2024 as NNH24ZDA001N on or about February 14, 2024, at  https://solicitation.nasaprs.com/ROSES2024

ROSES is an omnibus solicitation, with many individual program elements, each with its own due dates and topics. Table 2 and Table 3 of this NRA, which will be posted at https://solicitation.nasaprs.com/ROSES2024table2 and https://solicitation.nasaprs.com/ROSES2024table3 , respectively, provide proposal due dates and hypertext links to descriptions of the solicited program elements in the Appendices of this NRA. Together, these program elements cover the wide range of basic and applied supporting research and technology in space and Earth sciences supported by SMD.

ROSES NRA may result in grants, cooperative agreements, and inter- or intra-agency transfers, depending on the nature of the work proposed, the proposing organization, and/or program requirements. At the time of release of ROSES, we anticipate that all awards to non-governmental organizations will be federal assistance awards, and most program elements of ROSES specify grants. Unless specifically permitted by a particular program element, ROSES will not result in contracts because it would not be appropriate for the nature of the work solicited.

Except for China (see Section III.c of the ROSES Summary of Solicitation and the ROSES PRC FAQ ), organizations of every type, domestic and foreign, Government and private, for profit and not-for-profit, may submit proposals without restriction on teaming arrangements. Research involving non-U.S. organizations must be no exchange of funds, see https://science.nasa.gov/researchers/sara/faqs#14

Awards range from under $100K per year for focused, limited efforts (e.g., data analysis) to more than $1M per year for extensive activities (e.g., development of hardware for science experiments and/or flight). Periods of performance are typically three years, but some programs may allow up to five years and others specify shorter periods.

The funds available and the anticipated number of awards are given in each program element and range from less than one to several million dollars, which allows for selection from a few to as many as several dozen proposals.

Electronic submission of proposals is required by the respective due dates for each program element and must be submitted by an authorized official of the proposing organization. Electronic proposals may be submitted via the NASA proposal data system NSPIRES or via Grants.gov.

Every organization that intends to submit a proposal in response to ROSES-2024 must be registered with NSPIRES; organizations that intend to submit proposals via Grants.gov must be registered with Grants.gov, in addition to being registered with NSPIRES. Such registration must identify the authorized organizational representative(s) (AOR) who will submit the electronic proposal. All proposal team members must be registered in NSPIRES regardless of the submission system, so we may perform automatic organizational conflict of interest checking of reviewers. Potential proposers and proposing organizations are urged to access the system(s) well in advance of the proposal due date(s) of interest to familiarize themselves with its structure and to enter the requested information.

Notices of intent to propose and Step-1 Proposals will be due starting in March 27, 2024, and Full (Step-2) Proposals will be due no earlier than May 14, 2024, see Table 2 and Table 3 .

Potential proposers are strongly encouraged to read Section I(d) of the ROSES Summary of Solicitation and ROSES-24 FAQ#1 that list significant changes prior ROSES.

To learn of the addition of new program elements and all amendments to this NRA, proposers may:

  • Subscribe to the SMD mailing lists (by logging in at http://nspires.nasaprs.com/ and checking the appropriate boxes under "Account Management" and "Email Subscriptions");
  • Get automatic updates of due dates using the ROSES-2024 due date Google calendar. Instructions will be available shortly after release at https://science.nasa.gov/researchers/sara/library-and-useful-links (link from the words due date calendar);
  • and checking this ROSES-2024 Blog at https://science.nasa.gov/researchers/solicitations/roses-2024/

Frequently asked questions about ROSES-2024 will be posted at http://science.nasa.gov/researchers/sara/faqs/ shortly after release.

Questions concerning the individual program elements in ROSES should be directed to the point(s) of contact in the Summary Table of Key Information at the end of the program element and at http://science.nasa.gov/researchers/sara/program-officers-list/ .

Subject matter experts are encouraged to sign up to be a volunteer reviewer at https://science.nasa.gov/researchers/volunteer-review-panels

Questions concerning general ROSES-2024 policies and procedures may be directed to Max Bernstein, Lead for Research, Science Mission Directorate, at [email protected] .

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Home » Proposal – Types, Examples, and Writing Guide

Proposal – Types, Examples, and Writing Guide

Table of Contents

Proposal

Definition:

Proposal is a formal document or presentation that outlines a plan, idea, or project and seeks to persuade others to support or adopt it. Proposals are commonly used in business, academia, and various other fields to propose new initiatives, solutions to problems, research studies, or business ventures.

Proposal Layout

While the specific layout of a proposal may vary depending on the requirements or guidelines provided by the recipient, there are some common sections that are typically included in a standard proposal. Here’s a typical layout for a proposal:

  • The title of the proposal.
  • Your name or the name of your organization.
  • Date of submission.
  • A list of sections or headings with corresponding page numbers for easy navigation.
  • An overview of the proposal, highlighting its key points and benefits.
  • Summarize the problem or opportunity.
  • Outline the proposed solution or project.
  • Mention the expected outcomes or deliverables.
  • Keep it concise and compelling.
  • Provide background information about the issue or context.
  • Explain the purpose and objectives of the proposal.
  • Clarify the problem statement or opportunity that the proposal aims to address.
  • Describe in detail the methodology , approach , or plan to achieve the objectives.
  • Outline the steps or tasks involved in implementing the proposal.
  • Explain how the proposed solution or project will be executed.
  • Include a timeline or schedule to demonstrate the project’s timeline.
  • Define the specific activities, tasks, or services to be provided.
  • Clarify the deliverables and expected outcomes.
  • Mention any limitations or exclusions, if applicable.
  • Provide a detailed breakdown of the costs associated with the proposal.
  • Include itemized expenses such as personnel, materials, equipment, and any other relevant costs.
  • If applicable, include a justification for each cost.
  • Introduce the individuals or team members involved in the proposal.
  • Highlight their qualifications, expertise, and experience relevant to the project.
  • Include their roles and responsibilities.
  • Specify how the success of the proposal will be measured.
  • Define evaluation criteria and metrics to assess the outcomes.
  • Explain how progress will be tracked and reported.
  • Recap the main points of the proposal.
  • Reiterate the benefits and advantages of the proposed solution.
  • Emphasize the value and importance of supporting or adopting the proposal.
  • Include any additional documents, references, charts, graphs, or data that support your proposal.
  • These can include resumes, letters of support, financial projections, or relevant research materials.

Types of Types of Proposals

When it comes to proposals, there are various types depending on the context and purpose. Here are some common types of proposals:

Business Proposal

This type of proposal is used in the business world to present a plan, idea, or project to potential clients, investors, or partners. It typically includes an executive summary, problem statement, proposed solution, timeline, budget, and anticipated outcomes.

Project Proposal

A project proposal is a detailed document that outlines the objectives, scope, methodology, deliverables, and budget of a specific project. It is used to seek approval and funding from stakeholders or clients.

Research Proposal

Research proposals are commonly used in academic or scientific settings. They outline the research objectives, methodology, timeline, expected outcomes, and potential significance of a research study. These proposals are submitted to funding agencies, universities, or research institutions.

Grant Proposal

Non-profit organizations, researchers, or individuals seeking funding for a project or program often write grant proposals. These proposals provide a detailed plan of the project, including goals, methods, budget, and expected outcomes, to convince grant-making bodies to provide financial support.

Sales Proposal

Sales proposals are used by businesses to pitch their products or services to potential customers. They typically include information about the product/service, pricing, features, benefits, and a persuasive argument to encourage the recipient to make a purchase.

Sponsorship Proposal

When seeking sponsorship for an event, sports team, or individual, a sponsorship proposal is created. It outlines the benefits for the sponsor, the exposure they will receive, and the financial or in-kind support required.

Marketing Proposal

A marketing proposal is developed by marketing agencies or professionals to present their strategies and tactics to potential clients. It includes an analysis of the target market, proposed marketing activities, budget, and expected results.

Policy Proposal

In the realm of government or public policy, individuals or organizations may create policy proposals to suggest new laws, regulations, or changes to existing policies. These proposals typically provide an overview of the issue, the proposed solution, supporting evidence, and potential impacts.

Training Proposal

Organizations often create training proposals to propose a training program for their employees. These proposals outline the training objectives, topics to be covered, training methods, resources required, and anticipated outcomes.

Partnership Proposal

When two or more organizations or individuals wish to collaborate or form a partnership, a partnership proposal is used to present the benefits, shared goals, responsibilities, and terms of the proposed partnership.

Event Proposal

Event planners or individuals organizing an event, such as a conference, concert, or wedding, may create an event proposal. It includes details about the event concept, venue, logistics, budget, marketing plan, and anticipated attendee experience.

Technology Proposal

Technology proposals are used to present new technological solutions, system upgrades, or IT projects to stakeholders or decision-makers. These proposals outline the technology requirements, implementation plan, costs, and anticipated benefits.

Construction Proposal

Contractors or construction companies create construction proposals to bid on construction projects. These proposals include project specifications, cost estimates, timelines, materials, and construction methodologies.

Book Proposal

Authors or aspiring authors create book proposals to pitch their book ideas to literary agents or publishers. These proposals include a synopsis of the book, target audience, marketing plan, author’s credentials, and sample chapters.

Social Media Proposal

Social media professionals or agencies create social media proposals to present their strategies for managing social media accounts, creating content, and growing online presence. These proposals include an analysis of the current social media presence, proposed tactics, metrics for success, and pricing.

Training and Development Proposal

Similar to training proposals, these proposals focus on the overall development and growth of employees within an organization. They may include plans for leadership development, skill enhancement, or professional certification programs.

Consulting Proposal

Consultants create consulting proposals to present their services and expertise to potential clients. These proposals outline the problem statement, proposed approach, scope of work, timeline, deliverables, and fees.

Policy Advocacy Proposal

Organizations or individuals seeking to influence public policy or advocate for a particular cause create policy advocacy proposals. These proposals present research, evidence, and arguments to support a specific policy change or reform.

Website Design Proposal

Web designers or agencies create website design proposals to pitch their services to clients. These proposals outline the project scope, design concepts, development process, timeline, and pricing.

Environmental Proposal

Environmental proposals are created to address environmental issues or propose conservation initiatives. These proposals may include strategies for renewable energy, waste management, biodiversity preservation, or sustainable practices.

Health and Wellness Proposal

Proposals related to health and wellness can cover a range of topics, such as wellness programs, community health initiatives, healthcare system improvements, or health education campaigns.

Human Resources (HR) Proposal

HR professionals may create HR proposals to introduce new policies, employee benefits programs, performance evaluation systems, or employee training initiatives within an organization.

Nonprofit Program Proposal

Nonprofit organizations seeking funding or support for a specific program or project create nonprofit program proposals. These proposals outline the program’s objectives, activities, target beneficiaries, budget, and expected outcomes.

Government Contract Proposal

When bidding for government contracts, businesses or contractors create government contract proposals. These proposals include details about the project, compliance with regulations, cost estimates, and qualifications.

Product Development Proposal

Businesses or individuals seeking to develop and launch a new product present product development proposals. These proposals outline the product concept, market analysis, development process, production costs, and marketing strategies.

Feasibility Study Proposal

Feasibility study proposals are used to assess the viability and potential success of a project or business idea. These proposals include market research, financial analysis, risk assessment, and recommendations for implementation.

Educational Program Proposal

Educational institutions or organizations create educational program proposals to introduce new courses, curricula, or educational initiatives. These proposals outline the program objectives, learning outcomes, curriculum design, and resource requirements.

Social Service Proposal

Organizations involved in social services, such as healthcare, community development, or social welfare, create social service proposals to seek funding, support, or partnerships. These proposals outline the social issue, proposed interventions, anticipated impacts, and sustainability plans.

Proposal Writing Guide

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you with proposal writing:

  • Understand the Requirements: Before you begin writing your proposal, carefully review any guidelines, instructions, or requirements provided by the recipient or organization. This will ensure that you meet their expectations and include all necessary information.
  • Research and Gather Information: Conduct thorough research on the topic or project you are proposing. Collect relevant data, statistics, case studies, and any supporting evidence that strengthens your proposal. This will demonstrate your knowledge and credibility.
  • Define the Problem or Opportunity: Clearly identify and articulate the problem or opportunity that your proposal aims to address. Provide a concise and compelling explanation of why it is important and relevant.
  • State Your Objectives: Outline the specific objectives or goals of your proposal. What do you hope to achieve? Make sure your objectives are clear, measurable, and aligned with the needs of the recipient.
  • Present Your Solution: Propose your solution or approach to the problem. Describe how your solution is unique, innovative, and effective. Provide a step-by-step plan or methodology, highlighting key activities, deliverables, and timelines.
  • Demonstrate Benefits and Impact: Clearly outline the benefits and impact of your proposal. Explain how it will add value, solve the problem, or create positive change. Use evidence and examples to support your claims.
  • Develop a Budget: If applicable, include a detailed budget that outlines the costs associated with implementing your proposal. Be transparent and realistic about expenses, and clearly explain how the funding will be allocated.
  • Address Potential Risks and Mitigation Strategies: Identify any potential risks, challenges, or obstacles that may arise during the implementation of your proposal. Offer strategies or contingency plans to mitigate these risks and ensure the success of your project.
  • Provide Supporting Documentation: Include any supporting documents that add credibility to your proposal. This may include resumes or bios of key team members, letters of support or partnership, relevant certifications, or past success stories.
  • Write Clearly and Concisely: Use clear and concise language to communicate your ideas effectively. Avoid jargon or technical terms that may confuse or alienate the reader. Structure your proposal with headings, subheadings, and bullet points to enhance readability.
  • Proofread and Edit: Carefully review your proposal for grammar, spelling, and formatting errors. Ensure that it is well-organized, coherent, and flows logically. Consider asking someone else to review it for feedback and suggestions.
  • Include a Professional Cover Letter: If appropriate, attach a cover letter introducing your proposal. This letter should summarize the key points, express your enthusiasm, and provide contact information for further discussion.
  • Follow Submission Instructions: Follow the specific instructions for submitting your proposal. This may include submitting it electronically, mailing it, or delivering it in person. Pay attention to submission deadlines and any additional requirements.
  • Follow Up: After submitting your proposal, consider following up with the recipient to ensure they received it and address any questions or concerns they may have. This shows your commitment and professionalism.

Purpose of Proposal

The purpose of a proposal is to present a plan, idea, project, or solution to a specific audience in a persuasive and compelling manner. Proposals are typically written documents that aim to:

  • Convince and Persuade: The primary purpose of a proposal is to convince the recipient or decision-makers to accept and support the proposed plan or idea. It is important to present a strong case, providing evidence, logical reasoning, and clear benefits to demonstrate why the proposal should be approved.
  • Seek Approval or Funding: Proposals often seek approval or funding for a project, program, research study, business venture, or initiative. The purpose is to secure the necessary resources, whether financial, human, or technical, to implement the proposed endeavor.
  • Solve Problems or Address Opportunities: Proposals are often developed in response to a problem, challenge, or opportunity. The purpose is to provide a well-thought-out solution or approach that effectively addresses the issue or leverages the opportunity for positive outcomes.
  • Present a Comprehensive Plan : Proposals outline a comprehensive plan, including objectives, strategies, methodologies, timelines, budgets, and anticipated outcomes. The purpose is to demonstrate the feasibility, practicality, and potential success of the proposed plan.
  • Inform and Educate: Proposals provide detailed information and analysis to educate the audience about the subject matter. They offer a thorough understanding of the problem or opportunity, the proposed solution, and the potential impact.
  • Establish Credibility: Proposals aim to establish the credibility and expertise of the individual or organization presenting the proposal. They demonstrate the knowledge, experience, qualifications, and track record that make the proposer capable of successfully executing the proposed plan.
  • I nitiate Collaboration or Partnerships: Proposals may serve as a means to initiate collaboration, partnerships, or contractual agreements. They present an opportunity for individuals, organizations, or entities to work together towards a common goal or project.
  • Provide a Basis for Decision-Making: Proposals offer the information and analysis necessary for decision-makers to evaluate the merits and feasibility of the proposed plan. They provide a framework for informed decision-making, allowing stakeholders to assess the risks, benefits, and potential outcomes.

When to write a Proposal

Proposals are typically written in various situations when you need to present a plan, idea, or project to a specific audience. Here are some common scenarios when you may need to write a proposal:

  • Business Opportunities: When you identify a business opportunity, such as a potential client or partnership, you may write a proposal to pitch your products, services, or collaboration ideas.
  • Funding or Grants: If you require financial support for a project, research study, non-profit program, or any initiative, you may need to write a proposal to seek funding from government agencies, foundations, or philanthropic organizations.
  • Project Planning: When you plan to undertake a project, whether it’s a construction project, software development, event organization, or any other endeavor, writing a project proposal helps outline the objectives, deliverables, timelines, and resource requirements.
  • Research Studies: In academic or scientific settings, researchers write research proposals to present their study objectives, research questions, methodology, anticipated outcomes, and potential significance to funding bodies, universities, or research institutions.
  • Business Development: If you’re expanding your business, launching a new product or service, or entering a new market, writing a business proposal helps outline your plans, strategies, market analysis, and financial projections to potential investors or partners.
  • Partnerships and Collaborations: When seeking partnerships, collaborations, or joint ventures with other organizations or individuals, writing a partnership proposal helps communicate the benefits, shared goals, responsibilities, and terms of the proposed partnership.
  • Policy or Advocacy Initiatives: When advocating for a particular cause, addressing public policy issues, or proposing policy changes, writing a policy proposal helps outline the problem, proposed solutions, supporting evidence, and potential impacts.
  • Contract Bidding: If you’re bidding for contracts, whether in government or private sectors, writing a proposal is necessary to present your capabilities, expertise, resources, and pricing to potential clients or procurement departments.
  • Consulting or Service Contracts: If you offer consulting services, professional expertise, or specialized services, writing a proposal helps outline your approach, deliverables, fees, and timeline to potential clients.

Importance of Proposal

Proposals play a significant role in numerous areas and have several important benefits. Here are some key reasons why proposals are important:

  • Communication and Clarity: Proposals serve as a formal means of communication, allowing you to clearly articulate your plan, idea, or project to others. By presenting your proposal in a structured format, you ensure that your message is conveyed effectively, minimizing misunderstandings and confusion.
  • Decision-Making Tool: Proposals provide decision-makers with the necessary information and analysis to make informed choices. They offer a comprehensive overview of the proposal, including objectives, strategies, timelines, budgets, and anticipated outcomes. This enables stakeholders to evaluate the proposal’s feasibility, alignment with goals, and potential return on investment.
  • Accountability and Documentation: Proposals serve as a written record of commitments, responsibilities, and expectations. Once a proposal is approved, it becomes a reference point for all parties involved, ensuring that everyone is on the same page and accountable for their roles and obligations.
  • Planning and Organization: Writing a proposal requires thorough planning and organization. It compels you to define objectives, outline strategies, consider potential risks, and create a timeline. This process helps you think critically about the proposal, identifying strengths, weaknesses, and areas that require further refinement.
  • Persuasion and Influence: Proposals are persuasive documents that aim to convince others to support or approve your plan. By presenting a well-constructed proposal, supported by evidence, logical reasoning, and benefits, you enhance your ability to influence decision-makers and stakeholders.
  • Resource Allocation and Funding: Many proposals are written to secure resources, whether financial, human, or technical. A compelling proposal can increase the likelihood of obtaining funding, grants, or other resources needed to execute a project or initiative successfully.
  • Partnership and Collaboration Opportunities: Proposals enable you to seek partnerships, collaborations, or joint ventures with other organizations or individuals. By presenting a clear proposal that outlines the benefits, shared goals, responsibilities, and terms, you increase the likelihood of forming mutually beneficial relationships.
  • Professionalism and Credibility: A well-written proposal demonstrates professionalism, expertise, and credibility. It showcases your ability to analyze complex issues, develop effective strategies, and present ideas in a concise and persuasive manner. This can enhance your reputation and increase trust among stakeholders.
  • Continual Improvement: The process of writing proposals encourages you to refine your ideas, explore alternatives, and seek feedback. It provides an opportunity for reflection and refinement, ultimately leading to continuous improvement in your plans and approaches.

About the author

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Muhammad Hassan

Researcher, Academic Writer, Web developer

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EU AI Act: first regulation on artificial intelligence

The use of artificial intelligence in the EU will be regulated by the AI Act, the world’s first comprehensive AI law. Find out how it will protect you.

A man faces a computer generated figure with programming language in the background

As part of its digital strategy , the EU wants to regulate artificial intelligence (AI) to ensure better conditions for the development and use of this innovative technology. AI can create many benefits , such as better healthcare; safer and cleaner transport; more efficient manufacturing; and cheaper and more sustainable energy.

In April 2021, the European Commission proposed the first EU regulatory framework for AI. It says that AI systems that can be used in different applications are analysed and classified according to the risk they pose to users. The different risk levels will mean more or less regulation. Once approved, these will be the world’s first rules on AI.

Learn more about what artificial intelligence is and how it is used

What Parliament wants in AI legislation

Parliament’s priority is to make sure that AI systems used in the EU are safe, transparent, traceable, non-discriminatory and environmentally friendly. AI systems should be overseen by people, rather than by automation, to prevent harmful outcomes.

Parliament also wants to establish a technology-neutral, uniform definition for AI that could be applied to future AI systems.

Learn more about Parliament’s work on AI and its vision for AI’s future

AI Act: different rules for different risk levels

The new rules establish obligations for providers and users depending on the level of risk from artificial intelligence. While many AI systems pose minimal risk, they need to be assessed.

Unacceptable risk

Unacceptable risk AI systems are systems considered a threat to people and will be banned. They include:

  • Cognitive behavioural manipulation of people or specific vulnerable groups: for example voice-activated toys that encourage dangerous behaviour in children
  • Social scoring: classifying people based on behaviour, socio-economic status or personal characteristics
  • Biometric identification and categorisation of people
  • Real-time and remote biometric identification systems, such as facial recognition

Some exceptions may be allowed for law enforcement purposes. “Real-time” remote biometric identification systems will be allowed in a limited number of serious cases, while “post” remote biometric identification systems, where identification occurs after a significant delay, will be allowed to prosecute serious crimes and only after court approval.

AI systems that negatively affect safety or fundamental rights will be considered high risk and will be divided into two categories:

1) AI systems that are used in products falling under the EU’s product safety legislation . This includes toys, aviation, cars, medical devices and lifts.

2) AI systems falling into specific areas that will have to be registered in an EU database:

  • Management and operation of critical infrastructure
  • Education and vocational training
  • Employment, worker management and access to self-employment
  • Access to and enjoyment of essential private services and public services and benefits
  • Law enforcement
  • Migration, asylum and border control management
  • Assistance in legal interpretation and application of the law.

All high-risk AI systems will be assessed before being put on the market and also throughout their lifecycle.

General purpose and generative AI

Generative AI, like ChatGPT, would have to comply with transparency requirements:

  • Disclosing that the content was generated by AI
  • Designing the model to prevent it from generating illegal content
  • Publishing summaries of copyrighted data used for training

High-impact general-purpose AI models that might pose systemic risk, such as the more advanced AI model GPT-4, would have to undergo thorough evaluations and any serious incidents would have to be reported to the European Commission.

Limited risk

Limited risk AI systems should comply with minimal transparency requirements that would allow users to make informed decisions. After interacting with the applications, the user can then decide whether they want to continue using it. Users should be made aware when they are interacting with AI. This includes AI systems that generate or manipulate image, audio or video content, for example deepfakes.

On December 9 2023, Parliament reached a provisional agreement with the Council on the AI act . The agreed text will now have to be formally adopted by both Parliament and Council to become EU law. Before all MEPs have their say on the agreement, Parliament’s internal market and civil liberties committees will vote on it.

More on the EU’s digital measures

  • Cryptocurrency dangers and the benefits of EU legislation
  • Fighting cybercrime: new EU cybersecurity laws explained
  • Boosting data sharing in the EU: what are the benefits?
  • EU Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act
  • Five ways the European Parliament wants to protect online gamers
  • Artificial Intelligence Act

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