Grad Coach

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.

Need a helping hand?

research proposal what it mean

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 short course, Research Proposal Bootcamp . If you want to work smart, you don't want to miss this .

You Might Also Like:

Discourse analysis 101


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.


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.


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:

Cheruiyot Moses Kipyegon

Cheruiyot Moses Kipyegon

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


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


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 🙂


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


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.


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

laramato ikayo

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


I have really learnt a lot based on research proposal and it’s formulation

Arega Berlie

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


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.


This really helping


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.

Alice Kuyayama

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

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

Abdurahman Bayoh

I need any research proposal


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


Very helpfull

faith wugah

the videos are very good and straight forward


thanks so much for this wonderful presentations, i really enjoyed it to the fullest wish to learn more from you

Bernie E. Balmeo

Thank you very much. I learned a lot from your lecture.

Ishmael kwame Appiah

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

Wow, this literature is very resourceful and interesting to read. I enjoyed it and I intend reading it every now then.


Thank you for the clarity

Mondika Solomon

Thank you. Very helpful.


Thank you very much for this essential piece. I need 1o1 coaching, unfortunately, your service is not available in my country. Anyways, a very important eye-opener. I really enjoyed it. A thumb up to Gradcoach

Md Moneruszzaman Kayes

What is JAM? Please explain.


Thank you so much for these videos. They are extremely helpful! God bless!

azeem kakar

very very wonderful…

Koang Kuany Bol Nyot

thank you for the video but i need a written example

Submit a Comment Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

  • Print Friendly

Have a language expert improve your writing

Run a free plagiarism check in 10 minutes, automatically generate references for free.

  • Knowledge Base
  • Research process
  • 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:


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

Prevent plagiarism, run a free check.

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.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the ‘Cite this Scribbr article’ button to automatically add the citation to our free Reference Generator.

McCombes, S. & George, T. (2023, June 13). How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates. Scribbr. Retrieved 21 May 2024, from

Is this article helpful?

Shona McCombes

Shona McCombes

Other students also liked, what is a research methodology | steps & tips, what is a literature review | guide, template, & examples, how to write a results section | tips & examples.

Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Assignments

  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Analyzing a Scholarly Journal Article
  • Group Presentations
  • Dealing with Nervousness
  • Using Visual Aids
  • Grading Someone Else's Paper
  • Types of Structured Group Activities
  • Group Project Survival Skills
  • Leading a Class Discussion
  • Multiple Book Review Essay
  • Reviewing Collected Works
  • Writing a Case Analysis Paper
  • Writing a Case Study
  • About Informed Consent
  • Writing Field Notes
  • Writing a Policy Memo
  • Writing a Reflective Paper
  • Writing a Research Proposal
  • Generative AI and Writing
  • Acknowledgments

The goal of a research proposal is twofold: to present and justify the need to study a research problem and to present the practical ways in which the proposed study should be conducted. The design elements and procedures for conducting research are governed by standards of the predominant discipline in which the problem resides, therefore, the guidelines for research proposals are more exacting and less formal than a general project proposal. Research proposals contain extensive literature reviews. They must provide persuasive evidence that a need exists for the proposed study. In addition to providing a rationale, a proposal describes detailed methodology for conducting the research consistent with requirements of the professional or academic field and a statement on anticipated outcomes and benefits derived from the study's completion.

Krathwohl, David R. How to Prepare a Dissertation Proposal: Suggestions for Students in Education and the Social and Behavioral Sciences . Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2005.

How to Approach Writing a Research Proposal

Your professor may assign the task of writing a research proposal for the following reasons:

  • Develop your skills in thinking about and designing a comprehensive research study;
  • Learn how to conduct a comprehensive review of the literature to determine that the research problem has not been adequately addressed or has been answered ineffectively and, in so doing, become better at locating pertinent scholarship related to your topic;
  • Improve your general research and writing skills;
  • Practice identifying the logical steps that must be taken to accomplish one's research goals;
  • Critically review, examine, and consider the use of different methods for gathering and analyzing data related to the research problem; and,
  • Nurture a sense of inquisitiveness within yourself and to help see yourself as an active participant in the process of conducting scholarly research.

A proposal should contain all the key elements involved in designing a completed research study, with sufficient information that allows readers to assess the validity and usefulness of your proposed study. The only elements missing from a research proposal are the findings of the study and your analysis of those findings. Finally, an effective proposal is judged on the quality of your writing and, therefore, it is important that your proposal is coherent, clear, and compelling.

Regardless of the research problem you are investigating and the methodology you choose, all research proposals must address the following questions:

  • What do you plan to accomplish? Be clear and succinct in defining the research problem and what it is you are proposing to investigate.
  • Why do you want to do the research? In addition to detailing your research design, you also must conduct a thorough review of the literature and provide convincing evidence that it is a topic worthy of in-depth study. A successful research proposal must answer the "So What?" question.
  • How are you going to conduct the research? Be sure that what you propose is doable. If you're having difficulty formulating a research problem to propose investigating, go here for strategies in developing a problem to study.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Failure to be concise . A research proposal must be focused and not be "all over the map" or diverge into unrelated tangents without a clear sense of purpose.
  • Failure to cite landmark works in your literature review . Proposals should be grounded in foundational research that lays a foundation for understanding the development and scope of the the topic and its relevance.
  • Failure to delimit the contextual scope of your research [e.g., time, place, people, etc.]. As with any research paper, your proposed study must inform the reader how and in what ways the study will frame the problem.
  • Failure to develop a coherent and persuasive argument for the proposed research . This is critical. In many workplace settings, the research proposal is a formal document intended to argue for why a study should be funded.
  • Sloppy or imprecise writing, or poor grammar . Although a research proposal does not represent a completed research study, there is still an expectation that it is well-written and follows the style and rules of good academic writing.
  • Too much detail on minor issues, but not enough detail on major issues . Your proposal should focus on only a few key research questions in order to support the argument that the research needs to be conducted. Minor issues, even if valid, can be mentioned but they should not dominate the overall narrative.

Procter, Margaret. The Academic Proposal.  The Lab Report. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Sanford, Keith. Information for Students: Writing a Research Proposal. Baylor University; Wong, Paul T. P. How to Write a Research Proposal. International Network on Personal Meaning. Trinity Western University; Writing Academic Proposals: Conferences, Articles, and Books. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Writing a Research Proposal. University Library. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Structure and Writing Style

Beginning the Proposal Process

As with writing most college-level academic papers, research proposals are generally organized the same way throughout most social science disciplines. The text of proposals generally vary in length between ten and thirty-five pages, followed by the list of references. However, before you begin, read the assignment carefully and, if anything seems unclear, ask your professor whether there are any specific requirements for organizing and writing the proposal.

A good place to begin is to ask yourself a series of questions:

  • What do I want to study?
  • Why is the topic important?
  • How is it significant within the subject areas covered in my class?
  • What problems will it help solve?
  • How does it build upon [and hopefully go beyond] research already conducted on the topic?
  • What exactly should I plan to do, and can I get it done in the time available?

In general, a compelling research proposal should document your knowledge of the topic and demonstrate your enthusiasm for conducting the study. Approach it with the intention of leaving your readers feeling like, "Wow, that's an exciting idea and I can’t wait to see how it turns out!"

Most proposals should include the following sections:

I.  Introduction

In the real world of higher education, a research proposal is most often written by scholars seeking grant funding for a research project or it's the first step in getting approval to write a doctoral dissertation. Even if this is just a course assignment, treat your introduction as the initial pitch of an idea based on a thorough examination of the significance of a research problem. After reading the introduction, your readers should not only have an understanding of what you want to do, but they should also be able to gain a sense of your passion for the topic and to be excited about the study's possible outcomes. Note that most proposals do not include an abstract [summary] before the introduction.

Think about your introduction as a narrative written in two to four paragraphs that succinctly answers the following four questions :

  • What is the central research problem?
  • What is the topic of study related to that research problem?
  • What methods should be used to analyze the research problem?
  • Answer the "So What?" question by explaining why this is important research, what is its significance, and why should someone reading the proposal care about the outcomes of the proposed study?

II.  Background and Significance

This is where you explain the scope and context of your proposal and describe in detail why it's important. It can be melded into your introduction or you can create a separate section to help with the organization and narrative flow of your proposal. Approach writing this section with the thought that you can’t assume your readers will know as much about the research problem as you do. Note that this section is not an essay going over everything you have learned about the topic; instead, you must choose what is most relevant in explaining the aims of your research.

To that end, while there are no prescribed rules for establishing the significance of your proposed study, you should attempt to address some or all of the following:

  • State the research problem and give a more detailed explanation about the purpose of the study than what you stated in the introduction. This is particularly important if the problem is complex or multifaceted .
  • Present the rationale of your proposed study and clearly indicate why it is worth doing; be sure to answer the "So What? question [i.e., why should anyone care?].
  • Describe the major issues or problems examined by your research. This can be in the form of questions to be addressed. Be sure to note how your proposed study builds on previous assumptions about the research problem.
  • Explain the methods you plan to use for conducting your research. Clearly identify the key sources you intend to use and explain how they will contribute to your analysis of the topic.
  • Describe the boundaries of your proposed research in order to provide a clear focus. Where appropriate, state not only what you plan to study, but what aspects of the research problem will be excluded from the study.
  • If necessary, provide definitions of key concepts, theories, or terms.

III.  Literature Review

Connected to the background and significance of your study is a section of your proposal devoted to a more deliberate review and synthesis of prior studies related to the research problem under investigation . The purpose here is to place your project within the larger whole of what is currently being explored, while at the same time, demonstrating to your readers that your work is original and innovative. Think about what questions other researchers have asked, what methodological approaches they have used, and what is your understanding of their findings and, when stated, their recommendations. Also pay attention to any suggestions for further research.

Since a literature review is information dense, it is crucial that this section is intelligently structured to enable a reader to grasp the key arguments underpinning your proposed study in relation to the arguments put forth by other researchers. A good strategy is to break the literature into "conceptual categories" [themes] rather than systematically or chronologically describing groups of materials one at a time. Note that conceptual categories generally reveal themselves after you have read most of the pertinent literature on your topic so adding new categories is an on-going process of discovery as you review more studies. How do you know you've covered the key conceptual categories underlying the research literature? Generally, you can have confidence that all of the significant conceptual categories have been identified if you start to see repetition in the conclusions or recommendations that are being made.

NOTE: Do not shy away from challenging the conclusions made in prior research as a basis for supporting the need for your proposal. Assess what you believe is missing and state how previous research has failed to adequately examine the issue that your study addresses. Highlighting the problematic conclusions strengthens your proposal. For more information on writing literature reviews, GO HERE .

To help frame your proposal's review of prior research, consider the "five C’s" of writing a literature review:

  • Cite , so as to keep the primary focus on the literature pertinent to your research problem.
  • Compare the various arguments, theories, methodologies, and findings expressed in the literature: what do the authors agree on? Who applies similar approaches to analyzing the research problem?
  • Contrast the various arguments, themes, methodologies, approaches, and controversies expressed in the literature: describe what are the major areas of disagreement, controversy, or debate among scholars?
  • Critique the literature: Which arguments are more persuasive, and why? Which approaches, findings, and methodologies seem most reliable, valid, or appropriate, and why? Pay attention to the verbs you use to describe what an author says/does [e.g., asserts, demonstrates, argues, etc.].
  • Connect the literature to your own area of research and investigation: how does your own work draw upon, depart from, synthesize, or add a new perspective to what has been said in the literature?

IV.  Research Design and Methods

This section must be well-written and logically organized because you are not actually doing the research, yet, your reader must have confidence that you have a plan worth pursuing . The reader will never have a study outcome from which to evaluate whether your methodological choices were the correct ones. Thus, the objective here is to convince the reader that your overall research design and proposed methods of analysis will correctly address the problem and that the methods will provide the means to effectively interpret the potential results. Your design and methods should be unmistakably tied to the specific aims of your study.

Describe the overall research design by building upon and drawing examples from your review of the literature. Consider not only methods that other researchers have used, but methods of data gathering that have not been used but perhaps could be. Be specific about the methodological approaches you plan to undertake to obtain information, the techniques you would use to analyze the data, and the tests of external validity to which you commit yourself [i.e., the trustworthiness by which you can generalize from your study to other people, places, events, and/or periods of time].

When describing the methods you will use, be sure to cover the following:

  • Specify the research process you will undertake and the way you will interpret the results obtained in relation to the research problem. Don't just describe what you intend to achieve from applying the methods you choose, but state how you will spend your time while applying these methods [e.g., coding text from interviews to find statements about the need to change school curriculum; running a regression to determine if there is a relationship between campaign advertising on social media sites and election outcomes in Europe ].
  • Keep in mind that the methodology is not just a list of tasks; it is a deliberate argument as to why techniques for gathering information add up to the best way to investigate the research problem. This is an important point because the mere listing of tasks to be performed does not demonstrate that, collectively, they effectively address the research problem. Be sure you clearly explain this.
  • Anticipate and acknowledge any potential barriers and pitfalls in carrying out your research design and explain how you plan to address them. No method applied to research in the social and behavioral sciences is perfect, so you need to describe where you believe challenges may exist in obtaining data or accessing information. It's always better to acknowledge this than to have it brought up by your professor!

V.  Preliminary Suppositions and Implications

Just because you don't have to actually conduct the study and analyze the results, doesn't mean you can skip talking about the analytical process and potential implications . The purpose of this section is to argue how and in what ways you believe your research will refine, revise, or extend existing knowledge in the subject area under investigation. Depending on the aims and objectives of your study, describe how the anticipated results will impact future scholarly research, theory, practice, forms of interventions, or policy making. Note that such discussions may have either substantive [a potential new policy], theoretical [a potential new understanding], or methodological [a potential new way of analyzing] significance.   When thinking about the potential implications of your study, ask the following questions:

  • What might the results mean in regards to challenging the theoretical framework and underlying assumptions that support the study?
  • What suggestions for subsequent research could arise from the potential outcomes of the study?
  • What will the results mean to practitioners in the natural settings of their workplace, organization, or community?
  • Will the results influence programs, methods, and/or forms of intervention?
  • How might the results contribute to the solution of social, economic, or other types of problems?
  • Will the results influence policy decisions?
  • In what way do individuals or groups benefit should your study be pursued?
  • What will be improved or changed as a result of the proposed research?
  • How will the results of the study be implemented and what innovations or transformative insights could emerge from the process of implementation?

NOTE:   This section should not delve into idle speculation, opinion, or be formulated on the basis of unclear evidence . The purpose is to reflect upon gaps or understudied areas of the current literature and describe how your proposed research contributes to a new understanding of the research problem should the study be implemented as designed.

ANOTHER NOTE : This section is also where you describe any potential limitations to your proposed study. While it is impossible to highlight all potential limitations because the study has yet to be conducted, you still must tell the reader where and in what form impediments may arise and how you plan to address them.

VI.  Conclusion

The conclusion reiterates the importance or significance of your proposal and provides a brief summary of the entire study . This section should be only one or two paragraphs long, emphasizing why the research problem is worth investigating, why your research study is unique, and how it should advance existing knowledge.

Someone reading this section should come away with an understanding of:

  • Why the study should be done;
  • The specific purpose of the study and the research questions it attempts to answer;
  • The decision for why the research design and methods used where chosen over other options;
  • The potential implications emerging from your proposed study of the research problem; and
  • A sense of how your study fits within the broader scholarship about the research problem.

VII.  Citations

As with any scholarly research paper, you must cite the sources you used . In a standard research proposal, this section can take two forms, so consult with your professor about which one is preferred.

  • References -- a list of only the sources you actually used in creating your proposal.
  • Bibliography -- a list of everything you used in creating your proposal, along with additional citations to any key sources relevant to understanding the research problem.

In either case, this section should testify to the fact that you did enough preparatory work to ensure the project will complement and not just duplicate the efforts of other researchers. It demonstrates to the reader that you have a thorough understanding of prior research on the topic.

Most proposal formats have you start a new page and use the heading "References" or "Bibliography" centered at the top of the page. Cited works should always use a standard format that follows the writing style advised by the discipline of your course [e.g., education=APA; history=Chicago] or that is preferred by your professor. This section normally does not count towards the total page length of your research proposal.

Develop a Research Proposal: Writing the Proposal. Office of Library Information Services. Baltimore County Public Schools; Heath, M. Teresa Pereira and Caroline Tynan. “Crafting a Research Proposal.” The Marketing Review 10 (Summer 2010): 147-168; Jones, Mark. “Writing a Research Proposal.” In MasterClass in Geography Education: Transforming Teaching and Learning . Graham Butt, editor. (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015), pp. 113-127; Juni, Muhamad Hanafiah. “Writing a Research Proposal.” International Journal of Public Health and Clinical Sciences 1 (September/October 2014): 229-240; Krathwohl, David R. How to Prepare a Dissertation Proposal: Suggestions for Students in Education and the Social and Behavioral Sciences . Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2005; Procter, Margaret. The Academic Proposal. The Lab Report. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Punch, Keith and Wayne McGowan. "Developing and Writing a Research Proposal." In From Postgraduate to Social Scientist: A Guide to Key Skills . Nigel Gilbert, ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2006), 59-81; Wong, Paul T. P. How to Write a Research Proposal. International Network on Personal Meaning. Trinity Western University; Writing Academic Proposals: Conferences , Articles, and Books. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Writing a Research Proposal. University Library. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

  • << Previous: Writing a Reflective Paper
  • Next: Generative AI and Writing >>
  • Last Updated: May 7, 2024 9:45 AM
  • URL:

Reference management. Clean and simple.

How to write a research proposal

research proposal what it mean

What is a research proposal?

What is the purpose of a research proposal , how long should a research proposal be, what should be included in a research proposal, 1. the title page, 2. introduction, 3. literature review, 4. research design, 5. implications, 6. reference list, frequently asked questions about writing a research proposal, related articles.

If you’re in higher education, the term “research proposal” is something you’re likely to be familiar with. But what is it, exactly? You’ll normally come across the need to prepare a research proposal when you’re looking to secure Ph.D. funding.

When you’re trying to find someone to fund your Ph.D. research, a research proposal is essentially your “pitch.”

A research proposal is a concise and coherent summary of your proposed research.

You’ll need to set out the issues that are central to the topic area and how you intend to address them with your research. To do this, you’ll need to give the following:

  • an outline of the general area of study within which your research falls
  • an overview of how much is currently known about the topic
  • a literature review that covers the recent scholarly debate or conversation around the topic

➡️  What is a literature review? Learn more in our guide.

Essentially, you are trying to persuade your institution that you and your project are worth investing their time and money into.

It is the opportunity for you to demonstrate that you have the aptitude for this level of research by showing that you can articulate complex ideas:

It also helps you to find the right supervisor to oversee your research. When you’re writing your research proposal, you should always have this in the back of your mind.

This is the document that potential supervisors will use in determining the legitimacy of your research and, consequently, whether they will invest in you or not. It is therefore incredibly important that you spend some time on getting it right.

Tip: While there may not always be length requirements for research proposals, you should strive to cover everything you need to in a concise way.

If your research proposal is for a bachelor’s or master’s degree, it may only be a few pages long. For a Ph.D., a proposal could be a pretty long document that spans a few dozen pages.

➡️ Research proposals are similar to grant proposals. Learn how to write a grant proposal in our guide.

When you’re writing your proposal, keep in mind its purpose and why you’re writing it. It, therefore, needs to clearly explain the relevance of your research and its context with other discussions on the topic. You need to then explain what approach you will take and why it is feasible.

Generally, your structure should look something like this:

  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Research Design
  • Implications

If you follow this structure, you’ll have a comprehensive and coherent proposal that looks and feels professional, without missing out on anything important. We’ll take a deep dive into each of these areas one by one next.

The title page might vary slightly per your area of study but, as a general point, your title page should contain the following:

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

Tip: Keep in mind any departmental or institutional guidelines for a research proposal title page. Also, your supervisor may ask for specific details to be added to the page.

The introduction is crucial   to your research proposal as it is your first opportunity to hook the reader in. A good introduction section will introduce your project and its relevance to the field of study.

You’ll want to use this space to demonstrate that you have carefully thought about how to present your project as interesting, original, and important research. A good place to start is by introducing the context of your research problem.

Think about answering these questions:

  • What is it you want to research and why?
  • How does this research relate to the respective field?
  • How much is already known about this area?
  • Who might find this research interesting?
  • What are the key questions you aim to answer with your research?
  • What will the findings of this project add to the topic area?

Your introduction aims to set yourself off on a great footing and illustrate to the reader that you are an expert in your field and that your project has a solid foundation in existing knowledge and theory.

The literature review section answers the question who else is talking about your proposed research topic.

You want to demonstrate that your research will contribute to conversations around the topic and that it will sit happily amongst experts in the field.

➡️ Read more about how to write a literature review .

There are lots of ways you can find relevant information for your literature review, including:

  • Research relevant academic sources such as books and journals to find similar conversations around the topic.
  • Read through abstracts and bibliographies of your academic sources to look for relevance and further additional resources without delving too deep into articles that are possibly not relevant to you.
  • Watch out for heavily-cited works . This should help you to identify authoritative work that you need to read and document.
  • Look for any research gaps , trends and patterns, common themes, debates, and contradictions.
  • Consider any seminal studies on the topic area as it is likely anticipated that you will address these in your research proposal.

This is where you get down to the real meat of your research proposal. It should be a discussion about the overall approach you plan on taking, and the practical steps you’ll follow in answering the research questions you’ve posed.

So what should you discuss here? Some of the key things you will need to discuss at this point are:

  • What form will your research take? Is it qualitative/quantitative/mixed? Will your research be primary or secondary?
  • What sources will you use? Who or what will you be studying as part of your research.
  • Document your research method. How are you practically going to carry out your research? What tools will you need? What procedures will you use?
  • Any practicality issues you foresee. Do you think there will be any obstacles to your anticipated timescale? What resources will you require in carrying out your research?

Your research design should also discuss the potential implications of your research. For example, are you looking to confirm an existing theory or develop a new one?

If you intend to create a basis for further research, you should describe this here.

It is important to explain fully what you want the outcome of your research to look like and what you want to achieve by it. This will help those reading your research proposal to decide if it’s something the field  needs  and  wants,  and ultimately whether they will support you with it.

When you reach the end of your research proposal, you’ll have to compile a list of references for everything you’ve cited above. Ideally, you should keep track of everything from the beginning. Otherwise, this could be a mammoth and pretty laborious task to do.

Consider using a reference manager like Paperpile to format and organize your citations. Paperpile allows you to organize and save your citations for later use and cite them in thousands of citation styles directly in Google Docs, Microsoft Word, or LaTeX.

Paperpile reference manager

Your project may also require you to have a timeline, depending on the budget you are requesting. If you need one, you should include it here and explain both the timeline and the budget you need, documenting what should be done at each stage of the research and how much of the budget this will use.

This is the final step, but not one to be missed. You should make sure that you edit and proofread your document so that you can be sure there are no mistakes.

A good idea is to have another person proofread the document for you so that you get a fresh pair of eyes on it. You can even have a professional proofreader do this for you.

This is an important document and you don’t want spelling or grammatical mistakes to get in the way of you and your reader.

➡️ Working on a research proposal for a thesis? Take a look at our guide on how to come up with a topic for your thesis .

A research proposal is a concise and coherent summary of your proposed research. Generally, your research proposal will have a title page, introduction, literature review section, a section about research design and explaining the implications of your research, and a reference list.

A good research proposal is concise and coherent. It has a clear purpose, clearly explains the relevance of your research and its context with other discussions on the topic. A good research proposal explains what approach you will take and why it is feasible.

You need a research proposal to persuade your institution that you and your project are worth investing their time and money into. It is your opportunity to demonstrate your aptitude for this level or research by showing that you can articulate complex ideas clearly, concisely, and critically.

A research proposal is essentially your "pitch" when you're trying to find someone to fund your PhD. It is a clear and concise summary of your proposed research. It gives an outline of the general area of study within which your research falls, it elaborates how much is currently known about the topic, and it highlights any recent debate or conversation around the topic by other academics.

The general answer is: as long as it needs to be to cover everything. The length of your research proposal depends on the requirements from the institution that you are applying to. Make sure to carefully read all the instructions given, and if this specific information is not provided, you can always ask.

How to give a good scientific presentation

We use essential cookies to make Venngage work. By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.

Manage Cookies

Cookies and similar technologies collect certain information about how you’re using our website. Some of them are essential, and without them you wouldn’t be able to use Venngage. But others are optional, and you get to choose whether we use them or not.

Strictly Necessary Cookies

These cookies are always on, as they’re essential for making Venngage work, and making it safe. Without these cookies, services you’ve asked for can’t be provided.

Show cookie providers

  • Google Login

Functionality Cookies

These cookies help us provide enhanced functionality and personalisation, and remember your settings. They may be set by us or by third party providers.

Performance Cookies

These cookies help us analyze how many people are using Venngage, where they come from and how they're using it. If you opt out of these cookies, we can’t get feedback to make Venngage better for you and all our users.

  • Google Analytics

Targeting Cookies

These cookies are set by our advertising partners to track your activity and show you relevant Venngage ads on other sites as you browse the internet.

  • Google Tag Manager
  • Infographics
  • Daily Infographics
  • Popular Templates
  • Accessibility
  • Graphic Design
  • Graphs and Charts
  • Data Visualization
  • Human Resources
  • Beginner Guides

Blog Business How to Write a Research Proposal: A Step-by-Step

How to Write a Research Proposal: A Step-by-Step

Written by: Danesh Ramuthi Nov 29, 2023

How to Write a Research Proposal

A research proposal is a structured outline for a planned study on a specific topic. It serves as a roadmap, guiding researchers through the process of converting their research idea into a feasible project. 

The aim of a research proposal is multifold: it articulates the research problem, establishes a theoretical framework, outlines the research methodology and highlights the potential significance of the study. Importantly, it’s a critical tool for scholars seeking grant funding or approval for their research projects.

Crafting a good research proposal requires not only understanding your research topic and methodological approaches but also the ability to present your ideas clearly and persuasively. Explore Venngage’s Proposal Maker and Research Proposals Templates to begin your journey in writing a compelling research proposal.

What to include in a research proposal?

In a research proposal, include a clear statement of your research question or problem, along with an explanation of its significance. This should be followed by a literature review that situates your proposed study within the context of existing research. 

Your proposal should also outline the research methodology, detailing how you plan to conduct your study, including data collection and analysis methods.

Additionally, include a theoretical framework that guides your research approach, a timeline or research schedule, and a budget if applicable. It’s important to also address the anticipated outcomes and potential implications of your study. A well-structured research proposal will clearly communicate your research objectives, methods and significance to the readers.

Light Blue Shape Semiotic Analysis Research Proposal

How to format a research proposal?

Formatting a research proposal involves adhering to a structured outline to ensure clarity and coherence. While specific requirements may vary, a standard research proposal typically includes the following elements:

  • Title Page: Must include the title of your research proposal, your name and affiliations. The title should be concise and descriptive of your proposed research.
  • Abstract: A brief summary of your proposal, usually not exceeding 250 words. It should highlight the research question, methodology and the potential impact of the study.
  • Introduction: Introduces your research question or problem, explains its significance, and states the objectives of your study.
  • Literature review: Here, you contextualize your research within existing scholarship, demonstrating your knowledge of the field and how your research will contribute to it.
  • Methodology: Outline your research methods, including how you will collect and analyze data. This section should be detailed enough to show the feasibility and thoughtfulness of your approach.
  • Timeline: Provide an estimated schedule for your research, breaking down the process into stages with a realistic timeline for each.
  • Budget (if applicable): If your research requires funding, include a detailed budget outlining expected cost.
  • References/Bibliography: List all sources referenced in your proposal in a consistent citation style.

Green And Orange Modern Research Proposal

How to write a research proposal in 11 steps?

Writing a research proposal template in structured steps ensures a comprehensive and coherent presentation of your research project. Let’s look at the explanation for each of the steps here:  

Step 1: Title and Abstract Step 2: Introduction Step 3: Research objectives Step 4: Literature review Step 5: Methodology Step 6: Timeline Step 7: Resources Step 8: Ethical considerations Step 9: Expected outcomes and significance Step 10: References Step 11: Appendices

Step 1: title and abstract.

Select a concise, descriptive title and write an abstract summarizing your research question, objectives, methodology and expected outcomes​​. The abstract should include your research question, the objectives you aim to achieve, the methodology you plan to employ and the anticipated outcomes. 

Step 2: Introduction

In this section, introduce the topic of your research, emphasizing its significance and relevance to the field. Articulate the research problem or question in clear terms and provide background context, which should include an overview of previous research in the field.

Step 3: Research objectives

Here, you’ll need to outline specific, clear and achievable objectives that align with your research problem. These objectives should be well-defined, focused and measurable, serving as the guiding pillars for your study. They help in establishing what you intend to accomplish through your research and provide a clear direction for your investigation.

Step 4: Literature review

In this part, conduct a thorough review of existing literature related to your research topic. This involves a detailed summary of key findings and major contributions from previous research. Identify existing gaps in the literature and articulate how your research aims to fill these gaps. The literature review not only shows your grasp of the subject matter but also how your research will contribute new insights or perspectives to the field.

Step 5: Methodology

Describe the design of your research and the methodologies you will employ. This should include detailed information on data collection methods, instruments to be used and analysis techniques. Justify the appropriateness of these methods for your research​​.

Step 6: Timeline

Construct a detailed timeline that maps out the major milestones and activities of your research project. Break the entire research process into smaller, manageable tasks and assign realistic time frames to each. This timeline should cover everything from the initial research phase to the final submission, including periods for data collection, analysis and report writing. 

It helps in ensuring your project stays on track and demonstrates to reviewers that you have a well-thought-out plan for completing your research efficiently.

Step 7: Resources

Identify all the resources that will be required for your research, such as specific databases, laboratory equipment, software or funding. Provide details on how these resources will be accessed or acquired. 

If your research requires funding, explain how it will be utilized effectively to support various aspects of the project. 

Step 8: Ethical considerations

Address any ethical issues that may arise during your research. This is particularly important for research involving human subjects. Describe the measures you will take to ensure ethical standards are maintained, such as obtaining informed consent, ensuring participant privacy, and adhering to data protection regulations. 

Here, in this section you should reassure reviewers that you are committed to conducting your research responsibly and ethically.

Step 9: Expected outcomes and significance

Articulate the expected outcomes or results of your research. Explain the potential impact and significance of these outcomes, whether in advancing academic knowledge, influencing policy or addressing specific societal or practical issues. 

Step 10: References

Compile a comprehensive list of all the references cited in your proposal. Adhere to a consistent citation style (like APA or MLA) throughout your document. The reference section not only gives credit to the original authors of your sourced information but also strengthens the credibility of your proposal.

Step 11: Appendices

Include additional supporting materials that are pertinent to your research proposal. This can be survey questionnaires, interview guides, detailed data analysis plans or any supplementary information that supports the main text. 

Appendices provide further depth to your proposal, showcasing the thoroughness of your preparation.

Beige And Dark Green Minimalist Research Proposal

Research proposal FAQs

1. how long should a research proposal be.

The length of a research proposal can vary depending on the requirements of the academic institution, funding body or specific guidelines provided. Generally, research proposals range from 500 to 1500 words or about one to a few pages long. It’s important to provide enough detail to clearly convey your research idea, objectives and methodology, while being concise. Always check

2. Why is the research plan pivotal to a research project?

The research plan is pivotal to a research project because it acts as a blueprint, guiding every phase of the study. It outlines the objectives, methodology, timeline and expected outcomes, providing a structured approach and ensuring that the research is systematically conducted. 

A well-crafted plan helps in identifying potential challenges, allocating resources efficiently and maintaining focus on the research goals. It is also essential for communicating the project’s feasibility and importance to stakeholders, such as funding bodies or academic supervisors.

Simple Minimalist White Research Proposal

Mastering how to write a research proposal is an essential skill for any scholar, whether in social and behavioral sciences, academic writing or any field requiring scholarly research. From this article, you have learned key components, from the literature review to the research design, helping you develop a persuasive and well-structured proposal.

Remember, a good research proposal not only highlights your proposed research and methodology but also demonstrates its relevance and potential impact.

For additional support, consider utilizing Venngage’s Proposal Maker and Research Proposals Templates , valuable tools in crafting a compelling proposal that stands out.

Whether it’s for grant funding, a research paper or a dissertation proposal, these resources can assist in transforming your research idea into a successful submission.

Discover popular designs

research proposal what it mean

Infographic maker

research proposal what it mean

Brochure maker

research proposal what it mean

White paper online

research proposal what it mean

Newsletter creator

research proposal what it mean

Flyer maker

research proposal what it mean

Timeline maker

research proposal what it mean

Letterhead maker

research proposal what it mean

Mind map maker

research proposal what it mean

Ebook maker

Logo for RMIT Open Press

Want to create or adapt books like this? Learn more about how Pressbooks supports open publishing practices.

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.

decorative image

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.

Share This Book

Logo for M Libraries Publishing

Want to create or adapt books like this? Learn more about how Pressbooks supports open publishing practices.

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.


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.

U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

The .gov means it’s official. Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.

The site is secure. The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

  • Publications
  • Account settings

Preview improvements coming to the PMC website in October 2024. Learn More or Try it out now .

  • Advanced Search
  • Journal List
  • 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.


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

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is IJA-60-631-g001.jpg


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 ]


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 ]


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 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 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.

Recommended pages

  • Undergraduate open days
  • Postgraduate open days
  • Accommodation
  • Information for teachers
  • Maps and directions
  • Sport and fitness

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.

Student enjoying a seminar

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  

Learn more about Birmingham's doctoral research programmes in Law:


Birmingham Law School is home to a broad range of internationally excellent and world-leading legal academics, with a thriving postgraduate research community. The perfect place for your postgraduate study.

Law PhD / PhD by Distance Learning / MPhil / MJur

  • Election 2024
  • Entertainment
  • Newsletters
  • Photography
  • Personal Finance
  • AP Investigations
  • AP Buyline Personal Finance
  • AP Buyline Shopping
  • Press Releases
  • Israel-Hamas War
  • Russia-Ukraine War
  • Global elections
  • Asia Pacific
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • Election Results
  • Delegate Tracker
  • AP & Elections
  • Auto Racing
  • 2024 Paris Olympic Games
  • Movie reviews
  • Book reviews
  • Personal finance
  • Financial Markets
  • Business Highlights
  • Financial wellness
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Social Media

Reparations proposals for Black Californians advance to state Assembly

FILE - Members of the state Assembly meet at the Capitol May 26, 2020, in Sacramento, Calif. The California Senate advanced a set of ambitious reparations proposals Tuesday, May 21, 2024, including legislation that would create a new agency to help Black families research their family lineage. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, Pool, File)

FILE - Members of the state Assembly meet at the Capitol May 26, 2020, in Sacramento, Calif. The California Senate advanced a set of ambitious reparations proposals Tuesday, May 21, 2024, including legislation that would create a new agency to help Black families research their family lineage. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, Pool, File)

FILE - State Sen. Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, addresses a press conference at Dodger Stadium Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. The California Senate advanced a set of ambitious reparations proposals Tuesday, May 21, 2024, including legislation that would create a new agency to help Black families research their family lineage. (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via AP, Pool, File)

  • Copy Link copied

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The California Senate advanced a set of ambitious reparations proposals Tuesday, including legislation that would create an agency to help Black families research their family lineage and confirm their eligibility for any future restitution passed by the state.

Lawmakers also passed bills to create a fund for reparations programs and compensate Black families for property that the government unjustly seized from them using eminent domain. The proposals now head to the state Assembly.

State Sen. Steven Bradford, a Los Angeles-area Democrat, said California “bears great responsibility” to atone for injustices against Black Californians.

“If you can inherit generational wealth, you can inherit generational debt,” Bradford said. “Reparations is a debt that’s owed to descendants of slavery.”

The proposals, which passed largely along party lines, are part of a slate of bills inspired by recommendations from a first-in-the-nation task force that spent two years studying how the state could atone for its legacy of racism and discrimination against African Americans. Lawmakers did not introduce a proposal this year to provide widespread payments to descendants of enslaved Black people, which has frustrated many reparations advocates.

In the U.S. Congress, a bill to study reparations for African Americans that was first introduced in the 1980s has stalled. Illinois and New York state passed laws recently to study reparations, but no other state has gotten further along than California in its consideration of reparations proposals for Black Americans.

FILE - A flag hangs on the side of the Andeavor Mandan Refinery in Mandan, N.D., Sept. 6, 2017. Nineteen Republican state attorneys general have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to get involved in a dispute over climate-change lawsuits. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

California state Sen. Roger Niello, a Republican representing the Sacramento suburbs, said he supports “the principle” of the eminent domain bill, but he doesn’t think taxpayers across the state should have to pay families for land that was seized by local governments.

“That seems to me to be a bit of an injustice in and of itself,” Niello said.

The votes come on the last week for lawmakers to pass bills in their house of origin, and days after a key committee blocked legislation that would have given property tax and housing assistance to descendants of enslaved people. The state Assembly advanced a bill last week that would make California formally apologize for its legacy of discrimination against Black Californians. In 2019, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a formal apology for the state’s history of violence against and mistreatment of Native Americans.

Some opponents of reparations say lawmakers are overpromising on what they can deliver to Black Californians as the state faces a multibillion-dollar budget deficit.

“It seems to me like they’re putting, number one, the cart before the horse,” said Republican Assemblymember Bill Essayli, who represents part of Riverside County in Southern California. “They’re setting up these agencies and frameworks to dispense reparations without actually passing any reparations.”

It could cost the state up to $1 million annually to run the agency, according to an estimate by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The committee didn’t release cost estimates for implementing the eminent domain and reparations fund bills. But the group says it could cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars to investigate claims by families who say their land was taken because of racially discriminatory motives.

Chris Lodgson, an organizer with reparations-advocacy group the Coalition for a Just and Equitable California, said ahead of the votes that they would be “a first step” toward passing more far-reaching reparations laws in California.

“This is a historic day,” Lodgson said.

Austin is a corps member for The Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow Austin on the social platform X: @sophieadanna

research proposal what it mean

You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser or activate Google Chrome Frame to improve your experience.

UNC School of Social Work


First-year doctoral student Ally Waters receives research grant for proposal 

Posted on May 23, 2024

by Chris Hilburn-Trenkle   

Ally Waters was not expecting that her graduate student research proposal would be chosen. 

When she received the news in early April, while driving to meet a friend for a weekend hiking trip in Virginia, she was excited as well as surprised, she admitted. 

The first-year doctoral student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work was recently awarded the Graduate Certificate in Participatory Research 2024 Seed Grant Award. Her proposal was titled, “Using Participatory Research Methods to Identify Assets and Opportunities for Diversion and Reentry Services in Rural North Carolina.”  

The award is given annually to proposals that strengthen research activity for building an action-oriented learning community that supplies training and resources for carrying out research in collaboration with communities. 

“I’m extremely appreciative,” Waters said. “I feel a lot of gratitude for someone seeing what I am hoping to do and encouraging it. I have also had such a warm reception from the Graduate Certificate in Participatory Research (community members) … I feel grateful for the funding, but also for the community around it.” 

The idea for Waters’ proposal came to fruition thanks to a conversation she had with Woodrena Baker-Harrell, the public defender for the Orange & Chatham County Public Defender’s Office.  

Waters, ‘23 (MSW), had worked with Baker-Harrell through her internship in the public defender’s office. The two still keep in touch, even though Waters now works as a clinical specialist for the Orange County Criminal Justice Resource Department, discussing ways to collaborate on research and community-engaged projects. 

It was during one of those conversations when Baker-Harrell mentioned the recently established Chatham County Local Reentry Council, a group of individuals who come together to work on issues and processes and advocate for those who recently left incarceration or faced barriers due to a prior incarceration. 

As Baker-Harrell shared more about the council, Waters began thinking about strategies for the organization, including the research that could be helpful to the community, goals of the council and ways that she could help support it, leading to her eventually submitting her proposal.  

Waters will first meet with members of the reentry council to gain their perspectives on needs, learn what questions they want answered and get their recommendations for people to work with. From there her plan is to begin conducting interviews this summer as a data collection tool. 

Although Waters plans to interview administrators of both reentry and diversion programs, she noted that the most important aspect of the project is speaking with formerly incarcerated people who can tell her which services available to them during reentry were beneficial, as well as what they would like to see changed moving forward. Some of the important needs she believes will be highlighted in interviews include housing, transportation and behavioral health treatment. 

In addition to those groups, Waters plans to speak with judges in Chatham County and members of the offices of the district attorney and public defender to help form the fullest picture. 

Once the interviews are complete, Waters aims to meet with reentry council members, interviewees, and other invested parties in the fall to discuss how to implement the information they received, hear the perspectives of members of the community and figure out the best ways to make the findings useful. 

While Waters hopes her project helps improve reentry services for the Chatham County community, she sees her main role as doing whatever she can to help add her research perspective to the efforts underway. 

“I think the big goal is to be helpful to the community in some way,” Waters said. “I have some ideas about what that might look like, but if that thing I have in mind is not actually that useful to them, pivoting so that whatever I can offer is helpful, is valuable. The goal is to support the community’s efforts at putting this local reentry council in place.” 

Related Stories

research proposal what it mean

Tar Heel Talents: Isabelle Borduas

UNC School of Social Work GSDI Program Manager Isabelle Borduas is working to help children across the globe while preparing for her career.

research proposal what it mean

Q&A: Doctoral student Dee Williams focuses on growth of Mental Health First Aid training at UNC

We spoke with Denise “Dee” Yookong Williams, ‘25 (Ph.D.), to learn about their MHFA student doctoral grant, the growth of mental health first aid training at UNC and more.

UNC School of Social Work

  • Share full article


Supported by

The U.S. Is Easing Marijuana Restrictions. Here’s How It Works.

A new federal rule would reclassify marijuana as a less-dangerous, Schedule III drug. It’s a significant shift, even as it does not legalize the drug.

A close-up of an individual’s hands trimming a large marijuana bud with scissors.

By Eileen Sullivan

Reporting from Washington

The Biden administration moved on Thursday to downgrade marijuana from the most restrictive category of drugs.

The proposed rule, submitted to the Federal Register, is subject to a 60-day comment period, kicking off a lengthy approval process before it takes effect.

The proposal, which would move marijuana to Schedule III, from Schedule I, signals a significant shift in how the federal government views the substance, even as it does not legalize the drug. Its classification as one of the most dangerous and habit-forming substances has long drawn criticism, and recategorizing the drug is an acknowledgment by the federal government that the drug has some medicinal value and lower potential for abuse.

The categories of controlled substances determine production amounts, access, research and legal consequences. Some experts have argued that cigarettes and alcohol, which are not in any of the five categories of controlled substances, should be included in Schedule I because of their demonstrated high risk of abuse and addiction.

In a recorded video, President Biden praised the step, describing it as “monumental.”

“Far too many lives have been upended because of a failed approach to marijuana, and I’m committed to righting those wrongs,” Mr. Biden said. “You have my word on it.”

Here is a look at the five categories, or schedules, including some of the drugs in each designation. Opioids fall into all five schedules, depending on the exact drug.

The federal government classifies these drugs as having no currently accepted medical use. It also says these drugs pose a high risk for abuse. Marijuana has been in this category, along with drugs like heroin, L.S.D., ecstasy and magic mushrooms.

Schedule II

The government says substances in this category have some medical value, even as they pose a high risk for abuse. This includes cocaine, methamphetamine, painkillers like Vicodin, OxyContin and fentanyl; and Dexedrine, Adderall and Ritalin, which are most commonly prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have sought to push fentanyl into a more stringent classification given that it has become a leading cause of death in the country. But doing so would have a detrimental impact on surgery patients because fentanyl is one of the best anesthetics, said Keith Humphreys, a drug policy expert at Stanford University. It also would not address the illegal production of fentanyl, which is what is fueling the overwhelming number of fentanyl-related deaths.

Schedule III

These drugs are considered to have a low to moderate risk of abuse, such as Tylenol with codeine, ketamine, anabolic steroids, testosterone and, eventually, marijuana. Drugs in this category are not subject to the federal income tax rule that has hampered producers in states where marijuana is legal. By law , producers of drugs in the top two categories cannot take tax exemptions for their business expenses like rent, employee salaries and utility bills that support operations.

Until 2014, hydrocodone combination products, most often prescribed as a painkiller — such as Vicodin — was considered a Schedule III drug. But the Drug Enforcement Administration changed that to try to curb the prescription drug abuse that had been sweeping the country at the time.

Schedule IV

Drugs in this group are considered to have a low risk of abuse and addiction and require a prescription. They include anti-anxiety medicine like Xanax and Valium; muscle relaxants; and low-grade pain killers like Tramadol. The sleeping drug Ambien is also in this category.

These are considered the lowest-risk drugs and still require a prescription. Examples include certain cough medicine, drugs to treat diarrhea, such as Lomotil, Motofen and Parepectolin, and the anti-epileptic drug, Lyrica.

Eileen Sullivan  covers breaking news, the Justice Department, the trials against Donald J. Trump and the Biden administration. More about Eileen Sullivan

Blog The Education Hub

New RSHE guidance: What it means for sex education lessons in schools

RSHE guidance

R elationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) is a subject taught at both primary and secondary school.  

In 2020, Relationships and Sex Education was made compulsory for all secondary school pupils in England and Health Education compulsory for all pupils in state-funded schools.  

Last year, the Prime Minister and Education Secretary brought forward the first review of the curriculum following reports of pupils being taught inappropriate content in RSHE in some schools.  

The review was informed by the advice of an independent panel of experts. The results of the review and updated guidance for consultation has now been published.   

We are now asking for views from parents, schools and others before the guidance is finalised. You can find the consultation here .   

What is new in the updated curriculum?  

Following the panel’s advice, w e’re introducing age limits, to ensure children aren’t being taught about sensitive and complex subjects before they are ready to fully understand them.    

We are also making clear that the concept of gender identity – the sense a person may have of their own gender, whether male, female or a number of other categories   – is highly contested and should not be taught. This is in line with the cautious approach taken in our gu idance on gender questioning children.  

Along with other factors, teaching this theory in the classroom could prompt some children to start to question their gender when they may not have done so otherwise, and is a complex theory for children to understand.   

The facts about biological sex and gender reassignment will still be taught.  

The guidance for schools also contains a new section on transparency with parents, making it absolutely clear that parents have a legal right to know what their children are being taught in RSHE and can request to see teaching materials.   

In addition, we’re seeking views on adding several new subjects to the curriculum, and more detail on others. These include:   

  • Suicide prevention  
  • Sexual harassment and sexual violence  
  • L oneliness  
  • The prevalence of 'deepfakes’  
  • Healthy behaviours during pregnancy, as well as miscarriage  
  • Illegal online behaviours including drug and knife supply  
  • The dangers of vaping   
  • Menstrual and gynaecological health including endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and heavy menstrual bleeding.  

What are the age limits?   

In primary school, we’ve set out that subjects such as the risks about online gaming, social media and scams should not be taught before year 3.   

Puberty shouldn’t be taught before year 4, whilst sex education shouldn’t be taught before year 5, in line with what pupils learn about conception and birth as part of the national curriculum for science.  

In secondary school, issues regarding sexual harassment shouldn’t be taught before year 7, direct references to suicide before year 8 and any explicit discussion of sexual activity before year 9.  

Do schools have to follow the guidance?  

Following the consultation, the guidance will be statutory, which means schools must follow it unless there are exceptional circumstances.   

There is some flexibility w ithin the age ratings, as schools will sometimes need to respond to questions from pupils about age-restricted content, if they come up earlier within their school community.   

In these circumstances, schools are instructed to make sure that teaching is limited to the essential facts without going into unnecessary details, and parents should be informed.  

When will schools start teaching this?  

School s will be able to use the guidance as soon as we publish the final version later this year.   

However, schools will need time to make changes to their curriculum, so we will allow an implementation period before the guidance comes into force.     

What can parents do with these resources once they have been shared?

This guidance has openness with parents at its heart. Parents are not able to veto curriculum content, but they should be able to see what their children are being taught, which gives them the opportunity to raise issues or concerns through the school’s own processes, if they want to.

Parents can also share copyrighted materials they have received from their school more widely under certain circumstances.

If they are not able to understand materials without assistance, parents can share the materials with translators to help them understand the content, on the basis that the material is not shared further.

Copyrighted material can also be shared under the law for so-called ‘fair dealing’ - for the purposes of quotation, criticism or review, which could include sharing for the purpose of making a complaint about the material.

This could consist of sharing with friends, families, faith leaders, lawyers, school organisations, governing bodies and trustees, local authorities, Ofsted and the media.  In each case, the sharing of the material must be proportionate and accompanied by an acknowledgment of the author and its ownership.

Under the same principle, parents can also share relevant extracts of materials with the general public, but except in cases where the material is very small, it is unlikely that it would be lawful to share the entirety of the material.

These principles would apply to any material which is being made available for teaching in schools, even if that material was provided subject to confidentiality restrictions.

Do all children have to learn RSHE?  

Parents still have the right to withdraw their child from sex education, but not from the essential content covered in relationships educatio n.  

You may also be interested in:

  • Education Secretary's letter to parents: You have the right to see RSHE lesson material
  • Sex education: What is RSHE and can parents access curriculum materials?
  • What do children and young people learn in relationship, sex and health education

Tags: age ratings , Gender , Relationships and Sex Education , RSHE , sex ed , Sex education

Sharing and comments

Share this page, related content and links, about the education hub.

The Education Hub is a site for parents, pupils, education professionals and the media that captures all you need to know about the education system. You’ll find accessible, straightforward information on popular topics, Q&As, interviews, case studies, and more.

Please note that for media enquiries, journalists should call our central Newsdesk on 020 7783 8300. This media-only line operates from Monday to Friday, 8am to 7pm. Outside of these hours the number will divert to the duty media officer.

Members of the public should call our general enquiries line on 0370 000 2288.

Sign up and manage updates

Follow us on social media, search by date, comments and moderation policy.

Ohio State navigation bar

  • BuckeyeLink
  • Search Ohio State
  • Areas of Study
  • Application
  • Application Materials
  • Early Decision Option
  • Dual Degree Programs
  • Accepting Financial Aid Packages
  • Appealing the Student Budget
  • Establishing Ohio Residency
  • Loan Assistance
  • Scholarships & Grants
  • Tuition & Student Budget
  • JD Transfer Admissions
  • Academic Information
  • Experiential Learning
  • Financial Information & Scholarships
  • How to Apply to the LLM Program
  • LLM-JD Transfer Program
  • LLM Student's Experience
  • Foundations of U.S. Law & Practice Summer Program
  • Admissions Requirements
  • MSL Program Tuition and Financial Aid
  • Online Certificate Program on US Law and Practice
  • Visiting Research Scholars Program
  • Plan a Visit
  • Civil Law Clinic
  • Criminal Defense Clinic
  • Criminal Prosecution Clinic
  • Entrepreneurial Business Law Clinic
  • Immigration Clinic
  • Justice for Children Clinic
  • Legislation Clinic
  • Mediation Clinic
  • Clinic Information Sessions
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Externships Overview
  • Judicial Externships
  • Public Interest Externship
  • Special Programs
  • Health & Wellness
  • Student Groups
  • Student Mentoring
  • Divided Community Project
  • 2020 Presidential Candidates on Marijuana
  • Cannabis Crossroads
  • Cannabis Regulation 2.0
  • Cannabis Social Equity
  • Drug Reforms on the 2020 Ballot
  • Drug Sentencing Reform in Ohio
  • Drugs on the Ballot: 2022
  • Five Decades of Marijuana Decriminalization
  • Local Moratoriums for Ohio Adult Use Marijuana Operators
  • Marijuana Reform and Taxes
  • Ohio Criminal Record Relief Options
  • Reports and Studies
  • Marijuana and Drug Policy Research Grants
  • Student Papers
  • Drugs on the Docket Podcast
  • Faculty, Staff, Experts, and Affiliates
  • Election Law at Ohio State
  • Law, Finance and Governance
  • Program on Data and Governance Engagement
  • Program on Data and Governance
  • Program Highlights
  • Data Points Lecture Series
  • Distinguished Lecture on Big Data Law and Policy
  • Program on Data and Governance Events
  • Program on Data and Governance Faculty and Staff
  • Research Publications
  • Certificate in Dispute Resolution
  • Dispute Resolution Scholarship Highlights
  • Externship Opportunities - ADR
  • Lawrence Lecture on Dispute Resolution
  • Program on Dispute Resolution Events
  • Schwartz Lecture on Dispute Resolution
  • Student Scholarship - ADR
  • Career Opportunities
  • Program on Dispute Resolution Faculty
  • Public Resources
  • Publications
  • Leadership Courses
  • Law and Leadership Event Descriptions
  • Scholarships
  • Partnerships and Collaboration
  • Founding Advisory Board and Student Advisory Board
  • Lawyers as Leaders
  • Judicial Clerkships
  • Employment Information
  • Corporate Fellowship Program
  • Public Service Fellows Program
  • Board Fellows Program
  • Public Service Law Center
  • Reciprocity
  • Alumni and Career Development
  • About the Library
  • Collections
  • Law Library Staff
  • Law Library Accessibility Resources
  • Administration
  • ABA Required Disclosures
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Inclusive Excellence Team
  • Ohio State University Diversity
  • Legal Pipeline
  • The Kirwan Institute
  • Moritz College of Law
  • Make a Gift
  • DEPC Overview
  • Policy and Data Analyses
  • Marijuana Reform Focus Area

What Will Adult-Use Marijuana Legalization Mean for Ohio?


On November 7, 2023, Ohio became the 24th state to legalize adult-use cannabis with 57% of voters voting in favor of Issue 2, also known as An Act to Control and Regulate Adult Use Cannabis. This site aims to address questions that many people may be asking, such as when will recreational dispensaries open their doors or how much product will an individual be allowed to purchase, as well as more complex questions, such as what is the expected tax revenue going to be and how might marijuana legalization affect public health and public safety.

The question-and-answer section of this resource is divided into the following subsections: adult-use recreational users, medical marijuana patients, cannabis industry, general questions, public safety impact and public health impact. Each subsection aims to help Ohioans better understand what cannabis legalization could mean for their communities.

It is important to note that the information below reflects the language of the initiated statute passed by Ohio voters. The Ohio General Assembly can make significant changes to any aspect of the statute at any time. 

Within days of the passage of Issue 2, various members of the Ohio General Assembly have proposed making legislative changes to a number of the provisions of the new law. Proposed reforms have been introduced in the General Assembly and legislative hearings continue to be conducted on some of the bills,  including  House Bill 86 ,  House Bill 168 ,  House Bill 341 , and  House Bill 354 .  The table below compares the four proposed legislations to each other, as well as to the currently enacted Ohio Revised Code Chapter 3780 created by Issue 2.

DEPC will continue to monitor legislative proposals, updating this page to reflect any changes that are passed by the Ohio General Assembly (OGA).

Key Takeaways from the Passage of Issue 2

When will ohioans be able to purchase recreational marijuana from licensed dispensaries.

Adult-use dispensaries are likely to begin operating sometime in the summer or early fall of 2024. The Division of Cannabis Control in the Department of Commerce will begin accepting applications for adult-use businesses and testing licenses within six months (early June) of Issue 2’s effective date. Licenses are then required to be allocated within nine months (early September) following Issue 2’s enactment, although the Department of Commerce could act in a speedier fashion.

Until the first recreational dispensary opens in the state of Ohio, Ohioans that do not have an Ohio medical marijuana card will not be able to lawfully purchase marijuana in the state of Ohio.

Key takeaways (if there are no changes by the Ohio General Assembly):

List of Key Takeaways from Issue 2. An accessible version can be accessed via the handout link below.

Please note: The Ohio General Assembly can make significant changes to any aspect of the statute at any time. The materials in this section were last updated November 8, 2023.

Additional resources

In addition to content below, DEPC  has produced both research and events that focus on marijuana reforms in Ohio and nationally. The center has produced reports on the estimated tax revenue of adult-use marijuana legalization in Ohio, the existing Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program, lessons to draw from states that have transitioned from medical to recreational marijuana reforms, h ow to effectively incorporate social equity into cannabis laws and regulations, and more.

The Ohio Initiated Statute Process for An Act to Control and Regulate Adult Use Cannabis

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol launched its initiative for adult-use marijuana in summer 2021. Following initial endorsement by the Ohio Attorney General and the Secretary of State's ballot board, the Coalition fell short of the required 132,887 signatures in December 2021. However, by late January 2022, the Secretary approved the additional signatures, and the measure was passed to the Ohio General Assembly, which did not act. A legal tussle over the initial signatures occurring in spring 2022 eventually led to a settlement, allowing the Coalition a streamlined process for the 2023 election. After giving the General Assembly a second chance to act in early 2023, the group embarked on collecting the second round of signatures in early May. Though they initially missed the mark by 679 signatures, an additional 6,545 were approved on August 16, ensuring the measure's spot on the November 2023 ballot.

In an effort to better clarify the process through which an initiated statute can become law in Ohio, DEPC has produced both a visual and an accessible text outline.

Diagram of the Ohio Initiated Statute Process for An Act to Control and Regulate Adult Use Cannabis

Adult Recreational Consumers

Can i grow my own marijuana.

NO – patients and caregivers are not allowed to cultivate their own marijuana.

YES – as of December 7, 2023, adult users are  allowed to grow six plants per individual, with a limit of 12 plants total per residence where two or more adult-use consumers reside at one time.

The vast majority of states (17 of 23) that have legalized adult use allow their residents to grow a limited number of plants for personal use, ranging between two (Montana) and 12 plants (Michigan). In our previous research, we heard from regulators who stressed that effectively managing home grow is necessary for public safety and for limiting the possibility of diversion to the illicit market. Regulators suggested two strategies to limit the potential negative effects of home grow provisions: giving law enforcement agencies clear and enforceable directions and keeping the allowed number of plants relatively low while also incorporating residency limits (limiting the number of plants that can be grown in a residence regardless of how many adults reside there).

  • Enables patients to grow their own supply to avoid the uninsurable cost of marijuana
  • Consumers can grow specific strains that might otherwise be hard to find in dispensaries
  • Potentially creates downward pressure on pricing in the market
  • Home cultivation makes enforcement to prevent illegal grows in residential settings more difficult and creates uncertainty among law enforcement as well as the public
  • Plants cultivated at home are not tested for harmful pollutants
  • Access to marijuana by underage persons may be harder to prevent

For more information, see From Medical to Recreational Marijuana: Lessons for States in Transition .

How much marijuana can I possess?

Possession limits across legalized states vary, but they are generally between 1 - 2.5 oz of cannabis flower in public, with some states having higher limits for concentrates or cannabis infused solid products. The state with the highest permitted possession limit is New Jersey, which permits possession of 6 oz.

The amount of medical marijuana possessed by a registered patient shall not exceed a ninety-day supply:

  • Tier I of med. marijuana – 8 oz (226.8g)
  • Tier II of med. marijuana – 5.3 oz (150.3g)
  • 26.55 grams of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content in lotions, patches, creams, ointments
  • 9.9 g of THC content in oil, tinctures, capsules or edible form
  • 53.1 g of THC content in oil for vaporization
  • Terminally ill patients have higher limits

2.5 ounces in any form except extract, 15 grams of adult use extract. May purchase 2.5 ounces from dispensary per day.

Are there restrictions on how I can consume marijuana?

The smoking or combustion of medical marijuana is prohibited. Any form or method that is considered attractive to children is prohibited. With respect to tetrahydrocannabinol content: plant material cannot have more than 35% of THC content, and extracts are limited to 70% THC content.

No limitation on how cannabis can be consumed. The Division of Cannabis Control will set rules regarding allowable THC content. T he language from the initiative provides additional detail:

  • Section 3780.03. Establishment and authority of division of cannabis control; adoption of rules. (C) The division of cannabis control shall adopt, and as advisable and necessary shall amend or repeal, rules on the following: (21) Establishing a tetrahydrocannabinol content limit for adult use cannabis, which for plant material the content limit shall be no less than thirty-five per cent and for extracts the content limit shall be no less than ninety per cent, but that such content limits may be increased or eliminated by the division of cannabis control

Are there employment and other protections for marijuana users?

Employment protection for marijuana use is a complex issue, shaped partially by the continued federal prohibition on marijuana as well as the challenge of detecting how and when past marijuana use may impair job performance. In our annual survey of medical marijuana patients, the fear of losing one’s employment has consistently ranked high as a reason why people abstain from using marijuana. Ohio's employment rules are not unique; the majority of states that have legalized marijuana do not provide employment protections. Three states, Nevada, New York and New Jersey, have enacted laws preventing employers from taking action solely based on the presence of cannabinoid metabolites in the employee’s system or refusing to hire based on individual’s use of marijuana outside of the workplace. However, in all three states employers can continue with drug free workplace policies.

NO – employers are allowed to continue workplace drug policies prohibiting consumption.

However, Act creates additional protections for:

  • Concealed Carry Licenses
  • Adjudicatory hearings to determine shelter care placement
  • Parental Rights and Responsibilities
  • Parenting Time Orders
  • Eligibility for any public benefit program administered by the state or locality
  • Right to medical care and/or inclusion on a transplant waiting list
  • Users cannot be rejected as a tenant but owner can prohibit smoking on premises.
  • Officers must have an independent, factual basis giving reasonable suspicion that an individual is operating a vehicle under the influence or a test from the person's blood, blood serum, plasma, breath, or urine.

Medical Marijuana Patients

Under the current language of the ballot initiative, existing medical marijuana licensees would get preferential treatment in regard to adult use licenses. However, the question of whether there will be separate dispensaries for adult-use and medical use is not addressed, and neither is the question of whether separate cultivator locations will be required.

Under the current Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (OMMCP) patients are only required to pay existing state and local sales taxes usually ranging between 5.25% and 7.50%. Under the ballot initiative, an additional 10% tax would be levied on purchases of recreational marijuana. The initiative is silent in respect to medical patients, which presumably means that medical marijuana purchases would not be subjected to the additional excise tax. Most states that have legalized adult use marijuana recognize the different nature of use between medical and recreational user and do not impose any additional taxes on patients beyond the standard state sales tax.

Under OMMCP rules, plant material cannot exceed a THC content of more than 35% and extracts cannot exceed THC content of 70%. The initiative proposal would give regulators the power to regulate concentration levels but its text explicitly states that concentration limits cannot be set below 35% of THC content for plant material and 90%, which are the same or higher than the existing OMMCP rules. State regulators will have to make a decision as to whether they want to increase potency limits for medical marijuana patients (assuming that the Ohio General Assembly will not act to change the limits).

How many licenses will be issued and how long will it take?

  • Cultivation - Level I Cultivator (25K sqf) & Level II Cultivator (3K sqf) - 37 licenses awarded, 23 Level I and 14 Level II. Initial cap was 12 licenses for each tier. As of August 17, 2023, 13 cultivators received permission to expand. This includes four Level I cultivators who can expand to up to 50,000 sq/ft, and nine Level II cultivators who can expand to up to 6,000 sq/ft.
  • Processor – 44 operational processors, plus two with provisional license; initial cap set at 40.
  • Testing Laboratory - No limit place on testing laboratory licenses.
  • Dispensary – 92 operational dispensaries, plus 41 provisional licenses issued.

There are no official caps on the number of licenses, however, the Division of Cannabis Control will be able to decide whether to issue additional licenses based on the balance of supply and demand in the market. Licenses to current medical marijuana licensees should start being issued within 9 months of enactment.

States have varying regulations for different types of licenses with some limiting how many licenses one entity or one individual can hold at one time to mitigate fears of market domination by large actors. Of the previous 23 states that have legalized adult-use marijuana, ten have enacted license limits based on an established cap or contingent on county population. Arizona limits licenses relative to the total number of pharmacies operating in the state.

  • Ability to charge higher licensing fees to support effective regulatory structure
  • Because only well-capitalized businesses can enter market due to high fees, it may create a more stable market
  • Ability to regulate supply of product and react to changing conditions in the market to prevent oversaturation
  • Allows for preferential treatment of certain classes of applicants
  • Limits how many entities can enter the industry
  • Gives advantage to well capitalized individuals/business, limiting diversity in the industry
  • By restricting supply, creates potential for higher prices to consumers
  • Necessitates creation of government selection process which can create controversy

How much will licenses cost?

The licensing fees assessed by states for adult-use businesses vary widely from state to state and license to license. In some states, such as Alaska, fees can be as low as $1,000 while other states, such as New York, can assign fees as high as $200,000. There are many considerations that go into determining license fees – states want to ensure that their regulatory structures can be wholly funded by the proceeds from the marijuana industry while at the same time they also need to consider the barrier high fees can create for small and minority-owned businesses. Transparency about the costs of administering a marijuana program and how fees are spent can be helpful in ensuring that fees are not set too low or too high.

  • Cultivator Level 1: $20,000 Application fee, $180,000 Licensure fee, and $200,000 Renewal Fee.
  • Cultivator Level 2: $2,000 Application Fee, $18,000 Licensure Fee, $20,000 Renewal Fee.
  • Processor: $10,000 Application Fee, $90,000 Licensure Fee, $100,000 Renewal Fee.
  • Dispensary: $5,000 Application Fee, $70,000 Licensure Fee, $70,000 Renewal Fee.

The licensing and application fees have not been established. The responsibility to set fees upon implementation was given to the Division of Cannabis Control.

Will existing medical marijuana operators get a preference?

  • Each medical dispensary will be issued one adult-use dispensary license
  • Level I Cultivator shall be issued three adult use dispensary licenses and one Level I Adult use cultivator license
  • Level II Cultivator shall be issued one adult use dispensary and one level II adult use cultivator license
  • Each dispensary shall be issued one adult use dispensary license at different location if dispensary does not have common ownership or control of any Level I, II, or processor license
  • Processor shall be issued one adult use processor license
  • Testing lab shall be issued one adult use laboratory license

Most states that have undergone a transition from medical to recreational marijuana market have treated existing medical marijuana licensees as having a preferred status compared to the general population, whether by being able to submit applications ahead of others, having a fast-tracked approval process or being automatically eligible for licenses within the recreational sphere. As with any other policy choice, this carries with it both benefits, such as shorter implementation time, and drawbacks such as limiting the ability of new entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs from communities most affected by prohibition to get involved or be prioritized.

  • Shorter implementation timeline due to already established growers and retailers
  • Smoother start of adult-use regime due to greater levels of familiarity with marijuana regulations and established record of compliance
  • Increases perceived legitimacy of the new industry as existing medical participants have already undergone public scrutiny
  • Limits the ability of new entrepreneurs to get involved in the industry, possibly limiting involvement of underrepresented communities
  • Possibility of greater concentration of the industry in fewer hands, limiting competitiveness of the market

Will there be any preference for in-state businesses?

The 2016 Ohio medical marijuana law required 15% of all licenses for growing, processing, and selling marijuana be awarded to minority-owned businesses. This part of the law was subsequently struck down in 2018 (for cultivators and processors) and in 2019 (for dispensaries). There are currently no provisions for preferential treatment for minority owned businesses.

Division of Cannabis Control shall issue up to 40 Level III adult use cultivator licenses with preference provided to applicants who have been certified as cannabis social equity and jobs program participants. Division of Cannabis Control shall issue up to 50 additional adult use dispensary licenses who have been certified as cannabis social equity and jobs program participants. The initiative does not appear to have any provisions giving preferential treatment based on residence alone.

Requirements for licenses have changed through the years with multiple states removing in-state residency requirements for their adult-use licenses. States were initially concerned with large corporations entering the market and leaving less economic opportunity for state residents. Currently, six states have provisions requiring resident status to qualify for a specific marijuana license. A majority of states have enacted license provisions granting social equity applicants preference for certain license types. Three states, New York, New Mexico and Connecticut, have implemented social equity programs that require 50% of all licenses must be allocated to a social equity registered applicant.

  • Can limit the ability of out-of-state investors to enter the market
  • Protects existing small businesses from capture by large players
  • Provides opportunity for state residents
  • Eliminates a potential red flag that could trigger federal enforcement action
  • Limits the amount of capital available to the industry
  • Can delay the growth of the industry in localities that lack sufficient capital
  • Could expose states to legal challenges from out-of-state business owners

General Questions

How much will the state tax marijuana.

The taxation levels under the legalization initiative falls in the mainstream when compared to other states. Most states impose an excise tax on cannabis of 10-15% in addition to their regular sales tax. Based on available information, New Jersey appears to have the lowest tax burden of 6.625% plus a variable local tax of up to 2%; the state of Washington, on the other hand, levies a 37% excise tax, plus 6.5% state sale tax and additional local state tax.

No special tax levied on medical marijuana purchases. Patients are subjected to regular state (5.25%) and local sales tax (0.25 – 2.25%).

10% Excise tax, plus  regular state and local sales tax, totaling between 15.25% - 17.5% tax levy.

How much tax revenue would Ohio collect from adult-use marijuana?

Advocates for cannabis reform in Ohio and in other states often stress the tax revenue that can be raised through legalization. While predicting future tax revenue is always subject to unforeseen circumstances, our center estimates that by year five of operation, Ohio could see between $276 million to $403 million in annual tax revenues if the tax structure is not altered by the General Assembly . These numbers are small compared to the overall size of the state budget, which for fiscal year 2023 stands at $81.1 billion. In other words, similar to other legalized states, even if tax revenues exceeded our estimates, it is unlikely that they would reach beyond 1% of the overall state budget. 

For more information, see What Tax Revenues Should Ohioans Expect If Ohio Legalizes Adult-Use Cannabis? .

How will money be spent?

Every state with legalized adult-use marijuana has established a plan to allocate marijuana revenue generated through the tax and fee collection. The plans vary widely, with some states focusing on funding education and law enforcement, while others distribute resources to localities, substance abuse programs, social equity programs, research, veteran services and others.

Sales tax from marijuana products goes to the state general fund. There are no designated expenditure areas.

Adult Use Tax fund - all funds initially deposited in this fund and distributed quarterly as follows: 36% for the Cannabis Social Equity and Jobs fund, 36% for the Host Community Cannabis Fund, 25% for the Substance Abuse and Addiction Fund and 3% for the Division of Cannabis Control and Tax Commissioner Fund.

What social equity provisions are incorporated?

Over the last decade, social equity has slowly become a major concern. States whose initial regulations did not include social equity provisions have amended the original legislation to include provisions assisting communities and individuals disproportionately impacted by marijuana enforcement. Almost every state, besides Alaska and Maine, have implemented some form of expungement or record sealing for past marijuana offenders, with 16 states providing for some form automatic record relief for a marijuana-related offense. Additionally, some states have set aside licenses for social equity applicants and established funds to help communities negatively impacted. 18 states have established funds to assist these communities either through reduced licensing fees, loan programs, business assistance, or programs to aid youth development and violence prevention.

Though providing earmarked funds and a list of activities for the cannabis social equity and jobs program, the initiative does not create a clear set of instructions for the use of funds nor specific details on how various activities will be pursued.

No social equity provisions incorporated beyond the 15% set aside for minority-owned businesses that was subsequently struck down in court.

The initiative includes establishment of the cannabis social equity and jobs program in the interest of remedying the harms resulting from the disproportionate enforcement of marijuana-related laws and to provide financial assistance and license application support to individuals most directly and adversely impacted by the enforcement of marijuana-related laws who are interested in starting or working in cannabis business entities. Additionally, Division of Cannabis Control shall issue up to 40 Level III adult use cultivator licenses and 50 additional adult use dispensary licenses with preference provided to applicants who have been certified as cannabis social equity and jobs program participants.

Will my locality be able to prohibit marijuana businesses?

Almost every state has adopted laws enabling localities to completely prohibit or significantly limit adult-use marijuana establishments from operating within their jurisdiction. Localities can prohibit establishments through ordinances or opt-out through voter referendum. Unlike the rest of adult-use states, New Mexico is the only state where the legislation included provisions preventing local jurisdictions from completely prohibiting adult-use licenses from operating.

YES - The legislative authority of a municipal corporation may adopt an ordinance, or a board of township trustees may adopt a resolution, to prohibit, or limit the number of, cultivators, processors, or retail dispensaries licensed under this chapter within the municipal corporation or within the unincorporated territory of the township, respectively.

YES - Localities may adopt ordinances to prohibit adult-use dispensaries but may not prohibit or limit existing operational medical marijuana cultivators, processors, or dispensaries; or an adult use cultivator or an adult use processor, or an adult use dispensary who is co-located with adult use cultivator and an adult use processor, who have, or whose owner have, a medical marijuana certificate of operation at the same location as of the effective date of the act. A municipal corporation or township may vote to prohibit the operation of an adult use dispensary within 120 days of the dispensary license being issued.

Public Safety and Public Health

Marijuana reform, especially legalization for recreational purposes, raises important questions about how such policy change might impact public safety and public health. Because marijuana legalization is a new development and takes various forms in different locales, rigorous research into questions related to effects on crime, impaired driving, youth use of marijuana and other impacts on health and safety has only just begun. To date, research results do not yet paint a clear picture on most of these important questions. The small sample of studies presented in the sections below were selected to demonstrate that, while researchers are starting to explore these questions, data limitations and the relative recency of these changes means that continuing and sustained research is needed to help policymakers design regulations and policies to minimize potential harms and maximize potential benefits.

Will we see an increase in traffic accidents?

To date, researchers have found mixed results when looking at the question of whether marijuana legalization results in higher number of traffic accidents or higher rates of impaired driving.

To assess the effect of legalization on traffic fatalities in Colorado and Washington, a 2020 study by Hansen, Miller, and Weber used a synthetic control approach with data on fatal traffic accidents between 2000 and 2016. The authors found little evidence to support the idea that recreational legalization dramatically increased traffic fatalities. Specifically, synthetic control groups had similar changes in marijuana- and alcohol-related traffic fatality rates, as well as a similar change in overall traffic fatalities, despite not having legal marijuana.

On the other hand, a 2023 study by Adhikari, Maas and Trujillo-Barrera  found that legalization of recreational marijuana resulted in an increase of 1.2 traffic death per a billion of miles traveled, which translates roughly into 1000 excess fatalities on annual basis for all states that have legalized recreational marijuana.

Most studies that have looked at the question of road safety note important data limitations as well as lack of clear understanding of marijuana impairment. For example, Windle and co-authors  found that marijuana legalization and decriminalization were correlated with an increase in positive cannabis tests among drivers. However, they determined that many of these studies were at risk of bias due to potential confounders and measurement error. The authors also emphasized that while more drivers may have tested positive for cannabis, this does not necessarily mean they were driving impaired as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can be detected for long periods of time after consumption.

For more information, see Effects of Drug Policy Liberalization on Public Safety: A Review of the Literature .

Will we see an increase in crime rates?

Whether marijuana legalization is linked to an increase or decrease in crime is of great interest to policymakers and researchers. Unfortunately, this question is also very difficult to study due to data limitations that exist in our criminal justice system, the relative recency of legalization and the number of confounding factors present. Nevertheless, several studies have tried to ascertain the relationship between marijuana legalization and crime.

A 2019 study focusing on Colorado found that the opening of medical and recreational dispensaries decreased violent crime in nearby neighborhoods with incomes above the median although it had virtually no impact on aggregate rates of violent and property crimes overall. The authors also found a decrease in non-cannabis drug- and alcohol-related crimes near dispensaries. While they found that vehicle break-ins were elevated within a mile of dispensaries, they concluded that marijuana legalization had a net benefit with regard to crime rates. An additional study  focusing on recreational legalization in Washington and Oregon found that legalization likely caused a drop in crime. Specifically, the authors found that legalization resulted in a significant reduction in rape and property crime on the Washington side of the border compared to both the Oregon side and the pre-legalization years. Furthermore, while marijuana consumption increased, use of other drugs and alcohol decreased.

At the same time, some studies found increases in crime rates after cannabis legalization. For example, using UCR data from 2007 to 2017 to examine the effect of marijuana legalization on crime rates in Oregon, one study  found increases in crime rates for several types of offenses, including property and violent crime. In another study pertaining to crime in Oregon, Wu and Willits  found that the rate of simple assault had increased following legalization. However, they noted that their post-legalization time frame was fairly short and should be reassessed by future research.

Other research found no significant changes in crime following marijuana legalization. For example, using UCR data, Lu et al.  conducted a quasi-experimental study to examine crime rates in Colorado and Washington. They found no statistically significant effects of marijuana legalization on violent or property crime. Similarly, a review study  looking at data from several legalized states indicated that violent crime neither increased nor dropped dramatically following cannabis legalization.

Overall, the literature exploring the relationship between liberalization of marijuana policies and crime seems to suggest that legalizing marijuana is not a threat to public safety.

Will we see an impact on arrest rates?

Unlike other public safety questions around marijuana legalization, whether there is an impact on arrest rates is fairly straightforward. Numerous studies indicate significant drops in the number of arrests following the legalization as well as decriminalization of adult-use marijuana. Firth and co-authors used National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) data on marijuana-related arrests and found that marijuana arrest rates among people over 21 fell dramatically after legalization of marijuana possession in Washington State, and that rates stayed at similar levels following the opening of the retail market. However, while marijuana-related arrest rates for both White and Black adults decreased, relative disparities increased. African Americans previously had an arrest rate 2.5 times higher than the White arrest rate, but this increased to 5 times higher after the opening of the retail market. Similarly, recent research on Colorado and Washington has also found that while cannabis-related arrest rates generally declined after legalization, racial disparities persisted. Thus, while legalization lessens the absolute number of people who come into contact with the criminal justice system overall, more needs to be done to specifically address racial disparities.

Will we see an increase in youth consumption of marijuana?

As with questions about public safety, the research findings on many questions related to public health are mixed. In respect to rate of use, some research indicates an increase in marijuana use overall, while other research shows decreased rates of use among teens. According to a 2021 study  that reviewed existing research on the topics, use in states where marijuana is legal tends to be higher than the average rate of use in the United States, however, this difference mainly pre ‐ ​dates legalization.

In a 2019 report  from the Journal of the American Medical Association, the enactment of adult-use legalization laws showed no significant association with marijuana use or marijuana use frequency among high school students. Similarly, medical cannabis laws did not impact youth usage rates. A 2020 study  that looked at teen use in California and Washington found that both states recorded a drop in teen use post-legalization, which was consistent with data from non-legalized states suggesting an overall national drop in teen use of marijuana. This was later supported by a 2023 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which highlighted that past 30-day cannabis use among U.S. high school students in 2021 was the lowest since 1991, with male teens experiencing a significant decrease from 26% in 2011 to 14% in 2021, and female students use remaining relatively stable with 18% using in 2011 and 16% reporting use in 2021.

As with previous questions, continued rigorous research focused on rates of use among adults and adolescents is needed to ensure that policymakers and regulators have the necessary information to effectively regulate legal cannabis markets. Special attention should be paid to harmful levels of use.

Will we see an increase in emergency room visits?

A number of studies have noted an increase in the number of cannabis-related emergency room visits over the last two decades. For instance, a CDC study from 2023  noted an increase in cannabis-involved emergency room visits for people under the age of 25 during the COVID pandemic, while also noting a statistically significant increase prior to pandemic. However, this study was not specifically focused on states with legalized recreational marijuana or on tracking the impact of such legalization on emergency room visits.

A recent study  looked at cannabis positivity rates in 17 emergency departments across the US with different stages of marijuana legalization. According to the authors, most states experienced a significant increase in cannabis positivity rates as legalization progressed, however, the positivity rates differed. In most states with no cannabis legalization, there was still a significant, albeit smaller, increase in cannabis positivity rates in emergency room visits. Additionally, a study  conducted at two Boston medical centers from 2012 to 2019 showed an increase in both positive THC IA results and cannabis-related ICD-10 codes in the ED, particularly among females, patients aged 30-39, older adults (>59 years), and the highest income bracket. Similarly, a 2018 study  from Colorado noted an increase in emergency room visits for patients between 13 and 21 years of age from 2005 to 2015.

In summary, there has been an observed increase in emergency room visits related to marijuana use in states that have legalized marijuana. It is important to keep in mind though that even states that have not legalized marijuana have seen an increase in emergency room visit, and studies that were conducted in legalized states had some significant limitations. While these limitations are worth noting, there also appears to be a consensus among scholars that regulators should pay specific attention to mandating child-proof containers for cannabis product and prohibiting marketing of products whose packaging mimics popular child-friendly snacks and candy.

Impact on the Workplace

The connection between marijuana legalization and the labor market is of great interest to employers and policymakers alike, prompting questions about changes to the prevalence of workplace incidents, changes in productivity and labor participation, and impact on worker compensation costs. But as with many other questions surrounding marijuana reform, the research to date provides mixed evidence, with very little research being available on the impact of recreational adult use legalization specifically.

In respect to workplace injuries, majority of research to date focuses on whether there is a link between use of marijuana and workplace accidents, rather than on the link between marijuana legalization and injuries. In a 1990 study , prior to any state legalizing an adult-use or medical program, researchers found that individuals that tested positive for marijuana through a urine analysis had 55% more industrial accidents, 85% more injuries, and a 78% increase in absenteeism. A 2023 study found that individuals that consumed marijuana on the job, were nearly twice as likely to experience some form of workplace injury, although there was no negative effect for consumption of marijuana outside of the workplace. In respect to medical marijuana legalization, some research actually showed a positive impact, with a 2018 study finding that legalization of medical marijuana was associated with a 19.5% reduction in expected workplace fatalities for individuals 25-44.

In regard to labor supply, a 2019 study found a positive relationship between medical marijuana laws and labor supply among older adults. For adults 51 years and older, the study showed an increase in probability of full-time employment as well as hours worked. Another study from 2018 found no changes in the labor market following medical marijuana legalization, with employment status, hours worked and wages remaining unaffected.

When it comes to research focused on recreational marijuana legalization, the results are also mixed. While a 2017 study by Maclean et al. found an increase in disability claim applications and longer disability periods after recreational marijuana legalization, another study from 2021 by Abouk et al. showed reductions in workers’ compensation claims and benefits.

What a possible multibillion-dollar NCAA antitrust settlement means for college sports

Rece Davis joins Pat McAfee and discusses when colleges could start paying their athletes. (1:30)

research proposal what it mean

  • Covers the Big Ten
  • Joined in 2014
  • Graduate of the University of Notre Dame
  • Pete Thamel

Copy Link

The NCAA and its schools are considering a proposed solution to one of the largest looming obstacles remaining for a landmark settlement of the association's antitrust cases , which could shape the future of major collegiate sports in America.

With the college sports industry aiming to avoid future antitrust lawsuits, the terms of a settlement would establish an annual process giving new players a chance to opt in or object to revenue-sharing terms currently being negotiated as part of the emerging framework for the future business model of the NCAA's top schools.

The NCAA and its most powerful conferences are in the thick of working toward settling the House v. NCAA case this month, with sources saying leagues are planning to vote on a proposed deal by May 23. ESPN spoke to more than a dozen legal and industry experts in college sports this week to better understand the ongoing negotiations.

The tentative terms of the settlement include the NCAA paying more than $2.7 billion in past damages as well as setting up a system for its most powerful conferences to share a portion of their revenue with athletes moving forward. One major obstacle to reaching a settlement has been finding a way for the NCAA and its schools to protect themselves from future lawsuits, including potential claims they would be colluding to cap player compensation without using a collective bargaining agreement.

Steve Berman, the co-lead counsel representing athletes in the House case, told ESPN he and his team have proposed a solution that would extend the class-action settlement on an annual basis. In this scenario, athletes would receive a notice each year providing them with the opportunity to object to the terms of the revenue-share agreement. Berman said those athletes would then have the chance to attend a hearing and persuade the judge that the revenue-share arrangement was unfair in order to push for a change.

"Each year we would have a hearing where any new athlete who wasn't previously bound [by the settlement] can come and object," Berman said. "They would have to come and say, 'I don't think this is fair.' That would be a hard burden to prove."

An NCAA spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment. Some athlete organizers say they are skeptical a rolling annual opt-in mechanism would be enough to dissuade future players from filing lawsuits to push for a bigger share of money in future years.

Sources say revenue sharing with athletes would begin, at the earliest, in the summer of 2025. The settlement would also serve to resolve three other active antitrust lawsuits against the NCAA.

The details of a settlement and their implications on how schools spend their money remain in flux. But with leagues expected to vote within the next two weeks, details are growing more clear as leaders in the industry weigh their options and sort through several remaining questions about how a future business model will work.

Why would an annual hearing be necessary?

In professional sports, the amount of revenue a league shares with its players is typically negotiated through a collective bargaining agreement between the league and a players' union. Collective bargaining agreements completed with a certified union are exempt from antitrust challenges in court. That legal protection would not apply, however, in college sports if athletes are not deemed to be employees when schools start sharing their revenue.

The NCAA and its schools have been firmly opposed to a model where athletes are viewed as employees.

There are multiple pending cases in front of the National Labor Relations Board where athletes and their advocates are arguing that players should be employees and have the right to unionize, but those cases could take years to reach a conclusion. Others such as the College Football Players Association -- one of several groups seeking to organize college athletes -- have proposed asking Congress to create a special status for college athletes that would allow them to collectively bargain without being employees. But again, Congress has been slow to reach consensus on any federal legislation that could help chart a course forward for college sports despite several years of requested help from the NCAA.

The current House case is a class-action lawsuit that applies to all current Division I college athletes. That means future college athletes would not be bound by the terms of a settlement reached this year. Berman and his colleagues are hoping that giving each incoming group of new players an option to join the class will provide the schools with enough confidence that their agreement will be hard to challenge with future litigation.

What are the chances of a settlement happening?

There are so many moving parts that nothing is definitive, but sources from both sides of the case appear to be optimistic they are making substantial progress toward a settlement.

The NCAA has worked furiously toward settling, including agreeing to pick up the more than $2.7 billion in past damages over the next 10 years. If the case goes to trial and a judge rules against the NCAA, the association and its schools could be on the hook for more than $4 billion in damages.

Sources told ESPN that NCAA president Charlie Baker was in Washington, D.C., on Thursday meeting with more than a half-dozen Senators, a previously scheduled trip where he's staying engaged with current Senate leaders about potential future legislation.

The belief in the industry is that all the power conferences have the majority votes to settle, which will be up to their schools' top administrators. There are a few individual schools that are skeptical of settling -- some of those overlap with the schools that supported the idea of forming a new "super league" that would radically reshape the entire structure of college athletics. While some believe a more complete overhaul is needed, sources told ESPN there's essentially zero chance of a super league emerging in the near future.

To the majority, the idea of a league deciding to battle Berman and fellow lead attorney Jeffrey Kessler in court and face billions in damages isn't too appetizing -- especially with the NCAA paying the back damages.

Here's the breakdown of the landscape, according to multiple industry sources: The Big Ten is generally on board with settling. The SEC has some detractors of settling but is trending to a majority. The Big 12 is expected to follow along. There's some dissension in the ACC, which has amplified why Florida State and Clemson are suing to leave the league, but sources say it's unlikely the ACC will end up voting against it.

It's also important to note here that a vote for settling doesn't mean all of the key details will have been ironed out. The notion of capping the size of a team's roster as part of this new business model, for example, has generated buzz in athletic director and coaching circles. But details like what a football roster would be capped at -- and the fate of walk-ons -- are not expected to be decided until after the vote, per sources.

"It's so early in that conversation, it's hard to speculate," a source said. "There's a lot more work there. You want to build consensus across multiple conferences."

Also, any potential help from Congress that Baker is courting wouldn't come until well after the settlement.

"It gives us a better hand to play with Congress," an industry source said. "They were looking for something from us. This injects a lot in that conversation. This is a good start."

How much money will schools be spending on future payments to athletes?

Sources told ESPN that while terms could change, the current proposal would create a spending cap for each power-conference school based on 22% of the average media rights, ticket sales and sponsorship revenue of each power-conference school. Sources say they expect that cap number to be nearly $20 million per school. Schools would not be required to spend that much money on their athletes but would have the option to share up to that $20 million figure with them.

The cap number could change every few years to reflect changes in the overall revenue of schools. It's not clear whether some money the schools already provide to their athletes -- such as an academic reward of roughly $6,000 commonly referred to as Alston payments -- would count toward that cap. Multiple sources did tell ESPN that donations from boosters are not included in the revenue formula.

How will they divide that money among their athletes?

There are no specific provisions in the proposed settlement that spell out how schools should distribute money to athletes, according to sources. Each individual school would be responsible for deciding which athletes to pay and sorting through the uncertainty around how that money would apply to Title IX regulations, per multiple sources.

Title IX requires colleges to provide equal opportunities for men and women to compete in varsity sports and provide equitable benefits to those athletes. The law, written long before athletes were earning money beyond their scholarships, does not clearly state how the federal government views direct payments to athletes. Does equitable treatment require a school to give the same dollar amount to men and women athletes in the new revenue-share model? Or would the payments be viewed more as a benefit that could be proportional to the money generated by each sport? Would scholarship dollars and additional revenue-share dollars be considered in the same financial category when balancing the Title IX ledgers?

"The truth is, no one knows," a source told ESPN on Friday.

While the Department of Education or Congress could provide answers proactively, neither has demonstrated any urgency to do so at this point. Specific interpretations of Title IX often come through litigation, and in this instance, a group of athletes might need to file a lawsuit about how their school is handling these direct payments to establish clarity.

Until then, the most conservative approach for schools to ensure Title IX compliance would mean evenly splitting the new revenue-share dollars between men and women athletes. Sources say some schools might try to balance the overall spending by increasing scholarship opportunities on their women's teams, but it remains unclear whether that would satisfy Title IX regulations. Others might seek a competitive advantage in football recruiting, for example, by arguing that equitable treatment for athletes in the case of revenue sharing should be based on the revenue their sports generate.

Sources also said the settlement won't require schools to share money with all athletes or share it evenly among athletes -- leaving those decisions up to individual athletic departments as well.

What happens to collectives and NIL payments?

According to a source, the settlement does not include any provision that would put an end to the booster collectives that currently serve as the main vehicle for paying athletes. School officials hope a settlement will create a way to strengthen the NCAA's ability to enforce its rules, including its rule that requires NIL payments to be for a player's market value as opposed to the current system, which frequently serves as a workaround for "pay-for-play" arrangements. However, drawing a distinction between those two types of payments would remain a difficult, nebulous task. Any attempt to completely eliminate the NIL collective market would take a substantial change in federal law provided by Congress.

The NCAA has created new rules this spring that allow schools to be more directly involved in finding NIL deals for their athletes. New state laws are also opening doors for the schools to use their own money to pay for an athlete's NIL rights as opposed to those funds coming from a third party. The extent to which each school continues to be involved in finding NIL opportunities for its athletes in a future with revenue sharing could vary significantly.

"The feeling in the industry is that collectives are going to be forced to stay outside the universities, and it will become more of a discrepancy of the haves and have-nots," said an industry source. "If you bring collectives in, any money raised would count toward the cap. But schools can hit the cap and still have collectives as third parties. That's the fear, and why there needs to be regulation."

What does this mean for major college basketball and leagues outside power conferences?

It's still relatively uncertain how this would impact major college basketball schools outside of the power conferences.

Schools in the Big East, which is the most prominent basketball-forward league in the country, haven't been given any formal guidance on how a settlement would trickle down to their level.

The prevailing sentiment is that leagues outside the power conferences named in the lawsuit, including basketball-forward leagues, will have the opportunity to opt into the same 22% revenue-share formula, which would be applied to their specific revenue.

The most expensive men's college basketball rosters heading into next season are commanding $5 million to $7 million in NIL payments, per sources. It's too early to determine whether leagues outside the power football conferences will be able to pay that much through revenue sharing.

The uncertainty about how the power conferences will settle the antitrust claims is leaving many administrators outside those leagues in what they describe as a difficult situation.

"All of the Group of 5 is in a wait-and-see mode, which is a precarious situation," one source told ESPN. "It is extremely tough to lead athletic departments, universities and conferences and plan for the future -- whether that be facilities, NIL, etc. -- when you have no seat at the table to make the rules that will impact you."


  1. How to Write a Successful Research Proposal

    research proposal what it mean

  2. PPT

    research proposal what it mean

  3. How to write a research proposal in 6 important steps

    research proposal what it mean

  4. 👍 Research proposal. Research Proposal Example. 2019-02-23

    research proposal what it mean

  5. Research proposal is a concise and coherent summary of your proposed

    research proposal what it mean

  6. 11 Research Proposal Examples to Make a Great Paper

    research proposal what it mean


  1. Proposal 101: What Is A Research Topic?

  2. Creating a research proposal

  3. What does proposal mean?

  4. Difference between Research Proposal and Study Plan

  5. Public Proposal: Understanding the Phrase in English

  6. What Makes a Good Proposal?


  1. What Is A Research Proposal? Examples + Template

    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 ...

  2. How to Write a Research Proposal

    Research proposal examples. 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 ...

  3. What Is a Research Proposal? (Plus How To Write One)

    A research proposal is a vital tool that can help scholars and university students complete a dissertation, receive funding for projects or fulfill course requirements. It outlines the importance of your inquiry and summarizes how you plan to investigate your research problem. Before developing a project, it's often valuable to learn some ...

  4. How to Write a Research Proposal

    Research proposal examples. 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'.

  5. Research Proposal Definition, Components & Examples

    The best research proposal definition states that it is a structured document that describes an intended study. This formal document reveals the importance and methodology of conducting the ...

  6. Writing a Research Proposal

    The design elements and procedures for conducting research are governed by standards of the predominant discipline in which the problem resides, therefore, the guidelines for research proposals are more exacting and less formal than a general project proposal. Research proposals contain extensive literature reviews.

  7. How To Write A Research Proposal

    Here is an explanation of each step: 1. Title and Abstract. Choose a concise and descriptive title that reflects the essence of your research. Write an abstract summarizing your research question, objectives, methodology, and expected outcomes. It should provide a brief overview of your proposal. 2.

  8. Research Proposal

    Academic Research Proposal. This is the most common type of research proposal, which is prepared by students, scholars, or researchers to seek approval and funding for an academic research project. It includes all the essential components mentioned earlier, such as the introduction, literature review, methodology, and expected outcomes.

  9. How to write a research proposal

    A research proposal is a concise and coherent summary of your proposed research. You'll need to set out the issues that are central to the topic area and how you intend to address them with your research. To do this, you'll need to give the following: an outline of the general area of study within which your research falls.

  10. Research proposal

    e. A research proposal is a document proposing a research project, generally in the sciences or academia, and generally constitutes a request for sponsorship of that research. [1] Proposals are evaluated on the cost and potential impact of the proposed research, and on the soundness of the proposed plan for carrying it out. [2]

  11. How to Write a Research Proposal: A Step-by-Step

    Writing a research proposal template in structured steps ensures a comprehensive and coherent presentation of your research project. Let's look at the explanation for each of the steps here: Step 1: Title and Abstract. Step 2: Introduction. Step 3: Research objectives. Step 4: Literature review.

  12. What is a research proposal?

    Overview. 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.


    research proposal, in whatever context, is intended to convince others that you have a relevant and interesting topic to research that will provide (in some explicit way) useful results and a sensible idea of how to set about that research in a timely, economical way. In other words, you must convince your target

  14. How to Write a Research Proposal in 2024: Structure, Examples & Common

    A quality example of a research proposal shows one's above-average analytical skills, including the ability to coherently synthesize ideas and integrate lateral and vertical thinking. Communication skills. The proposal also demonstrates your proficiency to communicate your thoughts in concise and precise language.

  15. 11.2 Steps in Developing a Research Proposal

    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 ...

  16. How to prepare a Research Proposal

    Most students and beginning researchers do not fully understand what a research proposal means, nor do they understand its importance. 1 A research proposal is a detailed description of a proposed study designed to investigate a given problem. 2 A research proposal is intended to convince others that you have a worthwhile research project and that you have the competence and the work-plan to ...

  17. How to write 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 ...

  18. What is a research proposal?

    A research proposal is a concise and coherent summary of your proposed research. Writing a research proposal. Watch on. Your research proposal should set out the central issues or questions that you intend to address. It should outline the general area of study within which your research falls, referring to the current state of knowledge and ...

  19. How to Write 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 ...

  20. Proposal

    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.

  21. PDF Research Proposal Format Example

    Research Proposal Format Example. Following is a general outline of the material that should be included in your project proposal. I. Title Page II. Introduction and Literature Review (Chapters 2 and 3) A. Identification of specific problem area (e.g., what is it, why it is important). B. Prevalence, scope of problem.

  22. How to Write a Project Proposal (Examples & Templates)

    This means that this type of proposal most likely isn't going to come with much context. The writer will need to do a lot of solo research. Renewal Project Proposal. A renewal is used when a project has run its course and needs to start again. The research that goes into this type of proposal typically stems from the success data of the last ...

  23. Reparations proposals for Black Californians advance to state Assembly

    FILE - Members of the state Assembly meet at the Capitol May 26, 2020, in Sacramento, Calif. The California Senate advanced a set of ambitious reparations proposals Tuesday, May 21, 2024, including legislation that would create a new agency to help Black families research their family lineage. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, Pool, File)

  24. First-year doctoral student Ally Waters receives research grant for

    The first-year doctoral student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work was recently awarded the Graduate Certificate in Participatory Research 2024 Seed Grant Award. Her proposal was titled, "Using Participatory Research Methods to Identify Assets and Opportunities for Diversion and Reentry Services in Rural ...

  25. The U.S. Is Making Marijuana a Schedule III Drug. Here's What That

    The proposal, which would move marijuana to Schedule III, from Schedule I, signals a significant shift in how the federal government views the substance, even as it does not legalize the drug ...

  26. What Does Riding the Clutch Mean?

    The clutch is the connection between the engine and transmission. Riding the clutch means overusing the third pedal. Riding a clutch causes damage over time. As of 2023, less than 2% of new vehicles were sold with manual transmissions. This means fewer and fewer drivers are learning to operate a car with a traditional clutch pedal — a third ...

  27. New RSHE guidance: What it means for sex education lessons in schools

    Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) is a subject taught at both primary and secondary school. In 2020, Relationships and Sex Education was made compulsory for all secondary school pupils in England and Health Education compulsory for all pupils in state-funded schools. Last year, the Prime Minister and Education Secretary brought ...

  28. Cannabis Crossroads

    The initiative proposal would give regulators the power to regulate concentration levels but its text explicitly states that concentration limits cannot be set below 35% of THC content for plant material and 90%, which are the same or higher than the existing OMMCP rules. ... data limitations and the relative recency of these changes means that ...

  29. What a possible multibillion-dollar NCAA antitrust settlement means for

    That means future college athletes would not be bound by the terms of a settlement reached this year. ... the current proposal would create a spending cap for each power-conference school based on ...