A research proposal is designed to persuade a funding body, educational institution, or supervisor, that your project is worthy of their support. It is a key part of your application, so it must passionately communicate what you want to research and why, convey your understanding of existing literature, and clearly define at least one original question and your approach to answering it.
While it must be well-structured, layout and formats can vary. Based on the total length of the proposal, you should decide whether you will have headings and what they will be. However, there are several key points to bear in mind when writing a research proposal.
Your title should give a clear indication of your proposed research approach explained in around ten words. It should be catchy, informative and interesting.
Make sure your introduction presents your topic clearly, states the problem statement your research aims to answer, and provides context for your research. As reviewers are very busy people, you should be concise, but also try to excite them about your project from the very beginning.
This is where you explain why your research is necessary and how it relates to the established research in your field. It should provide the answer to the question why it is imperatively needed within its field of interest. It is crucial to structure this section intelligently so that the reader can grasp the argument associated with your study in relation to that of other researchers, while still demonstrating to your readers that your work is original and groundbreaking. It should also focus on the theoretical and practical knowledge gaps that your work aims to address, as this ultimately justifies and provides the motivation for your project.
In this section it is a good idea to restate your main objectives, bringing the focus back to your own project. The research design and methodology section should describe the overall approach and practical steps you will take to answer your research questions.
Most research is library-based. If you plan to conduct field work or collect empirical data, you should provide details about this. This section should also explain how you are going to analyze your research findings. A strong, well-written methodology is crucial, but especially so if your project involves extensive collection and significant analysis of primary data.
To finish your proposal on a strong note, you can explore the possible implications of the research for theory or practice, and emphasize again what you aim to contribute to existing knowledge on the topic. In other words, this section is not about stating the specific results you expect. Rather, it is where you state how your findings will be valuable.
Concluding or following on from your contribution to knowledge, your timetable should identify how long you will need to complete each step. This helps the reviewers to evaluate the feasibility of your project and shows that you have considered how you will go about your research in greater detail.
This is where you wrap it all up. In other words, this section briefly summarizes your research proposal and reinforces the stated purpose of your research.
The proposal should include a short bibliography identifying the most relevant works for your topic.
Finally, make sure your proposal is free of typographic and grammatical errors. Use clear, plain language and avoid jargon. Don’t forget to keep it simple. Good luck!
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