A to Z of Research Proposal Writing

This research proposal writing guide has been penned down by a researcher and academic consultant in our team at The Academic Papers UK for the undergraduate, masters and Ph.D. students who look for complete guidance and information about writing a research proposal at one place.

In general, a research proposal or dissertation proposal is a brief description of the research question, research background, significance of the study as well as a proposed research methodology.

A research proposal proposes a research project. A research proposal is helpful for a student to avail sponsorship. Students are asked to write a research proposal at Undergraduate, Masters and Ph.D. level. In general, a research proposal or dissertation proposal is a brief description of the research question, research background, significance of the study as well as a proposed research methodology.

There are two types of research proposals. Some research proposals are solicited. Solicited research proposal means that it is written as a response to a request. To write a solicited research proposal, the researchers have to fulfill some specified requirements. Some research proposals are unsolicited. Unsolicited research proposals are written without any prior request and the researchers are free to write the research proposal.

Some key questions that should be answered in a research proposal are given below;

  1. What are the research questions that you are going to address in your research paper?
  2. What are the possible ways to address these research questions?
  3. How much time is required to write the research paper?
  4. What is the expense of the research paper?
  5. What are the possible results of the research paper?
  6. How to get these results?
  7. How to evaluate the results of the research proposal?
  8. How your research paper will be helpful for sponsoring organizations?
  9. What are the possible resources to gather the data to write your research paper?

The exact format and structure to write a research proposal may vary from one institute to another institute. Anyhow, there are some basics of a research proposal that are required by all the institutes.

No doubt, to write a research proposal requires a huge amount of time and you will have to follow a timeline to complete it before the deadline. If you don’t have enough time or skills to write a research proposal, you can get help from experts of research proposal writing services. Some essential tips to write a research proposal are given below;

The elements of a research proposal

A research proposal is divided into several sections. Therefore, before commencing the research proposal writing task, the students should clearly understand the elements to write a research proposal. The main elements of a research proposal are explained below;

Introduction and theoretical framework

An introduction is the first main section of a research proposal. Its main purpose is to provide the background information about the research topic and it also develops a framework for the research. After reading the introductory section of the research proposal, the readers are able to get an idea of how your research paper is relevant to other research papers. Some essential elements of the introductory section of a research proposal are given below;

  1. It should create interest in the topic
  2. It should provide a complete idea about the main foundation of writing the research proposal
  3. What is the place of your research in the broader context of the scholarly literature?
  4. There should be a thesis statement which should have main arguments about the topic of your research paper

While writing a research paper, the researchers have to work on a particular line of inquiry. This line of inquiry should be introduced in the introductory section of the research proposal. In the line of the theory of a research paper, there come lots of things like a statement of the problem, main questions of the research paper, the main hypothesis of the research paper, the rationale of your research and research instruments.

Statement of the problem

Statement of the problem is also an essential element of a research proposal. In this essential element of the research proposal, you will have to describe the context for the studies and you will have to identify the general approach that you will adopt to write the research paper. A problem of a research proposal is that issue which exists in the literature. There are some students who try to identify the problem of the research proposal in the discussion section. It is hard for the review committee members to find out that problem. Therefore, it is also necessary for us to write the statement of the problem in the form of an identical section. Due to this identical section, the problem of the statement is easily found and recognized by the readers. You should try to present the problem of the statement in easy wording, so that, it should be easily understandable for the audience members. According to experts, an effective problem statement provides the answer to the research question.

Purpose of the study

No doubt, there is a specific purpose to write a research paper. It is necessary for the researchers to explain this purpose in the research proposal. It is possible only if a researcher has enough command on the overall purpose of the research. The best way to define the main purpose of the study is to briefly define and delimit the area of your research. The purpose of the study will also act as an incorporate rationale for the studies. Some essential tips to write the purpose of study are given below;

  1. You should commence the research proposal writing task with the help of a sentence “The purpose of the research is …….” This sentence will clearly provide an idea to the readers that you are going to elaborate on the purpose of your research paper.
  2. You should clearly define and identify the central idea of your research study.
  3. You should take an overview of the specific method of inquiry.
  4. You should also take an overview of the analysis techniques

Review of the literature

The review of the literature provides an idea to the readers of the background information about the research problem. It also provides an idea to the readers that why is it necessary for us to conduct research about that topic. The committee members will also get an idea that you have enough knowledge about your topic idea and you are in a position to add something new in the existing knowledge. Some essential tips to write this essential section of a research proposal are given below;

  1. You should share the results of your studies with the readers
  2. You should show how your research is closely related to the discussed research papers
  3. You should explain the gaps in your studies and provide them with a complete plan on how to fill these gaps
  4. There should be a framework that establishes the importance of your studies
  5. You should provide an idea to the readers that you have enough command on the methodological developments relevant to your research topic
  6. In the end, you should keep the literature review section of your research proposal short and to the point

Methods and procedures

Methods and procedures provide a clear idea about the design of the research. These methods and procedures are also considered as the heart of your research proposal. Therefore, you should provide enough detail about these methods and procedures and you should ensure the continuity while explaining these methods and procedures. These methods and procedures tell the readers that how will you answer all the questions of your research proposal. Sampling, implementation, data collection and data analysis are core elements of methods and procedures. These core elements are explained below;

  1. A sampling of the data provides enough information about the validity of the research.
  2. Instrumentation provides enough idea about the instruments that you are going to use while conducting research. Some essential instruments that most of the researchers use to gather the data are surveys, scales, and interviews, etc.
  3. To write a research paper, there requires a huge amount of data. Therefore, in the data collection, it is also necessary for you to provide an idea about the possible data collection techniques and timeline to gather the data
  4. There are lots of tools to analyze the data. You will have to provide a complete detail about that tool which you will use to analyze the data of your research paper.

Limitations and delimitations

While writing a research paper, you will have to come across lots of things like analysis of the data, preparation of self-reports complete details about the instruments and much more. While managing all of these tasks, there is a possibility that a researcher is not able to overcome some problems. These problems are known as the limitations of your research. In the research proposal, it is also necessary for you to provide an idea about these limitations. On the other, the techniques that are used to limit your research study are known as delimitations. You should also clearly explain delimitations in your research proposal.

Significance of the study

The best research proposal is that which add something new in the existing knowledge of the research topic. In the significance of the study, it is necessary for you to provide an idea to committee members that how your research paper will add some new and interesting information in the existing knowledge. You can easily write the significance of the study by providing answers to the following questions;

  1. How the results of your research paper are relevant to the theoretical framework?
  2. What are the main findings of your research paper?
  3. How the results of your research paper will influence your area of studies?
  4. How to improve the results of your studies?
  5. How to implement the results of your studies?

References

To write a research paper, we have to gather data from different resources. In the research proposal, it is also necessary for a researcher to provide a list of all the resources from where he is going to gather the data for the research paper. These resources should be authentic and academic. While citing these resources, the researchers should follow such a citation style that is recommended by the committee members.

Tips to write different sections of a research proposal

After getting an idea about all the sections of a research proposal, the next step is to write these sections. Some essential tips to write different sections of a research proposal are given below;

Come up with a title for your proposal

The title of your research proposal should be relevant to your subject area and it should be interesting, concise and descriptive. After reading the title of your research paper, the readers should be encouraged to read the whole research paper. The title of your research proposal should also seem clear and accurate to the readers. There is no need to add some phrases in the title of your research proposal.

Create a title page

A title page is the first page of your research proposal. On this title page, you should write your name, the title of your research proposal and the name of your institution. While creating the title page for your research proposal, you should follow the format of the sponsoring agency. For example, if a sponsoring agency doesn’t provide any guideline about the format of the title page, you should follow the APA citation style. There should be running head on the left corner of the page. A running head is a shortened version of your title and it appears on all the pages of the research proposal. On the title page, there should be double spacing between all the words.

Summarize the proposal in your abstract

As we have discussed earlier that to write a research proposal, you will have to describe a problem. An abstract of the research proposal provides summarized detail of this problem. Along with this problem, you should also try to include the proposed solution and the main objectives of your research problem. An abstract of a research proposal should not exceed from 150 to 250 words.

List keywords that will come up in your research proposal

You should find out at least 3 to 4 keywords relevant to the topic of your research proposal. These keywords should be in the form of phrases relevant to your topic idea that people are searching on the internet. If you optimize these keywords properly in your research proposal, search engines will show up your research proposals to the readers. Therefore, lots of people can get benefit from your research proposal.

Include a table of contents

As we have discussed earlier that a research proposal is divided into different sections. Therefore, it is also necessary for you to include a table of contents in the research proposal. This table of contents provides a complete idea about all the elements that you have included in your research proposal. These elements should be included in the table of contents along with their page numbers.

Move into your introduction

An introduction is an essential element of a research proposal. One can easily write the introductory section of a research proposal by restating the title of the research proposal, by clearly defining the statement of the problem, by typing the significance of research and by stating the purpose of research.

Try to contextualize your research

No doubt, lots of research papers and academic papers will be written relevant to your topic idea. While writing a research proposal, you will have to contextualize your research in the form of a literature review. This will provide an idea to the readers about the present and past research relevant to your topic idea. While writing this section of the research proposal, you should provide credit to other researchers because this work is done by these researchers.

Describe the relevant institution resources

If you are writing a research paper for an institution, you will have to provide background information about this institute. It means that you will have to write all the relevant institutional resources that are offered by your institute to other researchers. The supportive and facilitative services of this institution also come into this section.

Identify the personnel

If you are going to write a short research paper, there is no need to add this section in the research proposal of this research paper. Anyhow, if you are going to write a lengthy research paper, you will have to write it in your research proposal. This essential section of your research proposal provides complete information about all the contributors to your research paper. You will have to write the main responsibilities and expertise of these contributors.

Include appendices

Appendices are considered as the most important section of your research proposal. Its reason is that while writing a research proposal, there are some things that are not explained in the main body of the research proposal. Under such a situation, the appendices provide us with the chance to add these things. In other words, appendices are written to further explain your research.

Project a budget

Most of the research proposals are written to get funds from different agencies and organizations. Therefore, at the end of the research proposal, you will have to indicate the anticipated cost that is required to complete the research proposal. You should provide complete detail of all the items that are required to complete the research proposal along with their costs. Moreover, it is also necessary for you to justify the costs of these items.

Writing timeline

A research proposal is a lengthy piece of writing and there requires a huge amount of time to complete it. Therefore, in the research proposal, you will have to provide research paper writing timeline. Some essential tips to write research paper writing timeline in a research proposal are given below;

Take several months to prepare your research proposal

According to researchers, if you want to create the best quality research proposal, you will have to spend at least six months in planning and composing the research proposal. Therefore, instead of waiting for the deadline to submit the research proposal, you should commence the research proposal writing task as soon as possible.

Prewrite during the phase la

The period of 14 to 26 weeks before submitting the research proposal is known as phase la. You should perform the following tasks during this period;

  1. During the 14 to 16 weeks, you should continue your research about your research question
  2. In order to get an idea about the feasibility of your research, you should contact your advisor during 17 and 18 weeks
  3. During 19 to 23 weeks, you should write something about your research proposal and try to get feedback from your colleagues
  4. During the 24 to 26 weeks, you should write the purpose of your research proposal and try to take an overview of the administrative requirements

Perform early administrative tasks during phase lb

The period of 13 to 20 weeks before submitting the research proposal is known as phase lb. During this period, you will have to identify the relevant sources to gather the data for your research proposal and try to discuss these resources with the experts. The researchers can also get the necessary transcripts regarding the research proposal from the experts.

Proofread and edit your research proposal

While writing a research proposal, there is a possibility of some mistakes. Therefore, after preparing the first draft of your research proposal, you should proofread it and try to remove all the mistakes from your research proposal. While proofreading and editing the research proposal, you should take an overview of all the sections and subsection of your research proposal and try to ensure that it is free from the grammar, spelling and punctuation mistakes. You should also ensure that there is consistency between all the paragraphs and sentences of the research proposal.

To Sum Up

A research proposal is an essential document that proposes a research project. In a research proposal, the students have to list all the problems of the research paper and to list all the objectives to write the research proposal. Before commencing the research proposal writing task, the researchers should have enough idea about the main elements of a research proposal. The main elements of a research proposal are an introduction, statement of the problem, the purpose of the study, review of the literature, research questions, methods and procedures, limitations and delimitations, the significance of study and references. To write a research proposal before the deadline, the researchers have to follow a timeline. After preparing the first draft of the research proposal, the students should finalize it by removing all the mistakes.

Written by 

I am Chief Executive Officer at The Academic Papers UK