Just like a blueprint, a research proposal is a detailed plan that shows how a study will be carried out, and once completed, the research will flow smoothly. You will be asked to write a research proposal for a project sometime in your education journey. This might seem challenging initially, but it becomes easy once you understand everything needed. A research proposal must include important elements such as a title page, research question, literature review, etc. These sections vary depending on the guidelines given by your instructor.
If you have been asked to write a research proposal but have no idea where to begin, we have got you covered. The following guide will define a research proposal, its purpose, structure, and the steps for writing one.
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A research proposal is a highly structured document that describes the purpose of your research, why readers should care, and how you plan to carry it out. Scholars often write proposals to ask for funding for their projects.
Nevertheless, as a student, you will write it as an application for grad school or before you begin writing a thesis or dissertation. The aim is to show your familiarity with the topic in your field and justify your research.
Your university department will ask you to do this to see how well you:
Writing a research paper for the first time can be challenging, but with the right guide, you can make things easier for yourself. The best starting point is to know all the correct structure. With that said, here is a basic structure you should follow when writing a research proposal.
This is the first section of the research proposal. It must have the following:
The Affiliation should be well illustrated.
This part consists of the pitch for your project. It should explain everything that you want to do. An introduction contains the following:
Aims and objectives
Remember that this is a generic structure. Therefore, the sections will vary depending on the department or faculty’s requirements. Nevertheless, even though they vary, the goal is the same. You must follow all the guidelines and tailor your work to address them.
There are a series of steps that you should follow when writing a research proposal.
The first step to writing a research proposal is choosing a topic or subject area for your study. When choosing a topic, remember that you are making a major commitment. So make sure you do it right.
Sometimes, this point is the easiest because it is tied to the main theme of your course. In this case, your professor or instructor will choose your topic.
If you have been asked to choose a topic, come up with a list of topics you are interested in. Go through your notes and course activities. Identify the class discussions that you were engaged in. Doing this will help you identify the topics to pursue.
After developing a list of topics, you need to narrow them down. Most of the topics you selected will be too broad for the scope of the assignment. For instance, a topic like sex education or intermittent fasting is too broad and frustrating.
Each topic has many facets that would be impossible to cover in a research assignment. However, a narrower topic would be the benefits of sex education in schools and the best hours for intermittent fasting.
One of the best ways to narrow down the topics is through brainstorming techniques. Consider asking yourself the following questions to narrow down the topics:
Next, read as much literature as possible on your chosen topic to gather materials for your research. A literature review aims to understand what other researchers have done on your topic and then identify gaps in knowledge. After identifying gaps in the literature will open up more opportunities to add more knowledge within that area.
A literature review involves much information. So structure them so that readers can easily comprehend all the disagreements that are the basis for your research about that of other researchers. Do this by dividing the literature into major themes rather than describing the different sets of studies individually.
The literature must include the following:
Remember the five C's in mind when doing a literature review.
A problem statement is a concrete summary of your research problem. You need to state the problem after identifying the gap in the literature. Next, you need to frame a purpose statement and say why readers should care.
Remember that a good problem should:
A good research problem will help you visualize the scope of the study and outline it the right way.
A good research proposal must have an introduction that sets the stage for what will come and puts the research into context. Make the topic and proposal fascinating by coming up with a great introduction. The introduction must be extremely interesting so that readers can desire to read more. Tell the readers what you intend to do, the reason for your study, and your passion for the research.
Consider the following questions to come up with the significance of the study:
Additionally, include the hypothesis of your research design.
A research hypothesis is the tentative prediction of the relationship between two or multiple variables in your research. It identifies exactly what your research will investigate and what its findings will be.
Research hypotheses are common in quantitative research proposals comparing variables' relationships.
Research questions, on the other hand, are found in qualitative research studies. Your research question should be substantial enough to guide your research. Your question should be easy to answer.
When writing an academic paper, both hypothesis and research questions must be informed by a literature review.
The aims and objectives give your readers an indication of what you want the research to achieve. They are clear statements that identify the main purpose of your study.
Ensure that the aims and objectives are in line with your problem. Show why the readers would be interested in your research and how it will benefit them.
The objectives should also show the key variables in your study, their interrelationships, and the nature of the population.
This is how you plan to gather answers to your research question. You must write this section logically to convince readers it is worth doing.
Cite and justify the chosen research design. The aim is to convince your readers that research design and analytical strategies will address the problem. Use standard terminology to identify and label the study design, such as:
Remember that your research design should be connected to your research objectives. Some of the components you should include in this section include:
You must also mention the statistics and the software used in the research.
Tell the readers what your research will uncover. Provide a series of paragraphs showing the predictions of your study.
This is your chance to sell yourself and your research to the readers. Show how your research findings will change or expand what is already known in your field of study. Show how your expected findings will affect or influence the future:
Show that you are aware of the limitations of your research. Explore all the potential implications of your findings. Provide ways in which these limitations can be solved, for instance, suggesting further data collection and analysis.
Provide a summary of your work derived from the results data. This conclusion should be in line with your research objectives. You should also present your anticipated outcomes and show your predicted arguments and conclusions. Your readers will know your predicted results based on the breadth of your research.
Ensure that you show what conclusion will be drawn from the research to allow readers to assess the project's importance and validity. This will also show them you have considered the study's implications and outcomes.
This section provides all the factual material you have used in your research. Your proposal should have the correct citation for all sources used. Provide all the sources in an alphabetical list. However, do not number them unless it is a requirement of the formatting style chosen.
You can format your research proposal in Chicago, MLA, Turabian, Vancouver, Oxford, Havard, or APA referencing style. The field of study will most likely dictate the formatting style.
Provide all the documents and materials that are best not seen in the body of the paper. These materials are things that you will use in your study, and they include:
Use the following checklist to guide you when writing your research proposal.
Research Problem and Question
A good research proposal must communicate your knowledge of your field of study. Research proposal writing aims to show your readers what you want to research. For this reason, it must follow logical steps that guide the readers. You should start with a title page, an abstract, then an introduction, a literature review, methodology, expected findings, study limitations, results, References, and an appendix.
Lastly, like other pieces of academic writing, you must ensure that your work is error-free before submitting it. So, redraft, edit, and proofread as many times as possible.
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A research paper is successful when it has clearly explained your research questions. It should also show the magnitude and the significance of your study. Write it in an informative, educative, and interesting manner.
Make sure you follow the right structure of by beginning with the Title page and concluding with the appendix.
A good research proposal should:
Your proposal is considered a contract between you and the supervising committee. Some of them will provide explicit instructions to follow. They will say your proposal will be approved if you follow all the guidelines. However, this is usually never put into practice, and the proposals go through multiple revisions before being approved. Therefore, your goal should be to write your proposal such that the number of revisions is less. Make sure you show how your research fits into the chosen topic.
Research proposals are 2500 words long. However, this can vary depending on the guidelines given to you by your instructor if the funding is available. Make sure you follow all the guidelines given. Besides word length, your instructor may provide the literature volume for your proposal. Contact your instructor or professor if you have not been given instructions and are unsure what to do.
A typical research proposal must include the following: