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How to Write a Research Proposal- An Extensive Guide

Research Proposal

If you are a student applying for a Ph.D. program or seeking a grant for conducting your research, then you have to create a convincing and strong research proposal. One of the most vital things to keep in mind when writing a research proposal is that the writers should craft it in a way that will suit the audience.

For example, a Ph.D. research proposal will be read by the faculty who are experts in the particular field. Hence, when you are writing a Ph.D. research proposal, it is imperative that you follow the guidelines provided by the faculty, committee, or the university for preparing a research proposal. Similarly, if you are preparing a research proposal as a part of an application for a grant, writers would have to write it in a way that reviewers who might not be as proficient with their specialty can easily comprehend the research problem and why the research should receive the grant.

good research paper topic and a compelling research title will help grab the readers’ attention. This article takes you through the common steps taken to craft a coherent and clear research proposal as convincing as possible to obtain the necessary funding and approval.

What is a Research Proposal? 

A research proposal is a coherent and clear précis of your proposed research paper. A research proposal forms a key part of the research application. It describes why you want to study a particular topic, what you plan to accomplish from doing that study and how you are going to conduct your research. Generally, students applying for a Master’s degree or Ph.D. have to prepare a research proposal and some students might also have to write a research proposal before writing a dissertation or thesis or if they want to research a particular topic for which they need funding will also need to develop a research proposal beforehand.

A research proposal is prepared before you begin a research project. It lays down the planning stage of the research you propose to carry out. So, you can understand what is the relation and difference between a research paper and a research proposal. When you commence writing your research proposal, bear in mind the one core objective- to convince. The research proposal you prepare needs to pitch your research idea in terms of feasibility and suitability. So, keep your focus on preparing a convincing proposal and you will achieve half the success.

Purpose of Research Proposal

Writing a research proposal serves a variety of purposes, such as, it will help you in clarifying your objectives and key ideas about your proposed research. Following are the purposes of writing a research proposal below:

  • To obtain approval from the academic committee or faculty.
  • To highlight the importance of undertaking the research, show how your project is unique and interesting.
  • To show that the research proposed is executable and viable within the constraints of the funding, program, and institution.
  • To describe your methodologies showing that you have carefully considered every aspect of what tools and methods you will need to conduct.      
  • To demonstrate that you have sufficient knowledge of the research topic you are proposing, and your concepts have a strong academic foothold.
  • To request grants or financial aid to conduct the research.
  • It describes what you can accomplish from studying that topic.
  • It shows your ability to conduct the research.

A research proposal is basically a plan for the said research project. It is only the starting point and as you further develop your ideas, your proposed research will change probably. Writing a research proposal is important as it helps you devise a detailed plan of action by helping you determine the methodological approach and hypothetical framework that is suitable and viable for your work.

Essential Components of a Good Research Proposal

The exact format or structure of a research proposal for a thesis or dissertation varies from university to university, but there are some elements that must be included in most research proposals. Below are the essential components that form a part of the research proposal format:

  • A title page/cover page
  • A concise yet precise introduction
  • Background of the proposed research
  • A discussion on the significance of the said research
  • A discussion on the proposed research methodology

Research Proposal Content and Format

While developing a research proposal, keep in mind to follow the format below:

  1. TITLE

The title should give a clear overview of your proposed research

  • Give a brief idea of your proposed research
  • Briefly discuss the research methodology
  • Briefly state the implications of your study


Clearly state the questions you will be examining and issues you will be exploring


Describe why the research needs to be undertaken.

Demonstrate how the study will contribute to the current state of knowledge

  • Convince readers that you have studied the most important research on your topic
  • Show how your concept is distinct
  • Show how your research on the topic can address the issues left unaddressed in the previous research

Give an outline of:

  • The hypothetical framework
  • The approach, strategy, methods you will undertake
  • The theoretical resources
  • The advantages and limitations of certain approaches and methods
  • Give a detailed plan of action and the timeframe for completing your research.
  • Provide a detailed outline of the various stages and corresponding timeframes of your research

Finally, to finish your proposal on a compelling note, you can discuss the expected possible outcomes. Although the outcomes are subject to change in the light of the research, it will give the reviewer an idea of what conclusions can be drawn.

  • Mention every source you have studied, whether or not used in your paper.
  • Include the list of sources and authors and references to key works and articles discussed
research proposal

How to Write a Research Proposal

Here we have shared a step-by-step guide on how to write a research proposal that will help you ace your research proposal.

  1. Select the Title Cautiously

The title is the first thing that your reader is going to notice, make sure that you come up with an appealing yet informative title. The title should be clear and coherent and emphasize your research question.

  1. Craft a Strong Introduction

The introduction is meant to provide a context related to your proposed study. The introduction should consist of the research questions that you will be examining and exploring, it should clearly describe why do you want to research on a specific topic, what could be the possible outcome of such research and how it will contribute towards Education and what new paradigm can it add to the Literature.

Focus on a specific topic and issue. Compose research question(s) that will be the focal point of your study. Justify the reason for your proposed research, explain the purpose of your research, provide background knowledge and demonstrate the soundness of your proposed research. Show the significance of your proposed study.

  1. Elucidate the Research Objectives

Here you have to elucidate the research objectives. The research objectives should be framed keeping in mind the feasibility of the research, availability of resources, time, infrastructure, and other important aspects. It is recommended to go through all the developments made in the field and identify any gaps before deciding on the objectives.

  1. Write the Literature Review

Literature review is carried out to know about the current research and arguments related to a particular subject. Carrying out a literature review helps develop a broad understanding of the subject matter and the field of study. Important concepts, experimental techniques, approaches, and research methods that are used in the field can be known and understood through the literature review. This further gives an idea of how researchers apply the concepts to the real-life situations. As you go through other studies, you can grab an understanding of how to present the research findings. Writing a literature review shows that you have gone through previous studies and works related to the topic as well as your ability to convey them briefly and clearly.

The objectives of conducting a literature review are:

  • To show that you have done extensive research on the proposed topic.
  • To give you an idea of what issues you can or should concentrate on.
  • To demonstrate the scope of your research project.
  • To show that you have the competency to exercise critical judgment in which issues to stress on and which to ignore.
  • To show that your research can address a specific question or mend a gap.
  1. Describe the Research Methodology

Here you are required to explain how you will be conducting your research. Be very clear and explain what methods you have chosen, why you think they are suitable for your study, and how they will help you attain your research objectives. Research methodology is a roadmap, it will guide you on how you will proceed and how you can conduct your research. So, you have to contemplate carefully while selecting your research methodology. Provide enough information regarding the approaches you will be utilizing so that it helps another researcher to implement the same.

Describe the research type- whether you are undertaking a quantitative research or a qualitative research. Discuss whether your research design is correlational, descriptive or experimental. Discuss if you are going to work with primary and secondary data or gather original data. With that, you are also to give details on the population and sampling. Discuss who or what you are going to study and how you will select the sources. Give details about the data collection methods and data analysis techniques you will be using. Also explain the practicalities- how long will it take to collect the data, are there any limitation, if so, how you will address them.

The objective of the research methodology is to:

  • Express your logic for the selection of methods of data collection and examination.
  • Discuss the steps that will be taken to ensure ethical practices.
  • Mention the limitations and scope of research.
  • Provide an action plan along with its corresponding schedule.
  1. Demonstrate the Hypothesis or the Expected Research Findings

Here you have to describe the expected findings of your research. As you have not conducted the research, you don’t have the results yet. It is implied that the reviewer is aware that these are anticipated results based on the extent of the research. These outcomes are likely to change as the research advances. Yet, you must give the reviewer a clear understanding of the potential implications and show how the study is going to contribute to the existing knowledge and your field. It will allow the reviewer to further ascertain the validity and importance of your study. And will also let them know that you have pondered upon it carefully and anticipated what conclusions can be drawn.

  1. Explain the Research Limitations

These include the shortcomings of your research. For example:

  • Unavailability of resources
  • Wrong methodology
  • Inadequate sample size
  • Time restrictions
  • Limited access to information.
  1. Write an Abstract

Provide an abstract at the end, that will contain a summary of the research proposal. That implies that you have to briefly write your hypothesis, the methodology you want to employ, potential implications, limitations and significance of the research project.

  1. Cite References Properly

Remember to properly cite the references you have studied and used for your research. Use the appropriate format for citation. Harvard, APA, Chicago, and MLA are the most commonly used formats for referencing.

  1. Edit and Review

It is advised to proofread your research proposal after you have completed writing it to identify any mistakes or make necessary changes.

To Sum Up

The basic requirement of a research proposal is that it must be capable of convincing the faculty or education committee about the feasibility, repeatability, credibility, and practicality of the proposed research design. Coherent and quality research proposals communicate the researcher’s knowledge of the particular area of study and also illustrate the incipient nature of the research design. The success in developing a strong research proposal lies in how clearly and effectively you explain the fundamentals of your research, explain the research methodology, emphasize the significance, discuss the relevance. The proposal must adhere to the required guidelines and provide a clear and convincing narrative. A clear and astute research proposal forms the pillar of the research itself. Hopefully, this panoptic guide will help you in preparing your research proposal. And in case you are struggling to prepare one, please feel free to get in touch with us for college paper at penmypaper. You can simply ask us to write my paper for me and get your paper done by our expert professionals easily.


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