How to Write a Research Proposal

“How to write a research proposal?” is crucial for people that need to get permission from the university committee to conduct certain research. This paper is designed to confirm your competence in the area of your future research or project. This piece of writing should be similar to advertising. You need to ‘sell’ your project to investors. After getting acquainted with your proposal, they should provide you with everything you need to make the project of your dreams come true. So, “how to write a research paper proposal” so that the members of the committee say “Yes, I do?” Find out in further sections.

Research Proposal Writing Steps

1) Create the title page. This page should consist of the title of your proposal and your personal information. The placement of this information depends on the format that is specified by your instructor. Your heading should be intriguing and concise. For such long scholarly papers, it is admitted to write long headings — up to 120 symbols. It should reflect the topic well. If you can’t decide which heading is better — one which is more intriguing or one which is more clear — it’s better to write a clear heading when we are talking about scholarly papers.

2) Write the abstract. Everything that you are going to discuss in your paper should be somehow presented in this section. When you are writing a research proposal abstract, imagine that you need to make a two-minute presentation of your work. This means that you need to provide an overview of your paper briefly without mentioning details.

3) Complete the introduction. This part is usually underestimated. You probably know that you need to understand the significance of the topic on the whole and explain which achievements were already made in the field. However, not many scientists think about the emotional part of scholarly works. It might seem that it is not appropriate to speak about emotions where the issue is about logics, but we are all people. We are all emotional, except psychopaths, of course. Try to find a specific approach to the group of people who are your ‘target audience’ to encourage them to accept your project.

4) Provide the literature review. In this part, your aim is to explain to the reader which sources you are going to use for your project. While giving a description, divide them into categories so that your review looks well-organized. That way, it will be easier to perceive information and imagine which information will be included in your future research and for what purposes.

5) Explain the methods. Each project is specific and there is no sense in listing types of methods now. We just need to say that you need to mention them. You should mention the place where you will conduct the research as well. In certain cases, you might need to travel a lot. For example, this might happen when you are exploring specificities of diverse cultures. And don’t forget that your task is not just naming the tools, but also making your choice understandable.

6) Make a preliminary list of references. While in a literature review, you needed to give the list of literature works: here, you need to provide a list of all types of materials that you might use. It can be statistical data from the website, illustrative material or anything of this nature. Remember that you can add or exclude certain sources from the list if you count so, while you will be writing your work. However, now you need to have an idea of what data your future research will contain.

7) Provide with an overview of future results. This point should be written in the form of presumptions. Actually, you don’t have the ability to predict where your research will lead you in the end. So, don’t be afraid to be mistaken. Write about the effect of your research that you would like to meet. Don’t write about your personal achievements as a scientist. Focus on social, economical, or political impacts.

8) Proofread and reread your proposal. Don’t do this once you’ve completed the text. Wait for a couple of hours and check it with a clear head. In several hours, it will be easier to find the errors. Before looking for spelling, grammatical, and punctuation mistakes, you should think about the semantic part of the paper. This means that you should recheck whether all data is necessary and if you missed anything.

Research Proposal Writing Tips

  1. Don’t take a topic that you are not aware of. It is essential for a proposal to choose the theme that you are already good at. Otherwise, it will be extremely challenging to convince the committee to give you a chance to conduct your research. Before starting work on a certain project, you should be knowledgeable in the sphere.
  2. Think about every step of your research. You should think about people, sources, and equipment that you might need preemptively. That way, you’ll have a better chance to complete your research on time. You won’t get distracted from searching for those things that we’ve mentioned.
  3. Keep in mind the requirements. While writing, you should not forget about word limits and other requirements. You should decide on the amount of words that you need to write in certain parts. Also, don’t forget that your supervisor will most likely recommend you to use a specified quantity of sources. Follow this requirement accurately, unless you have a serious reason to omit it.
  4. Increase the credibility of your paper. First of all, you need to use authoritative sources. Also, you need to show that you know exactly what you need to make your experiments unbiased. These two factors greatly influence your credibility. Young scientists are often too subjective and you need to explain how you can avoid this mistake.
  5. Talk to your instructor more often than to your mom. Don’t take this statement literally. We just mean that you should ask your teacher for advice without being confused. Your scholarly interest will be appreciated. However, you should always come to your supervisor with suggestions so that it won’t appear as though you would like him or her to do all the work for you.
  6. Never forget about proper citing. Even if you paraphrase someone’s ideas, you should make a reference. Otherwise, it can be considered plagiarism. When you present someone’s ideas, always comment on it. You need to show your attitude to the hypothesis that was approached before and present your hypothesis in this context.
  7. Ask for editing help. If you can’t find a competent person, just ask your friend to read your paper. He or she will help you to find obvious errors, at least. Don’t allow your friend to change anything. Ask to write comments about possible mistakes.
  8. Save all the drafts of your paper. Ideas that come later are not always better than previous. However, you may understand this only after a while. Therefore, you should save all the drafts to be able to compare further versions with previous and decide which are better.

Common Mistakes in Research Proposal Writing

– Having a surplus of obvious statements and well-known facts. Remember that you are writing for an audience that is more knowledgeable in the field than you. For this reason, you shouldn’t waste their time on stating things that they know well. Your aim is to provide with new views.

 Discussing several topics simultaneously. When you don’t have much experience of writing papers of this type, you may have difficulties with defining information that is related to your topic and which is not.

 – Losing the connection with reality. This is about ambitions. When you are young, you can think that you are almighty and can do everything. However, when you start working on a certain project, you find many factors that hinder you from making your expectations come true. Therefore, be realistic. Don’t mention the equipment that you won’t be able to get, or deadline that you won’t be able to reach, or place that you won’t be able to visit. You understand the idea.

 – Omitting word limit requirements. More is not always better. The committee expects that you are able to present your ideas briefly. Each word that you write should be informative and necessary. Don’t be sorry to delete redundant pieces of writing.


So, we’ve already answered your question, “how to write a proposal for a research paper?” but let us provide you with a final caution. Find the right balance between precision and clarity of your research, and the commitment and passion you feel for the topic to make your proposal attractive to the reader.

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