Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Assignments

  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Analyzing a Scholarly Journal Article
  • Group Presentations
  • Dealing with Nervousness
  • Using Visual Aids
  • Grading Someone Else's Paper
  • Types of Structured Group Activities
  • Group Project Survival Skills
  • Leading a Class Discussion
  • Multiple Book Review Essay
  • Reviewing Collected Works
  • Writing a Case Analysis Paper
  • Writing a Case Study
  • About Informed Consent
  • Writing Field Notes
  • Writing a Policy Memo
  • Writing a Reflective Paper
  • Writing a Research Proposal
  • Generative AI and Writing
  • Acknowledgments

The goal of a research proposal is twofold: to present and justify the need to study a research problem and to present the practical ways in which the proposed study should be conducted. The design elements and procedures for conducting research are governed by standards of the predominant discipline in which the problem resides, therefore, the guidelines for research proposals are more exacting and less formal than a general project proposal. Research proposals contain extensive literature reviews. They must provide persuasive evidence that a need exists for the proposed study. In addition to providing a rationale, a proposal describes detailed methodology for conducting the research consistent with requirements of the professional or academic field and a statement on anticipated outcomes and benefits derived from the study's completion.

Krathwohl, David R. How to Prepare a Dissertation Proposal: Suggestions for Students in Education and the Social and Behavioral Sciences . Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2005.

How to Approach Writing a Research Proposal

Your professor may assign the task of writing a research proposal for the following reasons:

  • Develop your skills in thinking about and designing a comprehensive research study;
  • Learn how to conduct a comprehensive review of the literature to determine that the research problem has not been adequately addressed or has been answered ineffectively and, in so doing, become better at locating pertinent scholarship related to your topic;
  • Improve your general research and writing skills;
  • Practice identifying the logical steps that must be taken to accomplish one's research goals;
  • Critically review, examine, and consider the use of different methods for gathering and analyzing data related to the research problem; and,
  • Nurture a sense of inquisitiveness within yourself and to help see yourself as an active participant in the process of conducting scholarly research.

A proposal should contain all the key elements involved in designing a completed research study, with sufficient information that allows readers to assess the validity and usefulness of your proposed study. The only elements missing from a research proposal are the findings of the study and your analysis of those findings. Finally, an effective proposal is judged on the quality of your writing and, therefore, it is important that your proposal is coherent, clear, and compelling.

Regardless of the research problem you are investigating and the methodology you choose, all research proposals must address the following questions:

  • What do you plan to accomplish? Be clear and succinct in defining the research problem and what it is you are proposing to investigate.
  • Why do you want to do the research? In addition to detailing your research design, you also must conduct a thorough review of the literature and provide convincing evidence that it is a topic worthy of in-depth study. A successful research proposal must answer the "So What?" question.
  • How are you going to conduct the research? Be sure that what you propose is doable. If you're having difficulty formulating a research problem to propose investigating, go here for strategies in developing a problem to study.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Failure to be concise . A research proposal must be focused and not be "all over the map" or diverge into unrelated tangents without a clear sense of purpose.
  • Failure to cite landmark works in your literature review . Proposals should be grounded in foundational research that lays a foundation for understanding the development and scope of the the topic and its relevance.
  • Failure to delimit the contextual scope of your research [e.g., time, place, people, etc.]. As with any research paper, your proposed study must inform the reader how and in what ways the study will frame the problem.
  • Failure to develop a coherent and persuasive argument for the proposed research . This is critical. In many workplace settings, the research proposal is a formal document intended to argue for why a study should be funded.
  • Sloppy or imprecise writing, or poor grammar . Although a research proposal does not represent a completed research study, there is still an expectation that it is well-written and follows the style and rules of good academic writing.
  • Too much detail on minor issues, but not enough detail on major issues . Your proposal should focus on only a few key research questions in order to support the argument that the research needs to be conducted. Minor issues, even if valid, can be mentioned but they should not dominate the overall narrative.

Procter, Margaret. The Academic Proposal.  The Lab Report. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Sanford, Keith. Information for Students: Writing a Research Proposal. Baylor University; Wong, Paul T. P. How to Write a Research Proposal. International Network on Personal Meaning. Trinity Western University; Writing Academic Proposals: Conferences, Articles, and Books. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Writing a Research Proposal. University Library. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Structure and Writing Style

Beginning the Proposal Process

As with writing most college-level academic papers, research proposals are generally organized the same way throughout most social science disciplines. The text of proposals generally vary in length between ten and thirty-five pages, followed by the list of references. However, before you begin, read the assignment carefully and, if anything seems unclear, ask your professor whether there are any specific requirements for organizing and writing the proposal.

A good place to begin is to ask yourself a series of questions:

  • What do I want to study?
  • Why is the topic important?
  • How is it significant within the subject areas covered in my class?
  • What problems will it help solve?
  • How does it build upon [and hopefully go beyond] research already conducted on the topic?
  • What exactly should I plan to do, and can I get it done in the time available?

In general, a compelling research proposal should document your knowledge of the topic and demonstrate your enthusiasm for conducting the study. Approach it with the intention of leaving your readers feeling like, "Wow, that's an exciting idea and I can’t wait to see how it turns out!"

Most proposals should include the following sections:

I.  Introduction

In the real world of higher education, a research proposal is most often written by scholars seeking grant funding for a research project or it's the first step in getting approval to write a doctoral dissertation. Even if this is just a course assignment, treat your introduction as the initial pitch of an idea based on a thorough examination of the significance of a research problem. After reading the introduction, your readers should not only have an understanding of what you want to do, but they should also be able to gain a sense of your passion for the topic and to be excited about the study's possible outcomes. Note that most proposals do not include an abstract [summary] before the introduction.

Think about your introduction as a narrative written in two to four paragraphs that succinctly answers the following four questions :

  • What is the central research problem?
  • What is the topic of study related to that research problem?
  • What methods should be used to analyze the research problem?
  • Answer the "So What?" question by explaining why this is important research, what is its significance, and why should someone reading the proposal care about the outcomes of the proposed study?

II.  Background and Significance

This is where you explain the scope and context of your proposal and describe in detail why it's important. It can be melded into your introduction or you can create a separate section to help with the organization and narrative flow of your proposal. Approach writing this section with the thought that you can’t assume your readers will know as much about the research problem as you do. Note that this section is not an essay going over everything you have learned about the topic; instead, you must choose what is most relevant in explaining the aims of your research.

To that end, while there are no prescribed rules for establishing the significance of your proposed study, you should attempt to address some or all of the following:

  • State the research problem and give a more detailed explanation about the purpose of the study than what you stated in the introduction. This is particularly important if the problem is complex or multifaceted .
  • Present the rationale of your proposed study and clearly indicate why it is worth doing; be sure to answer the "So What? question [i.e., why should anyone care?].
  • Describe the major issues or problems examined by your research. This can be in the form of questions to be addressed. Be sure to note how your proposed study builds on previous assumptions about the research problem.
  • Explain the methods you plan to use for conducting your research. Clearly identify the key sources you intend to use and explain how they will contribute to your analysis of the topic.
  • Describe the boundaries of your proposed research in order to provide a clear focus. Where appropriate, state not only what you plan to study, but what aspects of the research problem will be excluded from the study.
  • If necessary, provide definitions of key concepts, theories, or terms.

III.  Literature Review

Connected to the background and significance of your study is a section of your proposal devoted to a more deliberate review and synthesis of prior studies related to the research problem under investigation . The purpose here is to place your project within the larger whole of what is currently being explored, while at the same time, demonstrating to your readers that your work is original and innovative. Think about what questions other researchers have asked, what methodological approaches they have used, and what is your understanding of their findings and, when stated, their recommendations. Also pay attention to any suggestions for further research.

Since a literature review is information dense, it is crucial that this section is intelligently structured to enable a reader to grasp the key arguments underpinning your proposed study in relation to the arguments put forth by other researchers. A good strategy is to break the literature into "conceptual categories" [themes] rather than systematically or chronologically describing groups of materials one at a time. Note that conceptual categories generally reveal themselves after you have read most of the pertinent literature on your topic so adding new categories is an on-going process of discovery as you review more studies. How do you know you've covered the key conceptual categories underlying the research literature? Generally, you can have confidence that all of the significant conceptual categories have been identified if you start to see repetition in the conclusions or recommendations that are being made.

NOTE: Do not shy away from challenging the conclusions made in prior research as a basis for supporting the need for your proposal. Assess what you believe is missing and state how previous research has failed to adequately examine the issue that your study addresses. Highlighting the problematic conclusions strengthens your proposal. For more information on writing literature reviews, GO HERE .

To help frame your proposal's review of prior research, consider the "five C’s" of writing a literature review:

  • Cite , so as to keep the primary focus on the literature pertinent to your research problem.
  • Compare the various arguments, theories, methodologies, and findings expressed in the literature: what do the authors agree on? Who applies similar approaches to analyzing the research problem?
  • Contrast the various arguments, themes, methodologies, approaches, and controversies expressed in the literature: describe what are the major areas of disagreement, controversy, or debate among scholars?
  • Critique the literature: Which arguments are more persuasive, and why? Which approaches, findings, and methodologies seem most reliable, valid, or appropriate, and why? Pay attention to the verbs you use to describe what an author says/does [e.g., asserts, demonstrates, argues, etc.].
  • Connect the literature to your own area of research and investigation: how does your own work draw upon, depart from, synthesize, or add a new perspective to what has been said in the literature?

IV.  Research Design and Methods

This section must be well-written and logically organized because you are not actually doing the research, yet, your reader must have confidence that you have a plan worth pursuing . The reader will never have a study outcome from which to evaluate whether your methodological choices were the correct ones. Thus, the objective here is to convince the reader that your overall research design and proposed methods of analysis will correctly address the problem and that the methods will provide the means to effectively interpret the potential results. Your design and methods should be unmistakably tied to the specific aims of your study.

Describe the overall research design by building upon and drawing examples from your review of the literature. Consider not only methods that other researchers have used, but methods of data gathering that have not been used but perhaps could be. Be specific about the methodological approaches you plan to undertake to obtain information, the techniques you would use to analyze the data, and the tests of external validity to which you commit yourself [i.e., the trustworthiness by which you can generalize from your study to other people, places, events, and/or periods of time].

When describing the methods you will use, be sure to cover the following:

  • Specify the research process you will undertake and the way you will interpret the results obtained in relation to the research problem. Don't just describe what you intend to achieve from applying the methods you choose, but state how you will spend your time while applying these methods [e.g., coding text from interviews to find statements about the need to change school curriculum; running a regression to determine if there is a relationship between campaign advertising on social media sites and election outcomes in Europe ].
  • Keep in mind that the methodology is not just a list of tasks; it is a deliberate argument as to why techniques for gathering information add up to the best way to investigate the research problem. This is an important point because the mere listing of tasks to be performed does not demonstrate that, collectively, they effectively address the research problem. Be sure you clearly explain this.
  • Anticipate and acknowledge any potential barriers and pitfalls in carrying out your research design and explain how you plan to address them. No method applied to research in the social and behavioral sciences is perfect, so you need to describe where you believe challenges may exist in obtaining data or accessing information. It's always better to acknowledge this than to have it brought up by your professor!

V.  Preliminary Suppositions and Implications

Just because you don't have to actually conduct the study and analyze the results, doesn't mean you can skip talking about the analytical process and potential implications . The purpose of this section is to argue how and in what ways you believe your research will refine, revise, or extend existing knowledge in the subject area under investigation. Depending on the aims and objectives of your study, describe how the anticipated results will impact future scholarly research, theory, practice, forms of interventions, or policy making. Note that such discussions may have either substantive [a potential new policy], theoretical [a potential new understanding], or methodological [a potential new way of analyzing] significance.   When thinking about the potential implications of your study, ask the following questions:

  • What might the results mean in regards to challenging the theoretical framework and underlying assumptions that support the study?
  • What suggestions for subsequent research could arise from the potential outcomes of the study?
  • What will the results mean to practitioners in the natural settings of their workplace, organization, or community?
  • Will the results influence programs, methods, and/or forms of intervention?
  • How might the results contribute to the solution of social, economic, or other types of problems?
  • Will the results influence policy decisions?
  • In what way do individuals or groups benefit should your study be pursued?
  • What will be improved or changed as a result of the proposed research?
  • How will the results of the study be implemented and what innovations or transformative insights could emerge from the process of implementation?

NOTE:   This section should not delve into idle speculation, opinion, or be formulated on the basis of unclear evidence . The purpose is to reflect upon gaps or understudied areas of the current literature and describe how your proposed research contributes to a new understanding of the research problem should the study be implemented as designed.

ANOTHER NOTE : This section is also where you describe any potential limitations to your proposed study. While it is impossible to highlight all potential limitations because the study has yet to be conducted, you still must tell the reader where and in what form impediments may arise and how you plan to address them.

VI.  Conclusion

The conclusion reiterates the importance or significance of your proposal and provides a brief summary of the entire study . This section should be only one or two paragraphs long, emphasizing why the research problem is worth investigating, why your research study is unique, and how it should advance existing knowledge.

Someone reading this section should come away with an understanding of:

  • Why the study should be done;
  • The specific purpose of the study and the research questions it attempts to answer;
  • The decision for why the research design and methods used where chosen over other options;
  • The potential implications emerging from your proposed study of the research problem; and
  • A sense of how your study fits within the broader scholarship about the research problem.

VII.  Citations

As with any scholarly research paper, you must cite the sources you used . In a standard research proposal, this section can take two forms, so consult with your professor about which one is preferred.

  • References -- a list of only the sources you actually used in creating your proposal.
  • Bibliography -- a list of everything you used in creating your proposal, along with additional citations to any key sources relevant to understanding the research problem.

In either case, this section should testify to the fact that you did enough preparatory work to ensure the project will complement and not just duplicate the efforts of other researchers. It demonstrates to the reader that you have a thorough understanding of prior research on the topic.

Most proposal formats have you start a new page and use the heading "References" or "Bibliography" centered at the top of the page. Cited works should always use a standard format that follows the writing style advised by the discipline of your course [e.g., education=APA; history=Chicago] or that is preferred by your professor. This section normally does not count towards the total page length of your research proposal.

Develop a Research Proposal: Writing the Proposal. Office of Library Information Services. Baltimore County Public Schools; Heath, M. Teresa Pereira and Caroline Tynan. “Crafting a Research Proposal.” The Marketing Review 10 (Summer 2010): 147-168; Jones, Mark. “Writing a Research Proposal.” In MasterClass in Geography Education: Transforming Teaching and Learning . Graham Butt, editor. (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015), pp. 113-127; Juni, Muhamad Hanafiah. “Writing a Research Proposal.” International Journal of Public Health and Clinical Sciences 1 (September/October 2014): 229-240; Krathwohl, David R. How to Prepare a Dissertation Proposal: Suggestions for Students in Education and the Social and Behavioral Sciences . Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2005; Procter, Margaret. The Academic Proposal. The Lab Report. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Punch, Keith and Wayne McGowan. "Developing and Writing a Research Proposal." In From Postgraduate to Social Scientist: A Guide to Key Skills . Nigel Gilbert, ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2006), 59-81; Wong, Paul T. P. How to Write a Research Proposal. International Network on Personal Meaning. Trinity Western University; Writing Academic Proposals: Conferences , Articles, and Books. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Writing a Research Proposal. University Library. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

  • << Previous: Writing a Reflective Paper
  • Next: Generative AI and Writing >>
  • Last Updated: May 7, 2024 9:45 AM
  • URL: https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/assignments

Reference management. Clean and simple.

How to write a research proposal

how to form a research proposal

What is a research proposal?

What is the purpose of a research proposal , how long should a research proposal be, what should be included in a research proposal, 1. the title page, 2. introduction, 3. literature review, 4. research design, 5. implications, 6. reference list, frequently asked questions about writing a research proposal, related articles.

If you’re in higher education, the term “research proposal” is something you’re likely to be familiar with. But what is it, exactly? You’ll normally come across the need to prepare a research proposal when you’re looking to secure Ph.D. funding.

When you’re trying to find someone to fund your Ph.D. research, a research proposal is essentially your “pitch.”

A research proposal is a concise and coherent summary of your proposed research.

You’ll need to set out the issues that are central to the topic area and how you intend to address them with your research. To do this, you’ll need to give the following:

  • an outline of the general area of study within which your research falls
  • an overview of how much is currently known about the topic
  • a literature review that covers the recent scholarly debate or conversation around the topic

➡️  What is a literature review? Learn more in our guide.

Essentially, you are trying to persuade your institution that you and your project are worth investing their time and money into.

It is the opportunity for you to demonstrate that you have the aptitude for this level of research by showing that you can articulate complex ideas:

It also helps you to find the right supervisor to oversee your research. When you’re writing your research proposal, you should always have this in the back of your mind.

This is the document that potential supervisors will use in determining the legitimacy of your research and, consequently, whether they will invest in you or not. It is therefore incredibly important that you spend some time on getting it right.

Tip: While there may not always be length requirements for research proposals, you should strive to cover everything you need to in a concise way.

If your research proposal is for a bachelor’s or master’s degree, it may only be a few pages long. For a Ph.D., a proposal could be a pretty long document that spans a few dozen pages.

➡️ Research proposals are similar to grant proposals. Learn how to write a grant proposal in our guide.

When you’re writing your proposal, keep in mind its purpose and why you’re writing it. It, therefore, needs to clearly explain the relevance of your research and its context with other discussions on the topic. You need to then explain what approach you will take and why it is feasible.

Generally, your structure should look something like this:

  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Research Design
  • Implications

If you follow this structure, you’ll have a comprehensive and coherent proposal that looks and feels professional, without missing out on anything important. We’ll take a deep dive into each of these areas one by one next.

The title page might vary slightly per your area of study but, as a general point, your title page should contain the following:

  • The proposed title of your project
  • Your supervisor’s name
  • The name of your institution and your particular department

Tip: Keep in mind any departmental or institutional guidelines for a research proposal title page. Also, your supervisor may ask for specific details to be added to the page.

The introduction is crucial   to your research proposal as it is your first opportunity to hook the reader in. A good introduction section will introduce your project and its relevance to the field of study.

You’ll want to use this space to demonstrate that you have carefully thought about how to present your project as interesting, original, and important research. A good place to start is by introducing the context of your research problem.

Think about answering these questions:

  • What is it you want to research and why?
  • How does this research relate to the respective field?
  • How much is already known about this area?
  • Who might find this research interesting?
  • What are the key questions you aim to answer with your research?
  • What will the findings of this project add to the topic area?

Your introduction aims to set yourself off on a great footing and illustrate to the reader that you are an expert in your field and that your project has a solid foundation in existing knowledge and theory.

The literature review section answers the question who else is talking about your proposed research topic.

You want to demonstrate that your research will contribute to conversations around the topic and that it will sit happily amongst experts in the field.

➡️ Read more about how to write a literature review .

There are lots of ways you can find relevant information for your literature review, including:

  • Research relevant academic sources such as books and journals to find similar conversations around the topic.
  • Read through abstracts and bibliographies of your academic sources to look for relevance and further additional resources without delving too deep into articles that are possibly not relevant to you.
  • Watch out for heavily-cited works . This should help you to identify authoritative work that you need to read and document.
  • Look for any research gaps , trends and patterns, common themes, debates, and contradictions.
  • Consider any seminal studies on the topic area as it is likely anticipated that you will address these in your research proposal.

This is where you get down to the real meat of your research proposal. It should be a discussion about the overall approach you plan on taking, and the practical steps you’ll follow in answering the research questions you’ve posed.

So what should you discuss here? Some of the key things you will need to discuss at this point are:

  • What form will your research take? Is it qualitative/quantitative/mixed? Will your research be primary or secondary?
  • What sources will you use? Who or what will you be studying as part of your research.
  • Document your research method. How are you practically going to carry out your research? What tools will you need? What procedures will you use?
  • Any practicality issues you foresee. Do you think there will be any obstacles to your anticipated timescale? What resources will you require in carrying out your research?

Your research design should also discuss the potential implications of your research. For example, are you looking to confirm an existing theory or develop a new one?

If you intend to create a basis for further research, you should describe this here.

It is important to explain fully what you want the outcome of your research to look like and what you want to achieve by it. This will help those reading your research proposal to decide if it’s something the field  needs  and  wants,  and ultimately whether they will support you with it.

When you reach the end of your research proposal, you’ll have to compile a list of references for everything you’ve cited above. Ideally, you should keep track of everything from the beginning. Otherwise, this could be a mammoth and pretty laborious task to do.

Consider using a reference manager like Paperpile to format and organize your citations. Paperpile allows you to organize and save your citations for later use and cite them in thousands of citation styles directly in Google Docs, Microsoft Word, or LaTeX.

Paperpile reference manager

Your project may also require you to have a timeline, depending on the budget you are requesting. If you need one, you should include it here and explain both the timeline and the budget you need, documenting what should be done at each stage of the research and how much of the budget this will use.

This is the final step, but not one to be missed. You should make sure that you edit and proofread your document so that you can be sure there are no mistakes.

A good idea is to have another person proofread the document for you so that you get a fresh pair of eyes on it. You can even have a professional proofreader do this for you.

This is an important document and you don’t want spelling or grammatical mistakes to get in the way of you and your reader.

➡️ Working on a research proposal for a thesis? Take a look at our guide on how to come up with a topic for your thesis .

A research proposal is a concise and coherent summary of your proposed research. Generally, your research proposal will have a title page, introduction, literature review section, a section about research design and explaining the implications of your research, and a reference list.

A good research proposal is concise and coherent. It has a clear purpose, clearly explains the relevance of your research and its context with other discussions on the topic. A good research proposal explains what approach you will take and why it is feasible.

You need a research proposal to persuade your institution that you and your project are worth investing their time and money into. It is your opportunity to demonstrate your aptitude for this level or research by showing that you can articulate complex ideas clearly, concisely, and critically.

A research proposal is essentially your "pitch" when you're trying to find someone to fund your PhD. It is a clear and concise summary of your proposed research. It gives an outline of the general area of study within which your research falls, it elaborates how much is currently known about the topic, and it highlights any recent debate or conversation around the topic by other academics.

The general answer is: as long as it needs to be to cover everything. The length of your research proposal depends on the requirements from the institution that you are applying to. Make sure to carefully read all the instructions given, and if this specific information is not provided, you can always ask.

How to give a good scientific presentation

Grad Coach

Research Proposal Example/Sample

Detailed Walkthrough + Free Proposal Template

If you’re getting started crafting your research proposal and are looking for a few examples of research proposals , you’ve come to the right place.

In this video, we walk you through two successful (approved) research proposals , one for a Master’s-level project, and one for a PhD-level dissertation. We also start off by unpacking our free research proposal template and discussing the four core sections of a research proposal, so that you have a clear understanding of the basics before diving into the actual proposals.

  • Research proposal example/sample – Master’s-level (PDF/Word)
  • Research proposal example/sample – PhD-level (PDF/Word)
  • Proposal template (Fully editable) 

If you’re working on a research proposal for a dissertation or thesis, you may also find the following useful:

  • Research Proposal Bootcamp : Learn how to write a research proposal as efficiently and effectively as possible
  • 1:1 Proposal Coaching : Get hands-on help with your research proposal

Free Webinar: How To Write A Research Proposal

PS – If you’re working on a dissertation, be sure to also check out our collection of dissertation and thesis examples here .

FAQ: Research Proposal Example

Research proposal example: frequently asked questions, are the sample proposals real.

Yes. The proposals are real and were approved by the respective universities.

Can I copy one of these proposals for my own research?

As we discuss in the video, every research proposal will be slightly different, depending on the university’s unique requirements, as well as the nature of the research itself. Therefore, you’ll need to tailor your research proposal to suit your specific context.

You can learn more about the basics of writing a research proposal here .

How do I get the research proposal template?

You can access our free proposal template here .

Is the proposal template really free?

Yes. There is no cost for the proposal template and you are free to use it as a foundation for your research proposal.

Where can I learn more about proposal writing?

For self-directed learners, our Research Proposal Bootcamp is a great starting point.

For students that want hands-on guidance, our private coaching service is recommended.

Literature Review Course

Psst… there’s more!

This post is an extract from our bestselling short course, Research Proposal Bootcamp . If you want to work smart, you don't want to miss this .

You Might Also Like:

Example of a literature review

10 Comments

Lam Oryem Cosmas

I am at the stage of writing my thesis proposal for a PhD in Management at Altantic International University. I checked on the coaching services, but it indicates that it’s not available in my area. I am in South Sudan. My proposed topic is: “Leadership Behavior in Local Government Governance Ecosystem and Service Delivery Effectiveness in Post Conflict Districts of Northern Uganda”. I will appreciate your guidance and support

MUHAMMAD SHAH

GRADCOCH is very grateful motivated and helpful for all students etc. it is very accorporated and provide easy access way strongly agree from GRADCOCH.

Tamasgen desta

Proposal research departemet management

Salim

I am at the stage of writing my thesis proposal for a masters in Analysis of w heat commercialisation by small holders householdrs at Hawassa International University. I will appreciate your guidance and support

Abrar Shouket

please provide a attractive proposal about foreign universities .It would be your highness.

habitamu abayneh

comparative constitutional law

Kabir Abubakar

Kindly guide me through writing a good proposal on the thesis topic; Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Financial Inclusion in Nigeria. Thank you

Tatenda Mpofu

Kindly help me write a research proposal on the topic of impacts of artisanal gold panning on the environment

Bunrosy Lan

I am in the process of research proposal for my Master of Art with a topic : “factors influence on first-year students’s academic adjustment”. I am absorbing in GRADCOACH and interested in such proposal sample. However, it is great for me to learn and seeking for more new updated proposal framework from GRADCAOCH.

Submit a Comment Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

  • Print Friendly

Research Proposal: A step-by-step guide with template

Making sure your proposal is perfect will drastically improve your chances of landing a successful research position. Follow these steps.

' src=

There’s no doubt you have the most cutting-edge research idea to date, backed up by a solid methodology and a credible explanation proving its relevance! There are thousands of research ideas that could change the world with many new ideologies.

The truth is, none of this would matter without support. It can be daunting, challenging, and uncertain to secure funding for a research project. Even more so when it isn’t well-thought-out, outlined, and includes every detail.

An effective solution for presenting your project, or requesting funding, is to provide a research proposal to potential investors or financiers on your behalf.

It’s crucial to understand that making sure your proposal is perfect will drastically improve your chances of landing a successful research position. Your research proposal could result in the failure to study the research problem entirely if it is inadequately constructed or incomplete.

It is for this reason that we have created an excellent guide that covers everything you need to know about writing a research proposal, and includes helpful tips for presenting your proposal professionally and improving its likelihood of acceptance!

What Is a Research Proposal?

how to form a research proposal

Generally, a research proposal is a well-crafted, formal document that provides a thorough explanation of what you plan to investigate. This includes a rationale for why it is worth investigating, as well as a method for investigating it.

Research proposal writing in the contemporary academic environment is a challenging undertaking given the constant shift in research methodology and a commitment to incorporating scientific breakthroughs.

An outline of the plan or roadmap for the study is the proposal, and once the proposal is complete, everything should be smooth sailing. It is still common for post-graduate evaluation panels and funding applications to submit substandard proposals.

By its very nature, the research proposal serves as a tool for convincing the supervisor, committee, or university that the proposed research fits within the scope of the program and is feasible when considering the time and resources available.

A research proposal should convince the person who is going to sanction your research, or put another way, you need to persuade them that your research idea is the best.

Obviously, if it does not convince them that it is reasonable and adequate, you will need to revise and submit it again. As a result, you will lose significant time, causing your research to be delayed or cut short, which is not good.

A good research proposal should have the following structure

A dissertation or thesis research proposal may take on a variety of forms depending on the university, but  most generally a research proposal will include the following elements:

  • Titles or title pages that give a description of the research
  • Detailed explanation of the proposed research and its background
  • Outline of the research project
  • An overview of key research studies in the field
  • Description the proposed research design (approach)

So, if you include all these elements, you will have a general outline. Let’s take a closer look at how to write them and what to include in each element so that the research proposal is as robust as the idea itself.

A step-by-step guide to writing a research proposal

#1 introduction.

Researchers who wish to obtain grant funding for a project often write a proposal when seeking funding for a research-based postgraduate degree program, or in order to obtain approval for completing a thesis or PhD. Even though this is only a brief introduction, we should be considering it the beginning of an insightful discussion about the significance of a topic that deserves attention.

Your readers should understand what you are trying to accomplish after they read your introduction. Additionally, they should be able to perceive your zeal for the subject matter and a genuine interest in the possible outcome of the research.

As your introduction, consider answering these questions in three to four paragraphs:

  • In what way does the study address its primary issue?
  • Does that subject matter fall under the domain of that field of study?
  • In order to investigate that problem, what method should be used?
  • What is the importance of this study?
  • How does it impact academia and society overall?
  • What are the potential implications of the proposed research for someone reviewing the proposal?

It is not necessary to include an abstract or summary for the introduction to most academic departments and funding sources. Nevertheless, you should confirm your institution’s requirements.

#2 Background and importance

An explanation of the rationale for a research proposal and its significance is provided in this section. It is preferable to separate this part from the introduction so that the narrative flows seamlessly.

This section should be approached by presuming readers are time-pressed but want a general overview of the whole study and the research question.

Please keep in mind that this isn’t an exhaustive essay that contains every detail of your proposed research, rather a concise document that will spark interest in your proposal.

While you should try to take into account the following factors when framing the significance of your proposed study, there are no rigid rules.

  • Provide a detailed explanation of the purpose and problem of the study. Multidimensional or interdisciplinary research problems often require this.
  • Outline the purpose of your proposed research and describe the advantages of carrying out the study.
  • Outline the major issues or problems to be discussed. These might come in the form of questions or comments.
  • Be sure to highlight how your research contributes to existing theories that relate to the problem of the study.
  • Describe how your study will be conducted, including the source of data and the method of analysis.
  • To provide a sense of direction for your study, define the scope of your proposal.
  • Defining key concepts or terms, if necessary, is recommended.

The steps to a perfect research proposal all get more specific as we move forward to enhance the concept of the research. In this case, it will become important to make sure that your supervisor or your funder has a clear understanding of every aspect of your research study.

#3 Reviewing prior literature and studies

The aim of this paragraph is to establish the context and significance of your study, including a review of the current literature pertinent to it.

This part aims to properly situate your proposed study within the bigger scheme of things of what is being investigated, while, at the same time, showing the innovation and originality of your proposed work.

When writing a literature review, it is imperative that your format is effective because it often contains extensive information that allows you to demonstrate your main research claims compared to other scholars.

Separating the literature according to major categories or conceptual frameworks is an excellent way to do this. This is a more effective method than listing each study one by one in chronological order.

In order to arrange the review of existing relevant studies in an efficient manner, a literature review is often written using the following five criteria:

  • Be sure to cite your previous studies to ensure the focus remains on the research question. For more information, please refer to our guide on how to write a research paper .
  • Study the literature’s methods, results, hypotheses, and conclusions. Recognize the authors’ differing perspectives.
  • Compare and contrast the various themes, arguments, methodologies, and perspectives discussed in the literature. Explain the most prominent points of disagreement.
  • Evaluate the literature. Identify persuasive arguments offered by scholars. Choose the most reliable, valid, and suitable methodologies.
  • Consider how the literature relates to your area of research and your topic. Examine whether your proposal for investigation reflects existing literature, deviates from existing literature, synthesizes or adds to it in some way.

#4 Research questions and objectives

The next step is to develop your research objectives once you have determined your research focus.

When your readers read your proposal, what do you want them to learn? Try to write your objectives in one sentence, if you can. Put time and thought into framing them properly.

By setting an objective for your research, you’ll stay on track and avoid getting sidetracked.

Any study proposal should address the following questions irrespective of the topic or problem:

  • What are you hoping to accomplish from the study? When describing the study topic and your research question, be concise and to the point.
  • What is the purpose of the research? A compelling argument must also be offered to support your choice of topic.
  • What research methods will you use? It is essential to outline a clear, logical strategy for completing your study and make sure that it is doable.

Some authors include this section in the introduction, where it is generally placed at the end of the section.

#5 Research Design and Methods

It is important to write this part correctly and organize logically even though you are not starting the research yet.  This must leave readers with a sense of assurance that the topic is worthwhile.

To achieve this, you must convince your reader that your research design and procedures will adequately address the study’s problems. Additionally, it seeks to ensure that the employed methods are capable of interpreting the likely study results efficiently.

You should design your research in a way that is directly related to your objectives.

Exemplifying your study design using examples from your literature review, you are setting up your study design effectively. You should follow other researchers’ good practices.

Pay attention to the methods you will use to collect data, the analyses you will perform, as well as your methods of measuring the validity of your results.

If you describe the methods you will use, make sure you include the following points:

  • Develop a plan for conducting your research, as well as how you intend to interpret the findings based on the study’s objectives.
  • When describing your objectives with the selected techniques, it is important to also elaborate on your plans.
  • This section does not only present a list of events. Once you have chosen the strategy, make sure to explain why it is a good way to analyse your study question. Provide clear explanations.
  • Last but not least, plan ahead to overcome any challenges you might encounter during the implementation of your research design.

In the event that you closely follow the best practices outlined in relevant studies as well as justify your selection, you will be prepared to address any questions or concerns you may encounter.

We have an amazing article that will give you everything you need to know about research design .

#6 Knowledge Contribution and Relevance

In this section, you describe your theory about how your study will contribute to, expand, or alter knowledge about the topic of your study.

You should discuss the implications of your research on future studies, applications, concepts, decisions, and procedures. It is common to address the study findings from a conceptual, analytical, or scientific perspective.

If you are framing your proposal of research, these guide questions may help you:

  • How could the results be interpreted in the context of contesting the premises of the study?
  • Could the expected study results lead to proposals for further research?
  • Is your proposed research going to benefit people in any way?
  • Is the outcome going to affect individuals in their work setting?
  • In what ways will the suggested study impact or enhance the quality of life?
  • Are the study’s results going to have an impact on intervention forms, techniques, or policies?
  • What potential commercial, societal, or other benefits could be derived from the outcomes?
  • Policy decisions will be influenced by the outcomes?
  • Upon implementation, could they bring about new insights or breakthroughs?

Throughout this section, you will identify unsolved questions or research gaps in the existing literature. If the study is conducted as proposed, it is important to indicate how the research will be instrumental in understanding the nature of the research problem.

#7 Adherence to the Ethical Principles

In terms of scientific writing style, no particular style is generally acknowledged as more or less effective. The purpose is simply to provide relevant content that is formatted in a standardized way to enhance communication.

There are a variety of publication styles among different scholarly disciplines. It is therefore essential to follow the protocol according to the institution or organization that you are targeting.

All scholarly research and writing is, however, guided by codes of ethical conduct. The purpose of ethical guidelines, if they are followed, is to accomplish three things:

1) Preserve intellectual property right;

2) Ensure the rights and welfare of research participants;

3) Maintain the accuracy of scientific knowledge.

Scholars and writers who follow these ideals adhere to long-standing standards within their professional groups.

An additional ethical principle of the APA stresses the importance of maintaining scientific validity. An observation is at the heart of the standard scientific method, and it is verifiable and repeatable by others.

It is expected that scholars will not falsify or fabricate data in research writing. Researchers must also refrain from altering their studies’ outcomes to support a particular theory or to exclude inconclusive data from their report in an effort to create a convincing one.

#8 The budget

The need for detailed budgetary planning is not required by all universities when studying historical material or academic literature, though some do require it. In the case of a research grant application, you will likely have to include a comprehensive budget that breaks down the costs of each major component.

Ensure that the funding program or organization will cover the required costs, and include only the necessary items. For each of the items, you should include the following.

  • To complete the study in its entirety, how much money would you require?
  • Discuss the rationale for such a budget item for the purpose of completing research.
  • The source of the amount – describe how it was determined.

When doing a study, you cannot buy ingredients the way you normally would. With so many items not having a price tag, how can you make a budget? Take the following into consideration:

  • Does your project require access to any software programs or solutions? Do you need to install or train a technology tool?
  • How much time will you be spending on your research study? Are you required to take time off from work to do your research?
  • Are you going to need to travel to certain locations to meet with respondents or to collect data? At what cost?
  • Will you be seeking research assistants for the study you propose? In what capacity and for what compensation? What other aspects are you planning to outsource?

It is possible to calculate a budget while also being able to estimate how much more money you will need in the event of an emergency.

#9 Timeline

A realistic and concise research schedule is also important to keep in mind. You should be able to finish your plan of study within the allotted time period, such as your degree program or the academic calendar.

You should include a timeline that includes a series of objectives you must complete to meet all the requirements for your scholarly research. The process starts with preliminary research and ends with final editing. A completion date for every step is required.

In addition, one should state the development that has been made. It is also recommended to include other relevant research events, for instance paper or poster presentations . In addition, a researcher must update the timeline regularly, as necessary, since this is not a static document.

#10 A Concluding Statement

Presenting a few of the anticipated results of your research proposal is an effective way to conclude your proposal.

The final stage of the process requires you to reveal the conclusion and rationale you anticipate reaching. Considering the research you have done so far, your reader knows that these are anticipated results, which are likely to evolve once the whole study is completed.

In any case, you must let the supervisors or sponsors know what implications may be drawn. It will be easier for them to assess the reliability and relevance of your research.

It will also demonstrate your meticulousness since you will have anticipated and taken into consideration the potential consequences of your research.

The Appendix section is required by some funding sources and academic institutions. This is extra information that is not in the main argument of the proposal, but appears to enhance the points made.

For example, data in the form of tables, consent forms, clinical/research guidelines, and procedures for data collection may be included in this document.

Research Proposal Template

Now that you know all about each element that composes an ideal research proposal, here is an extra help: a ready to use research proposal example. Just hit the button below, make a copy of the document and start working!

how to form a research proposal

Avoid these common mistakes

In an era when rejection rates for prestigious journals can reach as high as 90 percent, you must avoid the following common mistakes when submitting a proposal:

  • Proposals that are too long. Stay to the point when you write research proposals. Make your document concise and specific. Be sure not to diverge into off-topic discussions.
  • Taking up too much research time. Many students struggle to delineate the context of their studies, regardless of the topic, time, or location. In order to explain the methodology of the study clearly to the reader, the proposal must clearly state what the study will focus on.
  • Leaving out significant works from a literature review. Though everything in the proposal should be kept at a minimum, key research studies must need to be included. To understand the scope and growth of the issue, proposals should be based on significant studies.
  • Major topics are too rarely discussed, and too much attention is paid to minor details. To persuasively argue for a study, a proposal should focus on just a few key research questions. Minor details should be noted, but should not overshadow the thesis.
  • The proposal does not have a compelling and well-supported argument. To prove that a study should be approved or funded, the research proposal must outline its purpose.
  • A typographical error, bad grammar or sloppy writing style. Even though a research proposal outlines a part of a larger project, it must conform to academic writing standards and guidelines.

A final note

We have come to the end of our research proposal guide. We really hope that you have found all the information you need. Wishing you success with the research study.

We at Mind the Graph create high quality illustrative graphics for research papers and posters to beautify your work. Check us out here .

blog-7

Subscribe to our newsletter

Exclusive high quality content about effective visual communication in science.

Unlock Your Creativity

Create infographics, presentations and other scientifically-accurate designs without hassle — absolutely free for 7 days!

About Fabricio Pamplona

Fabricio Pamplona is the founder of Mind the Graph - a tool used by over 400K users in 60 countries. He has a Ph.D. and solid scientific background in Psychopharmacology and experience as a Guest Researcher at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry (Germany) and Researcher in D'Or Institute for Research and Education (IDOR, Brazil). Fabricio holds over 2500 citations in Google Scholar. He has 10 years of experience in small innovative businesses, with relevant experience in product design and innovation management. Connect with him on LinkedIn - Fabricio Pamplona .

Content tags

en_US

  • 301 Academic Skills Centre
  • Study skills online

How to write a research proposal

Advice and guidance on writing a proposal for a student research project.

Robitics students and a small robot

Purpose of a Research Proposal

A research proposal should describe what you will investigate, why it is important to the discipline and how you will conduct your research.

Simply put, it is your plan for the research you intend to conduct. All research proposals are designed to persuade someone about how and why your intended project is worthwhile. 

In your proposal you will need to explain and defend your choices. Always think about the exact reasons why you are making specific choices and why they are the best options available to you and your project. 

Your research proposal aims should be centred on: 

  • Relevance - You want to convince the reader how and why your research is relevant and significant to your field and how it is original. This is typically done in parts of the introduction and the literature review.
  • Context - You should demonstrate that you are familiar with the field, you understand the current state of research on the topic and your ideas have a strong academic basis (i.e., not simply based on your instincts or personal views). This will be the focus of your introduction and literature review. 
  • Approach - You need to make a case for your methodology, showing that you have carefully thought about the data, tools and procedures you will need to conduct the research. You need to explicitly defend all of your choices. This will be presented in the research design section. 
  • Feasibility - You need to demonstrate clearly that your project is both reasonable and feasible within the practical constraints of the course, timescales, institution or funding. You need to make sure you have the time and access to resources to complete the project in a reasonable period. 

301 Recommends:

Our Research Writing workshop will look at some of the main writing challenges associated with writing a large-scale research project and look at strategies to manage your writing on a day-to-day basis. It will identify ways to plan, organise and map out the structure of your writing to allow you to develop an effective writing schedule and make continuous progress on your dissertation project.

Proposal format

The format of a research proposal varies between fields and levels of study but most proposals should contain at least these elements: introduction, literature review, research design and reference list.

Generally, research proposals can range from 500-1500 words or one to a few pages long. Typically, proposals for larger projects such as a PhD dissertation or funding requests, are longer and much more detailed.

Remember, the goal of your research proposal is to outline clearly and concisely exactly what your research will entail and accomplish, how it will do so and why it is important. If you are writing to a strictly enforced word count, a research proposal can be a great test of your ability to express yourself concisely!

Introduction

The first part of your proposal is the initial pitch for your project, so make sure it succinctly explains what you want to do and why. In other words, this is where you answer the reader’s “so what?” It should typically include: introducing the topic , outlining your problem statement and research question(s) and giving background and context. Some important questions to shape your introduction include: 

  • Who has an interest in the topic (e.g. scientists, practitioners, policymakers, particular members of society)?
  • How much is already known about the problem and why is it important?
  • What is missing from current knowledge and why?
  • What new insights will your research contribute?
  • Why is this research worth doing?

If your proposal is very long, you might include separate sections with more detailed information on the background and context, problem statement, aims and objectives, and importance of the research.

Literature Review 

It’s important to show that you’re familiar with the most important research on your topic. A strong literature review convinces the reader that your project has a solid foundation in existing knowledge or theory (i.e. how it relates to established research in the field).

Your literature review will also show that you’re not simply repeating what other people have already done or said. This is also where you explain why your research is necessary. You might want to consider some of the following prompts:

  • Comparing and contrasting: what are the main theories, methods, debates and controversies?
  • Being critical: what are the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches?
  • Showing how your research fits in: how will you build on, challenge or synthesise the work of others? 
  • Filling a gap in the existing body of research: why is your idea innovative? 

Research design and methods

Following the literature review, it is a good idea to restate your main objectives, bringing the focus back to your own project. The research design/ methodology section should describe the overall approach and practical steps you will take to answer your research questions. You also need to demonstrate the feasibility of the project keeping in mind time and other constraints. 

You should definitely include:

  • Qualitative vs quantitative research? Combination? 
  • Will you collect original data or work with primary/secondary sources? 
  • Is your research design descriptive, correlational or experimental? Something completely different?
  • If you are undertaking your own study, when and where will you collect the data? How will you select subjects or sources? Ethics review? Exactly what or who will you study?
  • What tools and procedures will you use (e.g. systematic reviews, surveys, interviews, observation, experiments, bibliographic data) to collect your data? 
  • What tools/methods will you use to analyse your data? 
  • Why are these the best methods to answer your research question(s)? This is where you should justify your choices. 
  • How much time will you need to collect the data? 
  • How will you gain access to participants and sources?
  • Do you foresee any potential obstacles and if so, how will you address them?

Make sure you are not simply compiling a list of methods. Instead, aim to make an argument for why this is the most appropriate, valid and reliable way to approach answering your question. Remember you should always be defending your choices! 

Implications and Contributions to Knowledge

To ensure you finish your proposal on a strong note, it is a good idea to explore and/or emphasise the potential implications of the research. This means: what do you intend to contribute to existing knowledge on the topic?

Although you cannot know the results of your research until you have actually done the work, you should be going into the project with a clear idea of how your work will contribute to your field. This section might even be considered the most critical to your research proposal’s argument because it expresses exactly why your research is necessary. 

You should consider covering at least some of the following topics:

  • Ways in which your work can challenge existing theories and assumptions in your field. 
  • How your work will create the foundation for future research and theory. 
  • The practical value your findings will provide to practitioners, educators and other academics in your field. 
  • The problems or issues your work can potentially help to resolve. 
  • Policies that could be impacted by your findings. 
  • How your findings can be implemented in academia or other settings and how this will improve or otherwise transform these settings. 

This part is not about stating the specific results that you expect to obtain but rather, this is the section where you explicitly state how your findings will be valuable. 

This section is where you want to wrap it all up in a nice pretty bow. It is just like the concluding paragraph that you would structure and craft for a typical essay. You should briefly summarise your research proposal and reinforce your research purpose. 

Reference List or Bibliography

Your research proposal MUST include proper citations for every source you have used and full references. Please consult your departmental referencing styles to ensure you are citing and referencing in an appropriate way. 

Common mistakes to avoid 

Try and avoid these common pitfalls when you are writing your research proposal: 

  • Being too wordy: Remember formal does not mean flowery or pretentious. In fact, you should really aim to keep your writing as concise and accessible as possible. The more economically you can express your goals and ideas, the better. 
  • Failing to cite relevant information/sources: You are adding to the existing body of knowledge on the subject you are covering. Therefore, your research proposal should reference the main research pieces in your field (while referencing them correctly!) and connect your proposal to these works in some way. This does not mean just communicating the relevance of your work, it should explicitly demonstrate your familiarity with the field. 
  • Focusing too much on minor issues: Your research is most likely important for so many great reasons. However, they do not all need to be listed in your research proposal. Generally, including too many questions and issues in your research proposal can serve as a red flag and detract from your main purpose(s). This will in turn weaken your proposal. Only involve the main/key issues you plan to address. 
  • Failing to make a strong argument for your research: This is the simplest way to undermine your proposal. Your proposal is a piece of persuasive and critical writing . This means that, although you are presenting your proposal in an academic and hopefully objective manner, the goal is to get the reader to say ‘yes’ to your work. 
  • Not polishing your writing : If your proposal has spelling or grammatical errors, an inconsistent or inappropriate tone or even just awkward phrasing it can undermine your credibility. Check out some of these resources to help guide you in the right direction: Manchester Academic Phrasebank , Proofreading Guide , Essay Checklist and Grammar Guide . Remember to double and triple check your work. 

Links and Resources

You might also need to include a schedule and/or a budget depending on your requirements. Some tools to help include: 

  • Manchester University Academic Phrasebank
  • Leeds Beckett Assignment Calculator
  • Calendarpedia

Related information

Dissertation planning

Writing a literature review

Research methods

Image advertising the 301 Academic Skills Centre newsletter

Be the first to hear about our new and upcoming workshops!

The 301 Academic Skills Centre newsletter is a fortnightly email for study skills, mathematics and statistics.

Be the first to find out about our:

  • new and upcoming workshops,
  • special events and programmes, and
  • new and relevant online materials and resources.

A collection of classical literature including Thucydides Historiae.

How to write a research proposal

Drafting your first research proposal can be intimidating if you’ve never written (or seen) one before. Our grad students and admissions staff have some advice on making a start.

Before you make a start

Is it a requirement for your course.

For some research courses in sciences you’ll join an existing research group so you don’t need to write a full research proposal, just a list of the groups and/or supervisors you want to work with. You might be asked to write a personal statement instead, giving your research interests and experience.

Still, for many of our research courses — especially in humanities and social sciences — your research proposal is one of the most significant parts of your application. Grades and other evidence of your academic ability and potential are important, but even if you’re academically outstanding you’ll need to show you’re a good match for the department’s staff expertise and research interests. Every course page on the University website has detailed information on what you’ll need to send with your application, so make sure that’s your first step before you continue:

There are many ways to start, I’ve heard stories about people approaching it totally differently. Yannis (DPhil in Computer Science)

How to begin?

There isn’t one right way to start writing a research proposal. First of all, make sure you’ve read your course page - it’ll have instructions for what to include in your research proposal (as well as anything to avoid), how your department will assess it, and the required word count.

Start small, think big

A research degree is a big undertaking, and it’s normal to feel a bit overwhelmed at first. One way to start writing is to look back at the work you’ve already done. How does your proposed research build on this, and the other research in the area? One of the most important things you’ll be showing through your research project is that your project is achievable in the time available for your course, and that you’ve got (or know how you’ll get) the right skills and experience to pull off your plan.

They don’t expect you to be the expert, you just have to have good ideas. Be willing to challenge things and do something new. Rebecca (DPhil in Medieval and Modern Languages)

However, you don’t have to know everything - after all, you haven’t started yet! When reading your proposal, your department will be looking at the potential and originality of your research, and whether you have a solid understanding of the topic you’ve chosen.

But why Oxford?

An Admissions Officer at one of our colleges says that it’s important to explain why you’re applying to Oxford, and to your department in particular:

“Really, this is all dependent on a department. Look at the department in depth, and look at what they offer — how is it in line with your interests?”

Think about what you need to successfully execute your research plans and explain how Oxford’s academic facilities and community will support your work. Should I email a potential supervisor? Got an idea? If your course page says it’s alright to contact a supervisor (check the top of the How to apply section), it’s a good idea to get in touch with potential supervisors when you come to write your proposal.

You’re allowed to reach out to academics that you might be interested in supervising you. They can tell you if your research is something that we can support here, and how, and give you ideas. Admissions Officer 

You’ll find more information about the academics working in your area on your department’s website (follow the department links on your course page ). John (DPhil in Earth Sciences) emailed a professor who had the same research interests as he did.

“Luckily enough, he replied the next day and was keen to support me in the application.”

These discussions might help you to refine your ideas and your research proposal.

Layal says, “I discussed ideas with my supervisor — what’s feasible, what would be interesting. He supported me a lot with that, and I went away and wrote it.”

It’s also an opportunity to find out more about the programme and the department:

“Getting in touch with people who are here is a really good way to ask questions.”

Not sure how to find a potential supervisor for your research? Visit our How-to guide on finding a supervisor .

Asking for help

My supervisors helped me with my research proposal, which is great. You don’t expect that, but they were really helpful prior to my application. Nyree (DPhil in Archaeological Science)

Don’t be afraid to ask for advice and feedback as you go. For example, you could reach out to a supervisor from your current or previous degree, or to friends who are also studying and could give you some honest feedback.

More help with your application

You can find instructions for the supporting documents you’ll need to include in your application on your course page and in the Application Guide.

Applicant advice hub

This content was previously available through our  Applicant advice hub . The hub contained links to articles hosted on our  Graduate Study at Oxford Medium channel . We've moved the articles that support the application process into this new section of our website.

  • Application Guide: Research proposal

Can't find what you're looking for?

If you have a query about graduate admissions at Oxford, we're here to help:

Ask a question

Privacy Policy

Postgraduate Applicant Privacy Policy

Elsevier QRcode Wechat

  • Research Process

Writing a Scientific Research Project Proposal

  • 5 minute read
  • 102.5K views

Table of Contents

The importance of a well-written research proposal cannot be underestimated. Your research really is only as good as your proposal. A poorly written, or poorly conceived research proposal will doom even an otherwise worthy project. On the other hand, a well-written, high-quality proposal will increase your chances for success.

In this article, we’ll outline the basics of writing an effective scientific research proposal, including the differences between research proposals, grants and cover letters. We’ll also touch on common mistakes made when submitting research proposals, as well as a simple example or template that you can follow.

What is a scientific research proposal?

The main purpose of a scientific research proposal is to convince your audience that your project is worthwhile, and that you have the expertise and wherewithal to complete it. The elements of an effective research proposal mirror those of the research process itself, which we’ll outline below. Essentially, the research proposal should include enough information for the reader to determine if your proposed study is worth pursuing.

It is not an uncommon misunderstanding to think that a research proposal and a cover letter are the same things. However, they are different. The main difference between a research proposal vs cover letter content is distinct. Whereas the research proposal summarizes the proposal for future research, the cover letter connects you to the research, and how you are the right person to complete the proposed research.

There is also sometimes confusion around a research proposal vs grant application. Whereas a research proposal is a statement of intent, related to answering a research question, a grant application is a specific request for funding to complete the research proposed. Of course, there are elements of overlap between the two documents; it’s the purpose of the document that defines one or the other.

Scientific Research Proposal Format

Although there is no one way to write a scientific research proposal, there are specific guidelines. A lot depends on which journal you’re submitting your research proposal to, so you may need to follow their scientific research proposal template.

In general, however, there are fairly universal sections to every scientific research proposal. These include:

  • Title: Make sure the title of your proposal is descriptive and concise. Make it catch and informative at the same time, avoiding dry phrases like, “An investigation…” Your title should pique the interest of the reader.
  • Abstract: This is a brief (300-500 words) summary that includes the research question, your rationale for the study, and any applicable hypothesis. You should also include a brief description of your methodology, including procedures, samples, instruments, etc.
  • Introduction: The opening paragraph of your research proposal is, perhaps, the most important. Here you want to introduce the research problem in a creative way, and demonstrate your understanding of the need for the research. You want the reader to think that your proposed research is current, important and relevant.
  • Background: Include a brief history of the topic and link it to a contemporary context to show its relevance for today. Identify key researchers and institutions also looking at the problem
  • Literature Review: This is the section that may take the longest amount of time to assemble. Here you want to synthesize prior research, and place your proposed research into the larger picture of what’s been studied in the past. You want to show your reader that your work is original, and adds to the current knowledge.
  • Research Design and Methodology: This section should be very clearly and logically written and organized. You are letting your reader know that you know what you are going to do, and how. The reader should feel confident that you have the skills and knowledge needed to get the project done.
  • Preliminary Implications: Here you’ll be outlining how you anticipate your research will extend current knowledge in your field. You might also want to discuss how your findings will impact future research needs.
  • Conclusion: This section reinforces the significance and importance of your proposed research, and summarizes the entire proposal.
  • References/Citations: Of course, you need to include a full and accurate list of any and all sources you used to write your research proposal.

Common Mistakes in Writing a Scientific Research Project Proposal

Remember, the best research proposal can be rejected if it’s not well written or is ill-conceived. The most common mistakes made include:

  • Not providing the proper context for your research question or the problem
  • Failing to reference landmark/key studies
  • Losing focus of the research question or problem
  • Not accurately presenting contributions by other researchers and institutions
  • Incompletely developing a persuasive argument for the research that is being proposed
  • Misplaced attention on minor points and/or not enough detail on major issues
  • Sloppy, low-quality writing without effective logic and flow
  • Incorrect or lapses in references and citations, and/or references not in proper format
  • The proposal is too long – or too short

Scientific Research Proposal Example

There are countless examples that you can find for successful research proposals. In addition, you can also find examples of unsuccessful research proposals. Search for successful research proposals in your field, and even for your target journal, to get a good idea on what specifically your audience may be looking for.

While there’s no one example that will show you everything you need to know, looking at a few will give you a good idea of what you need to include in your own research proposal. Talk, also, to colleagues in your field, especially if you are a student or a new researcher. We can often learn from the mistakes of others. The more prepared and knowledgeable you are prior to writing your research proposal, the more likely you are to succeed.

Language Editing Services

One of the top reasons scientific research proposals are rejected is due to poor logic and flow. Check out our Language Editing Services to ensure a great proposal , that’s clear and concise, and properly referenced. Check our video for more information, and get started today.

Research Fraud: Falsification and Fabrication in Research Data

  • Manuscript Review

Research Fraud: Falsification and Fabrication in Research Data

Research Team Structure

Research Team Structure

You may also like.

what is a descriptive research design

Descriptive Research Design and Its Myriad Uses

Doctor doing a Biomedical Research Paper

Five Common Mistakes to Avoid When Writing a Biomedical Research Paper

Writing in Environmental Engineering

Making Technical Writing in Environmental Engineering Accessible

Risks of AI-assisted Academic Writing

To Err is Not Human: The Dangers of AI-assisted Academic Writing

Importance-of-Data-Collection

When Data Speak, Listen: Importance of Data Collection and Analysis Methods

choosing the Right Research Methodology

Choosing the Right Research Methodology: A Guide for Researchers

Why is data validation important in research

Why is data validation important in research?

Writing a good review article

Writing a good review article

Input your search keywords and press Enter.

Have a language expert improve your writing

Run a free plagiarism check in 10 minutes, automatically generate references for free.

  • Knowledge Base
  • Research process
  • How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

Published on 30 October 2022 by Shona McCombes and Tegan George. Revised on 13 June 2023.

Structure of a research proposal

A research proposal describes what you will investigate, why it’s important, and how you will conduct your research.

The format of a research proposal varies between fields, but most proposals will contain at least these elements:

Introduction

Literature review.

  • Research design

Reference list

While the sections may vary, the overall objective is always the same. A research proposal serves as a blueprint and guide for your research plan, helping you get organised and feel confident in the path forward you choose to take.

Table of contents

Research proposal purpose, research proposal examples, research design and methods, contribution to knowledge, research schedule, frequently asked questions.

Academics often have to write research proposals to get funding for their projects. As a student, you might have to write a research proposal as part of a grad school application , or prior to starting your thesis or dissertation .

In addition to helping you figure out what your research can look like, a proposal can also serve to demonstrate why your project is worth pursuing to a funder, educational institution, or supervisor.

Research proposal length

The length of a research proposal can vary quite a bit. A bachelor’s or master’s thesis proposal can be just a few pages, while proposals for PhD dissertations or research funding are usually much longer and more detailed. Your supervisor can help you determine the best length for your work.

One trick to get started is to think of your proposal’s structure as a shorter version of your thesis or dissertation , only without the results , conclusion and discussion sections.

Download our research proposal template

Prevent plagiarism, run a free check.

Writing a research proposal can be quite challenging, but a good starting point could be to look at some examples. We’ve included a few for you below.

  • Example research proposal #1: ‘A Conceptual Framework for Scheduling Constraint Management’
  • Example research proposal #2: ‘ Medical Students as Mediators of Change in Tobacco Use’

Like your dissertation or thesis, the proposal will usually have a title page that includes:

  • The proposed title of your project
  • Your supervisor’s name
  • Your institution and department

The first part of your proposal is the initial pitch for your project. Make sure it succinctly explains what you want to do and why.

Your introduction should:

  • Introduce your topic
  • Give necessary background and context
  • Outline your  problem statement  and research questions

To guide your introduction , include information about:

  • Who could have an interest in the topic (e.g., scientists, policymakers)
  • How much is already known about the topic
  • What is missing from this current knowledge
  • What new insights your research will contribute
  • Why you believe this research is worth doing

As you get started, it’s important to demonstrate that you’re familiar with the most important research on your topic. A strong literature review  shows your reader that your project has a solid foundation in existing knowledge or theory. It also shows that you’re not simply repeating what other people have already done or said, but rather using existing research as a jumping-off point for your own.

In this section, share exactly how your project will contribute to ongoing conversations in the field by:

  • Comparing and contrasting the main theories, methods, and debates
  • Examining the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches
  • Explaining how will you build on, challenge, or synthesise prior scholarship

Following the literature review, restate your main  objectives . This brings the focus back to your own project. Next, your research design or methodology section will describe your overall approach, and the practical steps you will take to answer your research questions.

To finish your proposal on a strong note, explore the potential implications of your research for your field. Emphasise again what you aim to contribute and why it matters.

For example, your results might have implications for:

  • Improving best practices
  • Informing policymaking decisions
  • Strengthening a theory or model
  • Challenging popular or scientific beliefs
  • Creating a basis for future research

Last but not least, your research proposal must include correct citations for every source you have used, compiled in a reference list . To create citations quickly and easily, you can use our free APA citation generator .

Some institutions or funders require a detailed timeline of the project, asking you to forecast what you will do at each stage and how long it may take. While not always required, be sure to check the requirements of your project.

Here’s an example schedule to help you get started. You can also download a template at the button below.

Download our research schedule template

If you are applying for research funding, chances are you will have to include a detailed budget. This shows your estimates of how much each part of your project will cost.

Make sure to check what type of costs the funding body will agree to cover. For each item, include:

  • Cost : exactly how much money do you need?
  • Justification : why is this cost necessary to complete the research?
  • Source : how did you calculate the amount?

To determine your budget, think about:

  • Travel costs : do you need to go somewhere to collect your data? How will you get there, and how much time will you need? What will you do there (e.g., interviews, archival research)?
  • Materials : do you need access to any tools or technologies?
  • Help : do you need to hire any research assistants for the project? What will they do, and how much will you pay them?

Once you’ve decided on your research objectives , you need to explain them in your paper, at the end of your problem statement.

Keep your research objectives clear and concise, and use appropriate verbs to accurately convey the work that you will carry out for each one.

I will compare …

A research aim is a broad statement indicating the general purpose of your research project. It should appear in your introduction at the end of your problem statement , before your research objectives.

Research objectives are more specific than your research aim. They indicate the specific ways you’ll address the overarching aim.

A PhD, which is short for philosophiae doctor (doctor of philosophy in Latin), is the highest university degree that can be obtained. In a PhD, students spend 3–5 years writing a dissertation , which aims to make a significant, original contribution to current knowledge.

A PhD is intended to prepare students for a career as a researcher, whether that be in academia, the public sector, or the private sector.

A master’s is a 1- or 2-year graduate degree that can prepare you for a variety of careers.

All master’s involve graduate-level coursework. Some are research-intensive and intend to prepare students for further study in a PhD; these usually require their students to write a master’s thesis . Others focus on professional training for a specific career.

Critical thinking refers to the ability to evaluate information and to be aware of biases or assumptions, including your own.

Like information literacy , it involves evaluating arguments, identifying and solving problems in an objective and systematic way, and clearly communicating your ideas.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the ‘Cite this Scribbr article’ button to automatically add the citation to our free Reference Generator.

McCombes, S. & George, T. (2023, June 13). How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates. Scribbr. Retrieved 14 May 2024, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/the-research-process/research-proposal-explained/

Is this article helpful?

Shona McCombes

Shona McCombes

Other students also liked, what is a research methodology | steps & tips, what is a literature review | guide, template, & examples, how to write a results section | tips & examples.

  • Privacy Policy

Research Method

Home » How To Write A Proposal – Step By Step Guide [With Template]

How To Write A Proposal – Step By Step Guide [With Template]

Table of Contents

How To Write A Proposal

How To Write A Proposal

Writing a Proposal involves several key steps to effectively communicate your ideas and intentions to a target audience. Here’s a detailed breakdown of each step:

Identify the Purpose and Audience

  • Clearly define the purpose of your proposal: What problem are you addressing, what solution are you proposing, or what goal are you aiming to achieve?
  • Identify your target audience: Who will be reading your proposal? Consider their background, interests, and any specific requirements they may have.

Conduct Research

  • Gather relevant information: Conduct thorough research to support your proposal. This may involve studying existing literature, analyzing data, or conducting surveys/interviews to gather necessary facts and evidence.
  • Understand the context: Familiarize yourself with the current situation or problem you’re addressing. Identify any relevant trends, challenges, or opportunities that may impact your proposal.

Develop an Outline

  • Create a clear and logical structure: Divide your proposal into sections or headings that will guide your readers through the content.
  • Introduction: Provide a concise overview of the problem, its significance, and the proposed solution.
  • Background/Context: Offer relevant background information and context to help the readers understand the situation.
  • Objectives/Goals: Clearly state the objectives or goals of your proposal.
  • Methodology/Approach: Describe the approach or methodology you will use to address the problem.
  • Timeline/Schedule: Present a detailed timeline or schedule outlining the key milestones or activities.
  • Budget/Resources: Specify the financial and other resources required to implement your proposal.
  • Evaluation/Success Metrics: Explain how you will measure the success or effectiveness of your proposal.
  • Conclusion: Summarize the main points and restate the benefits of your proposal.

Write the Proposal

  • Grab attention: Start with a compelling opening statement or a brief story that hooks the reader.
  • Clearly state the problem: Clearly define the problem or issue you are addressing and explain its significance.
  • Present your proposal: Introduce your proposed solution, project, or idea and explain why it is the best approach.
  • State the objectives/goals: Clearly articulate the specific objectives or goals your proposal aims to achieve.
  • Provide supporting information: Present evidence, data, or examples to support your claims and justify your proposal.
  • Explain the methodology: Describe in detail the approach, methods, or strategies you will use to implement your proposal.
  • Address potential concerns: Anticipate and address any potential objections or challenges the readers may have and provide counterarguments or mitigation strategies.
  • Recap the main points: Summarize the key points you’ve discussed in the proposal.
  • Reinforce the benefits: Emphasize the positive outcomes, benefits, or impact your proposal will have.
  • Call to action: Clearly state what action you want the readers to take, such as approving the proposal, providing funding, or collaborating with you.

Review and Revise

  • Proofread for clarity and coherence: Check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.
  • Ensure a logical flow: Read through your proposal to ensure the ideas are presented in a logical order and are easy to follow.
  • Revise and refine: Fine-tune your proposal to make it concise, persuasive, and compelling.

Add Supplementary Materials

  • Attach relevant documents: Include any supporting materials that strengthen your proposal, such as research findings, charts, graphs, or testimonials.
  • Appendices: Add any additional information that might be useful but not essential to the main body of the proposal.

Formatting and Presentation

  • Follow the guidelines: Adhere to any specific formatting guidelines provided by the organization or institution to which you are submitting the proposal.
  • Use a professional tone and language: Ensure that your proposal is written in a clear, concise, and professional manner.
  • Use headings and subheadings: Organize your proposal with clear headings and subheadings to improve readability.
  • Pay attention to design: Use appropriate fonts, font sizes, and formatting styles to make your proposal visually appealing.
  • Include a cover page: Create a cover page that includes the title of your proposal, your name or organization, the date, and any other required information.

Seek Feedback

  • Share your proposal with trusted colleagues or mentors and ask for their feedback. Consider their suggestions for improvement and incorporate them into your proposal if necessary.

Finalize and Submit

  • Make any final revisions based on the feedback received.
  • Ensure that all required sections, attachments, and documentation are included.
  • Double-check for any formatting, grammar, or spelling errors.
  • Submit your proposal within the designated deadline and according to the submission guidelines provided.

Proposal Format

The format of a proposal can vary depending on the specific requirements of the organization or institution you are submitting it to. However, here is a general proposal format that you can follow:

1. Title Page:

  • Include the title of your proposal, your name or organization’s name, the date, and any other relevant information specified by the guidelines.

2. Executive Summary:

  •  Provide a concise overview of your proposal, highlighting the key points and objectives.
  • Summarize the problem, proposed solution, and anticipated benefits.
  • Keep it brief and engaging, as this section is often read first and should capture the reader’s attention.

3. Introduction:

  • State the problem or issue you are addressing and its significance.
  • Provide background information to help the reader understand the context and importance of the problem.
  • Clearly state the purpose and objectives of your proposal.

4. Problem Statement:

  • Describe the problem in detail, highlighting its impact and consequences.
  • Use data, statistics, or examples to support your claims and demonstrate the need for a solution.

5. Proposed Solution or Project Description:

  • Explain your proposed solution or project in a clear and detailed manner.
  • Describe how your solution addresses the problem and why it is the most effective approach.
  • Include information on the methods, strategies, or activities you will undertake to implement your solution.
  • Highlight any unique features, innovations, or advantages of your proposal.

6. Methodology:

  • Provide a step-by-step explanation of the methodology or approach you will use to implement your proposal.
  • Include a timeline or schedule that outlines the key milestones, tasks, and deliverables.
  • Clearly describe the resources, personnel, or expertise required for each phase of the project.

7. Evaluation and Success Metrics:

  • Explain how you will measure the success or effectiveness of your proposal.
  • Identify specific metrics, indicators, or evaluation methods that will be used.
  • Describe how you will track progress, gather feedback, and make adjustments as needed.
  • Present a detailed budget that outlines the financial resources required for your proposal.
  • Include all relevant costs, such as personnel, materials, equipment, and any other expenses.
  • Provide a justification for each item in the budget.

9. Conclusion:

  •  Summarize the main points of your proposal.
  •  Reiterate the benefits and positive outcomes of implementing your proposal.
  • Emphasize the value and impact it will have on the organization or community.

10. Appendices:

  • Include any additional supporting materials, such as research findings, charts, graphs, or testimonials.
  •  Attach any relevant documents that provide further information but are not essential to the main body of the proposal.

Proposal Template

Here’s a basic proposal template that you can use as a starting point for creating your own proposal:

Dear [Recipient’s Name],

I am writing to submit a proposal for [briefly state the purpose of the proposal and its significance]. This proposal outlines a comprehensive solution to address [describe the problem or issue] and presents an actionable plan to achieve the desired objectives.

Thank you for considering this proposal. I believe that implementing this solution will significantly contribute to [organization’s or community’s goals]. I am available to discuss the proposal in more detail at your convenience. Please feel free to contact me at [your email address or phone number].

Yours sincerely,

Note: This template is a starting point and should be customized to meet the specific requirements and guidelines provided by the organization or institution to which you are submitting the proposal.

Proposal Sample

Here’s a sample proposal to give you an idea of how it could be structured and written:

Subject : Proposal for Implementation of Environmental Education Program

I am pleased to submit this proposal for your consideration, outlining a comprehensive plan for the implementation of an Environmental Education Program. This program aims to address the critical need for environmental awareness and education among the community, with the objective of fostering a sense of responsibility and sustainability.

Executive Summary: Our proposed Environmental Education Program is designed to provide engaging and interactive educational opportunities for individuals of all ages. By combining classroom learning, hands-on activities, and community engagement, we aim to create a long-lasting impact on environmental conservation practices and attitudes.

Introduction: The state of our environment is facing significant challenges, including climate change, habitat loss, and pollution. It is essential to equip individuals with the knowledge and skills to understand these issues and take action. This proposal seeks to bridge the gap in environmental education and inspire a sense of environmental stewardship among the community.

Problem Statement: The lack of environmental education programs has resulted in limited awareness and understanding of environmental issues. As a result, individuals are less likely to adopt sustainable practices or actively contribute to conservation efforts. Our program aims to address this gap and empower individuals to become environmentally conscious and responsible citizens.

Proposed Solution or Project Description: Our Environmental Education Program will comprise a range of activities, including workshops, field trips, and community initiatives. We will collaborate with local schools, community centers, and environmental organizations to ensure broad participation and maximum impact. By incorporating interactive learning experiences, such as nature walks, recycling drives, and eco-craft sessions, we aim to make environmental education engaging and enjoyable.

Methodology: Our program will be structured into modules that cover key environmental themes, such as biodiversity, climate change, waste management, and sustainable living. Each module will include a mix of classroom sessions, hands-on activities, and practical field experiences. We will also leverage technology, such as educational apps and online resources, to enhance learning outcomes.

Evaluation and Success Metrics: We will employ a combination of quantitative and qualitative measures to evaluate the effectiveness of the program. Pre- and post-assessments will gauge knowledge gain, while surveys and feedback forms will assess participant satisfaction and behavior change. We will also track the number of community engagement activities and the adoption of sustainable practices as indicators of success.

Budget: Please find attached a detailed budget breakdown for the implementation of the Environmental Education Program. The budget covers personnel costs, materials and supplies, transportation, and outreach expenses. We have ensured cost-effectiveness while maintaining the quality and impact of the program.

Conclusion: By implementing this Environmental Education Program, we have the opportunity to make a significant difference in our community’s environmental consciousness and practices. We are confident that this program will foster a generation of individuals who are passionate about protecting our environment and taking sustainable actions. We look forward to discussing the proposal further and working together to make a positive impact.

Thank you for your time and consideration. Should you have any questions or require additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me at [your email address or phone number].

About the author

' src=

Muhammad Hassan

Researcher, Academic Writer, Web developer

You may also like

Grant Proposal

Grant Proposal – Example, Template and Guide

How To Write A Business Proposal

How To Write A Business Proposal – Step-by-Step...

Business Proposal

Business Proposal – Templates, Examples and Guide

How To Write a Research Proposal

How To Write A Research Proposal – Step-by-Step...

Proposal

Proposal – Types, Examples, and Writing Guide

How to choose an Appropriate Method for Research?

How to choose an Appropriate Method for Research?

U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

The .gov means it’s official. Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.

The site is secure. The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

  • Publications
  • Account settings

Preview improvements coming to the PMC website in October 2024. Learn More or Try it out now .

  • Advanced Search
  • Journal List
  • Indian J Anaesth
  • v.60(9); 2016 Sep

How to write a research proposal?

Department of Anaesthesiology, Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Devika Rani Duggappa

Writing the proposal of a research work in the present era is a challenging task due to the constantly evolving trends in the qualitative research design and the need to incorporate medical advances into the methodology. The proposal is a detailed plan or ‘blueprint’ for the intended study, and once it is completed, the research project should flow smoothly. Even today, many of the proposals at post-graduate evaluation committees and application proposals for funding are substandard. A search was conducted with keywords such as research proposal, writing proposal and qualitative using search engines, namely, PubMed and Google Scholar, and an attempt has been made to provide broad guidelines for writing a scientifically appropriate research proposal.

INTRODUCTION

A clean, well-thought-out proposal forms the backbone for the research itself and hence becomes the most important step in the process of conduct of research.[ 1 ] The objective of preparing a research proposal would be to obtain approvals from various committees including ethics committee [details under ‘Research methodology II’ section [ Table 1 ] in this issue of IJA) and to request for grants. However, there are very few universally accepted guidelines for preparation of a good quality research proposal. A search was performed with keywords such as research proposal, funding, qualitative and writing proposals using search engines, namely, PubMed, Google Scholar and Scopus.

Five ‘C’s while writing a literature review

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is IJA-60-631-g001.jpg

BASIC REQUIREMENTS OF A RESEARCH PROPOSAL

A proposal needs to show how your work fits into what is already known about the topic and what new paradigm will it add to the literature, while specifying the question that the research will answer, establishing its significance, and the implications of the answer.[ 2 ] The proposal must be capable of convincing the evaluation committee about the credibility, achievability, practicality and reproducibility (repeatability) of the research design.[ 3 ] Four categories of audience with different expectations may be present in the evaluation committees, namely academic colleagues, policy-makers, practitioners and lay audiences who evaluate the research proposal. Tips for preparation of a good research proposal include; ‘be practical, be persuasive, make broader links, aim for crystal clarity and plan before you write’. A researcher must be balanced, with a realistic understanding of what can be achieved. Being persuasive implies that researcher must be able to convince other researchers, research funding agencies, educational institutions and supervisors that the research is worth getting approval. The aim of the researcher should be clearly stated in simple language that describes the research in a way that non-specialists can comprehend, without use of jargons. The proposal must not only demonstrate that it is based on an intelligent understanding of the existing literature but also show that the writer has thought about the time needed to conduct each stage of the research.[ 4 , 5 ]

CONTENTS OF A RESEARCH PROPOSAL

The contents or formats of a research proposal vary depending on the requirements of evaluation committee and are generally provided by the evaluation committee or the institution.

In general, a cover page should contain the (i) title of the proposal, (ii) name and affiliation of the researcher (principal investigator) and co-investigators, (iii) institutional affiliation (degree of the investigator and the name of institution where the study will be performed), details of contact such as phone numbers, E-mail id's and lines for signatures of investigators.

The main contents of the proposal may be presented under the following headings: (i) introduction, (ii) review of literature, (iii) aims and objectives, (iv) research design and methods, (v) ethical considerations, (vi) budget, (vii) appendices and (viii) citations.[ 4 ]

Introduction

It is also sometimes termed as ‘need for study’ or ‘abstract’. Introduction is an initial pitch of an idea; it sets the scene and puts the research in context.[ 6 ] The introduction should be designed to create interest in the reader about the topic and proposal. It should convey to the reader, what you want to do, what necessitates the study and your passion for the topic.[ 7 ] Some questions that can be used to assess the significance of the study are: (i) Who has an interest in the domain of inquiry? (ii) What do we already know about the topic? (iii) What has not been answered adequately in previous research and practice? (iv) How will this research add to knowledge, practice and policy in this area? Some of the evaluation committees, expect the last two questions, elaborated under a separate heading of ‘background and significance’.[ 8 ] Introduction should also contain the hypothesis behind the research design. If hypothesis cannot be constructed, the line of inquiry to be used in the research must be indicated.

Review of literature

It refers to all sources of scientific evidence pertaining to the topic in interest. In the present era of digitalisation and easy accessibility, there is an enormous amount of relevant data available, making it a challenge for the researcher to include all of it in his/her review.[ 9 ] It is crucial to structure this section intelligently so that the reader can grasp the argument related to your study in relation to that of other researchers, while still demonstrating to your readers that your work is original and innovative. It is preferable to summarise each article in a paragraph, highlighting the details pertinent to the topic of interest. The progression of review can move from the more general to the more focused studies, or a historical progression can be used to develop the story, without making it exhaustive.[ 1 ] Literature should include supporting data, disagreements and controversies. Five ‘C's may be kept in mind while writing a literature review[ 10 ] [ Table 1 ].

Aims and objectives

The research purpose (or goal or aim) gives a broad indication of what the researcher wishes to achieve in the research. The hypothesis to be tested can be the aim of the study. The objectives related to parameters or tools used to achieve the aim are generally categorised as primary and secondary objectives.

Research design and method

The objective here is to convince the reader that the overall research design and methods of analysis will correctly address the research problem and to impress upon the reader that the methodology/sources chosen are appropriate for the specific topic. It should be unmistakably tied to the specific aims of your study.

In this section, the methods and sources used to conduct the research must be discussed, including specific references to sites, databases, key texts or authors that will be indispensable to the project. There should be specific mention about the methodological approaches to be undertaken to gather information, about the techniques to be used to analyse it and about the tests of external validity to which researcher is committed.[ 10 , 11 ]

The components of this section include the following:[ 4 ]

Population and sample

Population refers to all the elements (individuals, objects or substances) that meet certain criteria for inclusion in a given universe,[ 12 ] and sample refers to subset of population which meets the inclusion criteria for enrolment into the study. The inclusion and exclusion criteria should be clearly defined. The details pertaining to sample size are discussed in the article “Sample size calculation: Basic priniciples” published in this issue of IJA.

Data collection

The researcher is expected to give a detailed account of the methodology adopted for collection of data, which include the time frame required for the research. The methodology should be tested for its validity and ensure that, in pursuit of achieving the results, the participant's life is not jeopardised. The author should anticipate and acknowledge any potential barrier and pitfall in carrying out the research design and explain plans to address them, thereby avoiding lacunae due to incomplete data collection. If the researcher is planning to acquire data through interviews or questionnaires, copy of the questions used for the same should be attached as an annexure with the proposal.

Rigor (soundness of the research)

This addresses the strength of the research with respect to its neutrality, consistency and applicability. Rigor must be reflected throughout the proposal.

It refers to the robustness of a research method against bias. The author should convey the measures taken to avoid bias, viz. blinding and randomisation, in an elaborate way, thus ensuring that the result obtained from the adopted method is purely as chance and not influenced by other confounding variables.

Consistency

Consistency considers whether the findings will be consistent if the inquiry was replicated with the same participants and in a similar context. This can be achieved by adopting standard and universally accepted methods and scales.

Applicability

Applicability refers to the degree to which the findings can be applied to different contexts and groups.[ 13 ]

Data analysis

This section deals with the reduction and reconstruction of data and its analysis including sample size calculation. The researcher is expected to explain the steps adopted for coding and sorting the data obtained. Various tests to be used to analyse the data for its robustness, significance should be clearly stated. Author should also mention the names of statistician and suitable software which will be used in due course of data analysis and their contribution to data analysis and sample calculation.[ 9 ]

Ethical considerations

Medical research introduces special moral and ethical problems that are not usually encountered by other researchers during data collection, and hence, the researcher should take special care in ensuring that ethical standards are met. Ethical considerations refer to the protection of the participants' rights (right to self-determination, right to privacy, right to autonomy and confidentiality, right to fair treatment and right to protection from discomfort and harm), obtaining informed consent and the institutional review process (ethical approval). The researcher needs to provide adequate information on each of these aspects.

Informed consent needs to be obtained from the participants (details discussed in further chapters), as well as the research site and the relevant authorities.

When the researcher prepares a research budget, he/she should predict and cost all aspects of the research and then add an additional allowance for unpredictable disasters, delays and rising costs. All items in the budget should be justified.

Appendices are documents that support the proposal and application. The appendices will be specific for each proposal but documents that are usually required include informed consent form, supporting documents, questionnaires, measurement tools and patient information of the study in layman's language.

As with any scholarly research paper, you must cite the sources you used in composing your proposal. Although the words ‘references and bibliography’ are different, they are used interchangeably. It refers to all references cited in the research proposal.

Successful, qualitative research proposals should communicate the researcher's knowledge of the field and method and convey the emergent nature of the qualitative design. The proposal should follow a discernible logic from the introduction to presentation of the appendices.

Financial support and sponsorship

Conflicts of interest.

There are no conflicts of interest.

' src=

Sandeep Kashyap

How to write a perfect project proposal in 2024?

how to write a perfect project proposal

Introduction

The primary purpose of writing a project proposal is to secure funding, gain approval, or secure resources from the most important stakeholders of a project. 

For that, you need to explain the following in simple terms in a project proposal:

  • What do you want to do and what are your goals for the project? 
  • How are you going to achieve your goals? 
  • How are stakeholders going to benefit from the project?
  • What do you want from stakeholders?
  • How are you going to use the money and resources granted by stakeholders? 

In this post, we will learn about all these about writing a perfect project proposal in 2024. We will look at different types of project proposals, a project proposal template, and a real-world example of a project proposal.  

What is a project proposal? 

A project proposal is a project management document that outlines a project’s objectives, timeline, budget, goals, and requirements. 

It is primarily written for stakeholders to secure funding, gain approval, and secure resources. However, other types of project proposals are also sent to win projects from clients.   

A project manager should have a good understanding of the project and its key stakeholders for writing an effective project proposal. It is because a manager needs to get into the heads of the project’s stakeholders to understand what they expect from a project and write an effective project proposal accordingly to ensure buy-in for the project.

Benefits of writing a strong project proposal

Writing a strong project proposal offers a surprising number of benefits beyond simply securing funding or approval. Here are five key benefits of writing an effective project proposal:

  • Clearly defines the project to increase the chances of success  
  • Makes it easy for stakeholders to mutually understand the project 
  • Ensures everyone involved is on the same page about goals, roles, and expectations
  • Helps identify potential roadblocks early for proactive planning of solutions  
  • It can attract funding, and talent, and even serve as a marketing tool

Difference between a project proposal, a project charter, and a project plan

It is important to note that a project proposal is different from a project charter and project plan. Let’s understand the difference between these terms.     

Project proposal vs. project charter 

A project charter is a formal document that outlines the project’s goals, objectives , and resource requirements for a shared understanding of the team. It can’t be created until the project proposal is approved. Whereas a project proposal is written during the initiation phase.

Project proposal vs. project plan  

A project plan is a detailed guide that provides step-by-step instructions for executing, monitoring, and managing the approved project. It is created during the planning stage after the project charter and project scope is defined. Whereas, a project proposal is a persuasive tool for securing project approval and resources.

Read more: Project management plan – everything you need to know about

Project proposal types 

Project proposals are of six different types. Each has a different goal. A manager may have to write a project proposal for external and internal stakeholders to run a project successfully. Therefore, it is important to know about the different types of project proposals.

Project proposal types

1. Solicited project proposal 

A solicited project proposal is sent in response to a request for proposal (RFP). RFP is a document sent by a company to vendors to seek out resources required for a project. It includes the details of the scope of the work and the payment company pays for the resources. 

RFP is sent to many vendors. Thus, while writing a solicited project proposal, you need to keep in mind that you may be competing against other vendors to secure a project. Thus, you need to keep your tone persuasive.

2. Unsolicited project proposal 

This type of proposal is sent without having received a request for a proposal (RFP). A company has not sent a request for proposal to vendors but you know that the company is seeking resources from third-party vendors. You may or may not be competing against the other vendors in this type of proposal.

3. Informal project proposal

It is a type of project proposal that is created when a client makes an informal request for a project proposal from vendors. It means there is no formal RFP. Thus, the rules for writing a project proposal are less concrete. You can follow any format that can secure you a project.   

4. Renewal project proposal

A project manager writes this type of proposal to existing clients to extend their services to the client. In this type of proposal, you focus on highlighting past achievements to secure a renewal for the future.

5. Continuation project proposal 

The purpose of the continuation project proposal is to inform the client that the project is beginning and communicate the progress. You are not persuading the client with this type of proposal.   

6. Supplemental project proposal

As the name suggests, this type of proposal is sent to the stakeholders who are already involved in a project to secure additional resources. The purpose is to convince the client to invest additional resources during the project execution phase.

How to write a winning project proposal?

You need to include certain elements in the project proposal to make sure it is good. Have a look at the steps to learn how to format a project proposal. 

How to write a winning project proposal

A. Pre-writing stage

The pre-writing stage is crucial for creating a compelling and successful project proposal. Here’s a breakdown of the key steps involved:

1. Understanding the audience 

The first step is to identify decision-makers and understand the mindset of the audience for which you are writing a proposal. Thoroughly research the client’s needs, goals, and expectations. This includes understanding their industry, current challenges, and past projects. 

Determine who will be reviewing and approving the proposal. This will help you adjust the tone, level of detail, and overall focus to cater to their expertise and interests. Tailor your proposal to directly address their specific concerns and priorities.

2. Project requirements gathering 

To create an effective project proposal that has a higher chance of getting accepted, gather the project requirements. Usually, it is mentioned in the Request for Proposal (RFP) where specific requirements, evaluation criteria, submission deadlines, and any other instructions are provided. 

If there is no RFP, schedule meetings or interviews with key stakeholders to gain a deeper understanding of the project requirements. This allows you to ask clarifying questions, gather feedback, and ensure your proposal aligns perfectly with their expectations. 

3. Team brainstorming

Writing a project proposal is teamwork. Involve your team in brainstorming sessions to make a strong proposal. When a team is involved, it diversifies perspectives and expertise, leading to a more comprehensive and well-rounded proposal. Discuss the project goals, potential solutions, and resource needs with your team. Refine the proposal concept based on the collective knowledge and ensure everyone is aligned on the final approach.

B. Writing the proposal

1. start with writing an executive summary .

An executive summary is a concise overview of what a project is all about. It talks about the most important details or information of the project. 

It primarily talks about the problem a project will solve, the solution a project will provide, and the benefits stakeholders will get from investing in this project. 

Start with writing an executive summary 

It is important to keep in mind to explain these items briefly as you are going to explain the problem and solution in detail later in your proposal.     

The purpose of writing an executive summary is to pique the interest of the stakeholders in a project. It is like the elevator pitch of an entrepreneur whose purpose is to attract the stakeholders for further discussion.

2. Explain the problem in the project background

The project background is a one-page section that focuses on highlighting the opportunity by talking about the project problems you are going to solve. It talks about the problem and its history such as statistics, references, and start date. 

It discusses what has been done so far to solve the problem by others or earlier projects. What is the current state of the problem, and how your project will focus on solving it? 

This section indicates the opportunity and the next section of vision explains how you are going to seize the opportunity.       

3. Project vision and solution

Project vision is the section where you present the solution to the problem. Vision statement defines your vision for the project, the solution you are going to work on, and how it will solve the problems. 

This section tells what goals and objectives you are going to achieve from the project. Thus, it also acts as a north star or success criterion for your project. 

Project vision and solution

Now, stakeholders know what a project is all about; the problems, the solution, and the objectives. And they are interested to know how you will achieve the proposed objectives of a project. 

The next sections of a project proposal talk about the project approach, scope, deliverables, milestones, budget, resources, and timeline.  

Read more: Project objectives: learn how to write them for business growth

4. Project scope and deliverables

This section describes all the work items you need to work on a project. It involves breaking a large project into small tasks so that stakeholders can easily understand the project scope.

 It also includes describing key milestones and project deliverables during the execution phase of your project life cycle. 

project scope and deliverables

The purpose is to provide stakeholders with enough information to make decisions about funding and resources.    

5. Project timeline

Project stakeholders have a clear idea about the scope of the project. But the very next question that comes to stakeholders’ minds is how much time a project will take to complete. 

Project timeline

You need to propose an estimated timeline for the project describing when the key deliverables and milestones will be delivered and achieved.

6. Project methodology

With every project, the risks of cost, scope, time, and quality are associated. Thus, you need an effective project management approach to manage these risks.

In this section, you explain to stakeholders about the project approach you are going to use for project management . It includes defining project management methodology, tools, and governance for your project.

79% of teams worldwide use digital collaboration tools . The choice of your project management tool is going to influence how the project will be planned, executed, and managed and its potential risks are identified and mitigated successfully. 

ProofHub is an all-in-one project management and team collaboration software that provides you with a centralized platform to collaborate with a team on a project proposal. 

ProofHub strengthens your project proposal’s “Implementation Plan” by providing a platform to meticulously define tasks, assign roles, and track progress . Its work plan section allows for a detailed breakdown of the project with clear task dependencies and time estimates, visualized through a Gantt chart .

Project methodology gantt chart

Team members can be assigned to specific tasks, ensuring accountability, while resource allocation demonstrates a well-planned approach. 

ProofHub table view for well-planned approach

Real-time progress updates, collaborative discussions within tasks, and reporting capabilities showcase transparency and proactive management.

ProofHub discussion

By incorporating ProofHub, your proposal presents a clear picture of efficient execution, giving the reader confidence in your ability to deliver the project successfully.

Learn more about ProofHub’s collaboration capabilities !

7. Project resource requirements

Project resource requirements talk about the resources you need to complete your project which includes materials, human resources, and technology. It is a key section that is crucial for the success of the project because every project needs resources to convert a plan into action.          

This section of the project proposal briefly describes the project resources you need for the project and how you are going to utilize these resources. 

project resource requirements

It does not explain the nitty gritty details of resource allocation. But, it gives a fair idea of why you need specific resources for your project and how these will be utilized. 

Read more: 2024 guide to project resource management: processes, challenges & tools

8. Estimate project costs and budget

Project resources come at a price. Thus, in this section, you will define the project costs and create a project budget. It is the responsibility of a project manager to write this section in such a way that it covers all the project expenses. 

At the same time, it also provides the opportunity for stakeholders to jump in and help you mitigate unexpected costs.  

It also includes estimating project costs everything from the cost of project technology to team salaries and materials.

9. Closing statement 

At this point of a project proposal, stakeholders have complete information about the project: scope, cost, time, objectives, and impact. You just have to briefly summarize the problem your project addresses and remind stakeholders about the benefits they will get from this project. 

You can use cost-benefit analysis to demonstrate why your project is profitable. Thus, in this section, you wrap up your project proposal with a persuasive and confident conclusion to convince stakeholders to close the deal. 

I hope these steps help you write a winning project proposal. Now, let’s have a look at some practical tips from experts to write a winning proposal.

Additional tips to write a perfect project proposal

Here are the five practical project proposal tips for writing a proposal:

  • Clarity and conciseness: Do not use jargon or make your proposal overly complex. Keep it simple so that project sponsors can understand it easily.    
  • Strong value proposition: You want your project proposal to be accepted. Give strong emphasis on the benefits of your project and how it addresses the existing problems.
  • Compelling visuals: Make your proposal compelling so that project sponsors read it. If it is not persuasive and visually interesting, project sponsors may not read it.  
  • Proofreading and editing: Do not make silly grammatical mistakes and fact check and proofread your proposal. Wherever required provide statistics to back your claims.  
  • Use collaboration tools: A project proposal involves explaining about project scope, cost, time, and resources. Use a project management tool like ProofHub to create a plan and collaborate with a team to create an effective project proposal.

Project proposal examples 

A project proposal in project management is primarily sent to the stakeholders to secure funding, gain approvals, and request resources from stakeholders.        

Here is a real-world example to get an idea of how to write a proposal for a project:

Project Proposal: Implementation of a CRM System to manage company customers, prospects, and leads 

1. Executive 

The Customer Success Manager at XYZ Corporation is proposing the implementation of a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. 

Currently, the company is using a legacy system that makes it difficult to manage data and ensure the alignment between the sales and marketing teams. It results in poor customer service to the customer and missed opportunities. 

The new CRM system streamlines the company’s customer interactions, improves data management, and enhances overall customer satisfaction. 

This results in enhanced customer relationships, improved operational efficiency, and increased business growth.  

2. Background 

  • Lack of centralized data management system
  • Lack of alignment between marketing and sales departments
  • Not able to provide exceptional customer experience due to operational inefficiencies

3. Vision 

  • Implementing CRM to improve customer data management by centralizing all customer information into a single database
  • Enhance communication and collaboration among sales, marketing, and customer service teams
  • Increase customer satisfaction and retention through personalized and timely interaction

4. Project scope

  • Researching and selecting a suitable CRM solution based on the specific needs and requirements of XYZ Corporation.
  • Customizing the CRM system to align with the company’s business processes and workflows.
  • Migrating existing customer data from legacy systems into the new CRM platform.
  • Phase 1: Research and Selection (1 week)
  • Phase 2: Customization and Configuration (2 weeks)
  • Phase 3: Data Migration (1 week)
  • Phase 4: Training and Adoption (2 weeks)
  • Phase 5: Go-Live and Deployment (2 weeks)

5. Project management approach  

Hybrid project management : Waterfall during the planning of each phase of the project and Agile during the implementation of the CRM.

6. Project resource and budget  

The estimated budget for the CRM implementation project is $50,000, including software licensing fees, customization costs, training expenses, and implementation services.

7. Project risks and mitigation

  • Potential resistance from employees toward adopting new technology 
  • Integration challenges with existing systems and applications: 

Mitigation:

  • Addressed through providing training sessions for employees to ensure hassle-free adoption of the CRM system.
  • Managed through careful planning and coordination with IT vendors and stakeholders.

8. Conclusion

The implementation of a CRM system for XYZ Corporation enhances customer relationships, improves operational efficiency, and drives business growth. We seek approval from the executive management team to proceed with the implementation of the CRM system as outlined in this proposal.

Project management proposal template

Trying to manage a project without project management is like trying to play a football game without a game plan. – Karen Tate

A project management proposal template provides the framework and detailed proposal outlining to create a project proposal. It outlines the sections you need to include in a project proposal and the instructions in each section. By following the instructions in the template, you know how to make a project proposal, customized to your business needs.

Here is the project management proposal template: 

1. Executive Summary 

In this section, you will summarize the complete project proposal and add the most important details of the project. 

Outline the following details in brief in the executive summary:

  • Project background and vision
  • Project goals and deliverables
  • Project budget, timeframe, resource, and success criteria      

2. Project Background 

In this section, you will talk about the problem a project is going to solve or the business opportunity a project intends to grab. Explain it in-depth because it forms the basis of the project.

Here is what you need to include:

  • Project history and stats of similar projects  
  • The basis upon which the project is created

3. Project vision   

This section includes the project vision statement. You explain the solution to the project problem and define the goals of the project. 

Here is what you need to do:

  • Write a project vision
  • Present a solution       
  • Write the SMART goals you want to achieve

4. Project plan

It includes multiple sections as below:

4.1 Project scope and deliverables  

Project scope defines all the work you need to do to complete the project.

Project deliverable is something that is of the end-user or customer value.

4.2 Project timeline 

Every project has a start and an end date. Similarly, there is a timeframe for each task and deliverable.

4.3 Project approach 

Every project follows an approach to project management and uses project management tools. For example, construction projects follow the Waterfall methodology whereas software development projects follow the Agile methodology.

4.4 Project risks

A project risk is something that can impact the cost, time, and scope of the project.

List here all the project risks, likelihood, impact, mitigation plan, and risk owners in a table.

4.5 Project resource requirements

Project sponsors need to know about the details of the resources required to approve the budget for the Project Proposal. 

Define the project resource requirements here in the table: 

  • Technology requirements 
  • Human resources requirements
  • Material requirements    

4.6 Project estimated cost and return on investment  

A project sponsor wants to know the project costs and return on investments.

4.7 Project ownership and communication plan   

This section includes the details of the key stakeholders of the project. 

  • Project sponsor: who owns the project 
  • Project customer: who the project is being delivered to
  • Manager: who is responsible for managing the project and informing the status to stakeholders  

5. Call to action 

In this section, provide your contact details for the client to get in touch with any questions or allow the project sponsor to authorize the project if they are happy with the project proposal.

It is important to keep in mind the above-mentioned are the standard sections that are included in most project proposals. If you want to add some other elements to your project proposal, you can add the sections as per your needs to format a project proposal.

Create a winning project proposal with the right tool

A good project proposal convinces stakeholders why the project should be carried out. It should clearly describe project problems, project objectives, benefits for stakeholders, your requirements from stakeholders, and how you will utilize the secured resources. You need to have a good understanding of the project and project sponsors and stakeholders before writing a project proposal.   

To create an effective project proposal, you need cross-collaboration between departments to gather key details and project management software to plan a project.    

That’s where a feature-rich project management software, ProofHub, comes into play. It helps you with team collaboration and project planning for the project proposal. You can create a project plan using a Gantt chart , create tasks using task management software , and collaborate with the team using chat and a centralized file-sharing system .

Organize, manage, and collaborate seamlessly with ProofHub – All-in-one solution for projects, tasks, and teams

Related articles

  • How to manage projects with a tool like ProofHub
  • 10 Common project management challenges (and How to solve them)
  • Project objectives: learn how to write them for business growth
  • The 11 best project management software for your team

How long should a project proposal be?

A project proposal should not be too long. Ideally, a project proposal should take 1-2 pages but it also depends on the complexity of the project and the format you choose.

What section of a proposal presents a list of project costs?

Project costs are briefly covered in the Project Cost section. However, it depends on the template you choose. The detailed breakdown of the project costs is attached with the project proposal in the reference document.

What section of a proposal identifies the key issues and discusses the project goals?

Project background and project vision are the sections that talk about the key issues and project goals. However, it is explained in brief in the executive summary also.

ProofHub - Try now!

  • Share on LinkedIn
  • Email this Page
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on WhatsApp

Try ProofHub, our powerful project management and team collaboration software, for free !

 No per user fee.    No credit card required.    Cancel anytime.

how to form a research proposal

Home › Insights › Articles › Successfully Bid on Government Contracts: What Contractors Need to Know

Successfully Bid on Government Contracts: What Contractors Need to Know

Bidding on government contracts requires meticulous preparation, a deep understanding of the procurement process, and the ability to navigate the complexities of government requirements. Contractors must be patient, resourceful, and ready to adapt to the evolving landscape of government needs and regulations. With the right approach, government contracts can offer substantial opportunities for business growth and expansion. Here is everything government contractors need to know when preparing successful bids.

Research and Preparation

Registration in the U.S. government’s System for Award Management (SAM) is a prerequisite for bidding on federal contracts, so contractors should first ensure this is complete.

Additionally, contractors need to fully understand the market landscape. It’s crucial to understand that the government contracting market is highly competitive and regulated, requiring a thorough understanding of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). Contractors must conduct comprehensive market research to identify contract opportunities that align with their business’s capabilities and niche. Building strong relationships with government agencies and understanding their specific needs can significantly enhance the chances of submitting a successful bid.

Understanding the impact of policy changes, proposed regulation changes, and administration changes on government contracting is also important. Policy shifts can alter the competitive landscape and bidding strategies. Proposed regulations may introduce new compliance requirements and affect contract costs and profitability. Finally, administrative changes can have significant implications for contract performance and outcomes.

Proposal Process

A clear and well-defined proposal strategy is essential, addressing all requirements outlined in the solicitation documents. Attention to detail is paramount, as is ensuring that all aspects of the bid are compliant with government standards. Non-compliance is an easy way for the government to disqualify offerors and narrow down the competitive pool.

Contractors should be prepared for the time it takes for the government to review submissions, which can range from 30 to 120 days, and sometimes longer. Financial stability is important, as there may be a significant wait before a contract is awarded and to receive initial payment once performance on the contract has begun.

Contract Types

Companies preparing to bid on a government contract should understand the different contract types and requirements that go along with each. The most common contract types are fixed price, cost reimbursement, and time-and-materials. To be awarded a contract that is other than a firm-fixed price contract, the contractor needs an acceptable accounting system. A pre-award survey, a pre-award audit, or a post award audit may be required.

Flexibly priced contracts such as cost reimbursable contracts typically require an incurred cost proposal (ICP) to be submitted. It is crucial to understand that incurred cost proposals must be submitted within six months of the contractor’s fiscal year end. Contractors must maintain meticulous records to demonstrate the allowability and allocability of costs, as mandated by FAR. Utilizing the Incurred Cost Electronically (ICE) Model can streamline the submission process, ensuring all required schedules are included and aiding in audit support.

Contractors should also be mindful of the set-asides for small businesses, which constitute nearly a quarter of all government contracts. Set-asides were created by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide opportunities for smaller entities to compete in the government marketplace.

Bidding on government contracts is a complex process that requires a comprehensive understanding of the market, meticulous preparation, and the ability to adapt to changing regulations and policies. Contractors must be mindful of the requirements and challenges and be prepared to meet them head-on to ensure their bids are successful.

Author: Ryan Kelly , CPA | [email protected]

For more information on this topic, please contact a member of Withum’s Government Contractors Services Team .

cybersecurity concept

Navigating the New FAR Part 40 on Information and Supply Chain Security  

On April 1st (officially 04/04/2024), the Department of Defense (DoD), General Services Administration (GSA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) issued a final rule amending the Federal Acquisition Regulation […]

image of pillars with sun coming through

Government Contractors

Withum brings a unique perspective to the government contractor industry through a comprehensive suite of services designed to help businesses remain compliant, efficient and profitable. In today’s climate, it is […]

Search Withum.com

Proposal Certification Form (PC Form) Updates

Published May 17, 2024, via  Research News

Recent updates were made to the RMS Proposal Certification Form (PC Form) certification process as described below.  

For applications to all agencies:

To comply with  New Foreign Talent Program Guidelines  and the  NSF Revised Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG)  the following updates were made.

  • The “Certification – Conflicts of Interest” section was updated to reference the WashU  External Professional Activities Policy  and  Malign Foreign Talent Program  guidelines.  
  • The PI signatures on the PC Form certify awareness of the  External Professional Activities Policy  and  Malign Foreign Talent Program  guidelines, and that persons independently responsible for the design, conduct, and reporting of the research on the project are aware of the applicable policy requirements and are not party to a Malign Foreign Talent Program.

For applications to Department of Energy (DOE) and NASA:

To assist with compliance of the DOE and NASA requirements related to foreign government talent recruitment programs and foreign nationals, the following updates were made.

  • Effective May 16, 2024, in the Research Management System (RMS), on the PC Form tab, the DOE Assurance section was slightly updated to provide a link to the DOE Foreign Nationals Prior Approval Requirement vs. a mandatory upload of a document in the RMS record.  
  • When DOE is the Originating or Proposal Sponsor, the Foreign Government Talent Recruitment Programs form (FGTRP & COI Template) is required. This form must be completed, signed, and uploaded prior to being able to “Complete” the WU Full Review Docs Tab.  
  • When NASA is the Originating or Proposal Sponsor the NASA Restrictions on Funding Activities with the People’s Republic of China (PCR) Certification form is required. This form must be completed, signed, and uploaded prior to being able to “Complete” the WU Full Review Docs Tab.

Please send this to other individuals that you believe may benefit from this information.  

If you have questions about this information, please contact  Teri Medley  in the  Office of Sponsored Research Services .

Jump to navigation

  • Skip to Main Content
  • Accessibility Statement
  • High Contrast
  • Skip to content
  • Skip to footer

Search form

  • DepEd Vision-Mission
  • Organizational Chart
  • Quality Management System Manual
  • Division Memorandum
  • Division Advisories
  • Office Memorandum
  • Division Unnumbered Memorandum
  • District Publications on Google SIte
  • Updates by Program/Projects
  • Procurement
  • Calendar of Events
  • Facts and Figures
  • Performance Indicators
  • List of PAPS
  • Budget Utilization Management Tool
  • DepEd Central Office Website
  • Region Caraga Website
  • DepEd Commons
  • DepED LRMDS
  • Official Workplace Page
  • Supplementary Payroll System
  • Rewards and Recognition
  • e-Human Resource Information System
  • Document Tracking System
  • Downloadables
  • Customer Satisfactory Survey Form

Home

DM NO. 241, S. 2024 RESEARCH PROPOSAL EVALUATION

Submitted by admin on Thu, 05/16/2024 - 10:31

COMMENTS

  1. How to Write a Research Proposal

    Research proposal examples. Writing a research proposal can be quite challenging, but a good starting point could be to look at some examples. We've included a few for you below. Example research proposal #1: "A Conceptual Framework for Scheduling Constraint Management" Example research proposal #2: "Medical Students as Mediators of ...

  2. How To Write A Research Proposal

    Here is an explanation of each step: 1. Title and Abstract. Choose a concise and descriptive title that reflects the essence of your research. Write an abstract summarizing your research question, objectives, methodology, and expected outcomes. It should provide a brief overview of your proposal. 2.

  3. How To Write A Research Proposal (With Examples)

    Make sure you can ask the critical what, who, and how questions of your research before you put pen to paper. Your research proposal should include (at least) 5 essential components : Title - provides the first taste of your research, in broad terms. Introduction - explains what you'll be researching in more detail.

  4. What Is A Research Proposal? Examples + Template

    The purpose of the research proposal (its job, so to speak) is to convince your research supervisor, committee or university that your research is suitable (for the requirements of the degree program) and manageable (given the time and resource constraints you will face). The most important word here is "convince" - in other words, your ...

  5. Writing a Research Proposal

    A research proposal must be focused and not be "all over the map" or diverge into unrelated tangents without a clear sense of purpose. ... Describe the major issues or problems examined by your research. This can be in the form of questions to be addressed. Be sure to note how your proposed study builds on previous assumptions about the ...

  6. How to write a research proposal

    Look for any research gaps, trends and patterns, common themes, debates, and contradictions. Consider any seminal studies on the topic area as it is likely anticipated that you will address these in your research proposal. 4. Research Design. This is where you get down to the real meat of your research proposal.

  7. Research Proposal Example (PDF + Template)

    Detailed Walkthrough + Free Proposal Template. If you're getting started crafting your research proposal and are looking for a few examples of research proposals, you've come to the right place. In this video, we walk you through two successful (approved) research proposals, one for a Master's-level project, and one for a PhD-level ...

  8. Writing Research Proposals

    Writing Research Proposals. The research proposal is your opportunity to show that you—and only you!—are the perfect person to take on your specific project. After reading your research proposal, readers should be confident that…. You have thoughtfully crafted and designed this project; You have the necessary background to complete this ...

  9. Research Proposal: A step-by-step guide with template

    A dissertation or thesis research proposal may take on a variety of forms depending on the university, but most generally a research proposal will include the following elements: Titles or title pages that give a description of the research. Detailed explanation of the proposed research and its background. Outline of the research project.

  10. How to Write a Research Proposal in 2024: Structure, Examples & Common

    A quality example of a research proposal shows one's above-average analytical skills, including the ability to coherently synthesize ideas and integrate lateral and vertical thinking. Communication skills. The proposal also demonstrates your proficiency to communicate your thoughts in concise and precise language.

  11. How to write a research proposal

    The format of a research proposal varies between fields and levels of study but most proposals should contain at least these elements: introduction, literature review, research design and reference list. Generally, research proposals can range from 500-1500 words or one to a few pages long. Typically, proposals for larger projects such as a PhD ...

  12. How to write a research proposal

    For some research courses in sciences you'll join an existing research group so you don't need to write a full research proposal, just a list of the groups and/or supervisors you want to work with. You might be asked to write a personal statement instead, giving your research interests and experience. Still, for many of our research courses ...

  13. Writing a Scientific Research Project Proposal

    Whereas a research proposal is a statement of intent, related to answering a research question, a grant application is a specific request for funding to complete the research proposed. Of course, there are elements of overlap between the two documents; it's the purpose of the document that defines one or the other. ...

  14. How to Write a Research Proposal

    Research proposal examples. Writing a research proposal can be quite challenging, but a good starting point could be to look at some examples. We've included a few for you below. Example research proposal #1: 'A Conceptual Framework for Scheduling Constraint Management'.

  15. PDF Research Proposal Format Example

    Research Proposal Format Example. Following is a general outline of the material that should be included in your project proposal. I. Title Page II. Introduction and Literature Review (Chapters 2 and 3) A. Identification of specific problem area (e.g., what is it, why it is important). B. Prevalence, scope of problem.

  16. How To Write A Proposal

    1. Title Page: Include the title of your proposal, your name or organization's name, the date, and any other relevant information specified by the guidelines. 2. Executive Summary: Provide a concise overview of your proposal, highlighting the key points and objectives.

  17. How to Write a Great PhD Research Proposal

    Written by Mark Bennett. You'll need to write a research proposal if you're submitting your own project plan as part of a PhD application. A good PhD proposal outlines the scope and significance of your topic and explains how you plan to research it. It's helpful to think about the proposal like this: if the rest of your application explains ...

  18. What Is a Research Proposal? (Plus How To Write One)

    A research proposal is a formal document expressing the details of a research project, which is usually for science or academic purposes, and it's typically four to seven pages long. Research proposals often include a title page, an abstract, an introduction, background information, research questions, a literature review and a bibliography. ...

  19. How to write a research proposal?

    A proposal needs to show how your work fits into what is already known about the topic and what new paradigm will it add to the literature, while specifying the question that the research will answer, establishing its significance, and the implications of the answer. [ 2] The proposal must be capable of convincing the evaluation committee about ...

  20. Complete Guide on Writing a Perfect Project Proposal in 2024

    The pre-writing stage is crucial for creating a compelling and successful project proposal. Here's a breakdown of the key steps involved: 1. Understanding the audience. The first step is to identify decision-makers and understand the mindset of the audience for which you are writing a proposal.

  21. Successfully Bid on Government Contracts: What Contractors Need to Know

    A clear and well-defined proposal strategy is essential, addressing all requirements outlined in the solicitation documents. Attention to detail is paramount, as is ensuring that all aspects of the bid are compliant with government standards. Non-compliance is an easy way for the government to disqualify offerors and narrow down the competitive ...

  22. Proposal Certification Form (PC Form) Updates

    Published May 17, 2024, via Research News Recent updates were made to the RMS Proposal Certification Form (PC Form) certification process as described below. For applications to all agencies: To comply with New Foreign Talent Program Guidelines and the NSF Revised Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) the following updates were made. For applications to Department of […]

  23. PDF Non-transplantation Research on HFT

    v. That the consent form is or will be signed by both the donor and the personwho obtains the consent for the donation. b. The Principal Investigator obtaining the human fetal tissue for research use affirms the following: [Both must be selected for approval] i. That individuals engaged in the research will have or had no part in any decisions

  24. Dm No. 241, S. 2024 Research Proposal Evaluation

    DM NO. 241, S. 2024 RESEARCH PROPOSAL EVALUATION. Submitted by admin on Thu, 05/16/2024 - 10:31.

  25. DOC tubitak.gov.tr

    RESEARCH PROPOSAL FORM. Year: Term: General Recommendation: The same font and style should be used for the whole proposal (Arial, 11pt, single spaced), All of the following sections have to be filled in for the proposal, The proposal should not exceed 20 pages for Section Excellence, Impact, Implementation,