Most writing assignments in universities are pretty much the same as the ones students had in school.
But a research proposal is different.
This task is one of the most confusing ones you’ll encounter. And that’s why we’ve decided to write this post—to give some help with research proposal.
So, how exactly are we going to help you?
In this post, we’ve gathered some of the most useful tools and resources that will make writing a research proposal much easier for you. These tools and resources will not only save you time—with their help, your chance of creating an outstanding research proposal will be extremely high.
But that’s not all!
You’ll also learn a few things about the research proposal itself and why it’s important to write one. This post includes a research proposal outline, research proposal templates, and research proposal examples. Having a clearer understanding of what you’re working on usually brings much better results—which is what you’re aiming for, right? Apart from that, we’ll quickly walk you through the stages of writing a research proposal, so you’ll know about all of its components.
So what are you waiting for? Let’s get right into it!
In case you were wondering, we’ll go ahead and get the research proposal definition out of the way first.
A research proposal is a paper that suggests a certain topic or research problem and justifies the need to study it. It also describes the ways and methods of conducting the study.
The choice of topic and methodology for a research proposal depends on the assignment’s specific requirements. While they’re similar in general, there may also be a few differences depending on the university you’re at. Specific requirements can also be applied to the research proposal format.
Still, regardless of which field you’re working in and the methods you’ll choose, every research proposal should do the following:
- Describe exactly what you want to accomplish with your research. This is the primary goal of your research proposal. It will determine the value of your work and will influence the decision of whether or not your research is worth pursuing.
- State the goal as clearly as possible and give enough evidence to prove why the topic you’ve selected is important. Imagine that you’re trying to persuade friends who keep asking, “So what?” You need to answer every "so what?" question in your research proposal.
- Explain how you’re going to achieve your goal. You need to be sure that you’re capable of performing the research you’ve described. You also need to have enough resources and background knowledge to conduct proper research and come up with relevant results.
But why is the importance of research proposal so great to begin with? In other words, what’s the purpose of a research proposal?
Apart from what we’ve already mentioned, there are a few more reasons why you should write a research proposal:
- It helps develop your writing and research skills in general.
- It allows you to get better at designing a research study and making it comprehensive.
- It improves your skill in conducting literature reviews. You’ll also learn how to find materials related to your topic more effectively—both in order to gather the needed information and to find out whether this topic has been researched before.
- It helps you understand how to build a logical plan of all the steps you must complete to reach the ultimate goal of your research.
- It develops your critical thinking skills as you examine and review certain methods of data collection and analyze relevant information.
All of the academic and personal development mentioned above is possible thanks to the many components of research proposal.
And now, let’s take a look at those components one by one.
Here, we’ll quickly run through the process of writing a research proposal and the standard components it has. You can even use the following list as your research proposal outline! Keep reading further if you’d like to view an example of a research proposal paper.
- Title page
This page has to be concise and descriptive because it’s the first section of your research proposal that anyone will see. It can even determine whether or not your research proposal will be persuasive enough! On this page, you should introduce the topic of your research proposal with an informative, relevant, and catchy title.
There are many more research proposal topic ideas in case you’re struggling to choose one.
- Abstract (summary statement of the research)
Here you’ll briefly sum up your proposed research study. Talk about the main questions raised in it and mention the methods you will use to examine your research questions. Narrow it all down to 300 words max.
The introduction is one of the core elements of research proposal. In this part of your work, you’ll talk about the research background, research questions, and your planned approach to these questions. Try to deliver this information with all necessary details. You need to paint a complete picture so that those who read your research proposal won’t have any unanswered questions.
- Literature review
Some types of research proposal have a literature review as a part of the introduction. Here, you’ll highlight the most valuable sources that you’ve used. You need to show the connections and relationship of your work to the previous research in your field.
It’s simple here: Describe what you’re going to do in order to achieve the goals you’ve set. Be sure to prove that these particular methods are the most appropriate ones to examine your research questions.
Of course, you can’t foresee any specific results before having done the research itself. But you can certainly have a general idea of what the results will be. Base your thoughts on the methods and data you’re going to use in your study. This will show whether it’s worth it to work on this research in the first place.
You have to convince your readers that your research will make a positive impact. Discuss all possible challenges and opportunities with your committee. Don’t make any exaggerations; just realistically present what you’re capable of doing with your proposed study. At this point, you’ll also know whether you’ll need some extra writing help.
In this section, you’ll simply cite the sources you used to create your research proposal—nothing tricky about it. You can even write this section in the form of a bibliography that includes citations to all the sources relevant to your topic, not only the ones that you used in your proposal.
Finally, it’s time now to share something that you can actually use to write your own research proposal!
Among the resources and tools below, you’ll find research proposal outlines, research proposal samples and templates, guides and advice on choosing research proposal topics, and other materials that can help with research proposal. So let’s check it out!
We’ve divided this list of resources and tools into categories, so it’ll be easier for you to navigate. If you came here looking for help with research proposal—this is where you’ll find it.
You might notice that some of the guides and articles talk about writing grant proposals.
But here’s the thing.
Grant proposals still involve suggesting a topic of research. And the process of writing one is completely identical to the process of writing a research proposal!
The main goal of these guides is to lead you through the process of writing a research proposal. They have everything described in great detail, so you won’t miss anything crucial.
- Learning Guide to Writing an Abstract
- A Guide to Literature Reviews
- Writing a Literature Review and Using a Synthesis Matrix
- Proposal Writing Short Course
- A Guide for Proposal Writing
- Grant Proposals
- Guide for Writing a Funding Proposal
- Grant Writing Tips
The purpose of the sites listed below is to help you with writing a research proposal.
- Integrated Research Resources on Campus—University of Maryland. This site contains a whole set of services and resources for anyone who’s going to write a research proposal. The categories of this site cover all stages of the process, from developing ideas to managing the project and conducting research. There are also helpful materials on how to wrap up the project, share your findings, and measure the impact of your research. Apart from browsing the materials by category, you can also search for specific information on the site.
- Research Process Steps—BCPS. This is an initiative from Baltimore County Public Schools, and it’s solely dedicated to helping students go through the research process. The page is divided into categories that represent the various steps of research. Each category contains tips, guides, pieces of advice, and descriptions of tools that you can use to create a research proposal and conduct the research later. The site is definitely worth checking out, as it contains loads of information and suggests great tools to help with research proposal.
- Research and Sponsored Projects—University of Michigan. Here’s yet another website designed to help with writing a research proposal. It’s nicely laid out, and the site’s categories lead you through the entire process. It can help you with developing the proposal and submitting it, as well as setting up, managing, and closing out the project. It also contains a section with tools and resources that can help you during the process.
- Vitae. This website is a real goldmine for researchers. It can greatly help with any type of research project through its many articles and publications. But that’s not all. The site also has a community aspect where you can discuss questions about research. Apart from that, it provides tools for conducting research more effectively and evaluating its impact. If you’re dealing with research of any kind, you’ll surely find something useful on this site.
- Quora. On Quora, you can get an answer to pretty much any question. You can add a new question or browse through the ones already on the site. To make navigation easier, all of the questions are categorized. Plus, the answers are reviewed, organized, and edited by users. If there’s no straight answer to your question, you can always get suggestions on where to search to find what you need. From getting topic suggestions to requesting resources, articles, or general advice in a certain field, Quora offers nearly endless opportunities to help with your research proposal.
These articles will deepen your knowledge about research proposals and the way you should write them. You’ll also learn what aspects require the most attention in order for your research proposal to meet all the requirements.
- On the Art of Writing Proposals
- Faculty Guide to Competing for Research Funding
- What Do Grant Reviewers Really Want, Anyways?
- Grant Writing Tips for Graduate Students
Research proposal example
It’s always good to have theoretical knowledge about how to write a research proposal. But having a research proposal sample is even better! If you’re wondering, “What does a research proposal look like?” you can skip all the trial and error and look at a sample to find out right away.
- Social Work Proposal
- Practicum Proposal
- International Studies Proposal
- Sample Research Proposals
- Research Proposal Template
- Research Proposal Outline
Research proposal tools
Now, let’s talk a bit about applications you can use to make writing a research proposal easier.
- Colwiz. This app is a cross-platform reference manager. It streamlines the research process by enabling you to cite, share, and sort the sources you’re going to use in your work. The app also helps you find relevant articles, format your bibliography according to a specific style, and manage your references and notes.
- Readcube. Readcube makes it possible to import PDF files with scanned pages or pictures and convert them into searchable text. This app also gives you article recommendations based on what’s currently in your library. It includes paper management features and can sync data across your devices.
- Mendeley. This app will help you manage the research, citation, and writing processes. It provides an organized place to store the sources you’ve collected, and it allows you to access your data both online and off. You can also make annotations in documents and generate bibliographies and citations.
- EndNote. This tool allows you to collect reference materials and manage all those essays, books, research papers, journals, and articles. The app also grants you access to a database of full-text articles, which will make writing a research proposal simple. It’s even possible to use the app to collaborate with your colleagues on the same project!
- Citavi. This app will help you manage all of your sources and find new ones more effectively. It allows you to save text passages, along with page numbers, to easily organize relevant quotations. You can then categorize them and insert those citations into your paper.
Now that you have all these resources and tools, writing a research proposal won’t be a problem! Just make sure to check out all those helpful links we’ve provided.
The best help with research proposal is the one you find yourself—and we’re happy to help you do just that!