Step-by-Step Guide in Writing a Research Proposal

#1: How to Write a Research Proposal

Your research proposal is one of the critical parts of the application process in higher learning institutions. It should summarize the question you will answer once you conduct your research and demonstrates the knowledge of the subject matter as well as the methods you’ll apply to complete the analysis.

In institutions of higher learning, your research proposal assists in matching you with the supervision team. That’s why in writing your project, you need to ensure the following:

  • Highlight the significance and originality
  • Explain how it challenges the existing body of knowledge on the subject matter
  • Identify the significance of the proposed research
  • Demonstrate why you’re the most critical person undertaking the research

Undertaking your research is one of the daunting tasks that dictates that students be totally prepared. So, you need to understand that your proposal should provide objectivity of what the research will prepare and present.  As such, the process can be quite challenging for several students, more so conducting research for the first time.

If you’re one of those guys who let’s out a sign of vexation whenever you hear of a research proposal, don’t worry. In this article, you’re going to learn some of the most important tips and hints you need when completing your research proposal.  The goal is that in the end, you be able to DIY without necessarily seeking the help of another person.    

So let’s begin by understanding what a research proposal is?

9 Easy Steps to Follow when Completing Your Research Proposal

A research proposal is a coherent and precise summary of the proposed research. By preparing your research proposal, you set out the main issue that you intend to address. Besides, it outlines the general area of study under which your research fall and, most importantly, refers to the current state of knowledge as a new debate regarding the topic.

In higher learning institutions, your research proposal allows you to demonstrate that you can communicate complex ideas in a critical, concise and precise manner.

  1. Craft a compelling a Title for your Research Proposal

Your tile varies depending on the type of research you’re doing, but generally, be sure to be concise and descriptive.  With this tentative title, your reader should know what to expect from the proposal. It, therefore, should be able to grab the readers’ attention and make them learn more.

Don’t beat yourself up with the title selection if you’re only writing a research proposal. You’ll be able to revise the title when conducting your research once the institution has accepted your application.

  1. Title Page

Your title page primarily introduces the title of your proposal, including your name and institution of affiliation. You can use the APA style format when crafting your page.

  1. Abstract

Your abstract should provide a summary of the issue you will address in the proposal. Be sure to include the proposed solution and objectives of the study, not to mention the projected funding requirements to complete your project.

Follow these easy steps to complete the abstract:

  • Be sure to center the word “abstract”
  • Begin the paragraph direct below without indenting the paragraph
  • Write between 150 to 200 words
  • List the Keywords for your proposal

Select and include 4 to 5 keywords to capture the critical points of your paper. These words should suggest what the topic of your research study will entail as the phrases which the reader should search for.

  • Include a table of contents

The table of contents should list all the significant sections of the proposal. However, there’s no need to include a table of content in shorter proposals. 

  • Background and rationale

Be sure to introduce your research on the following items:

  • The introduction of the issue to be discussed
  • Identify the discipline
  • Short literature review
  • Summarizes the critical debate and development in the field
  • Research Questions

Your research questions should provide an explanation as to what problems and issues will be explored and why.

  • Research Methodology

Your research should provide an outline of:

  • The theoretical resources to be drawn
  • Identify your discipline
  • The research methods to be applied
  • Discussions of limitations and advantages of particular methods or approaches
  • Plan of the work and time schedule

Be sure to include the timelines of various stages and timelines for developing and implementing the study, including the writing up period.

  • Bibliography

This section should include a list of references for scholarly work used to complete the research proposal. Be sure that these articles and texts are relevant to the topic under discussion.

Helpful tips: Your research proposal should be 2,000 to 3,500 words (4 to 7 pages) long.

#2: A Step by Step Guide for your Research Proposal Outline

The research proposal outline is an essential factor in the successful application process, and every university may require a specific outline. It also determines whether the research proposal will be a short or long paper. In this article, we demonstrate how to write a shorter research proposal outline.

Your full research proposal should be able to demonstrate compellingly that your study will provide a pivotal solution to issue or problem under investigation.  Thus, you need to ensure that you’ve got an outline which will offer you some guidance on key steps to follow to when completing your study.

The goal of the research proposal outline is to support you as a student and assist the instructors or supervisors in understanding the scope, focus and direction of the research project.  Simply put, it should situate our topic in a clearly defined territory of investigations.

Be sure to include the following sections when completing your research proposal:

Step #1: Include a research project title

The project title is the general working title for your paper and should be bound to change several through the study. A well-crafted research project title should say a few words as possible about what the study will entail.

For instance, if you’re applying for a journalism program, your title can It can be a metaphorical in the description, a statement of purpose or combination of both. Since it first thing your reader sees, it should be attention-grabbing.

A good research project should have a maximum of 10 words to write the research project title.

Step #2: Research topic overview (150 words)

This section should answer, say what you’re going to research through your practice. Be sure to provide a discussion of your profession/practice concerning the topic. Provide an insight into the expected outcome if you get the chance to investigate the issue.

Step #3:  Thesis Statement (350 Words)

The section should answer the question of how you’re testing and enquiring about the making of procedures of your topic. Identifying the topic is one of the most hectic thing students undergo. You must begin thinking about the beginning of the topic. There are 3 ways that you can use to come up with a functional research problem:

  • Your professor may provide general topics from which you can select from
  • Your professor providing a list of topics to select from
  • Your professor leave it to you, and you will only notify them to validate the topic

In completing this section, be sure to include the following:

  • The methodology of the study
  • What are you investigating and the expected outcome
  • Why is the study significant  as well as the hunches ad guesses you might revel through your study
  • Identify how the proposal is positioned within the territory of paradigm and inquiry. What are the expected outcomes?  Be sure to relate to relevant theorists, practitioners and other influencers where your profession and research situated. State any theoretical investigation informing your project. You can also include a powerful quote summarizing the thinking that impacts or underpins the way you think of your profession is helpful.
  • Reflect on the meaning of your project. How does your work offer solutions to the issue under discussion? This section requires you to answer the question, so what?

Step #4: Bibliography

This section provides a list of all references of texts and articles as well as the full title of the publications that you have cited in the work          

#3: Skills you need to write a Research Proposal

Your research proposal should convince others (funders, thesis Supervisory Committee and other key stakeholders) of value to your study that you’ve got a worthwhile study and that you’ve got the competence and work plan schedule to complete it. In other cases, you may be required to write a research h proposal as part of the grant application process. 

First thing first, it is vital that you can understand the purpose of the research proposal. These are:

  • Proposing a research project which will result in a significant contribution to knowledge
  • Formulating a detailed plan of the project among them the theoretical framework and  the methodological approach of the study
  • Ensuring that the proposed study can be completed within the stipulated time
  • Demonstrating that you’ve adequate experience and expertise to conduct the study

It seems somehow to be a daunting task, and as such, there are specific skills that you need to have before writing the research proposal.  These critical skills include:

3 Essential Skills for Writing Good research proposal

  1. Subject Knowledge and Researching Skills:

Your proposal allows you to demonstrate the mastery of the subject matter and familiarity with the current research trends.

  1. Critical Thinking Skills

A well-written research proposal should demonstrate evidence of advanced evaluation and analysis as well as synthesizing skills. Besides, you must display the ability to combine both lateral and vertical thinking and creativity.

A critical analysis research paper should provide a summary and critical commentary on the subject matter you intend to discuss.  

Helpful Tips:

  • Be sure to summarize the authors’ scholarly thesis statement, the main argument, as well as pointing to the evidence
  • Be sure to provide an evaluation of other influencers’ work. By evaluation, you need to critique author’s evidence, reasoning and interpretations of statistics, data and facts
  • Communication skills

Your proposal provides you with a chance to demonstrate the ability to express yourself concisely and clearly. Be sure to keep this in mind because the readers will be looking to identify your communication skills.  In writing your research proposal, be sure that others can be able to provide feedback on the issue or problem under inquiry.

Pro Tips to Proposal Writers:

Besides, you can use the following tips before you embark on writing your research proposal:

  • Your research proposal depends on the degree you’re pursuing –it’s best if you checked out with your department or supervisor
  • A research proposal is a challenging task and thus starts early. Starting early helps in the reinforcement of your primary idea as well as helps you nurture good writing habits
  • Seek feedback from various people among them fellow students, especially those ahead of you for advice and timelines ideas since they have done and have firsthand experience or even your supervisor. This helps you keep focused and on track to mention it makes your writing flawless
  • Conduct in-depth research and consult others as well: An critical analysis should demonstrate what you’ve learned should demonstrate that you’ve read, understood, and applied scholarly knowledge to demonstrate critical thinking skills.
  • A well-crafted conducted research serves 3 key things: Summarize other influencer work on the subject matter  analyzing and evaluating their thinking  and pinpointing at the strengths and weaknesses of their arguments as well as reflecting on the significance of the study
  • Spend considerable time on your research proposal because it will pay off later. It means that you will not do not have hectic time completing your study

#4: How to Write a Research Proposal

If your professor may assign you the task of writing a research paper for social and behavioural science. But, first, you need to understand the goal of the research proposal. These include:

  • Presenting and justifying the need for undertaking the study
  • Presenting persuasive and evidence and  practical ways  of conducting the study

Besides, many students are not aware of how to approach writing a research proposal. You must understand what is expected of you. When your professor assigns you a research proposal for the following reasons:

  • That you display skills in critical thing and designing a comprehensive study
  • That you can help leaner how to conduct a comprehensive literature review to determine  the research problem or issue which has not been adequately addressed or yet to answered effectively
  • Improves your critical writing and reading skills. This is because you will use diverse methods to gather and  analyze different methods
  • Helps you to practice identifying logical steps to be taken to accomplish one’s research goals
  • To nurture your sense inquisitiveness with yourself as well as help in perceiving yourself as an active participant in the process of academic research

A proposal should comprise the critical elements involved in designing and completing a research project supported by sufficient evidence to allow the supervisor to assess the usefulness and validity of the proposed study.

Pro tip: The difference between a research project proposal and research project is the former does not have the findings and the analysis of the findings.  

No matter the kind of research problem you’re investigating or the methodology you opt, a good proposal must address the following questions:

  • What are planning to accomplish with your research:  Be sure you’re succinct and clear by defining the research problems and what you’re proposing to research
  • What’s the relevance of the study? Other than detailing the research design, your proposal must present a literature review and offer convincing evidence supporting the worthwhile topic. Be sure to answer the question, “so what?”
  • Layout the steps to follow in completing your research project? Propose a topic that you can manage

To successfully complete your research proposal, you must be aware of some critical mistakes which many students fall for:

  • Failing to be concise: a well-written proposal must focus on not being an all over the map or provide divergent information lacking a clear sense of purpose
  • Failure to identify or cite landmark works in the review of the literature. This is because proposals are based on foundational research  and allow further development of the scope of the issue
  • Failing to delimit the contextual boundaries for your proposed study. This allows the reader to understand how and in what ways will the study examine the problems
  • Failing to formulate a persuasive and coherent armament for the proposed study. this is particularly important in a workplace setting as the research proposal intends to argue why the research should be a fund or why you need the scholarship or grant and you’ve to convince the funders and other relevant stakeholders to the study
  • Failing to proofread, editing or poor grammar: Even if the proposal is not your final research study, it should be well written and follows strict rules of academic writing
  • Providing too much for minor problems but lacking enough headlines on critical issues:  Be sure to focus on a few research questions to support the issue under inquiry. While you may mention minor issues in the proposal, it should not dominate the overall narrative

#5: APA Research Proposal Format Guidelines

Most of the social and behavioural science research proposals are written in APA format. This style is particularly important because it helps in the way you organize and structure the paper. If you’re new to the style, you may find that the style is a bit different from the others and well as the guidelines you ever used in the past.

While it may take some time before you perfect the how to write a research proposal in APA, you’re at the right place where you will learn how to write the style on yourself without seeking help from anyone.

Let’s begin by defining the APA style before we delve further in:                      

The acronym APA stands for the American Psychological Association, which is the largest scientific and professional organization of psychologists in the U.S. The critical mission of the APA is advancing the creative communication and application of psychological knowledge beneficial to the society as well as seeking to improve people’s lives. 

If it is your first time using this style, you may find the transition challenging, but you don’t have to worry. In this article, we’ve shared with you the most critical aspects of the APA format that will come in handy when you’re writing a research project.

4 Significant Steps of Writing a Research Proposal Written in APA

There are four key steps involved in completing your research proposal:

  1. Choosing a research problem
  2. Conducting the literature review
  3. The study design
  4. Writing up the proposal

Pro tips:

 Your instructor may provide the topic or, in other cases, offer you the chance to pick a subject of your interests. Try identifying the topic right from the beginning of the study if you know that you’ll be required to complete a research project at some point in your learning process.

Conduct in-depth research from journal articles to find out how research is conducted in that field. Conduct a critical reading and be sure to take notes of main argument s, the main strengths and weaknesses from the articles you identified and understand which problems have not been conducted in current research on the subject matter.

If you’ve been asked to write a research proposal in APA style though it differs in two critical ways from the research proposal:

  1. A research proposal in APA format should be written in the future tense
  2. A research proposal does not include the results and discussion parts

Generally, a well-written research proposal should include the following parts:

  1. Title

This makes the first page of the paper. It should comprise the following parts: title, author name and institutional affiliation. The purpose of the title page is to inform the reader what to expect in a glance.

  • Abstract

An abstract is a brief summary of the research proposal immediately following the title page.  Your abstract should be brief, summarizing the key goals of the research proposal.

  • The Introduction

Your introduction should directly address the problem and grab the reader’s attention: Be sure to introduce your research on the following items:

  • Stating the overall issue
  • Identify the discipline and how it impacts society
  • Short literature review
  • Summarizes the critical debate and development in the field
  • Methodology

You don’t need to introduce the subject matter again but rather introduce the general methodology that scholars have taken to study the topic. You need to tie it to the literature review.

Besides, you can discuss the philosophical paradigm for the acquisition of knowledge. Your readers are entitled to understanding how you perceive reality because it dramatically impacts how you frame the solutions, problems as well as learned lesson.

Be sure to identify the study design (quantitative or qualitative, descriptive or exploratory and explanatory).

Other things you need to include in the methodology section are:

  • The population and sample. This is the target population that you will need to study
  • Investigative techniques you’ll use. You can use questionnaires, behaviour observation, interviews, just to mention a few. It also compromises the subtypes such as open and close-ended questions. List all the variables and the level of measure you’ll apply for each variable
  • Data collections and data analysis plans
  • Ethical considerations
  • Bias, assumptions  and limitations of the study
  • Expected outcome:

This identifies what you expect to achieve following the completion of the proposed study.

  • References

Be sure to use a minimum of 10 journal articles. All the referenced materials should come from edited books, official government documents, reliable agency reports, as well as peer review scholarly journals. Internets suites such as Wikipedia and newspapers and other non-peer-reviewed references materials should not be used in research proposal writing.

 #6: Research Proposal Abstract

Every research project should have an abstract and forms the first reader’s initial impression of the work and largely determines whether the application is funded.  The abstract should speak on behalf of the proposal, and by summarizing the research, it also creates a lasting impression.  In fact, some reviewers will only read the abstract, thereby making it the single most crucial section of your research proposal.

Types of Abstracts:

To start off, you must first begin by determining the type of abstract to include in your research proposal.  There are 4 types of abstracts:

  1. Critical abstract:

Critical abstracts describe the main findings, comment or judges the validity, completeness of the study. The researcher evaluates the paper and compares it with other scholarly works. Critical abstract ranges between 400 – 500 words due to the interpretive commentary.

  1. Descriptive abstract

This kind of abstracts types of information found in the proposal. It does not make judgments nor does it provide a conclusion or present the results of the study. There no keywords either, but it’s only a description of work summarized.  It may be shorts, even 100 words or less.

  1. Informative abstract

Most majority of the abstracts are informative. Like descriptive abstract, they do not provide a judgment or evaluate the work but work as a surrogate for the research proposal. Information abstracts present the main argument s as well as the critical evidence or results following the proposal. While the length of the proposal varies depending on the discipline, the minimum word count for the abstract should be around 300 words.

  1. Highlights abstract

A highlight abstract is specially crafted to grab the reader’s attention to the research proposal.  It is somewhat incomplete so that it can spark the reader’s interest but is rarely used in academic writing.

Pro Tips:

Though the abstract is located in the first section of your paper, be sure to write it last as it is a summary of the entire content of the research proposal.  The fundamental strategy is identifying keywords as write up your paper and later finding connecting words or phrases to make a narration as well as ensuring that it flows clearly and flawlessly.

The abstract should not contain the following elements:

  • Contextual information or lengthy background
  • Repetitive phrases and redundant phrases
  • abbreviations or acronym
  • References
  • Jargon
  • citations from other works: citations in the abstracts to no confirm that you’ve conducted the thorough literature review
  • Any sort of illustrations, figures, tables or images

#7: What is a Research Proposal

You need to understand that writing sponsored activities such as curriculum development or research project are an issue of persuasion.

To write a good research proposal, think of your audience as a skeptical, impatient and busy person with no reason for giving your proposal a consideration. Besides, the reader also has many requests which they can grant or read comprehensively.

So, some of the questions that the reader wants to find answers to ASAP include:

  • What do you want to accomplish, the budget and how much time the project will take?
  • Does the proposed project relate to their sponsors’ interests
  • What impacts will the project make to society?
  • Who are the influencers in the study you want to study?
  • How do you plan to conduct the study
  • How will results be analyzed or evaluated
  • Why are you the best fitted to conduct the study

No matter the kind of research proposal you’re preparing, your funders will most likely be seeking these answers. In other words, think of your research proposal as a marketing document as well as intellectual property.

Before you down begin writing your research proposal, it essential you consult critical people in the early stages of planning your proposal. Pay a courtesy call to these individuals will make your writing manageable:

  1. The sponsor’s program officer (PO): no matter the kind of funding agency, be sure to contact the PO to introduce yourself as well as your work. The PO can provide the latest relevant information. Be sure to write an email of 1-2 pages summary introducing yourself as well as the project and request feedback regarding funder’s priority. Request permission to make follow-up calls, and If you don’t hear from the PO within 7 days, make a call.
  2. The Department research administrator:  The research administrator will appreciate your consultation as they are the ones likely to help you prepare the budge application. They will also refer you to other helpful individuals who can help in the preliminary stages of proposal preparation.
  3. The Faculty Chair/Dean: The dean is responsible for approving the research proposal and endorsing your plans for facility and personnel commitments.  Thus, you must let them know in advance your goals and objectives. This further allows for the smooth writing process of your proposal. Be sure that the dean can provide you with invaluable information and advice to mention they can offer to review your proposal before submission.

Generally, your research proposal should follow these key steps when structuring your research proposal:

  1. Cover letter: Usually, an optional letter but should be used to display information pertinent to a review of the research proposal. State your name, address the institution of higher learning
  2. Title page: The situation you are applying for will provide additional instructions for writing your paper.  A well-written title compromises between explicitness and conciseness
  3. Abstract: Every research project should have an abstract and forms the first reader’s initial impression of the work and largely determines whether the application is funded.  The abstract should speak on behalf of the proposal, and by summarizing the research as well should create a lasting impression.  In fact, some reviewers/sponsors/funders will only read the abstract, thereby making it the single most crucial section of the research proposal.
  4. Table of contents: The table of contents should list all the significant sections of the proposal. However, there’s no need to include a table of content in shorter proposals. 
  5. Background or significance of the study: Be sure to introduce your research the following items, the introduction of the issue to be discussed, identify the discipline, short literature review and  summarizes the critical debate and development in the field
  6. Project purpose: Define the aims and objectives of the research study. Be sure to state what will be toasted or accomplished in the project. The objectives should focus on outcomes, not the process.
  7. Plan/time schedule: Be sure to include the timelines of various stages and timelines for developing and implementing the study, including the writing up period.
  8. References: All the scholarly works and texts of renowned influencers on the subject matter should be included here
  9. Budget: This refers to the costs you expect to incur while conducting the research and need to be accurate as possible
  10. Appendices:  You can include questionnaires, surveys, and letters of endorsements or even reprints of articles. If not instructed to include the research proposal, be sure to leave it out

#8: How to Make a Research Proposal

To write a good research project, students need to invest effort, thought and immense time. But despite the process being challenging, it’s still manageable when you have the right resources and guiding ideas at your fingertips. It’s even easy when focusing at one step at a time because only then can you develop an informative, thoughtful and well-supported research paper.

The process of writing a research proposal begins with a well-written research proposal. A research proposal should define the topic; develop the research questions and a working thesis before you write down the research proposal. Spend considerable time exploring ideas as it will help in building a solid basis for the paper.

  1. Selecting a Topic for the Research

By choosing a topic for your research paper, you’re committing yourself to that study.  Your choice dramatically determines whether you’ll be enjoying during the process of research writing.  By choosing a topic hastily, you might later find the topic incomprehensible and challenging to work on.  That’s why it advisable that you take all the time you need to carefully select a good topic. This way, you will be ensuring that the work will not challenge you but instead be rewarding.

Selecting an intriguing topic is an integral part of the writing process because you’ll find it easy to fulfill assignment requirements and fits the assignment audience and purpose.

In selecting a topic, ask the following questions:

  • Is there enough information for critically analyzing the topic
  • Can you develop a paper regarding the topic and develop your own ideas?
  • Is the topic too broad or narrow?
  • Identifying potential topics

More often, your instructor should provide you with a list of potential topics. In this case, you stand to benefit from a list of many topic ideas before you fully commit to one idea.  If not, you will have to pick up your topic and consult with the instructor to ascertain whether the research topic is viable and credible.

Pro tip:

If you’re writing a research proposal for a specialized course, look back to your class notes and course activities. Be sure to pick topical ideas that you have been directly involved in and have knowledge.

  • Narrow down the topic

Once you identify potential topic ideas, its time of selected one for your proposal. Working with a too broad topic can be overwhelming, and you might not be able to cover all the details.

On the other hand, narrowing down your topic makes it even manageable. To narrow down the focus of your topic, explore your topics in critically writing, conduct preliminary research. You can also consult your supervisors or colleague and conduct preliminary research before you embark on the writing process.

Parting Shot from Pro Writers!

If you’re new to the research proposal writing, the article is designed for graduate students required to support a research proposal as a condition of their candidature. As we have seen from time in this tutorial, your research proposal is an essential part of the application process, but it’s also a requirement for students to write their dissertations.

Either way, you can use these free tips today to write a good research proposal. If you find yourself still challenged by the process of writing a research proposal, you have the freedom to consult professional research writing experts. Our team guarantees nothing else but the highest quality research projects.