How to Write a Research Proposal
A research proposal is usually created for the specific purpose of outlining a plan of study. The purpose of a proposal is to help the person doing the writing to find and apply the emphasis and main points for future study, ahead of a capstone project, dissertation or thesis. It also helps to delineate research plans in an organized and approved fashion. Much of the material to be used in writing is generally found during this stage.
Although adhering to the outline and details of a research proposal is not compulsory, they form a necessary plan and might be altered either substantially or in fine detail as the writer makes headway into their research. The substance and topic are prime suggestions to a supervisor, tutor or instructor of a student’s course. They also help in the preparation of the final presentation.
Steps for Writing a Research Proposal
- Seek and agree upon a topic with a course supervisor.
- Create a particular theoretical direction. This is generally linked to the topic of choice.
- Demonstrate the undertaking of a genuine inquiry – that is, discovering new information about a worthwhile subject, in a specific context.
- Seek materials on which to base your research. These are usually books, articles, journal entries, visual materials, audio files and other sources.
- Create a folder for notes, cuttings, photocopies, and other information.
- Organize your notes into sub-topics and subjects to facilitate organization.
- Make a point list of all aspects to cover in the proposal.
- Establish a methodology, and stick to it.
- Demonstrate consideration of the ethical issues attached to your topic.
- Draft brief paragraphs to accompany each item of source material.
- Write an introduction which shows you fully understand what is required of you, and how you intend to direct the research.
- Ensure you know how to list the references using the correct style.
Key Points to Consider
- Before writing a plan, a number of meetings must take place between the student and the supervisor. The topic, time-frame, suitability of the subject and physical feasibility must be discussed. A research proposal is the basis upon which a whole thesis or dissertation is based, so careful planning is necessary.
- Notes must be taken at each meeting, which must be organized in a commonsense arrangement. The more work done at this stage, the less confusion arises later.
- Open a word processing folder for the notes. These files can be easily re-worked into some of the drafting for the main writing later.
- Facts and figures are sometimes just as important as opinions and findings, depending on the topic of research. Some scientific or mathematical research plans are based on non-narrative data which must be accurate and specific. Other subjects such as philosophy, history, or literature, have a massive literary or narrative component.
- While making notes and rationalizing the references found, you need to write clearly and without flaws or vagueness, organize your materials properly, and remove superfluous details, which might present confusion or ambiguity.
- It is important to use good writing techniques in a research proposal. Because the notes are necessarily brief and explanatory, you must omit any extra elements such as lengthy descriptions.
- Combining all usable topics that relate directly to the direction of study you have chosen is a convenient method.
- Each fact can be built into a short paragraph, using notes and paraphrased material from the sources found.
- Choose a writing style that is academic and precise: never make the error of falling into conversational language. It is most unsuitable for a research proposal.
Selecting Points to Include
A solid research proposal is made up of a number of parts. The student and the supervisor or instructor usually agree upon them, and can include:
- Description of the main idea
- The purpose or rationale
- Background information relating to the ethical, philosophical, scientific, cultural or other themes of the study
- Basics of the research plan
- A time line
- The main meaning or outcome sketch for the study
- A glossary of terms used in the written material
- Key objectives to go with the meaning and outcomes
- A table of contents or chapter outline for the resulting thesis or dissertation
Dos and Don’ts
- The most common mistake found in research proposals is wordiness. All writing should be as terse and informative as possible. Since one must write a paragraph for each source to be used, it is vital to choose words carefully.
- Omitting items of importance is a grave mistake. This means you must understand your subject and topic even while seeking material to research about it.
- Using a persuasive tone. The role of a research proposal is not persuasion, but to present the probable material to be used for a dissertation or other thesis. Facts, figures and projections must be condensed and a brief summary of each source must be created. Rhetorical language does not apply in this situation.
- A frequently seen flaw in any plan or written proposal submitted to a faculty board is hasty or improvised writing. Research, meetings, summarizing, and rewriting all take time, and drafting a proposal from a great deal of material must be meticulous and exact.
- Lack of understanding about what information you need to include. This is an error, which often crops up. You need to demonstrate how well you have developed your research idea.
- Poor language skills, inappropriate or irrelevant vocabulary are often encountered. Students often use the wrong tone, with errors of punctuation, grammar, syntax, and structure.
Now that you have acquainted yourself with the basic research proposal writing tips and rules, you can check out our best research proposal samples to link theory with practice.