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Research Proposal Template


  1. Class: Unspecified
  2. This template is published for use.
  1. Step 1: Preparation
    Percent time spent on this step: 10%


    • Within the field that you want to investigate, choose several topics that intrigue you and will intrigue your instructor.

      • Make sure that the topic is not too narrow or too vague.
      • The topic you choose must have enough scholarly sources that showcase information about it.
    • Show your instructor the topics that you chose. Discuss them together and find the most suitable topic for your proposal.

      • Write notes beforehand about each topic so that you know what to talk about with your instructor.
      • Be open to your instructor’s criticisms and suggestions. Pleasing your instructor is more important than wanting to go beyond the capacity of your assignment.
    • There are many facets to your chosen research topic. Choose one facet that you want to concentrate the most on.

      • Determine if there is enough research material for the chosen aspect of your topic.
      • Determine if the aspect would be intriguing to both you and your instructor.
    • Jot down questions that show your inquiry into the aspect of the topic. Create deep questions that will charge your future proposal with richness of content, rather than a cursory look at the topic.

      • Write as many as 10 questions. Each question should be specific in its focus.
      • You will answer these questions later when you have completed further research.
  2. Step 2: Collect Materials and Create a Methodology
    Percent time spent on this step: 10%


    • Choose what books, journals, periodicals, articles, and so on to present in your research proposal.

      • Make sure that the materials are scholarly enough, and not popular magazines or popular newspapers.
      • Determine if the authors are reputable people and are not false scholars.
    • You can use a physical folder and an online folder as well. This way your information will be backed up and organized.

      • Arranging materials in alphabetical order is usually preferred.
      • Arrange your materials in categories.
      • If possible, categorize your materials into sub-topics as well.
    • Now that you have organized your sources, you can make an outline for your research proposal.

      • List the topics and subtopics you will cover.
      • Make your research angle clear.
    • Write down how you are going to study the materials you found, how you are going to record your findings, and how you are going to report your findings.

      • Write down how you are going analyze your topic and subtopics.
      • Make clear what you will consider relevant and irrelevant in the source material.
      • Write down how you will consider the possible ethical issues associated with your topic.
  3. Step 3: Writing the Research Proposal
    Percent time spent on this step: 65%


    • Write 2-3 sentences for each source material you plan to present in your research proposal.

      • Write about the importance of each source material you are going to use in your future research.
      • Write about the relevance of each source material you are going to use in your future research.
    • In the introduction, show you fully understand what is required of you, and how you intend to direct your research.

      • Be assertive in your writing and not subjective.
      • Be specific and not vague in your writing.
    • There are several items that instructors usually want their students to provide in a research proposal:

      • 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 timeline
      • 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
    • Make sure it is in the correct style and that it displays each source item you will use.

      • Check if each listing follows either APA, MLA, or Chicago style exactly to the point.
      • Put the references in alphabetical order.
  4. Step 4: Edit Your Research Proposal
    Percent time spent on this step: 10%


    • Look at your instructor’s criteria and see if you have included what is required of you.

      • Do not try to just meet the minimum requirements. Try to make the best effort you can.
      • Do not exclude anything because of time pressure. Plan your work accordingly and make sure to include everything needed.
    • Does your writing sound like it is a research proposal? Make sure your content is formal and there are no informal elements in it.

    • Be attentive to mistakes, errors, inaccuracies, and inconsistencies. This is your last chance to check over everything.

  5. Step 5: Feedback
    Percent time spent on this step: 5%


    • Visiting your school writing center is the best option. If you are not in school, hire a private tutor to look over your writing.

      • Set an appointment at your local writing center. Be sure to be on time, to bring in a printed copy of your writing, and to be open to suggestions/critique.
      • When hiring a private tutor, it is better to hire an experienced tutor that charges a bit more than expected. They can completely change your outlook on writing and dramatically improve your writing.
    • Listen carefully to what your colleague and/or tutor has said, and make notes about what needs to change. Use your best discretion and change your proposal according to your teacher’s criteria.

      • When receiving criticism, be open-minded. Do not fall into the trap of being defensive.
      • Do not be overly-receptive as well. Do not change your entire proposal based on others’ comments if the changes do not work better than the original.
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