How to write a Research Proposal?

Presenting a Research Proposal

Research Proposal is quite an essential part of carrying-out a project or primary research work at undergraduate or graduate level. It is considered to be the very first stage of starting-up a project or research work. Generally, research proposals are submitted before starting your primary research for your dissertation. Research proposal generally justifies the need for conducting primary research and thus contains literature review and/or annotated bibliography to identify research gaps. In the following two board categories of research proposal are described.


This type of research proposals are those that are submitted to in response to a ‘Request for Proposals’. In case of applying for a specific research project this type of research proposed is quite common.


Generally, the proposal for conducting your dissertation will be unsolicited as you will be submitting against a general call from your university. Thus, in this type of proposal you, along with the guidance from the Doctoral Advisory Committee, have the liberty to decide on your research topic under a broad subject area.

Similar to the format of a business report, and the lab report research proposal also has a very specific format to follow. Particularly due to this reason, the rest of the document will be focussed on how to structure a research proposal.

Structure of a Proposal:

At the outset, the basic purposes of the research proposal is to communicate what, why, and how the specific area in the literature needs contribution from primary research. The following structure of writing a research proposal is basically developed in such a way that the justification for primary research gets appropriately crafted.


Title of a proposal should be concise and should communicate the subject matter of the proposal successfully. In this regard it is necessary to pay attention to how the title can be catchy, and at the same time communicates the subject matter comprehensively. For research proposal, it is allowed to provide a small title with an appropriate subtitle to maintain the balance.


The introduction should elucidate the rationale behind choosing the research theme. Introduction sets a context to raise the research question. In this section it is required to mention that how the research theme is actually coming-up from a broader context.

Literature Review:

This section will give an elaborate account of the various body of literature which are dealing with the research theme. Here it is necessary to follow the format of literature review. This elaborate account of existing work will help you to find out the gap in the literature which in a way will lead you to formulate the research questions.


The objective of the proposal clearly denotes the research questions and hypotheses. Each question generally holds two to three sub questions. It is better to use bullet points to denote the questions. Providing a brief explanation for each question is also a common practice.


This can considered as the central pillar of a proposal. An ideal method section should clearly state all the necessary information that can enable the reader to comprehend what are the specific methodologies you are proposing to use to accomplish your research. This section should provide a clear idea about the design of your research, in terms of whether you have taken a strict quantitative approach or rather used a mixed-method approach. To make it explicit, it is better to provide proposed method corresponding to each objective. It is a very crucial section of a proposal as it provides the clarity about how you are planning to implement the research to achieve the objectives.

Time line:

It is also another very functional section of the proposal. Time line gives clarity to the audience about your plan of implementation. This is also similarly important for you to judge the feasibility of the completion of the proposed work.


This is the concluding section of a proposal. Here one expects you to write about the significance or social relevance of your proposed research. It is better to write the significance of the proposal in two parts. First one, corresponding to each objective and the second one, at the level of the proposal as a whole.


This is a mandatory section of a proposal. You should give the complete bibliographic information in this section. Follow a specific style of bibliography and provide all the literature you have used to base your arguments.

Final Words:

We hope that this document will definitely help you in writing a comprehensive proposal. One point should be remembered while drafting a research proposal is that you should strictly adhere to the above described format. In case of proposal your creativity gets valued up to a point, mostly to decide on the research questions or for coming-up with an innovative theme, otherwise it is always productive to stick to the format.

Being a devout academician Audrey has published research papers in many academic journals. Audrey has completed over 2000+ assignments dabbling in subjects like Teaching , Academics , Sociology and Psychology.