How to write a research proposal?


How to write a research proposal?

A comprehensive guide to starting off your first research proposal.

Producing a research proposal is one of the mandatory stages in the academic journey. This detailed document could be for an undergraduate dissertation, a Master’s thesis or a PhD research. As mentioned above, research proposals can differ according to the length and the requirement of the project, but the basic set of rules and norms in writing a research proposal apply to all of them equally.


What is a research proposal?

A research proposal is a significant presentation of the idea of your research or your research question, most prominently it should highlight the expected outcomes with clear definitions of your approach. Likewise, the research proposal should construct a strong case for the significance of your research question along with the value that is being added to your discipline. The research proposal should not have the answer for your research question as the answering of the research question will be done by the research.

What is the importance of the research proposal?

A research proposal is what formally outlines your research with detailed information about the research approach and the methodology you will follow along with the timeline of the research being conducted and its feasibility. Moreover, the research proposal covers all of the other aspects that are needed to conduct the research. Therefore, the research proposal is considered as a significant element of your research and it acts as a tool to make your researching journey easier.

What about the word count?

All the applicable guidelines regarding the word counts, structures and limitations are to be shared with you by your research supervisors or coordinators. You must always adhere to the provided set of guidelines throughout the process to successfully accomplish the completion. In the next section let us discuss about the areas that should be covered in your research proposal.

What things should a research proposal consist of?

Structuring the research proposal plays a major role in the whole process, which is why you need to clearly adhere to the word counts and the limitations mentioned in your research guidelines. Let’s get it started.

Research title

There are a couple of points that you must consider when choosing the ideal title for your research proposal. Firstly, the selected title should be crystal clear about the idea of your research. Secondly, be more informative about the area of the study, research questions and the proposed approach. Lastly, make sure to include a sufficient number of ‘keywords’ that relate to your research. The general norm is to include the researcher’s personal information along with the assigned research supervisor’s information.

Proposed mode of research

The mode of the research describes the style or the format in which the research will be conducted. This section will be covered according to discipline-specific requirements and therefore, the research supervisor’s guidance will be required here.

Research aims and objectives

In this section, you should highlight what is intended to achieve with the research. In other words, the sole purpose of conducting the research. Your statements should clearly imply about the excitement you have towards conducting the research and express how it adds value to the area of the study. This section will signify your approach, whether you will be addressing an existing gap or testing out a theory. Draft out a focused statement using a few sentences which clearly summarizes your research approach. Make sure to include several S-M-A-R-T objectives (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound) covering the approach of answering your research questions and be mindful to order your objectives in a logical order that each objective succeeds the previous objective.

Research synopsis

The synopsis outlines the summary of your research. This section should provide the rationale for the research and the plan of action.

Research background

This is where you demonstrate your existing knowledge about the chosen area of study. The researchershould construct a strong literature review emphasizing the researcher’s understanding of the current situation around the area of study along with publications of notable researchers who have largely contributed.

Research contribution

The research contribution states the significance of your research questions and the impact of your research outcome on the existing body of knowledge. Emphasize how your research extends knowledge, solves an existing problem, tests or challenges an existing theory.

Proposed methodology

Here, you should highlight the researching methods and techniques you will be using to conduct the research along with valid justifications why the chosen methods and techniques are the best fit for your study. Moreover, describe the expected limitations, ethical considerations and feasibility measures with regard to the proposed methodology.

Research timeline

Adhering to the research timeline is a critical task that requires attention from the very beginning. Once you finalize your research methodology, you are able to draft out an achievable plan of action with milestones. This will help you to understand the feasibility of achieving milestones as planned.


The details of resources to be utilized to conduct the research will be mentioned here along with the proposed financial budget for the planned expenses.


The list of references collected throughout constructing the research proposal is listed according to the referencing style recommended by your university guidelines.


This is where you find numerous errors like formatting, grammatical, or spelling. Therefore, be mindful to always check your work before the final submission. Moreover, check if your work follows the ‘3 Cs’ rule.

CLEAR – Is it understandable and makes perfect sense?

CONCISE – Is it on point and focused?

COHERENT – Is there a link creating a short story to the reader, about what you want to do, why and how will you do it?

Key takeaways

Your research proposal should create a positive first impression upon the reader about your study. This applies to all degrees from undergraduate dissertations, to Master’s thesis, or PhD research. Therefore, always try to get supportive critical feedback from someone else before you submit. Finally, be mindful that the research proposal will always reflect the level of competence towards conducting the study.



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