A good research proposal is necessary for graduate students to get the go-ahead to proceed with their research and dissertations. However, many students face challenges in writing research proposals. Others have their proposals rejected because of presenting poorly-written work or an impractical proposal which seems to be beyond the capacity of the principal researcher. If you are worried about the success of your research proposal, this article is for you. It explains what a research proposal is, the structure, and the steps for writing a proposal. It also gives you tips for writing a successful proposal.
What is a Research Proposal
A research or dissertation proposal is a brief and logical summary of the research you intend to conduct. It outlines what you plan to study, why the research is worthwhile, and how you plan to do the research.
Purpose of a dissertation proposal
The main purpose of a dissertation proposal is to convince your tutors, the evaluation committee, or sponsors that your study is valuable. To do this, the proposal must:
- Show that your research project is interesting, relevant, and original.
- Demonstrate that your project can be conducted with the available resources and within the constraints of the program.
- Show your familiarity and competence in the field of study.
- Demonstrate that your project has a solid academic basis.
- Show that you are up to date with the recent research conducted on the topic.
- Convince the reader that you are the right person to conduct the research.
Structure of a Research Proposal
Even though a proposal is written before a dissertation, it looks like a shorter thesis without the results and discussion chapters. The format varies depending on the requirements in different institutions. However, the general structure looks like this:
Sample research proposal template
- Title Page
- Literature Review
- Limitations and ethical considerations
- Research schedule and time frame
- Reference list
Contents of a Research Proposal
- Title page- It contains the proposed title of your project, your name, the advisor’s name, your institution, and your department. Adhere to any specific formatting guidelines provided by your institution.
- Abstract- It briefly summarises the proposal in 200-300 words. It offers an overview of the background of the study, the purpose of the research, the proposed research methods, the data analysis approach you intend to take, and the possible implications of the research.
- Introduction- It introduces the topic, gives a background and context of the study, and outlines the problem statement. The research question, hypotheses, aims, and objectives of the study are stated here.
- Literature review- It shows that your research is based on existing knowledge by comparing and contrasting relevant arguments from previous literature. It should show the reader how your research fits in with the others.
- Methodology- It explains the theoretical framework (research design) you intend to base the project, population sample, data collection, analysis, and presentation tools and procedures you will use.
- Limitations and ethical considerations- Explain the anticipated shortcomings of the project and how you plan to overcome them. Discuss how you intend to maintain research ethics.
- Implications- It discusses the potential implications of the research to theory, practice, and future research. Convince the reader of the significance of your study.
- Research schedule and timeframe- It outlines your research plan, including the timelines you intend to complete certain aspects of your research. You can include specific dates you expect to conclude each chapter of the dissertation and the entire dissertation.
- Reference list- Every source used in the proposal should be cited appropriately in the text. The full citation must be included in the reference list.