Research Proposal

Philosophy Position Paper
September 22, 2020
Study Center
September 23, 2020

Research Proposal

How to write a Research Proposal

Part of college work involves writing a project that comes from a scholarly inquiry. Before undertaking a study, a student is required to develop a proposal that outlines the activities that will constitute the study. Having the appropriate knowledge about writing this proposal is thus crucial for students at all levels of learning. Notably, the complexity of study topic advances with higher levels of learning, but the format of writing the proposal remains the same. Essentially, a proposal consists of the following sections:

  • Title
  • Abstract/Executive summary
  • Introduction and Background Information
  • Literature Review
  • Purpose/Rationale
  • Objectives
  • Hypothesis
  • Methodology
  • Expected Results
  • Limitations
  • Ethical Issues
  • Conclusion


The title of the proposal informs the reader about the subject matter. It allows the reader to decipher what the research is studying by giving a brief mention of the topic under research.

Abstract/Executive Summary

In this section, the student or the researcher, offers a summary of the findings. The abstract gives an overview of the topic, the expected data collection method, the expected findings, and any other relevant issue that will feature in the proposal. An executive summary is sometimes written to replace the abstract, especially if the proposal is present for the purpose of seeking a grant or scholarship.

Introduction and Background Information

The introduction consists of a detailed write-up of the existing knowledge about a specific topic. Relevant statistics and facts are outlined in this section. Since the purpose of the research is to build up on the available knowledge about a certain topic, the researcher makes a connection between the present research and what is already known about this topic.

Literature Review

The literature review examines the available material on the research topic. Here, the researcher looks up for published journals, statutory documents, guidelines, government statistics or other sources that help to build up the content for the current study. The length of the literature review depends on the topic under study. The number of sources also varies with the level of study. This means that a doctorate proposal makes reference to more materials than that of an associate degree student.


The students explains why the research is important. In other words, this sections offers a discussion of what inspired the student to conduct this research.


In this section, the researcher tells the reader what they aim to achieve by carrying out the study. The general format of an objective comprises the pointer “To,” followed by a verb. In most cases, the objectives for every research are more than one.


This is the assumption that the researcher makes while proposing the research. The student makes a “null” hypothesis before carrying out the study. That is, the initial assumption that will be tested after getting the results.


This section is very critical in a research proposal. It is where the researcher explains in detail what they are planning to do while answering the research question. It contains various subsections where the student discusses participant recruitment, sample size determination, data collection, and data analysis processes. The method of data collection like surveys or questionnaires are listed here. Various tools for data analysis like STATA or SPSS are explained in this section. The researcher informs the reader about the timelines expected to complete all the work. A Gantt chart may be included as part of the proposal to stress this point.

Expected Results

Expected results are imaginary outcomes of the research process. They are connected to the hypothesis. The student describes what their expectations of the research are depending on the literature review and research questions.


The various hindrances to the research are explained together with the proposed solutions to such challenges.

Ethical Issues

Ethical issues that are relevant in research are consent, review by a university or institutional ethical body, and integrity. In this section, the student discusses how they will ensure that the research process does not breach any ethical principles relevant to research.


Budget Consists of a budgetary breakdown of activities and their expenses.


Like all concluding sections, this part summarizes the entire work. Here, the student gives a brief overview of the main sections like introduction, literature review, and methodology. The format presented here may differ from one proposal to another. However, it is imperative to clearly let the reader know what you desire to do and how you plan to accomplish it. The contents of the proposal varies with the type of research. Quantitative research proposals are more detailed and technical than the qualitative ones. At the end of the proposal, a student must list all the sources cited in the text. The format for references follows the style used in the body of the paper. After completing the proposal, the student presents the final draft to the professor for review. The latter then makes the necessary changes and advises the students to edit the draft accordingly. If convinced about the entire work, the professor or research supervisor asks the student to proceed with the study.

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