Research Proposal Writing Secrets

f this is the first time you’ve come across the assignment of writing a proposal, you should know its purpose. It is not to make you feel miserable and confused. The result of your work will prove to the scientific community that you have a worthy project idea you would like to research. 

Let’s say there is a problem you want to solve with your paper. You need to prove others it is useful and applicable to the real-life situations. You propose one of the possible ways of approaching the issue. If the idea is indeed valuable, you will be encouraged to carry on with it.

You might need to write a proposal for:

You base your ideas on the existing data and use it to find the possible solutions.

You contribute to the existing knowledge by presenting a brand new concept.

You describe how your findings can improve the existing situation or the understanding of the situation.

How to choose what to dedicate the research to in your proposal:

  • Make sure it applies to the real-life needs. If it is something that can’t bring an obvious value and change an existing situation in any way, you should not probably write about it. Also, if you want others to get interested in the research, make sure your topic is related to a local or global problem.
  • Try to write about something that addresses a societal problem. This is not the kind of paper where you can explore some abstract phenomena and describe your attitude towards it. You have to be specific in terms of how your research is going to help others.
  • Choose an interesting topic. This may seem like an obvious tip but many students ignore it. The subject of your research should be exciting to you. Do not write about something you think some professor would like. Focus on your own interests and applicability of the research you are going to do.
  • Narrow the topic down. It may seem that the more material you can gather the better. However, the quality of your findings is something that really matters. Do not try to investigate some vague issues. Focus on a specific issue and make a valuable contribution to its discussion.
  • Will your research add something new to the discussion? To answer this question, you will have to check the latest findings on that particular topic. the goal of your research is to become that missing puzzle piece that makes you see the whole picture or at least the direction where to go to see it.

Aspects of the proposal you should pay close attention to:

Aspects of the proposal you should pay close attention to:

1. Title

This is not the right place to use vague statements and long sentences. Be as specific as you can to let a reader know what the paper is about. Make the main idea clear. Most resources suggest you should come up with a title that is easy to remember. If you can’t do that just make sure it is specific and short. Use the phrases like “comparison of”, “identifying”, “understanding” to omit massive verbal constructions.

2. Originality

While you are trying to figure out what topic to choose, it is important to realize a couple of essential points. Your teacher (adviser) might have stressed that it should be original. It is logical as there is no point in researching something other scholars have discovered before. So, how to come up with a unique idea? Here’s a secret – it does not have to be 100% unique. Shocking, right? Look for the topics other scholars have explored and bring a new context to it. Take a well-known concept and try to apply to it to a local problem. Will it work? Make the topic more specific by narrowing the research down.

3. Abstract

You should not be fooled by the number of words this section is limited to and think that it’s easy to write it. Although it will have a maximum of 250-300 words, it does not mean you will spend 5 minutes writing it. The problem here is to choose the right words to make the abstract as easy to understand as possible. The person reading it has to grasp the idea of your paper immediately. Briefly describe the research problem, your paper’s objectives, methods you intend to use, expected results, and the overall contribution.

4. Stating the problem

The paper should aim to solve a specific problem – local or global. To persuade the readers that the problem really exists and needs to be addressed, you have to explain its essence. Rely on the statements of authorities that address the issue and use the quantified approach – numbers will help a reader to evaluate the importance. Do not forget to include the information about recent findings on the topic and describe the current situation.

5. Methodology

The first thing you should be aware of is that methodology and methods are not the same. Focus on the ways you can get the results of your research. What will you do to collect the information? How to process it? Before you move to the specific methods, make sure you are aware of the types of methodologies used in your field of study. You don’t have to use all of them. Just choose the ones that you consider to be the most effective in this particular case: development research, parametric research, research by design, etc. Then, move forward to describing the methods: data analysis, monitoring, drawing, photography, observational studies, etc.

6. What you want to achieve

Let’s look at the results you are expecting to get at the end of the research. Your task is to become a fortuneteller for a moment and foresee the possible outcome. As a rule, the process is obvious. You collect data and rely on the findings of other scholars to produce a new knowledge that can help others make better decisions. This newly generated knowledge may come in different forms – as a manual, infographic, website, database, model, checklist, etc. Make sure you understand the final result options. Additionally, pay close attention to the validation process. If you’ve come up with something new (approach, model, database) ask someone to use it to see if it works. Prove the functionality and practical applicability of your findings.

7. Impact

One of the important points you should consider is the impact of the research. Think about the possible ways your findings can influence the scientific, social-economic or technological situation. Consider their short-term and long-term impacts. Your proposal should identify them. Ask yourself if these impacts are relevant to the society and if not, what can you change to make that happen. Be realistic and do not turn your scientific paper into a fiction thriller story. Find a healthy balance between overestimating your role in the scientific community and nihilating it completely.

More Tips

It is natural that you still might have several questions on how to cope with this assignment. Here’s a video that describes every step of writing a proposal in detail. Moreover, you should know that our service can and will help you whenever you get stuck or lack time.

Here’s also a guide and a sample proposal to clarify some of the most confusing points for you. One more helpful resource you may use is Quora. Although it is often thought of as an entertaining resource, it has an educational function as well. You may ask the community a question to learn their opinion. It can be very helpful especially if you need an instant social feedback on one or more aspects of the topic.

We should also mention the bibliography section as it is often an indicator of how good or bad the paper is. The reviewers can make an assumption based on the quality of this section. Your task is to choose the sources wisely and include the key publications here. It will be a strong sign of you being aware of the latest findings. It is necessary to highlight the importance of the formatting. Pay close attention to what formatting style is required – APA, MLA, etc. – and follow the guidelines. Our service can help you with this task as our writers learned all of those guidelines by heart a long time ago.

As to the question of how many pages your proposal should have. As a rule, there will not be more than five-six pages in it. If we are talking about a large project you want to get a funding for with many people involved in it, the proposal may have up to twenty-five pages. The quantity of pages is not an important indicator of a successful paper. The structure and content are, however. Use headings for every section and follow the style guidelines. Do not use long complex sentences as it will make the comprehending of the text more difficult. Use charts and diagrams whenever it is possible to substitute the text with its visual alternative.


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