How to Write a Successful Research Proposal | Scribbr 🎓

Most research projects start with a proposal.

You’ll probably have to write one before you start your thesis or dissertation.

A research proposal is designed to persuade someone that your project is worthwhile, for

example, your supervisor or funding body.

If you want to know how to write a proper research proposal, then stay tuned.

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you achieve your academic goals.

A research proposal aims to reflect the relevance, context, approach and feasibility of your


Big words, but what do they mean?

Let's find out with some concrete examples.

The format of a research proposal varies between fields, but most proposals should contain

at least these elements: Title page

Introduction Literature review

Research design Reference list

Now, let’s go through what you should include in each element!

The title page of your proposal should include: The proposed title of your project

Your name Your supervisor’s name

The institution and department You should also check with your department

to see if there are specific requirements.

The introduction is where you hook the reader and demonstrate relevance.

Here you should introduce the context of your research problem and show that your project

is interesting, original and important.

Here are some questions to guide your introduction: How much is already known about the problem?

For whom is this interesting?

(e.g. policymakers or scientists) What are the key research questions that you

aim to answer?

A strong literature review convinces the reader that your project has a solid foundation in

existing knowledge or theory.

It also shows that you’re familiar with the field.

In this section, you're explaining how your project will contribute to conversations on

your topic.

If you're not sure where to start, we have a playlist on how to write a literature review,

where you'll learn about searching for relevant literature, outlining the structure, and more!

The research design or methodology section should describe the overall approach and practical

steps you will take to answer your research questions.

Here are things you should describe in the research design section:

Research type, so is it qualitative or quantitative, primary or secondary?

Sources, who or what will you actually study?

Research methods, what tools and procedures will you use?

Practicalities, any foreseeable obstacles in terms of timescale or resources required?

Click here to dive deeper into this section!

To finish your proposal on a strong note, you can explore the potential implications

of the research for theory or practice, and emphasize again what you aim to contribute

to existing knowledge on the topic.

For example, your results might have implications for:

Confirming or developing a theory Challenging current assumptions

Creating a basis for further research

Of course, your research proposal must include proper citations and a reference list for

every source you've used.

It’s important to keep track of your sources right from the beginning.

You can create and manage your sources easily with Scribbr's free citation generator!

Depending on the requirements of your program, you might have to include a detailed timeline

and budget of the project.

This aims to show that the research is feasible.

Within the timeline, you'll explain what you will do at each stage, how long it will take

and how much it will cost.

We have an example research schedule in our article, you can take a look here.

As in any other piece of academic writing, it’s essential to edit and proofread your

research proposal before you submit it.

For the best chance of approval, you might want to consider using a professional proofreading

service to get rid of language errors, check your proposal’s structure, and improve your

academic style.

As for how long the research proposal should be, it really depends.

A bachelor’s or master’s thesis proposal can be just a few pages, while proposals for

PhD dissertations and research funding are often very long and detailed.

So check with your supervisor!

Before you go and start writing, make sure to subscribbr for more videos on how to conduct

research and write academic papers!

Thanks for watching and I'll see you soon!