Have you been asked to submit a research proposal to a school, organization or a grant committee? If you've never written one before, you may be a little perplexed about where to start. But there's no need to feel lost. Although each research proposal will be unique because each research project is different, there is a definite structure to all research proposals.
They may contain specialized topic pages unique to scientific writing, but research proposals share the same goals as other types of business proposals. These goals are to convince your readers that you have a worthwhile project, to show that you have a plan to carry it out, and to explain why you are capable of completing the project. You need to answer these three questions: What do you plan to study? Why is a worthwhile project? How will you carry out your research?
A research proposal has three basic sections: Introduction, Methodology, and Results.
The very first page in a research proposal should be - you guessed it - a Title Page. Simply name your project in a way that makes sense to the people who will read your proposal: something like “An Investigation of the Components of Pathogens in Average Households” or “A Study of Contaminants Present in the Drinking Water of Our City.”
The Introduction section should explain what you plan to study and why. First in that section is an Abstract page, which is a very brief description of your research project, including the questions you want to answer and the methodology you plan to use. A Problem Statement page should follow, which is basically a more detailed description of the question(s) you want to answer in your research. Then you'll want a Context page, which should explain why your study is important.
You may need a Hypothesis page or Theory page, unless you're proposing to simply explore a topic through interviews or collect random samples. You might also want a Limitations page to explain the boundaries of your study, and a Definitions or Terminology page to define important terms and concepts.
Every research proposal should include a Literature Review to show your readers what has already been published about your research topic. The Literature Review may be quite extensive, with headings to divide publications into different categories and an explanation of what each publication covered. You want to demonstrate that you will add to the body of knowledge or challenge the assumptions that have been made, not repeat a study that has already been done.
The Methodology section should contain pretty much what you'd expect - a thorough explanation of how you will go about completing your study. Depending on the type of research you are proposing, you may need topic pages like Participants to show who will participate and how you will select your subjects, a list of questions you plan to ask them, a list of Measurements you plan to take, and Experiments you will do. No matter what sort of research you're proposing to do, you'll need Procedures pages to describe how, when, where, and under what conditions you will accomplish the tasks you need to do.
The final section in your proposal is the Results section. Obviously, if you're submitting a proposal for approval, you do not yet have study results. But you still need to explain in this section the type of data you intend to collect and how and when you will analyze and report your results and conclusions.
That's it. Now proofread every sentence and make sure every page looks good, too, and you're ready to package your research proposal into a PDF or a printed booklet for submission.
It might seem like a lot of work to write a research proposal, but you will use this proposal framework and all of this information again to write your research report after your study is done. The Introduction section will probably remain largely unchanged, the Methodology section may need a few edits to reflect what actually happened during the study, and of course you'll fill in the Results section with actual data resulting from your research. In your final report, you may need to add a Conclusion page, and perhaps appendices with all sorts of data and charts and statistical analyses, too.
After you have all the words done for your research proposal, take a little time to make it look good. You could add visual interest with colored borders, use special bullets or different fonts, or include your company logo. Proposal Kit can help here, too, with specialty packs designed to present a professional appearance and a graphic theme. Learn how to effectively select colors for a winning business proposal.
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Another bit of good news: you don't have to start from scratch with all the topic pages mentioned above. Proposal Kit is a specialized product that includes an extensive content library of templates for creating detailed business documents. Each template contains suggestions and examples, so you'll never have to stare at a blank page and wonder what to put on it. The product includes samples of all sorts of proposals and reports, too, so you can look at what others have done to get inspiration.
Proposal Kit is perfect for writing any sort of business or academic document, and its professionally designed layouts will make your work visually appealing, too. You'll find hundreds of uses for it as you progress through your career.