How to Write a Research Proposal: Step-by-Step Guide

Academic Writing

20th May 2024

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Academic writing plays a significant role in the life of university students. From essays to research papers, students engage in various forms of writing that are crucial for their academic success. One important type of assignment is the research proposal. Do you know what a research proposal is and how to write one?

If you do not know the answer to the above questions, do not worry anymore, as we have got your back. This comprehensive article will explain in detail what a research proposal is and it will include a step-by-step guide to help you write stellar research proposals.

What is a Research Proposal?

A research proposal is a well-structured document that outlines your intended research project and explains its significance. Essentially, it is a concise presentation of your research goals and the rationale behind them. Research proposals are commonly required for theses and dissertations.

The primary purpose of a research proposal is to persuade your research supervisor or committee that your chosen topic is both suitable and valuable for your academic program. In other words, the goal of a research proposal is to “sell” your research idea, demonstrating its relevance and feasibility to your university or supervising committee.

What is the Purpose of a Research Proposal?

A research proposal is a tool to present your plan for your research project. Usually, it is a part of securing funding for your research project. It aims to get your research idea approved by the supervisor or your specific department. In most cases, a research proposal is an essential part of a graduate school application. The research proposal also aims to demonstrate your ability to delve into a specific subject. It serves as a platform to showcase your proficiency in research and your potential to make meaningful contributions to the current state of your field.

How to Prepare a Research Proposal?

Research proposals do not follow a universal format and structure; they may vary from one university to another. However, they typically encompass four essential elements. If you’re interested in learning how to prepare a research proposal, keep in mind the following elements:

  • An introduction to the proposed research
  • A literature review to cover the existing research
  • An overview of the research methodology
  • A thorough discussion regarding practicalities

What to Include in a Research Proposal?

Abstract and Table of Contents

The beginning of a research proposal includes an abstract and a table of contents. But what are these elements? An abstract is simply a brief about the research. On the other hand, the table of contents includes all the content headings in the proposal.


Like every other writing piece, a research proposal also starts with an introduction. This part introduces your research idea and covers the problems you will be addressing and the questions these problems give rise to. Also, the introduction should provide the context for your research. It should be very clear and concise while covering all the relevant information.

Aims and Objectives

The next part of your research proposal will cover the aims and objectives of your research. It will explain your intention behind the research. In short, this section aims to help the readers understand your point of view clearly.

Background Significance

The next section explores the background significance of your research, detailing the impact that your study might have within your subject area. Here, you’ll delve into why your research matters for your field and discuss the specific research problems that need attention.

Literature Review

Literature review plays a crucial role in your research proposal. It is the section of your writing that provides the readers with information related to the study from articles, books, and other resources. The literature review aims to establish a research gap.

Research Design and Methodology

The literature review is followed by research design and methodology. This section discusses several important things, such as the type of research method you wish to employ. It also explains if you’re planning to conduct a correlational, experimental, or descriptive type of research. After adding information about the research type, you can also include essential information regarding obstacles, budget, and time frame in this section.

Research Questions

In the upcoming section, you’ll need to include the key questions that drive your research forward. These will serve as guiding lights, ensuring that your focus and direction remain steady throughout the research journey. Take the opportunity to list around four to five questions you’re eager to explore and resolve.

Suppositions and Implications

It is understandable that you do not know the findings of your research before you complete it. However, you must know about the benefits of your research even before you start it. So, the suppositions and implications section will cover the significance of your research. It will primarily explain the value of your research for your field. This section will not list the exact outcomes of your research but will list all the expected outcomes.


The conclusion serves as a summary, bringing together all the elements discussed throughout. It’s essentially a recap of everything you’ve covered, highlighting the main points and key insights. By providing this summary, you reaffirm the importance of your research topic and clarify the objectives and methods proposed. 


No, your research proposal does not end with the conclusion. The last section of your proposal will be the bibliography. A significant part of your proposal lists all the sources you have referred to and cited. The bibliography is crucial to avoid plagiarism and copyright issues. Also, it is not always necessary to mention each source you have referred to. You can list a few important ones.

Key Takeaways

Undertaking any academic writing project, including the creation of a research proposal, presents both enlightening opportunities and challenges. As you’ve seen the steps in writing a research proposal are many, but they serve as a roadmap towards the beginning of your research journey and cannot be overlooked.

Feeling overwhelmed with the idea of writing a research proposal that is spotless and error-free? We specialise in providing top-notch academic proofreading and editing services tailored specifically for research proposals and any other type of academic assignments. With your dedication and our expertise, crafting a compelling and polished research proposal becomes a manageable task. Let us know your requirements and together, we can ensure that your proposal shines, setting the stage for a successful research endeavour.