Research Proposal

Contemporary students are curious researchers. Well, at least most professors expect that they will develop advanced research and analytical skills. As such, writing a research proposal should not be an issue. Yet, professors’ expectations do not always match the reality facing students. Students who enter colleges and universities ask dozens of questions but find few answers. What is a research plan? What does proposal mean? What is a proposal argument? These are just some of the many things that even the most ambitious students want to know.

What Is a Research Proposal

What is a research proposal? To a large extent, it is a brief review of research, which is intended to convince the audience that the study is a worthy idea. For example, you want to study the effects of care bundles on the incidence of hospital-acquired infections in your department or hospital. Your research proposal will provide the most relevant data to justify the importance of the problem, outline the methods you are going to use, and share the most expected outcomes of your study.

As you are working on your research proposal, quality is one of the primary considerations. It will not be an exaggeration to say that the quality and consistency of your proposal arguments will define the consistency of your study. Remember that your research proposal must be approved before you can proceed with your research activities. If you fail to produce a compelling proposal, your entire project will be doomed to fail.

Writing a Research Proposal Template

The research proposal template provided below outlines the basic structure that you must follow to create a persuasive document. Your research proposal outline should follow the research proposal format below.


Imagine that you are writing a research proposal to receive a grant from a major funding institution. Your introduction must be catchy enough to keep the grant approval committee interested in your proposal. Even if you are writing this proposal simply to earn a passing grade for your course, do not lose the chance to create an engaging introduction. You may want to answer some basic questions before you are ready to write an introduction for your APA research proposal. For example, what is the problem that you are going to investigate? What is the latest evidence pertaining to the problem? Why is the problem important? How will society benefit from solving it?

Background and Significance of Your Study

No matter if you are working on an APA or an MLA research proposal, you must create a solid background for your proposed research and justify its significance. Consider your target audience. This is the only way that you can align the importance of your study with its expectations and needs. For example, if you are writing your research proposal for a major research organization, you will have to align its significance with the organization’s mission and vision. You may also want to include some ideas about your research and its relevance for social change. How will the results of your study benefit society? Answer these questions while working on your research paper proposal.

Review of Literature

our research project proposal must contain a comprehensive review of literature that is closely related to the background and significance of the research problem. It would be fair to say that this literature review is an extension of the introduction and a logical continuation of the background section of your work. Now you can go deeper into the evidence that supports the significance of your problem, evaluate other studies that were done to explore this problem, identify gaps in knowledge and literature, and propose ways in which your study will close these gaps. The purpose of your literature review is to create a context for your study. How does your proposed study fit in the larger body of work done by other researchers? How do the methods you would like to use in your project differ from or are better than the methods used by your predecessors? How do you understand and interpret the findings published in other articles and papers? Are there any specific challenges that you may encounter in your research project, based on what you have learned from literature? You are most welcome to provide answers to these questions as you are writing your literature review.

Your proposal paper will certainly benefit if you include as many sources as you can, preferably those which were published in the past few years. Of course, you should not forget about your target audience. Every word and sentence written in your project proposal should resonate with your readers. Moreover, your review of literature should not look as if you are simply summarizing some basic studies. Instead, create a comprehensive synthesis of literature. Break it down into pieces, according to themes and categories. Try to cover as many categories as you can, as long as they relate to your problem and background questions. You should be confident that you have covered the most problematic spots, so that your readers do not have a feeling that something is missing.

Five C’s Rule

Follow the simple Five C’s rule when working on your review of literature.

C1: cite as much evidence as you can locate in relation to your research problem.

C2: compare the arguments made by authors, the methods used in their studies, and the findings that you believe can have implications for your study. Your proposal essay should enrich your audience’s understanding of the problem. See if you can use the methods and recommendations provided by other researchers in your study.

C3: contrast what other researchers have done against the study that you plan to conduct. Do you see any controversies or inconsistencies? Do you see any areas of conflict? Are there any issues that relate specifically to your study?

C4: critique – this is one of the key components of your proposal. You should not simply summarize research. Your task is to evaluate its strengths and weaknesses. Your task is to identify gaps in research and justify the importance of your study.

C5: connect – you should link the findings of previous studies to your proposed research. How can you improve your initial research idea based on what you have learned in your review of literature? Make connections. Make decisions. Learn.

Other Parts of a Research Proposal

Research Design and Methods

This is one of the most important parts of a research proposal. It will follow your research proposal abstract and the research proposal introduction. In this section, you will provide your reader with some basic understanding of the methods that you are going to use in your study. Beyond simply describing the method and design for your study, you should produce a convincing argument that the proposed methods fit the goal, purpose, and context of the proposed research. Your dissertation proposal should provide a rationale for your methods and design considerations. You must persuade your audience that the proposed methods will provide valid and reliable results.

Feel free to use the results of your literature review to create a persuasive and impressive argument. For example, if you see any fallacies in the methods used by other researchers, discuss them and say why your methods are better and more effective in the context of your chosen research problem. Be specific as you are working on your proposal layout. Include the details of your methods and design. What are the data analysis techniques that you plan to use? How can you be sure that these techniques are reliable and trustworthy? Provide answers to these questions, and your audience will not have a single reason to believe that your proposed study is not worth their attention.

Include the following information in your proposal argument definition. Firstly, describe the specific operations that you will use to accomplish the goals of your proposed study. Do not simply say that you are going to use statistical correlations to measure the relationship between your variables. Instead, describe what kinds of correlations you will use, how you will input the data, what software you will use, and why you will use it over other software packages. Remember that your methodology is not a general statement. It is a set of specific procedures that must be carried out to achieve the desired purpose while ensuring that the results of your research are valid and reliable.

Expected Findings and Implications

This is yet another component of your research proposal to consider. Even though you are not yet conducting your study, you should still set realistic expectations and tell your target audience what exactly you expect to accomplish in your research. Of course, it does not mean that you should say something arbitrary. Your expectations should stem logically from the idea and design of your proposed study. For example, if you evaluate the impacts of care bundles on the incidence of hospital-acquired infections in your unit, you expect that it will decrease. You may even make cautious forecasts about the extent of the expected change (e.g., the number of patients affected by hospital-acquired infections will decrease 10 percent).

Now pay attention to the implications of your research. Answer some basic questions to predict the way your study and its results will impact your target audience. How do your results fit in the theoretical framework used in your proposed study? How do you think the results of your proposed research will impact the direction of future research? How about your colleagues and subordinates – how will the results of your study change the way you work in your practice environment? Can they also the development of new organizational policies, standards of practice, etc.? How can the results of your study change the direction of social progress and change in your community? Can they have any implications for legislative and policy making? How will the outcomes of your research benefit the target audience? Be specific.

You should be very specific and detailed in your analysis of the proposed research implications. You should not simply write this section as if you want to fill the empty space in your paper. Reference other studies and readings in your research proposal to create a grounded review of its implications. It will help you create a convincing argument and justify the importance of your research proposal.


Among other sections of a research proposal, the proposal ending plays one of the most important roles. Your conclusion is actually a brief and cohesive summary of everything that you have written in your research proposal. You do not need to write a lengthy conclusion. It is just enough to write one or two paragraphs. However, these paragraphs must be substantial. They must wrap up your argument and leave your readers with a sense of profound understanding of the material presented in your proposal.

Cover the following aspects in your research proposal conclusion. Firstly, reiterate why the study is important and why it is relevant. Secondly, restate the purpose, goals, and objectives of your proposed research project. Thirdly, revisit the proposed methods and research design. Remind your reader about why these methods and designs are best suited to conduct your proposed study. Finally, do not forget to include the implications that your study will have for future research and practice.


Now it is time to create a list of references and review the in-text citations to make sure they match the chosen format and style. Your professor will never give you the highest grade if you fail to format and structure your research proposal accordingly. Check with the professor to make sure that you know what format and style you must follow in your project. Remember that there is a difference between references and bibliography. The list of references includes only papers that you have mentioned and cited in the body of your work. Your bibliography will also include other non-cited sources that you consulted while working on your project.

Your references should begin on a new page, following the requirements of your selected format and style. Your references list is not included in your word or page count. Your research proposal will look much more persuasive if you include rich evidence and extensive references in the body of your paper. However, do not make it look like it is just a compilation of evidence from previous studies. After all, it is your idea, and it is your expectation that the proposed research will bring feasible results. Generally, your proposal should not exceed eight pages. However, check with your instructor to make sure that all requirements are met.