Thesis Proposal

A Comprehensive Guide on Academic Writing

To succeed academically, all students need to know how to write a thesis proposal as it is an evitable part of their academic paperwork. Thesis writing should entail original research that is written from scratch with implementation of sufficient supporting evidence. A thesis proposal demonstrates what knowledge a student has acquired over the course of studying and how well a student can apply theoretical and practical skills when writing this type of academic work. Thesis writing is inescapable for students who plan to obtain a Master’s degree and who decide to continue their studying at PhD level. In case a student plans to continue with scholarly career, it is important for him/ her to learn to write a thesis perfectly. Besides, adequate skills in writing a thesis proposal may come in handy when a student needs to pass a written or an oral examination for further doctoral studies. In particular, the admission committee may check out the student’s core skills for writing a thesis and further ask him/ her a few questions about the principles of writing and organization.

How to Write a Thesis Proposal: Main Tips for Students

So what is a proposal? First of all, it is important to devote ample time to writing a thesis proposal outline. There is a variety of samples on the Internet and while many of them might not be totally appropriate for your proposal topic and structure, they are still worth to take into consideration in order to understand the general aspects of thesis proposal format. All in all, you should communicate with your professor on the peculiarities and features of your proposal writing: all details about structure should be clarified well in advance. As an option, you can find some sample and organize your thesis according to it and then bring the outline to your professor clarifying its constituents.

Thesis Proposal Template: Basic Notions of Writing

An average thesis proposal template should contain the following parts:

  • Setting of the study as well as the rationale why you consider the topic significant and why you have decided to research it.
  • General background information on the area of research.
  • Narrowed down background information about the very research question under investigation.
  • Literature review.
  • Explanation of keywords, terms, and phrases.
  • Clearly formulated hypotheses
  • Methodology of the study
  • Identification and explanation of the main approaches to the study and the major research methods
  • Main topics/ subjects of the research and justification for choosing them
  • Methods applied
  • Study’s weaknesses and limitations
  • Brief mention of the study results and outcomes
  • Conclusion of the research and its further implication
  • A list of sources used for the research.

A Dissertation Proposal Template Has the Following Framework

When it comes to environmental topics, it is important to identify the topic and the core issue under investigation. Then, a researcher should move forward to gathering and analyzing the data on the topic (in other words, conducting a literature review). When it comes to empirical findings or practical data, a student should either extract it from somewhere or obtain the data independently as a result of practical research. The results from the gathered information should be explained and interpreted and should correlate with the mentioned topic. The main aim of submitting a proposal is to highlight that the thesis properly addresses a crucial environmental problem. As such, when structuring the final study (the thesis itself), it is important to provide a properly laid-out research proposal abstract, where a student briefly covers the main points that will be found in the thesis. A properly written thesis proposal indicates that a student can structure and organize the main research points in the final paper as well. As such, these skills are important for your further scholarly studies.

Regardless of whether you will have a brilliant thesis proposal or the one containing a few flaws, remember that it may really differ from the final research you will need to submit at the end of the semester. Therefore, when writing a proposal, do not consider it as a total fail if you cannot properly calculate the risk of failure or some specific research outcomes. When you are required to submit a thesis proposal, your professor surely does not expect you to predict all the research features and unexpected processes you might come across in the process of research. Be prepared that your research proposal introduction will differ much from the introduction you will write in a few months when you will be working on the final draft of your research. When submitting a proposal to your professor, just demonstrate to your professor that you can plan the research, collect the data properly, justify your choice, evaluate the significance of the information, and bear the general paper backbone in mind. Demonstrate that you are flexible and can take various approaches to researching the information. Whether you are a successful writer or not is demonstrated by the fact how well you can develop ideas in multiple directions and change your course of writing depending on the circumstances.

How to Write a Proposal for a Research Paper

The most frequently asked question how to write a proposal for a research paper is closely associated with knowing the principles of structure and paragraph organization. As to the structure, it is similar to that used for a thesis proposal:

  1. Provide a proposal title page.
  2. Write an abstract.
  3. Organize a table of contents.
  4. Write an introductory section for the research.
  5. Formulate a strong and clear thesis statement.
  6. Enlist methods and approaches utilized in the study.
  7. Discuss preliminary outcomes and results.
  8. Provide a schedule or a work plan for carrying out the research.
  9. Mention the core research implications.
  10. Include a reference list or a bibliography.

To understand what a thesis proposal is, follow detailed explanations given below:

Title Page

Provide a brief properly formulated title of your project or a research that reflects the core idea of writing in the best way. A reader should easily infer from the title what the paper will be about. Afterwards, provide your full name, the name of the educational establishment you are studying at and the date of submission.


Write a concise summation of the proposal. Make sure the length does not exceed 200 words. Include a short introduction to the topic and the issue at hand. Further, provide a thesis statement. Afterwards, sum up how you plan to address the issue overall and provide implications for the research.

Table of Contents

Make sure to list headings and subheadings for all sections and subsections. Include page numbers where each of the paper sections can be found. Ensure proper indentation.

Introductury Section

Provide an introductory section. Make sure you provide a setting for the project and grab interest of your audience by some attractive or interesting fact. Provide a paragraph of background information related to the area of study in general. Narrow down to the topic of interest and formulate a research question. The introduction should be written in a way that makes the topic understandable for the general audience. Try not to use specific terms in the very first paragraph.

Thesis Statement

Formulate a strong thesis statement and preferably make it argumentative. Do not exceed more than two sentences when formulating the thesis. It should not be confusing to the reader. Make sure you learn how to write a hypothesis for a research proposal since you may formulate the thesis in form of a hypothesis, project statement, research question or a goal statement.

Methodology Section

Describe the approach you took towards researching your topic. Mention the procedures and materials you used. Clearly identify methods and ways of data collection and analysis. Represent the data in graphic format, i.e. tables, graphs or diagrams if you find it better. Provide full citations and description of applied procedures.

Work Plan

Project completion timetable and work plan of your proposal. Provide the slightest details what you plan to attain by the project completion. Make sure to enlist all stages of the final paper in form of a table. Indicate due dates for each project step. Also indicate the steps that were already completed. In case there are challenges to the project, make sure to mention them as well.

Research Study Implications

Indicate what outcomes you plan to gain after the completion of the research. If there is some specific knowledge you foresee, please indicate it as well.

Reference List

Make sure to provide a list of sources you have consulted while working on your research. Provide in-text citations for ideas that are not your own. In case you put forward your own arguments or claims, make sure to back them up with supporting evidence taken from credible sources. Make sure the in-text citation contains the last name of the scholar and the date of the source’s publication. For example:

  • According to MacMillan (2012), […].
  • […] (MacMillan, 2012).

If there are two authors of the same source, cite them as follows: MacMillan and Murphy (2010). If there are three authors and more, write “et al.” after the first last name, for example: Simpson et al. (2003).

All references provided in the reference list should be listed in alphabetical order.

How to Write a PhD Proposal

To get to know how to write a PhD proposal, follow the plan provided below. There are many PhD proposal templates that can be found online but the one given in the article is one of the most general PhD thesis proposals that might be used as a structural example for your academic paperwork.

Before you start writing, make sure you provide an outline with clearly identified parts of a proposal. Work on graphic materials: prepare necessary figures, graphs, and tables. Identify methodology that fits the topic and the research area in the best way. Discuss and analyze the obtained data and make sure the evaluation best fits the proposal structure. After you have written the bulk of the main body, switch over to writing a comprehensive introduction. Make sure you find out what is the purpose of a thesis before formulating a strong thesis statement.

General Tips for Writing a Proposal

Use figures and other visual supplementary materials. Frequently, they help readers better understand some complex aspects of data analysis. Particularly, figures and other illustrations are useful for depicting sample data and main analytic techniques.

Moreover, figures can better demonstrate some material that words cannot. Besides, information represented in the form of a figure may take up less space than the one represented in text. The whole process of creating figures is crucial for two reasons: it helps you more clearly convey your message and communicate your point more succinctly. Furthermore, if you do not understand some material yourself, you can draw it on a piece of paper in order to delve into the core essence of it.

Professors highly value effective figures provided by students: clearly drawn ideas help to explain some complicated things in fewer words. You just draw a figure and provide a short interpretation of the represented information.

To provide attractive figures that make the essence of the information clear, use the most recent software apps for drawing figures and graphs. The graphs should be so attractive that they should make other scholars want to steal them or provide similar ones. Besides, if you use figures that others want to cite, your study will be referred to in works of other researchers.

In your visuals, you might present the following information:

  1. Pictures of equipment, techniques, strategies you are using and interpretation how they are utilized in the study.
  2. Drawings or graphs with formulas and equations in case you write a paper in chemistry, physics or mathematics. Charts, graphs, tables, and figures might be used in text or separately in appendices. In the latter case, it is better to use visuals in appendices when there are lots of them and when they take up much space.

Make sure you proofread and edit the proposal before submitting it. Poor spelling, punctuation, and grammar might distract your readers from the content of your study and when it comes to professor’s check, poor quality of writing may even lead to poor grading. Therefore, make sure you have sufficient time spent not just on the very process of writing but also on revising the paperwork.